How to repair a puncture

It’s well worth learning how to repair a puncture. It saves you money but, arguably more important, you aren’t left stranded if you get a puncture when a long way from home or a bike shop.

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 guage
    • A small biro 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. If you feel a puncture, stop as soon as you can. Cycling on a flat can make the problem much worse.
  2. Get yourself into a safe place where you can work on the bike away from traffic,
  3. Remove your wheel.
  4. Make a note of the position of the valve in relation to the tyre (not the wheel). That will help you find the cause of the puncture later on.
  5. Use tyre lever (see the videos below) to remove the tyre.
  6. Remove the inner tube. You might have to unscrew the collar from the valve before you can remove it from the rim. You will need to remember which way round the inner tube came out of the tyre, or you can mark which way round it was with a biro.
  7. Add some air to the inner tube and use your hand or your lips feel around the tyre to find the puncture. Note you might have two punctures at the same place – one at the outside of the tube and one at the inside.
  8. If possible, mark position of the puncture with a biro – that makes it easier to find it again when it comes to placing the patch.
  9. Place the valve next to the tyre in the position where it was when you removed it, with the inner tube the same way round as when you removed it.
  10. Look for what caused the puncture at the place in the tyre corresponding to the puncture location. The sharp is probably embedded in the tyre. If you fail to find it, you risk a second puncture if it’s left in the tyre. Feel round the inside of the tyre carcass for a thorn. Look for a flint or piece of glass that might be deeply embedded in the tread of the tyre. Remove the offending article with a sharp point.
  11. Patch the inner tube or, if the tyre is irreparable, replace the inner tube. See the videos below for examples of patching an inner tube with self-adhesive patches or patches you have to glue on.
  12. Put some air in the inner tube and look for another puncture. Use the above procedure to repair it if you find one.
  13. Deflate the inner tube by pressing on the top of the valve and add just enough air to give it some shape.
  14. Place the tube inside the tyre. Fit the valve into the rim and put one half of the tyre inside the wheel. Make sure the valve is in straight. Line the valve up with an obvious point in the tyre (the first character of the maker’s name, for example) – so it’s easier to find the next puncture.
  15. Push the remainer of the tyre over the rim – this can be difficult; take care not to pinch the inner tube, especially if you have to use a tyre lever.
  16. Check around each side of the wheel pushing the tyre in slightly so you can see if the inner tube is pinched.
  17. Screw the collar to the valve if it has one.
  18. Reinflate the inner tube to a suitable pressure.
  19. Replace your wheel. 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):

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.