29 Mar 2016


You’re cruising along, admiring the views as your roadie mates struggle to keep up with your effortless pedalling. Life is good; cycling is good… of course, until a puncture deflates your dreams.
Flats or punctures – call them what you want – are all too common, but with a calm approach and our handy guide, you can be back on the road in no time.
You’ll need two tire levers, inner tubes, a puncture repair kit and either a mini pump or gas canisters for what follows (note: the advice is just for removing clinchers , not tubulars).

You may not have a team of mechanics trailing you, but with the right skills you can fix and ride like a pro!

Remove the wheel
Your first task is to remove the affected tire. The front wheel is simple. Just ease the caliper open by nursing the brake cam upwards and then releasing the QR skewer. The wheel should slot out. If you’ve suffered a rear flat, shift your gears to the outermost gear outback and innermost upfront to make wheel removal easier and follow the steps for the front.

Remove the tire
Hook the curved end of one tire lever beneath the outer edge (bead) of the tire and ‘declinch’ it from the rim. Hook the other end onto a spoke. This keeps the tire lever firmly in place as well preventing the tire from squeezing back into the rim. Now, with the second tire lever, scoop the curved end under the loosened bead near the first lever. Once secured, use a fluid motion to slide the second lever all the way around the wheel to completely remove bead from rim. You can now remove the inner tube from under the loosened tyre.

Find the offender
With the punctured inner tube, pump air in to find where the leak. Once you’ve identified what cause the problem, you’ll have a gauge where on the tire the thorn or piece of glass pierced and can then remove it. But run your fingers inside the whole tire, just to be thorough. Don’t rush this as, if not removed, you’re likely to get another flat, and because there’s a risk of hurting your fingers on the sharp object.

Repair or replace?
When it comes to getting back on the bike, you have two options: repair the inner tube or replace with your new tube. Normally, we’d suggest the latter and, if you want, you can repair the punctured inner tube when you’re home. But in case luck truly deserts you, let’s talk you through the puncture-repair process.

So you’ve found the hole. Rough it up with the emery cloth or scrubber so the patch ‘takes’. If you’re using a glueless patch, place over the hole and press firmly; if you’re using glue, apply a thin layer to both the tube and the patch. Once both become tacky, apply the patch, press firmly and hold until it sticks.

Inflate your tire
Inflate the new or repaired inner tube just enough for it to hold shape and then insert the tire valve into the wheel’s valve hole. Then work the tube back into the tire with your hands, while at the same time working the tire back into the rim. Ideally don’t do this with tire levers as there’s a danger you could puncture the tube. Once you reach the final section bead, use strong thumbs (and the occasional swear word if it helps!) to lift the bead over the rim. Give the tyre a little tap all the way round, checking no inner tube is sticking out, and then pump to your desired PSI. Then slot the wheel back into the frame, tighten the QR and away you go.

When you’re back home, don’t forget to refresh your saddle-pack with a new inner tube, and make sure you keep your puncture repair kit full of patches and glue, and if you used gas canister, replace that too.