How to fix a bike puncture

If you ride a bike regularly, then sadly, punctures are a fact of life. Knowing how to fix a puncture quickly and efficiently while you’re out on a ride or at home is essential for any rider. The less time you spend working on your bike, the more time you can spend riding it!

In this guide, we talk you through the process of fixing a bike puncture for tyres with an inner tube. If you need to repair a punctured tubeless tyre, check out our guide here.

What you’ll need to get started

Before you get started, make sure you’ve got the required tools. You'll need:

Missing anything? You can find all the puncture repair tools and spares you will need here.

Step-by-step guide

1. Remove your wheel
  • To start, you'll need to take the wheel off the bike to remove the inner tube.
  • Before removing your rear wheel, shift into the smallest cog (the hardest gear) on your cassette.
  • If you have quick-release wheels at the front and back, undo the quick-release on the skewer. If you have rim brakes on your bike, you'll also need to undo the quick release for the brake so that you can take out the wheel.
  • If you don't have quick-release wheels, you'll need a spanner or a hex key to remove the wheel.
  • Be gentle when pulling out the wheel. If you're taking out the front wheel, place the forks carefully on the ground. Dropping them can damage them, particularly if they are made of carbon.
  • If you're removing the rear wheel, gently pull back the derailleur to release it from the chain. Guide the wheel out, being careful not to catch the spokes on the frame or get them entangled with the chain.
2. Deflate the tyre
  • Once you've removed the wheel, let the air out of the tyre. Even if you've had a puncture, there might be some air left in there which you'll need to release – this makes it easier to remove the tyre from the rim.
  • Remove the dust cap if there is one.
  • If you have Schrader valves (large valves similar to those on your car), press down the pin in the middle of the valve to release the trapped air.
  • For Presta valves (long and thin valves used on road bikes), unscrew the locknut you see at the end of the valve and then press it in.
3. Remove the tyre on one side
  • To get to the inner tube, you need to unseat one side of the tyre from the wheel.
  • Starting on the opposite side of the wheel from the valve, insert a tyre lever under the bead of the tyre and apply some pressure. This should start to lift one side of the tyre off the rim of the wheel.
  • You can hook this lever under a spoke to keep it in place. Trust us, it won't damage the spoke.
  • Leave the first lever secured to the spoke and then insert a second lever under the bead of the tyre and try to slowly edge it around the wheel.
  • For some tyres, you can run this lever around the entire circumference of the wheel. As you do so, the tyre will become looser and easier to handle.
  • Some tighter tyres may require a third lever. So, edge the second lever around as far as possible and then secure it to a spoke. Then insert the third lever and edge this around the whole wheel until one side of the tyre is completely unseated.
4. Remove the tube and find the puncture
  • You can now remove the deflated inner tube. It's tempting to chuck the tube in the bin or stuff it in your jersey straight away, but you must identify the original cause of the puncture.
  • If your puncture was caused by a nail, a shard of glass or something else sticking into the tube, you must remove it, or you'll be dealing with another puncture a few metres down the road.
  • To identify the cause of the puncture, add some air to the tube. You should be able to see where it's split. Top tip: If you’re struggling to find the puncture, inflate the inner tube then place it in water. The puncture will bubble. If you’re out riding, use your lips! It sounds strange, but your lips are sensitive. So, try pressing your lips on the tube and slowly move it until you can feel the air coming out of the puncture.
  • Once identified, check where the puncture is in relation to the valve, and you can then work out where the puncture in the tyre will be. Visually inspect the tyre to find the damage. If you’re still struggling to find it, run your fingers through the inside of the tyre – but be careful not to cut your fingers.
  • If there are any objects stuck in your tyre, remove them. Also, check the outside of the tyre. Shards of glass on the outside of the tyre can work their way through the rubber if they're left in place. You also don’t want to ride on tyres that are badly torn or damaged.
5. Fix the puncture

If you’re planning on simply replacing the tube rather than fixing it, skip to step 6.

  • Rough up the area around the puncture slightly with some sandpaper (usually included in puncture repair kits) – this will help the patch stick to the tube.
  • Then, add glue to the area, stick down your patch and wait a moment for the glue to dry. If you have self-adhesive patches which don’t require glue, just apply it like a sticker.
  • Make sure it's airtight by putting a little bit of air into the tube.
  • Even if you don’t fancy repairing a puncture out on a ride, you can stash the inner tube in your back pocket or bag and fix it when you get home or recycle it.
6. Replace the tube
  • Whether you’re replacing the tube or reusing a repaired one, it's time to put it in place.
  • Start by inserting the valve. If you're using a Presta valve, use the supplied nut to hold it gently in place.
  • Now tuck the tube inside the tyre, starting near the valve and working your way around.
  • Tubes without air can be flappy and challenging to manage. Adding a small amount of air to the tube can make it easier to slot into place.
7. Put your tyre back on
  • Starting near the valve, tuck the bead of your tyre back onto the rim. Make sure none of the inner tube is trapped between the tyre bead and the rim because this can cause another puncture.
  • Work your way around the wheel with your thumbs, pushing your tyre onto the rim.
  • You may be able to do this solely by hand, but if it gets too difficult, use your tyre levers to help.
8. Inflate your tyre
  • All that's left now is to put some air into your tyres. As you're pumping up the tyre, check that the tyre is seated onto the rim properly.
  • Once you're happy it's in place, pump up your tyre to the required pressure, and you're ready to go. You can use your CO2 to do this more quickly if you have it – just watch out for freezing your fingers!
  • When your tyre is fully inflated, put your wheel back on your bike. Tighten the quick-release skewer or bolts, and the quick-release on your brake too. Spin the wheel to ensure that it's fitted correctly and check your brakes before setting off.

Puncture protection tips

That should help you take care of any pesky punctures! However, there are other steps you can take to reduce the risk of punctures in the future – something we can all get on board with!

Many tyres like the Schwalbe Marathon Plus benefit from added puncture protection. Tyres with puncture resistance have an added layer of rubber, Kevlar, plastic or something similar. This prevents debris and foreign objects from piercing or damaging the tyre and inner tube.

Slime sealant

For the next level of protection, why not add slime sealant to your tyres? This wonder fluid lives inside your tube and essentially seals it if it's punctured (it can’t seal every puncture, but the majority you’d regularly encounter).

Here at Halfords, we sell tubes with slime sealant already inserted. Check out these tubes here.

We can also add sealant to your tubes for you. Find out more here.

Tubeless tyres

Tubeless tyres are becoming increasingly popular – and for good reason! Unlike other options, tubeless tyres don’t need an inner tube. Instead, they grip the inside of the rim to create an airtight seal.

You can then insert a sealant into the tyre which helps seal any holes or nicks, virtually eliminating punctures.

To go tubeless, you’ll need a tubeless-compatible tyre like the Schwalbe Magic Mary Mountain Bike Tyre or Schwalbe Pro One. You can find out more about going tubeless here.

FAQs

How do I know if my tyre is punctured?
  • Rapid deflation - OK, this one will be pretty obvious. If your tyre deflates at a rapid rate, it’s punctured. You’ll often feel this before you see it, as the handling of the bike will quickly change, and the rim of the wheel will touch the floor.
  • Hissing noise - Another clear sign. If there’s a hissing sound, your tyre is rapidly deflating.
  • Foreign objects in tyre - Items such as nails or thorns protruding from your tyre. Giving your tyres a quick look over when it’s safe to do so may help you spot punctures, meaning you can tackle them before you set out for a ride. If something is stuck in the tyre, it may help hold the air in, but you shouldn’t leave it in there.
Can punctured tyres be repaired?

Yes, most punctures can be repaired.

While you’re more than welcome to pop into your local Halfords store and have a member of our team help you, this simple step-by-step guide should help you patch up your own tyre in no time.

Can you fix my puncture?

Nobody likes fixing a puncture, and they always seem to happen at the worst possible time – or during the worst possible weather!

While we sadly can't join you on your rides, we're happy to replace your tubes and fix your punctures in store.

We also offer a range of CycleCare plans to keep your bike in great condition (with unlimited puncture repairs depending on the plan you choose).

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