Bike Church/Flat Bicycle Tire Repair


These instructions will eventually be posted at the Bike Church self-service station, but before that they need a little bit of sprucing up. So please make edits that will make the instructions simpler and more concise. Also add anything that was forgotten or change anything that is incorrect. This may not be wiki ethical, but I would like to ask if this could be kept specific to the self-service station. After it has been physically posted we can change it to a more general how-to. Thanks, JasonMoore

If you find your tire limp, lifeless, and at a loss of air, you may have a flat that needs repairing. Most flat tires need a simple blessing to bring them back to life and you don’t have to be a minister to do this. So if you aren’t familiar with repairing your flat tire, follows these simple instructions and your bicycles will be on the path to salvation once again.

Supplies and Tools you will need (these will be available at the repair station):

Get to Work:

  1. Pump the tire up to see if still holds air, it may very well have been a slow leak or the valve was somehow depressed. If that is the case you can ride away. But, if you find the tire is flat the next day, then you have a slow leak and will need a patch. If it the tire deflates immediately, then you will need to either patch the hole(s) or replace the inner tube. Inner tubes can be purchased from the bike church or some other shops. Patch kits are available at the self-service center for a 50 cents donation per patch.

  2. Most likely before the wheel can be removed from the bike the brake jaws must be opened. This can be accomplished by activating the quick release lever (some bikes) or releasing the cable at brake (cantilever, v-brake, and cheaper sidepull).release_cantilever_brake.jpgReleasing a cantilever brakerelease_brake_sidepull_nut.jpgUn-clamp the cable on an old side pullrelease_brake_sidepull_lever.jpgActivate the release lever

  1. By either using the quick release or the adjustable wrench remove the wheel from the bicycle. Flipping the bicycle upside down may make this more manageable. Hold the derailleur out of the way to easily remove a rear wheel on a multispeed bike.remove_wheel_quick_release.jpgQuick releaseremove_wheel_nut.jpgUse a wrenchremove_multispeed_rear_wheel.jpgHold the derailleur out of the way

  1. Remove the cap from the tire valve and deflate the tire as much as possible. This is done by pressing in the center of a Schrader valve with a small object or unscrewing the tip of a Presta valve and depressing it with your finger.presta_valve.jpgPresta valveschrader_valve.jpgSchrader valve

  1. Pinch the tire away from the rim. Using two tire levers, pry one side of the tire loose from the rim being careful not to damage the inner tube. pinch_tire.jpgPinch the tireremove_tire.jpgPry one side loose

  1. Remove the inner tube from the tire/rim by starting with the valve stem. The nut on a Presta valve will need to be removed.presta_nut.jpgRemove the rim nutremove_tube.jpgRemove the tube

  1. Inflate the inner tube and locate the leak. If the leak is small you may need to submerge the tube in water to find the hole.submerge_tube.jpgSubmerge the tube into water

  1. Mark the location of the hole with a marker and deflate the tube. If the hole is very large (gaping) or it is on the valve, a new tube will be needed. If a new tube will be used skip to step 17.

  2. Open the patch kit and choose a suitable size patch. Use the smallest one that is necessary.

  3. Use the sandpaper to roughen an area larger than the patch around the tube.sandpaper.jpgSandpaper and marked holeroughen_tube.jpgRoughen the tube

  1. Apply a thin layer of rubber cement to the roughened area. Make it slighty larger than the patch..rubber_cement.jpgApply rubber cement

  1. Let the rubber cement dry for five minutes, in the meantime check the tire and rim for any sharp objects that may have caused the hole and remove them. You can gently run your fingers along the inside of the tire to check for sharp things. This is an important step, as you could quickly get another flat if the object isn't removed.

  2. Once the cement is dry remove the foil backing from the patch and press the patch onto tube over the hole..foil_backing.jpgRemove the foil

  1. Knead the patch onto the tube and make sure no air bubbles are present.apply_pressure.jpgApply pressure

  1. Remove the clear plastic from the top of the patch. -Or not. It is possible that your glue hasn't 100% cured. Often the patch will come with the plastic when peeled. There is no real reason to peel the plastic off. remove_plastic.jpgCarefully

  1. While the glue cures check the inside of the tire and the rim for what may have been the cause of the flat and eliminate the the chance of it causing another. This will hopefully save you the trouble of having to patch the tube twice in one day.

  2. Insert the valve stem back through the rim (if Presta style, replace the rim nut) and then insert the rest of the tube into the tire, making sure that the tube isn’t twisted or bunched.

  3. If you can, do not use tools to reseat the tire. Instead, put your thumbs along the rim and use your palms to "roll" the bead of the tire back onto the rim. If you must, use the two tire levers to seat the tire back into the rim, but be extremely careful not to pinch the tube. Alternately, you can try pinching the sides together all along the rim to seat the tire better, making it easier to finish the job. insert_tire_bead.jpgReseat the tire

  1. Slowly inflate the tube and make sure the tire is seated evenly on the rim. You may need to get a 'converter' to get a more common Schrader valve pump to work with a Presta valve. pump_tire.jpgPump the tire

  1. Reattach the wheel to the bike. The derailleur may need to be held out of the way when attaching a mutlispeed rear wheel. Make sure the wheel is centered within the bike.

  2. Tighten the bolts or quick release levers properly. Close off (Presta only) and cap the valves.

  3. Reactivate the brake release levers or reset the brake and tighten the clamp nut.

  4. Voila! The tire is fixed.


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Should you wait between putting on the patch and inflating the tire?
I don't and I have never had a problem, but it might still be a good idea.-JasonMoore

Also, using as little glue as possible (but still adequately covering the surface area), allows for quicker drying, but also a better rubber-to-rubber bond, rather than creating a "glue-scab" which will break open.-JaimeRaba

2006-09-17 16:38:03   Shouldn't some mention be made about inspecting the tire for whatever caused the flat? It doesn't help much to fix the flat if you're going to immediately get another flat ... —KaiTing

2006-12-19 17:57:49   yes, someone should. I went by the bike church and they said that this station was kinda defunct... —StevenDaubert

2007-07-23 22:13:27   Any advice as to whether a patch-rubber cement complex is particularly superior or inferior to a a self-adhesive patch (e.g., Flat Boy Self-Adhesive Patch Kit, by Specialized)? —LeonardMarque

2007-07-23 23:26:10   I have some shots taken of me fixing a slow leak on my front tire, taken by JA at wiki BBQ

perhaps I should incorporate them —StevenDaubert

2010-06-13 07:41:41   Before Step #3, I find it easiest to change a tire when I change the rear gears to the largest cog. —jono

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