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Greater Arizona Bicycling Association, Inc.
Where cycling is more than just riding a bike
March Show
HomeFlat Repair
Opening Brakes to Remove the Wheels from your Bike:


will usually have a lever to
relax the cable and open them


You squeeze the brakes
together, then pop the metal
"noodle" up out of the
carrier bracket


You squeeze the brakes together, then remove the cable end
from the brake arm as shown



Some bikes, such as children's bikes, may not have a way of releasing the brakes without tools. For this
type of brake, it's often easier to put the wheel back in the frame BEFORE inflating the tire.

coaster_ brakes

To remove the rear wheel you must unbolt the brake support
arm from the rear chainstay before unbolting the axle nuts.

Loosen the axle nuts and the wheel will slide forward out of
the frame.

1.  Open up the brakes & remove the wheel from the bike. There are types of bikes where you don't
have to open up the brakes to remove a wheel. Get to know your own bike.

Wheels are either held on with axle nuts or quick release levers. Some bikes have rim brakes and some
(particularly children's bikes) have coaster brakes. Axle nuts must be removed with either a box wrench
or an adjustable wrench before a wheel can be removed.

On bikes with coaster brakes the stabilizing bracket must be unbolted from the left side of the frame
before removing the rear wheel. Be careful not to lose the nut and bolt for this bracket.

2.  To remove the wheel on a bike with quick release levers, no tools are necessary and you should
be able to remove the wheel from the front forks or rear dropouts, front or rear.


4.  To get the tire off the rim, first use your fingers to pinch the tire and break it free where it may
be stuck to the metal rim.

Insert a tire lever between the tire bead and the rim and gently pry the bead up and over the rim. Never
screwdriver - the ends are sharp enough to damage the tube or gouge an aluminum rim.

Be sure to put your lever under the tire bead but not under the tube to avoid becoming caught under
the tube.

Insert a second lever five or eight inches (3 ro 4 spokes) away and wiggle and pry until the bead pops
free, over the edge of the rim. This is the toughest part. Once a good section of the bead is broken free,
the tire will come off easily.

After the bead is free, you should be able to remove the tire by running the lever in a circle around
the whole rim. Some tires can be removed without tools. Others, such as Kevlar bead tires, may
require three tire levers and lots of muscle to pry them off the rim. Every tire and rim combination
is different, and some are just plain hard to get off!


5.  Check the tire for damage. Look for cuts in the tread or sidewall. Cracks in the rubber, thorns,
pieces of glass, etc. Run your fingers along the inside of the tire and remove any sharp objects you
find. Be careful not to cut your fingers! If the tire is dried up, sun-rotted or crumbly, it's time for a
new one.

If bikes are stored out in the sun and rain, the tires and other rubber or plastic parts will age quickly.

A serious cut in the tire casing will mean replacing the tire. It may be necessary to throw away the
tire if it is significantly damaged, shows many cracks from age or if the wire bead is damaged. A
worn out tire isn't worth keeping and could cause you another flat when you're out riding.

6.  Check the tube carefully. Sometimes there will be more than one hole. Fill up the tube and
look it over to make sure you've found them all. Tubes that have sat a long time will have cracks
along the edges and around the valve stem. A dried up, cracked tube can't be repaired and must
be replaced.


1.  Find the hole! Fill the tube and listen for the leak. When you find it, mark the hole with
a pen, or hold your finger on it to remember the location. If there are many punctures,
consider buying a new tube.

2.  Scuff it! Tire patch kits Will include a tube scuffer, made out of stamped metal or sandpaper.
This is an important part. Rough up the surface of the tube all around the hole, plus an area
twice the size of the patch. This makes a good surface for the glue to bond to. The more you
scuff the better the patch will stick.


patching_the_tube_33. Smear the glue and let it dry. Rub the adhesive all
around the hole, in an area twice the size of the patch.
Another important part - let the glue dry
completely! Be patient! Give it several minutes to dry
until it's no longer clear. If you apply the patch when
the glue is still wet, it will fall off!

4. Rub it! Once you stick down the patch, rub the edges
hard with the flat part of the tire lever, your thumbnail
or a coin, in a direction away from the center. The edge
of the patch will melt (or 'vulcanize') onto the tube with
a chemical reaction if it's done correctly.

It should be well glued on to the tube with no peeling up at the edges.


5.  Stuff it! Carefully put the tube back into the tire after checking to see if it holds air. Line up the
valve and position the tire onto the rim. Sometimes it is easier to do when the tube has a small
amount of air in it so that it keeps its shape. Work the tire back onto the rim with your hands then
finish up with a couple of tire levers, if needed.

IMPORTANT! Be careful not to pinch the tube. Often, a part of the tube will stick out between
the tire bead and the rim, if you pinch it, you can puncture the tube and will have to start over.

As you work the bead back onto the rim with the lever, be careful not to pinch the tube with the
levers, or the same thing will occur. This is the most difficult part of mounting a tire.

After the tire is mounted on the rim, look all around the rim to make sure that the tube
isn't sticking out. If any parts of the tube are left between the bead and the rim, it will explode
when you inflate it.

Partially inflate the tire, and look to make sure the bead is firmly on the rim. If everything looks
good, pump the tire to the recommended pressure shown on the sidewall. Listen for any air leaks.
Hopefully there won't be any!


Nutted wheel with rim brakes, rear wheel - unscrew the axle nuts most of the way. Slide the
wheel into the frame, being careful to hook the chain, so that it is properly wrapped around the
rear cog. Guide the axles into their slots (dropouts) and tighten the nuts with your fingers. Before
bolting the wheel into place, tug the wheel backwards until the chain is good and tight. You
should be able to flex the chain up and down about a half inch. Too loose and it will fall off quickly -
too tight and it will be hard to pedal.

Tighten the right nut first with the wrench then make sure the tire is centered in the frame.
Tighten the left side when everything is lined up. Using a couple of 15mm wrenches or
adjustable (crescent-type) wrenches tighten the whee solidly.


7.  The rim strip is a strip of rubber, plastic or canvas wrapped around the rim which protects
the inside of the tube from the metal rim surface and the sharp ends of the spokes. If you don't have
rim strips, the tire will blow out in the first few rides, or even before you leave the house! Every
bike shop will sell rim strips. The best ones are usually made of tough canvas with some adhesive to
hold them in place. Line up the hole for the valve stem and wrap the strip around the rim, making
sure it's nice and straight. Allow the excess to overlap.

8.  Repair it or replace it? Small holes, like those caused by thorns, can be patched with bicycle
patch kits which can be bought just about any where. You can ride thousands of miles on patched


Dried up, cracked tubes can't be repaired and must be replaced. If
your tube has large cuts, such as those caused by glass, it will often
need to be replaced. Damage to the tire valves is unrepairable.
There are several products on the market which can help to
prevent flats. Among the best is tire sealant, a thick liquid which
plugs up air leaks when they occur. You must use a product which
is made specifically for bikes.You can fill the tubes yourself or buy
pre-filled tubes. They cost more than regular tubes and weigh more,
but give good protection against cactus and thorns.

Aerosol tire-filling products with liquid latex that are made for cars
are too thin to repair bike tires.

If the bike has a coaster brake - Reattach the brace on the left side of the frame with a nut and bolt.
The coaster brake needs to be braced to work. The chain still needs to be flexible. Don't pull it so tight
that it can't be pedaled easily.


If the bike has a derailleur - The tricky part is to wrap the chain on top of the cogs, before working
the axle into the dropouts (slots in the frame). It may take a few tries to get it right. It is helpful to
shift the bike to its hardest gear and loop the chain over the smallest cog. Tighten down the axle and
check to make sure the chain can be pedaled easily.




If the wheel is held on with nuts, unscrew the axle nuts most of the way. Slide the wheel into the
fork. Make sure it's straight and tighten the axle nuts very securely.

It's easier to get the wheels aligned when the bike is resting on its wheels. If the bike has rim
brakes, make sure to hook them up!

if the wheel is held on with a quick release lever, screw the quick release until when it is
in the closed position it is snug and not tight. There is nothing as important as attaching
the wheels firmly to your bike!

Click HERE for Tire Basics.

Click HERE for Park Tools Tire and Inner Tube Service.

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