Let me paint you a word-picture. It’s a beautiful, clear morning. You’re biking down the Galloping Goose, about to cross the Selkirk Trestle. Sea birds fly overhead, searching the water for fish. Small, idyllic boats float peacefully on the calm water, rocking almost imperceptibly. You take a deep breath of the salty fresh air, the sun shining on your face, your hair blowing in the gentle bree…FLAT TIRE FLAT TIRE FLAT TIRE WHAT IS THAT SOUND THIS CAN’T BE SAFE NOOOOOO!!!
So you have a flat tire. No big deal, I’m sure you have your handy-dandy repair kit on you. This is not a problem. Just pull out those little plastic lever-thingies, that carton that has a tire/tube/thing in it (…but how did they fit the whole wheel in that little box?), AND your little hand pump air-filler-majig. You’re totally set. Let’s change a tire!
Confession time: until this morning, I had never changed a tire. Sure, I’ve had flat tires before, but my “repair kit” was my cellphone, which I would use to make a desperate phone call to any other member of The Pedaler staff who would then come rescue me. But not today. Today, I took my destiny into my own hands…and by that I mean I walked my bike to The Pedaler shop and insisted that the other staff members teach me how to change a tire, so that I may share my knowledge!
Step 1: Remove the wheel!
Take the wheel off of your bike. All the bikes at The Pedaler have quick-release wheels that can be removed pretty easily, front or back. Simply put the lever position to “open” and loosen the nut on the other side.
Step 2: Remove the tire!
This is where the aforementioned plastic lever-thingies come in – turns out they are called tire levers. Put the tire lever between the tire and the rim, and push up to break the seal. Use the second lever the same way, but run it around the rim to fully separate the tire from the rim. You should now be able to see the inner tube.
Step 3: Remove the inner tube!
Pull the inner tube off the wheel. You can start with the valve, pushing it through the hole in the metal of the rim.
Step 4: Check the tire!
Run your fingers (preferably gloved or covered) along the inside of the tire to see if there’s anything sharp inside (thorn, nail, splinter, etc.) that may have been the cause of the flat tire. If you don’t find anything, then it was probably a “snake bite.” NB: This does NOT MEAN that an actual snake bit your tire. Do not ask how often snakes go around biting tires. Everyone will laugh.
Turns out a snake bite is a pinch flat, not caused by anything sharp puncturing the tire but rather caused by a tire not being pumped up enough and then having pressure on it, causing damage.
Step 5: Replace the tube!
Get another tube (this is what is inside the cardboard box in your repair kit). Make sure the tube is the right size for your tire. Tubes sizes look something like this: 700 x 23/25c (diameter x width). For this tube to fit your tire, there should be a diameter of 700 printed on your tire and the width should be within the range of 23/25c. If you aren’t sure, visit your local bike shop. Pump the tube up slightly so that it regains its circular form. Place the valve of the tube through the hole in the rim and carefully seat the tube on the rim of the wheel.
Step 6: Re-place the tire
Put the tire back on the rim of the wheel using the exact reverse technique of how you removed it. Make sure the tire is seated properly (i.e. not pinching your brand new tube) by gently rolling up the lip of the tire to make sure the tube is in place.
Step 7: Pump up the tire!
Check your tire to see how many PSI it requires to function properly (it should be written on the tire). Pump it up to that level – NOT above. If you burst the tube, refer to step one.
Step 8: Re-place the wheel!
Put the wheel back on the bike, the exact reverse technique of how you took it off in the first step.
Step 9: Proceed riding!
Just because you had to change a tire doesn’t mean your ride should end. Get back in the saddle and enjoy the day!
Disclaimer: Not all bikes are the same, but this technique will work on all rental bikes from The Pedaler. If you run into any issues or have concerns, contact your local bike shop and have a professional show you how it’s done.