How to repair a puncture

Punctures are easy to fix, once you know how, so you can save money, and won’t be left stranded if you get one on a journey.

And clicking here might avoid getting one in the first place.

You can make life easier for yourself if you can:

  • Practice repairing punctures at home
  • Carry a spare inner tube with you (makes it easier to repair punctures, and some punctures will damage your inner tube so it can’t be fixed)
  • Carry the right tools with you:
    • Good tyre levers – the ones you get in cheap kits can be too bendy, making them useless
    • Self-adhesive patches or a puncture repair kit
    • Pump – preferably one with a pressure gauge
    • A small biro or wax crayon is useful for marking punctures
    • Something with a sharp point to remove whatever caused the puncture from your tyre

To repair a puncture, follow these steps (we include a couple of videos at the end of this post):

  1. Stop riding as soon as you feel a puncture! Cycling on a flat can damage the tube and tyre.
  2. Find a safe place away from traffic and get your tools ready. Find something to mark tyre and tube, such as biro, wax crayon, chalk, or even a smear of mud or chain oil.
  3. Remove your wheel as shown here. You may need to loosen rim brakes.
  4. Spot the cause? – perhaps there’s an obvious thorn or sharp flint? If so, pull it out and mark the position on the tyre, so you can find it later on the tube.
  5. Mark the valve position on the tyre – that might help you remove the cause of the puncture later on.
  6. Remove the tyre using tyre levers (see the videos below).
  7. Remove the inner tube, unscrewing any collar. Remember or mark which way round the inner tube came out of the tyre to help remove the cause later.
  8. Find the leak by pumping in a little air and feeling with your hand or lips for an air jet. Watch for a second puncture opposite it.
  9. Mark and patch the tube, or replace it if too bad or in a hurry. See the videos below for examples of patching an inner tube with self-adhesive or glue-on patches.
  10. Check for further punctures by pumping in a little air and checking it stays up.
  11. Check the tyre to remove the cause if it’s still there. Feel round the inside for a thorn or nail, and look on the outside for any flints or glass embedded in the tread, and remove them.
  12. Prepare the tyre with one bead inside the wheel, one outside. Line the valve hole up with something on the tyre like the start of the maker’s name, so it’s easier to find future punctures. If you took the tyre off the rim, some tyres have uni-directional tread with an arrow for the direction of rotation – make sure it goes on the right way.
  13. Refit the tube by laying it inside the tyre, with a little air to keep its shape. Fit the valve into the rim and put the valve half of the tyre inside the wheel. Make sure the valve is in straight.
  14. Refit the tyre by working it over the rim from either side, taking care not to pinch the inner tube, and trying not to use a tyre lever. Tip: Holding the tyre bead in the central ‘well’ of the rim makes it looser on the opposite side. You can do this by resting the bottom of the wheel in your lap and working upwards, or by using string or a couple of re-useable cable ties.
  15. Check the tube isn’t pinched by working around each side of the wheel pushing the tyre in slightly to check you can’t see the tube.
  16. Tighten the valve collar if it has one, checking the valve’s still straight.
  17. Replace your wheel as show here..
  18. Reinflate to a suitable pressure, and refit the dust cap.
  19. Check your wheel is tight and brakes are working!
  20. Job done!

This video demonstrates how to repair a puncture using a self-adhesive patch (my preferred method – patches are simpler and less fussy than glue-on patches, but not everyone trusts them):

This video demonstrates how to repair a puncture using glue-on patches. The visual references to the Monty Python ‘Bicycle Repair Man’ sketch date the video – or perhaps the presenters – but the method hasn’t changed:

If the videos don’t match your type of bike you might find the videos about removing and replacing wheels helpful.

And if you need more details, here’s a good place to look.