So you’ve got your best road bike shoes on, and you are ready for a fun adventure, but, suddenly, while you are on the road, you realize that you need to change the tire of the bike or the tubes. Maybe they popped while you were riding, or they’re not really working anymore because they have been overused.
Before changing the tire, you will need a few simple tools, and most of them can usually be found around the house.
While it’s not exactly rocket science, you still need a guide to help you with various steps, and we’ll start by saying this is going to work better if you do it at home. It’s not impossible to do it outside, but it’s just easier in your garage because you will need a series of tools that you probably don’t carry with you while on the road.
Among the tools that you are going to need for this, we can mention some new tires (obviously), new tubes (if it’s the case), a tire pump, and a screwdriver with a flathead. As optional tools, we could name-drop a putty knife and a plastic putty knife, but these are not really necessary, compared to the first items listed, but they can also help.
Very important is to keep in mind that when you are going to buy a pair of new tires, you have to double-check the size that these products have in your case. You can find this piece of information on the side of the tire you are planning on changing. The tubes, as well, have to be made for the correct size of the tire. Don’t risk wasting time by skipping this step.
Remove the wheel
To start things off, you will need to place the bicycle in a bike stand or, if you don’t own one, place it upside down, on its seat and handlebars. As a result of this position, you will have better access to all parts of the bicycle so that you will be able to do the job as you should, properly and efficiently.
In case you are working directly on concrete or a similar rough surface, a trick that will help you not to scratch the seat or handlebars is to place a piece of cardboard on the ground and then place the bicycle on it. This way, you are sure to keep the surface of the bike safe while you are working on changing the tires.
Start loosening the wheel by using the lever or the bolt, depending on the bike model that you own. Of course, if the bike has a bolt, you will need to rely on the help of a set of pliers or on a socket set so that you will be able to remove it properly. Then, you will have to undo the brakes.
In order for you to undo the brakes, you have to use the tensioner that is on the brakes, which is there to help you release the tension. As a result, removing the tires will be much easier. In case you are working on removing only the front tire, this step is not necessary, and you can just skip to the next one.
Now, you will need to loosen the tension on the chain. Start pulling the small gear that you will find at the top of the rear sprocket set toward the front of the bicycle. This action will result in loosening the chain. After the chain has been placed on the rear sprocket, you will be able to pull it up on the wheel so that you can remove it.
It is important to note here that, even if you have loosened the brakes already, you will still encounter a certain level of force that will try to stop you from removing the wheel. Don’t worry about it one bit, this is perfectly normal when you are trying to remove the wheel, so just go ahead and do it.
Removal of the old tire
Now it is time to let the air out from the tire – all of it. If you notice a nut at the bottom of the valve stem, remove it. You will need to start across from the valve stem and start pulling back the tire from the rim. Now place a screwdriver in the newly created slit by the pulling back of the tire.
Keep in mind that you may have to put some force on the tire if you are looking to get a space that is spacious enough for you to slide the screwdriver in. The older the tire, the truer this is. Hold the wheel using your non-dominant hand, and with your main one, hold the screwdriver.
When you’ve reached this level, you’ll have to start pulling the screwdriver toward you, but, at the same time, be sure that the tire edge is also being pulled up and over the lip of the rim. You will need to pay some attention to this move, as the screwdriver can easily slip toward you, and that is not something you’d want to happen.
Stop when the tire edge has been pulled over the lip of the rim completely. In case you don’t have a screwdriver at your disposal, you can use other items that we mentioned in the beginning, such as a putty knife or a bike lever. Now slide the screwdriver under the tube and the tire in its entirety.
You’ll have to be sure that you’ve managed to slide it under from the side of the tire that is still placed in the rim. After you’ve managed to get the screwdriver under the tire, you’ll have to rely on it to use it as a lever so that you will be able to push the tire up and then over the rim. Now you just have to pull the tire down and around the rim.
Doing this will remove it from the wheel. You shouldn’t encounter any problems with this step or forces to fight you. After the tire and the tube are freed from the wheel, you can start removing the tube from the tire. If you would like to use the tube again, be careful not to create any punctures or tears in its rubber.
Putting it back
After you’ve done all that and you have a new tire, you can now put the chain around the rear sprocket. You will have to do this before you place the wheel on the frame. If you don’t do it now, the chain will simply be outside of the sprocket, which means that you will not be able to ride the bike, so don’t forget about this.
Slide the tire back on the frame. Like it happened when you removed the tire, getting the tire through the brakes will require some force out of you. After the tire has gone through the brakes, you can align it in the frame. Start hooking the chain back to the derailer. Afterward, start pulling the tensioner back so that you will be able to loop the chain there.
Be careful that the chain is taut so that you will enjoy a smooth level of shifting when you are riding the bike. Climb on the bike and see if the wheels are straight on the frame. In case they are not, you just have to turn the bike upside down again or place it in the stand once more to fix this.
Start loosening the axle bolts and see that both sides are even in the frame when you are tightening the bolt back down again. You just have to repeat this operation until you are sure that the wheels are straight, which may take a couple of minutes, but it’s only so that you will be able to ride the bike properly, so it’s not really wasted time.
When you are done with this, congratulations, you’ve just changed your very first road bike tire! It may sound like it’s a bit of work, but, in reality, once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you will be able to do it as a reflex, without even really thinking of the steps that you need to follow, so, it’s all just a bit of practice!