How to Change a Road Bike Tire

Tires are the bike component that wears out the most – and the fastest. When your tires need replacing – and trust us, at some point they inevitably will, there’s no need to go to a bike shop. This is a problem that you can easily take care of yourself – saving both precious time and money along the way.

Helpful Tips on Changing a Road Bike Tire

At some point, you’re going to have to replace the tires on your road bike. Even if they don’t puncture, popped tires aren’t the only danger – even the most high-quality and durable tires eventually degrade from wear and tear – and worn-out tires are no less dangerous.

If you notice that the tire’s tread pattern has significantly degraded, or if you can spot cuts, abrasions, holes, gashes, or lumpy sections – it might be time to get a new pair of tires. Another sign to watch out for is the formation of a flattened ridge across the middle of the tire.

a bike with a flat tire

If your tires start providing suboptimal performance, or if you’re suffering more flats than you usually do – it’s definitely time to get a new pair.

Thankfully, the process is simple, and the tools you’re going to require are easily accessible and affordable. Knowing how to replace a tire can be a real lifesaver in a pinch, and is generally a useful skill to have.

We’re going to go over the process of changing a tire step-by-step, so you’ll always have a handy guide that you can refer to. We’ll also list the tools and supplies that you’ll need – and it’s our recommendation that you get these before you need them.


The Tools of The Trade

Quite a few of the tools that you need to change a road bike tire are probably already in your possession. But you’ll still need to purchase a couple of things – and it’s much more convenient to purchase them in advance, to have them at hand when the time comes.


The Necessities

Let’s begin with the absolute essentials. Obviously, you’ll need a new set of tires, as well as a new set of tubes. When it comes to the tires, make sure that you get a pair that is the same size as your old one. Tubes are made to fit specific tire sizes, so get a pair of tubes that support the appropriate size.

using a floor pump

You’re also going to need a screwdriver – preferably a flat head, as well as a pump with a pressure gauge – either a floor pump or a hand pump. We also recommend having an adjustable wrench on hand – in case you use non-quick release wheels that make use of outer axle nuts.


Useful Additions

Those were the bare essentials – but we highly recommend having a few extra items on hand – they can make a huge difference regarding convenience. A small multi-tool that has screwdriver blades and Allen wrenches is always useful.

A patch kit can help you make it home after suffering a flat – and when possible, you should always strive to repair a tire that can still be used. Patch kits are a great way to fix tubes, and quite small in size – making them easy to carry around at all times.

Although they aren’t always necessary, tire levers make separating the tire from the rim much easier, so we recommend purchasing a set. In much the same vein, a bike repair stand can make any sort of bike maintenance, including changing tires, much easier.


Replacing The Tire

Now let’s go over the process of changing a road bike tire step by step. It’s quite simple – and with practice, it will become less and less time-consuming. Even if you don’t need to replace your tires at the moment, we still recommend practicing in advance – that way, you’ll be better prepared when the need for changing a tire does arise.


Removing The Wheel

Put your bike upside down so it rests on the seat and handlebars. If you have a bike repair stand, use that instead. Next, you should release the brakes. A lot of brakes have a simple, quick-release mechanism – if you have v-brakes, squeeze the arms together so that you can release the cable once the tension eases.

removing the chains to change the tire

After that, you’ll want to loosen the wheel. Newer, quick-release wheels have a simple lever on the axles, while older models usually have a pair of nuts that have to be loosened with an adjustable wrench.


Removing the Old Tire

Now that you’ve removed the wheel, fully deflate the tire. If your tires have nuts at the bottom of their valve stems, remove them.

tire and tube removal

After that is done, pull back the tire at the opposite side of the valve stem. Then, slide a screwdriver or preferably a tire lever between the tire and the rim. Go slow as to not pinch the tube. If the tire lever gets stuck, lock the free end into the wheel spokes and continue with a second lever.

Apply even, consistent pressure to pry the tire from the rim. Make sure that the tire edge is moving over the lip of the rim. Once the edges are over the rim, slide the screwdriver or tire lever under the tire, at the side of the tire that is still in the rim. Use your tool of choice for leverage to dislodge the tire.


Installing The New Tire

Lay your new tube out flat, and inflate it slightly using a pump. The tube should start taking shape, but it shouldn’t be anywhere near completely inflated. Next, slide the tube completely into the tire. Line up the valve of the inner tube with the rim’s valve hole.

Once you’ve done that, push the side or edge of the tire onto the rim. At the same time, push the tube between the sides of the rims. Getting a good fit with the tube may take some time, but be patient and gentle.

installing the new tire

Once one side of the tire and the tube are in the rim, you can once again use the tire lever for leverage to push the tire over the edge of the rim and over the lip. If needed, adjust the position of the tube. After a while, it will be easy to roll the rest of the tire into a proper position over the rim edge. Once again, go slow to avoid snapping the tire into place. After that, replace the nut on the valve stem.

Next, make sure that the bead and the rim properly meet all across the tire. Once all of that is done, inflate the tires to the recommended amount of pressure. Now you can reinstall the wheel and enjoy your new tires.

About the author
How to Change a Road Bike Tire: A Detailed Guide — Bike Hacks