How to Change a Bike Inner Tube

Published On:
how to change a bike inner tube featured

For every cyclist, there are chances that you’ve experienced the frustration of a flat tire. Whether it’s caused by a sharp object on the road or a pinch flat from hitting a curb, a punctured inner tube can quickly put a damper on your ride. That’s why it’s important to know how to change a bike inner tube.

In this article, I’ll walk you through the step-by-step process so you can get back on the road in no time.

Step 1: Gather The Necessary Tools And Materials

Before you begin, make sure you have all the tools and materials you’ll need to change the inner tube. Here’s a list to help you get prepared:

  1. A new inner tube that matches the size and valve type of the old one.
  2. A tire lever or two to pry the tire off the rim.
  3. A pump or a CO2 inflator to inflate the new inner tube.
  4. A rag or a cloth to wipe off any dirt or grease from the wheel (optional).

Among them, choosing the right inner tube size and valve type is crucial. To determine the correct size, check the sidewall of your tire for the inner tube size, which is usually expressed in inches or millimeters. For example, if your tire reads “700x25c,” you’ll need an inner tube that matches this size. 

Next, identify the valve type of your old inner tube. There are two common types: Presta and Schrader. Presta valves are long, slender, and have a lock nut at the top, while Schrader valves are shorter and resemble those found on car tires. Ensure the new inner tube has the same valve type as the old one.

Step 2: Remove The Wheel From The Bike

To change the inner tube, you’ll need first to remove the wheel from your bike, or it would become very hard to operate. The process will vary depending on whether it’s the front or rear wheel and whether it has a quick release or a bolt-on axle. Here’s what you need to do:

1. For the front wheel with a quick release:

  • Open the quick release lever and loosen the nut on the opposite side.
  • Lift the wheel out of the fork.

2. For the front wheel with a bolt-on axle:

  • Use a wrench to loosen the nuts on both sides of the axle.
  • Lift the wheel out of the fork.

3. For the rear wheel with a quick release:

  • Shift the chain to the smallest cog.
  • Open the quick release lever and loosen the nut on the opposite side.
  • Pull the wheel out of the frame while lifting the chain over the cog.

4. For the rear wheel with a bolt-on axle:

  • Shift the chain to the smallest cog.
  • Use a wrench to loosen the nuts on both sides of the axle.
  • Pull the wheel out of the frame while lifting the chain over the cog.

Remember to ensure your bike is stable and secure before removing the wheel. You can use a bike stand, lean it against a wall, or lay it on the ground. Also, take note of the position and orientation of the wheel and the quick release or nuts before removing them, as you’ll need to reattach them correctly later. Be careful not to damage the brake pads, spokes, or chain during the process.

Now that you’ve successfully removed the wheel, you’re ready to change the inner tube.

Step 3: Remove The Tire And The Old Inner Tube From The Wheel

Now it’s time to remove the tire and old inner tube from the wheel. Here’s how:

1. Deflate the old inner tube completely by pressing the valve or unscrewing the valve core, depending on the valve type.

2. Insert a tire lever under the tire bead (the edge of the tire that fits into the rim) and pry it over the rim. Slide the tire lever along the rim to peel off the tire.

3. Use another tire lever if needed to remove the other side of the tire from the rim, or pull the tire off by hand if it is loose enough.

4. Pull the old inner tube out of the tire and the rim, starting from the opposite side of the valve. Then, remove the valve from the rim hole.

Tips and Warnings for Removing the Tire and the Old Inner Tube:

  1. Mark the tire and rim with chalk or a sticker before removing them so that they can be aligned correctly later.
  2. Be gentle and patient when using the tire levers, as they can damage the tire, rim, or inner tube if used too forcefully or incorrectly.
  3. Keep the tire levers away from the spokes, as they can bend or break them if they get caught.

Step 4: Check The Tire And The Rim For Any Damage Or Debris

Now that the tire and old inner tube are removed, it’s essential to inspect the tire and rim for any damage or debris that may have caused the puncture or could cause future ones. Follow these steps:

Inspect the tire inside and out for any cuts, holes, cracks, or wear. Feel for any sharp objects, such as glass, nails, or thorns, that may be embedded in the tire.

Inspect the rim for any dents, cracks, or burrs. Feel for any rough edges or protruding spokes that may have punctured the inner tube.

Remove any debris from the tire or rim with a pair of tweezers, a knife, or a rag. Smooth any rough edges or protruding spokes with a file or sandpaper.

Please be careful not to injure yourself with sharp objects or rough edges when checking the tire or rim.

Step 5: Install The New Inner Tube And The Tire On The Wheel

To install the new inner tube and tire on the wheel, start by slightly inflating the new inner tube to give it some shape and prevent it from twisting or pinching. Next, insert the valve of the new inner tube into the rim hole and push the rest of the inner tube inside the tire.

If you made any marks earlier to align the tire and the rim, now is the time to use them. Align the tire and the rim according to the marks, if any.

Begin by pushing one side of the tire bead onto the rim by hand, starting from the opposite side of the valve and working towards it. Once one side of the tire bead is on the rim, move on to the other side. Push the other side of the tire bead onto the rim by hand, starting from the valve and working away from it.

If you encounter any difficulty in getting the last part of the tire bead over the rim, you can use a tire lever. However, be extremely careful not to pinch the inner tube or damage the tire or the rim in the process.

Step 6: Inflate The New Inner Tube To The Recommended Pressure

So, you’ve successfully replaced your bike’s inner tube and now it’s time to inflate it to the recommended pressure.

Inflating a Presta Valve:

  1. Unscrew the valve cap and the valve nut (if present) from the Presta valve.
  2. Attach the pump head to the valve by pushing it down and twisting it until it locks in place.
  3. Start pumping the pump handle to inflate the inner tube.
  4. Keep an eye on the pressure gauge, if your pump has one, to ensure you reach the desired pressure.
  5. Once you’ve achieved the recommended pressure, unlock and detach the pump head from the valve.
  6. Screw back the valve nut (if you removed it earlier) and the valve cap to secure the valve.

Inflating a Schrader Valve:

  1. Unscrew the valve cap from the Schrader valve.
  2. Attach the pump head to the valve by pushing it down and twisting it until it locks in place.
  3. Begin pumping the pump handle to inflate the inner tube.
  4. Monitor the pressure gauge, if available, to reach the desired pressure.
  5. Once you’ve reached the recommended pressure, unlock and detach the pump head from the valve.
  6. Screw back the valve cap to protect the valve.

Please always check the tire sidewall for the recommended pressure range, usually expressed in psi or bar, and inflate the inner tube accordingly based on your riding conditions and preferences.

And use a pressure gauge to measure the pressure of the inner tube and avoid overinflating or underinflating, as this can impact the tire and inner tube’s performance and durability.

Step 7: Reattach The Wheel To The Bike

Now let’s put the wheel with the new inner tube back back to the bike and get back on the road.

For Wheels with Quick Release:

  1. Align the wheel: Start by aligning the wheel with the fork or the frame. Make sure the rotor (if you have disc brakes) is properly seated in the caliper, or make sure the chain is over the smallest cog (for the rear wheel).
  2. Insert the axle: Insert the axle into the dropouts on the fork. Ensure that it goes all the way in and sits securely.
  3. Tighten the nut: On the opposite side of the quick release lever, you’ll find a small nut. Use your fingers to tighten it until it’s snug.
  4. Close the lever: Now, close the quick release lever by flipping it to the closed position. You should feel some resistance as you close it, indicating that it’s properly tightened.

For Wheels with Bolt-On Axle:

  1. Align the wheel: Align the wheel with the fork or the frame, making sure it’s properly seated, or ensuring that the chain is over the smallest cog.
  2. Insert the axle: Insert the axle into the dropouts on the fork or the frame. It should go all the way in and sit securely.
  3. Tighten the nuts: Use a wrench to tighten the nuts on both sides of the axle. Be sure to tighten them evenly, alternating between the two sides until they’re snug.

Tips and Warnings:

  1. Wheel alignment: Make sure the wheel is centered and aligned with the fork or frame. Check that it’s not rubbing against the brake pads, spokes, or chain. Adjust as needed.
  2. Tightening: Ensure that the quick release or nuts are tightened securely and evenly. However, be careful not to overtighten, as this can damage the axle or bearings.
  3. Chain position: Double-check that the chain is on the correct cog and not twisted or tangled. Shift through the gears to test the chain movement and alignment.

Conclusion

When you get here, congratulations! You have just finished the lesson on how to change a bike inner tube. Now it’s your turn to practice and master this cyclist-must-have skill. For beginners, you may need some time to make it. So give yourself some patience.

Photo of author
AUTHOR

Randy Joycelyn

Randy is the founder and editor of Cycling Soigneur. He has been passionate about cycling since he was a kid. He has been riding bikes for over 10 years. Cycling has just become a part of life.

Leave a Comment