Faced with a flat? Here are some tips to help you fix it fast:
A friend who recently discovered her bike tire was flat called to ask how to remove the stem from the tube. “I keep pulling and tugging but can’t get the stem to come off.” I couldn’t help but laugh a little as I explained that the stem is supposed to remain attached and that each new tube has its own stem.
Fortunately this friend was in her own driveway and not stranded on the side of the road somewhere when it came time to tackle her first flat. Think of it this way: Just as you must learn to walk before you can run, you must also learn to change a tire before you ride; especially if you ride alone.
Though there are numerous instructional videos online that demonstrate the correct way to change a tire, nothing beats hands-on experience when it comes to learning to do it yourself. Consider contacting your local bike shop as most offer free tire-changing clinics throughout the year.
To change a tire at home or on the road you will need a pump or a CO2 cartridge, a tire lever and a spare tube. If your tire becomes flat, remove the wheel from the bike and perform an external inspection of the tire, removing any nails, splinters or scrap metal you find.
Next, use the tire lever to remove the tire from the rim and extract the damaged tube.
Carefully run your finger around the inside of the tire to make sure no sharp objects remain. Position the new tube inside the tire, taking care to make sure it is not bunched or twisted, tuck the tire back into the rim, and inflate the new tube.
Though a pump is beneficial because it provides an infinite supply of air, it’s more work to use and is somewhat bulky to carry. CO2 cartridges, which use compressed CO2 to rapidly inflate a tube, are a quick and compact alternative. However, in addition to the extra cost of using CO2 cartridges, the drawback, according to intownbicycles.com, is that “you get only one shot per cartridge, so you better not misfire.” Bicycling.about.com notes that new users sometimes find it difficult to gauge exactly how much pressure the CO2 cartridges are delivering. “Many cyclists have blown out tubes by over-inflating them, but that gets easier with practice,” the site reports. So, since your air supply is thus limited to the number of cartridges you carry, toting extra CO2 becomes just as important as carrying spare tubes. All of these items, including a patch kit, can be neatly stowed in a bike wedge or small seat pouch that is typically mounted below the saddle.
Smartcylces.com recommends that before every ride you inspect your tires and check the pressure, make sure brakes are operational, and tighten any loose hardware. After riding, be sure to inspect your tires again, clean your drivetrain and frame of sand, grime and sweat, re-lube your chain, and hang your bike in a safe place.
A bike tune up, which is a complete inspection, adjustment, and lubrication of your bicycle, is recommended every six to twelve months to ensure your bike is safe and reliable.