Changing a tire on a road bike is no big deal, but it can be frustrating when you’re in the middle of nowhere with nothing but cobblestones around. Here are all the steps you need to know to get that pesky leaking balloon off your wheel.

The Tools Needed

To get started, you’ll need a few basic tools. You can use a floor pump with a pressure gauge to get the necessary air pressure in your new tire before installing it on the rim. A Flat screwdriver and some new brake pads will also come in handy.

A pump and a pump gauge will allow you to pump the tire up to proper air pressure. This is especially important if you’re using an older tube with a lower air volume than you normally.

If you’re using non-quick release wheels with outer axle nuts, you should also have an adjustable wrench available.

Tire Replacement

Let’s have a look at how to change a road bike tire step by step. It’s straightforward, and with practice, it’ll take less and less time. Even if you don’t need to replace your tires right now, we recommend training ahead of time so you’ll be ready when the time comes.

Step One: Un-Ride, Then Remove the Wheel.

Remove the wheel from the bike and let the air out of the inner tube if the tire isn’t already completely deflated. To release the air from a Presta valve (the pointy ones), loosen the little barrel at the top of the valve slightly so you can press it down into the valve body. Remove the valve collar that secures it to the rim by loosening and removing it.

Start by removing your wheel from the bike. This can be done by first loosening the quick-release lever to allow for some slack, then pulling the lever out, followed by pulling out on one side of the wheel’s axle. Now you have enough room to pull off the wheel. Typically, it’s best to pull off one side at a time.

Step Two: Remove Your Old Tire

Once your wheel is off, it’s time to remove that old tire. Make sure the inner tube is completely deflated; work your way around the tire, forcing it inwards until the tire’s base (edge) is flush with the rim’s center. Do this on both sides to give yourself some breathing room. You can detach it from either end of the tube if necessary – whichever end has a tight seal is usually where your air leak will be coming from.

Tire levers will be required if the tire is too tight. Place the spoon end of the first lever under the tire’s edge so that it catches behind the tire bead. Pull the tire up and over the rim’s edge by pressing down on the lever. You can sometimes slide the single lever around the inside of the tire, pulling it away from the rim as you go.

Step Three: If Necessary, Remove Your Old Tube.

If the tube you’re using is kinked or damaged in any way, it may be best to remove it now. You can do this by simply removing the clip that holds the tube in place (the two halves will separate straight up if it’s gone bad) and rolling it up like a spring.

If you plan to reuse the tire, this is a good opportunity to inspect it for any damage, such as splits in the tread or thorns penetrating the interior. But be cautious; you don’t want to injure yourself in the process. Also, look for fractures, dents, or sharp edges on the wheel’s rim.

Step Four: Take Your New Tube Out of the Packet.

The next thing you need to do is find out how long your new tube is. This is typically marked on the outside of the packet too. If it’s not, you can find this information online.

Make sure you have the correct innertube size for your tire. On the tube’s side, the tire diameter range will be printed. The tube will stretch dangerously thin when it expands to fill a larger tire than suggested. A too-large tube will be difficult to squeeze into the tire, making it difficult to fit and ride. Make sure the valve is long enough to go all the way through the rim.

Step Five: Install Your New Tube Into The Frame.

Getting your new tube in there can be a pain, but it mainly involves inserting the tube into the frame and letting it go slightly past where you want it to start so that you’re at the proper air pressure and stop just before your tire hits the rim.

Slide the tube around the rim and tighten it down on both ends. The easiest way to do this is to put the tube through the tires first, then thread it back through the hole again, so you have a good idea of where it goes behind the tire.

Step Six: Attach The Tire To The Wheel.

Slide the tire over the rim so that one side of your tire can open up to cover your tube. Then attach your outer axle nut, tighten it down with your wrench and then repeat on the other side. Now you should be good to go!

You should now have a properly inflated new tire – be sure to check it after riding for a bit just in case you need to let some air out.

Step Seven: Put The Wheel Back On Your Bike

This is much easier than taking it off. Just pull the quick-release lever up, push the wheel back into place (again, one side at a time), and then release the lever to make sure everything is secure.

Step Eight: Take A Test Ride.

Once you’re confident your tires are good to go, it’s time to test them out. Rather than riding on cobblestones, you can get to know the tires better. If you have any doubts, it’s best to go back to our beginners’ guide or look up information about your particular bike before any real riding starts.

Step Nine: Put On The Panniers.

Assuming you have panniers on your bike, threading the wheel over the racks is typically the last step before putting everything else back in place and getting ready for your next ride.

Final Thoughts

Changing a tire on your bike is easy, but it may be frustrating if you’re in the middle of nowhere. Here are some tips to make it easier. When changing a tire, you’ll need the tools listed in the opening section; floor pump with gauge to check air pressure, a flat-head screwdriver for removing the valve core tool to release the air out of your old tube, and an adjustable wrench for removing your rim nuts. You will also need an inner tube that’s at least 25mm (1 inch) wide (ensure that this corresponds with your inner tube valve). If you have replacement tubes already in the packet, use one appropriate to your new set of tires, so you don’t damage either. A bike pump with a pressure gauge allows you to get the right inflation pressure. Inflate the tube to the maximum 165psi before installing it on the rim, then deflate it once you have checked that it is not leaking from either bead or around the valve.

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