How to Change a Mountain Bike Tire?

Much like the tires on a car, mountain bike tires can go flat, and need to be changed every now and then. All it takes is a misplaced nail, an unusually sharp stone, or a robust thorn, and your riding experience for the day could come to an end.

Unless! (Dramatic pause). You happen to know how to change a flat mountain bike tire and you have the right tools to change one or have a spare tucked away somewhere during your ride.

You could also just wait there on the side of the trail until someone who does know how to change a mountain bike tire comes along, but they might not have a spare for you, and you could end up stranded there for hours before anyone even comes by. So, it’s probably best that you just learn to do it yourself.


Changing the Tire

There are basically two main ways that you can change a mountain bike tire, and each one depends on your resources at the time. You could either change the inner tube completely, or you could repair the puncture and reinsert the tube.

Muddy Mountain Bike Tire

Given that it is slightly more unlikely that you will be carrying around a spare tire during your ride, and the fact that it simply costs less to repair a tire, the more useful option you have is probably to repair the tube, but both are useful. We will get to those options shortly.

Removing the Wheel

The most obvious thing you need to do first to deal with a puncture is remove the wheel. To do this, disengage the brakes from that tire and then remove the nuts from either side. In some cases, you will also have a quick release lever which you will need to use to lift to remove the tire.

Getting the Tire Off

Once the wheel has been removed, you can begin taking the tire off. You may need a tire lever to do this, so make sure you carry one with you whenever you ride, because these end up being very useful in a flat tire situation.

Mountain Bike Tire Removal

If there is still a lot of air in the tire, release some through the valve to make this part easier. Once you have done that, use the tire lever to pull the tire away from the rim. Try to start on the opposite side from the valve to avoid doing any damage.

When you manage to get one part loose, it should be much easier to loosen the rest of the tire by running the leaver along the rim. The tire should be easy to pull off at this point, so just remove it.

Check for Sharp Objects

Make sure, before you do anything, you check the tire for any sharp objects which could have caused the puncture, you don’t want to get going again just to get a puncture straight away. Run your fingers along the inside of the tire to feel for anything sharp, and check the outside for anything that may be stuck.

The next part is where the different options, which we mentioned earlier, come in – replacing the tube or repairing the puncture.

Replacing the Tube

The simplest way to get back on the trail as fast as possible is to deflate the tube you have completely, pack it away, and replace it with a punctureless tube. If this is your option, you can skip to the “Putting the Tire Back On” step.

Fixing the Puncture

Many people who ride don’t carry around a spare tube with them, but do have puncture repair kits. If this is you, you have the option to fix the puncture and get back. This is also quite a fast process, but is more complicated than replacing the tube.

Mountain Biker Fixing a Flat Tire

First you will need to find the puncture. There are a few ways to do this, but the main options people go for are either to submerge the tube in water and find where the bubbles are escaping from, or put your ear to the tube while rotating it until you hear where the air is coming from and then locating the exact spot using your finger or lips to feel for air.

Of course, you will not always have a good supply of water to submerge your tire in, so learn both of these tricks for your benefit.

Once you have located the puncture,  use your repair kit to patch it up. Repair kits come with their own instructions, but they usually use a patch which you apply over the hole.

Make sure the area is dirt-free and dry, so that the patch works properly, then place it over the hole and wait a few minutes for it to secure itself enough. You can then re-test for any air leaks and repeat the process as necessary.

Putting the Tire Back On

To put the tire back on, the first thing you need to do is inflate the tube slightly (NOT FULLY) to give it some shape and get it to fit more easily. Then place it into the rim, positioning the valve stem through the valve hole. Make sure that the valve stem is correctly positioned to avoid any future damage.

Putting the Bike Tire On

Once the tube has been placed correctly, you can start working the tire onto the rim. Start by simply placing the one side within the rim, and then work on getting the other side in. Make sure you begin on the opposite side of the valve to avoid damage and make the process a little easier.

The easiest way to do this is to press the wheel against your thighs or the floor, using both hands to press the tire into the rim simultaneously on opposite ends. While doing this, make sure you do not pinch the tube against the rim with the tire.

The last part of this might get a little difficult, so you can use your tire lever to help you out if you really need to. Again, make sure the valve stem is vertical to avoid any damage.

Pump it Up

Now all you have to do is use your bike pump to pump the tire up (assuming you know how to use a bike pump). When you push the pump against the valve stem, you can press against the opposite side of the stem to keep it from moving while you attach the pump.

Pumping Mountain Bike Tire

And that’s all you have to do to change your mountain bike tire. In many cases, this is actually quite similar to changing tires of other bikes too. So you can more than likely use these techniques for a fixie bike, cruiser bike or road bike.

Just make sure the components are the same and you should be good to go, avoiding many chances of being stranded or having to walk your bike back to the car in the future.

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How to Change a Mountain Bike Tire? — Bike Hacks