Changing an inner tube is one of the basic operations that you absolutely must know how to do when you ride a bike. It’s a simple operation that will save you from a walk back home.
At the bike shop, I change tubes absolutely every day, so my method is now well known. I share it with you in this article.
It’s very easy to do, you’ll make it like a boss.
Let’s get started!
The tools you need for inner tube replacement
Whether at home or to take with you on a bike ride, you will need :
- a foot or hand pump;
- 1, 2, or 3 tire levers depending on the difficulty;
- a repair kit or a new tube.
How to remove a bike inner tube
To remove the tube, you must remove the bike wheel. To facilitate the disassembly and reassembly of the rear wheel, I recommend that you stand on the small chainring and the small sprocket to loosen the chain. Open the quick-release axle or unscrew the nuts to free it.
Disassembling the tire
Once the wheel is free I usually place the first tire lever a few centimeters to the right of the valve. For a left-handed person, it will be more obvious to do it on the left side.
Insert it between the tire and the edge of the wheel rim and pry it off. It is possible that the tire will release directly. If not, insert a second or even a third tire lever and then successively pry it away from the valve.
If the tire still doesn’t come off, repeat the procedure, gradually moving away from the valve.
Only use bicycle tire levers, they are designed to position and bend correctly in case of too much stress.
Once one side of the tire is free from the bike rim I move to the opposite side of the valve and pull on the tire and tube to free the second side. Doing it from this side gives you more range and you won’t be bothered by the valve.
Completely remove the tire along with the tube and finally pull the valve out.
Checking the condition of your tire and rim
It is comfortable to separate the rims and tires to check their condition. By eye and touch, make sure there are no holes or debris on the tire. For the rim, check that the rim base is in good condition and that it does not show any holes or tears. Check that the wheel rim edges are not bent.
Note that it is not mandatory to replace the inner tube every time you get a puncture. In general, the use of a new tube is justified when the tube is too old (porous), or the puncture is too big. Otherwise, you can easily make three repairs before changing it.
If you have any doubts regarding flat tires, check out our article on how to repair a bike tire.
How to install a bike inner tube
It is not necessary to use a tire lever, as this can pinch the tube.
Start by installing the tire by respecting the tread direction that may be indicated on the sidewall.
- Install one of the tire beads (the part that fits into the rim) on the bike wheel. By convention, we place the mark at the level of the valve to easily locate it.
- Inflate the tube slightly to make it easier to install. Over-inflating will distend the tube and increase its diameter.
- Insert the valve into the rim slot.
- Put the tube in place inside the tire
- Place the second bead starting opposite the valve and work your way down to and through the valve.
- Be careful not to pinch the tube, make sure the tire is centered on the rim and that the valve is perpendicular to the rim.
You can now inflate the tire to the pressure recommended on the sidewall.
How not to damage the inner tube during fitting
Very often, we come to damage or pinch the inner tube during the assembly when it is complicated. Here are some techniques to make your assembly a success without damaging the components.
First and foremost, make sure the tube and tire match the rim size. Depending on the model, rims, and tires can be difficult to match.
The first technique is to pinch the tire to center the beads in the middle of the wheel rim. This gives you more room to position the tube and finish inserting the tire. Always finish diametrically opposite the valve.
A second technique that I don’t usually use, but that does exist, is to use soapy water to make the tire slide more easily inside the rim.
When to replace a bike tube?
Changing an inner tube in case of a puncture is not systematic. In general, it is replaced after 2 or 3 repairs. Otherwise, it is necessary to replace the tube if it is old and porous or if the hole is too big.
How can I tell if I need to repair or change my inner tube?
If after repairing your inner tube, you continue to puncture it repeatedly, it is because it is too old and no longer strong enough. In this case, replace it. On the other hand, if you have burst your tube or if the tear is too important, its replacement is obvious.
Can I put an inner tube in a tubeless tire?
Installing an inner tube in a tubeless tire is not a problem. On the contrary, it is an emergency solution in case the hole in the tire is too big and the preventive fluid did not work.
See? Now, you won’t even be afraid of getting a flat. Replacing an inner tube is really not that complicated. Learn the method and follow it, the answer to “How to change a bike inner tube?” will quickly become automatic.