How To Change a Bike Inner Tube
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Cycling isn’t just about hopping on your bike and pedaling along a country trail. Sure, that’s one of the best bits about it, but if you’re serious about cycling, you’ll want to get more involved. Specifically, if you learn how to take care of your bike, your bike will take care of you.
Proper maintenance is one of the main things you’ll need to know in order to keep your bike in good shape. Even the most careful of cyclists will have a problem sooner or later, whether it be your bike chain coming loose, or a punctured tire. If you don’t know what to do in these scenarios, your ride will be cut short, and you might have to pay an expensive visit to your local bike repair shop.
One of the most common repairs any cyclist should know is how to change a bike’s inner tube. This is the bit that holds the air, puffing up the tire and getting you rolling. If you have an issue with your tire, this is probably the guilty component. In this article, we’ll be covering how you can change this all-important component, getting you back on the trail in a few short minutes.
How to change a bike inner tube:
The tools for the job
To change your bike’s inner tube, you’ll first need to get your hands on a few tools. You won’t get far with just your hands, but these tools are small and easy enough to take with you while out for a ride. Here’s what you need.
Replacement bike inner tube
It goes without saying, but the first item you need is a replacement inner tube that fits your bike wheel. If you aren’t sure what type of bike inner tube to go for, check the inner tube currently fitted. Most models of bike inner tubes have the measurement information printed on them, giving you what you need to get a matching replacement. Failing that, most outer tires have the same information, so be sure to check that if your inner tube doesn’t tell you what you need to know. If neither the inner tube nor the outer tire has the info you need, which is quite unlikely, you’ll probably have to resort to the internet for a helping hand.
With a replacement inner tube in hand, the next item you need is a tire lever, preferably a pair of them. This tool will be placed between the bike’s inner tube and the wheel, making it much easier to remove it. While one tire lever can be enough, your job will be made even easier with a pair, and you won’t be left high and dry if your first one breaks.
Also Read: How To Put a Bike Chain Back On
You’ll have two materials to choose from when selecting your tire lever – metal and plastic. A metal tire lever will likely cost you more, and can damage your wheel, but it is almost impossible to break when making a simple inner tube replacement. In contrast, a plastic tire lever isn’t likely to do much damage to your wheels, but has a higher likelihood of breaking itself. Which tire lever is best is up to you, but having a metal one kept just in case certainly won’t hurt.
The final item you need is a bike pump. Any kind of pump will do in a pinch, which is exactly what you’ll be in if your tire is punctured while out on a ride. A small hand pump that you can store in a pouch or backpack will do, enough to get you back on the road and cycling home. For a more long-term fix, having a high-pressure pump is a good investment, and it’ll make future problems with your tires less likely.
Changing a bike’s inner tube
Once you’ve got the aforementioned tools, you can get to work changing your bike’s inner tube. It’s fairly easy overall once you know what you’re doing, but some things will vary depending on your model of bike. Older models, for example, typically have axle bolts, which will require a wrench to unfasten. Newer models, on the other hand, typically do not. With that out of the way, let’s change that bike’s inner tube.
Removing the wheel
The first step is to remove the wheel with the guilty tire from your bike. This can be a bit of a challenge if you’re outside, as you’ll need to prop your bike up for an easy time of it. If you’re out with other cyclists, asking one to hold the frame will do the trick. If not, you’ll have to find something nearby.
Most modern bikes feature a quick-release mechanism, which makes the removal of a wheel incredibly easy. All you have to do is turn a lever a few times, and your wheel will come off without a hitch. For older models, it isn’t so straightforward. Generally, they are secured by axle bolts, which will require a wrench to unfasten. If you don’t have one on you, you’ll need to head to the nearest garage and hope they can help you out. Once you’ve removed the wheel, you can move on to the next step.
Removing the outer tire and inner tube
With the wheel off, you now need to remove the outer tire. To do this, you should first deflate the inner tube and make sure all air is out. This will make it much easier to remove the outer tire, as it will be loosely holding onto the tire. To make sure all air is out, press on the inner tube all the way around the rim. Once you’re happy the inner tube is deflated, take your tire levers and place them between the inner tube and the outer tire.
Press the lever to start lifting the outer tire; one lever might be enough, but for some tires that are fit particularly tight, you might need to use both. Once the outer tire is partially off, you should be able to remove the inner tube with ease. You shouldn’t have to completely remove the outer tire either, unless you’re having trouble accessing the inner tube.
Replacing the inner tube
With the old inner tube out, it’s time to fit the replacement. Before doing anything else, you should check to see if whatever caused the puncture is still in the outer tire. If you’ve got a nail in your tire, it’s just going to puncture your replacement inner tube, and you’ll be back to square one.
If your outer tire is all clear, you can move on to the replacement. Take your new inner tube and inflate it a little with your bike pump. You won’t need to do much; a few pumps should do to make the inner tube hold itself. This is to make sure you don’t get it caught on something, risking damage to your new inner tube. Once you’ve done so, carefully fit the inner tube into its slot, making sure not to be forceful so as to reduce the risk of causing damage. Don’t inflate the inner tube just yet though, as you’ll need to put the outer tire back on first.
Putting the outer tire back on can be pretty time-consuming. You’ll need to slowly tuck the outer tire back into place, which is probably going to take a little while and a good degree of effort. You can make your job a bit easier by using a tire lever, but you’ll need to be careful that you don’t damage the inner tube while doing so. Above all else, don’t rush it, as that’s when damage is most likely to be dealt.
With the outer tire back on, you’ll be pleased to know you’re almost done. All that’s left is to inflate the inner tube, then put the wheel back on your bike. Before you start inflating, double-check to make sure the inner tube is completely tucked in; if any of it is hanging out, there’s a good chance it’ll pop once you start pumping. If all is as it should be, slowly start pumping air into the inner tube until it reaches its specified pressure.
Refitting the wheel
Refitting the wheel is as easy or difficult as it was to take off. If your bike is a fairly new model, all you’ll need to do is put it back in place and turn the levers. If it’s old, you’ll have to whip out that wrench again and get to work. Having it propped up against something would make your life a little easier for that.
That’s all there is to it. Changing a bike’s inner tube does have a fair few steps to follow, but it’s not nearly as difficult as it might seem at first. Once you’ve done it a few times, changing a bike’s inner tube will be second nature, with only a brief pit stop being all you need to get back in the saddle.