How to Fix a Flat Tire - Fix Your Own Flat Mountain Bike Tire

01
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Getting Started

Removing a Mountain Bike Wheel
Fixing a flat tire is really a pretty simple task. Nobody likes to do it, but you can save yourself some money if you know how to fix a flat tire and you wont have to wait. All you need is a patch kit or spare tube, tire levers, bicycle pump, and a little effort. Use this step by step guide to learn how to fix a flat tire.

Remove Wheel and Search

First, remove the wheel with the flat tire. Then take a little time to look for the cause of the flat tire. If what caused the flat tire is still there it will cause another flat tire until it is removed.

02
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Open One Side Only

Open Tire
You don't need to remove the whole tire from the rim. Simply unseat one side of the flat tire from the rim using tire levers if necessary.

When using tire levers insert the scooped end in-between the tire and rim and pry the tire out over the edge of the rim. Some levers have hooks on one end that grab a spoke to hold them in place while you work with another tire lever nearby. Try to keep the distance from tire lever to tire lever small or it will become difficult to pry the tire over the edge of the rim. Once the tire loosens up a little, you can zip a lever or your finger around to get the rest of it loose.

03
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Pull the Tube and Search

Thorn Search
Once you have one side of the flat tire open you can pull the valve stem out of the hole in the rim and then pull the tube out. After the tube is out run your hand around the inside of the flat tire to feel for sharp points or other irregularities that could cause a flat.
04
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Find the Hole

Finding a Hole
If you are going to patch your tube you need to find the hole first. There are several ways to find a hole in a tube. You will need to start by pumping air into your tube until it bulges slightly.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can just see it or hear the air hissing out of it. More difficult punctures can be found by slowly running your hand just over the tube and feeling for an air leak.

Even tougher punctures can be found by moving the tube around right next to your eye. This sounds odd but your eye is very sensitive to blowing air.

The last and failsafe method is to dip the tube under water and watch for the source of rising bubbles. This can be done in a small sink by rotating sections of the tube under water water while the rest of the tube remains in air.

05
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Patch Preparation

Patch Preparation
Different patch kits require different techniques and you should read the instructions that come with your patch kit to make sure your patch holds. Some holes are too large to be patched. If you have a tear that is too big for any of your patches you will need a new tube.

In most cases you will first clean and scar a good sized area around the puncture using a piece of sand paper. Make sure the area you clean and scar is bigger than the the size of the patch you will be using.

06
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Patch Application

Patch Application
After you clean and scar the puncture area, apply a thin layer of adhesive to the same area and let it dry. Don’t apply the patch until the adhesive has dried or your patch will fail. If you apply a thin layer the adhesive will take less than a minute to dry.

Once the adhesive has dried, let any air out of the tube and peal the heavy backing off your patch leaving the thinner layer on the top surface. Place the patch over the puncture and apply pressure. Your tube will be instantly ready to go back into the flat tire on the rim.

07
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Place the Tube Back Into the Flat Tire

Tube In
First put just enough air back into the tube for it to hold its shape. Then tuck the tube back into the flat tire lining up and replacing the valve stem through the valve hole in the rim.
08
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Re-Seat Tire on the Rim

Tire To Rim
Re-seat tire bead into the rim being careful not to pinch the tube with the tire levers if you need to use them.

Depending on the tire/rim combination you will be able to get most of the tire seated with your hands but the last little bit may be difficult and require tire levers.

Make sure the tire is properly seated all of the way around the rim, especially around the valve stem.

09
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Pump It Up and Mount It Up

Pump It Up
Pump your no longer flat tire about half way up to its normal pressure and inspect again to make sure the tire is properly seated on both sides all of the way around the rim. If all looks good finish pumping the tire up to your normal riding pressure or to the tires recommended pressure.

Mount your wheel back onto your bike being careful to get the axle properly seated into the dropouts so the wheel runs straight and your brakes are lined up properly. Always make sure your wheels are properly mounted according to the manufacturers instructions.