How To Replace A Bike Tube The Right Way

Wondering how to replace a bike tube? You are in the right place. From the tools you need to a step-by-step guide to help you do it right, we’ll cover everything you need to know to do it right.

So let’s dig straight into it.

Tools Required

  • Bike tire levers
  • Wrench
  • A new inner tube
  • Air pump

Step By Step Guide to Replacing A Bike Tubes

Step 1: Loosen the Axle Bolts or Quick Release Bolt

To remove the tube in the wheel, the wheel must come off the bike. The first thing to do is loosen the axle bolts or if your bike is using a quick release bolt, just rotate one end to loosen it up.

For those using through axles, grab your set of Allen keys and open the axle screw from the other side.

Step 2: Get the Chain Off

If your chain comes with a quick link, you can detach it and take it off the bike. To save time or if your bike has the standard links, just push your chain towards the inside of the bike, such that it doesn’t rest on the chairing.

On the rear, move the derailer to the smallest cog and let the chain rest on that cog.

Step 3: Lift the Wheel

With the chain off, the axle free, pull the wheel up. Remove gently and make sure the chain falls from the cog.

The derailleur will prevent the chain from knotting up. Pull up the wheel and put it on the floor.

Step 4: Grab the Levers

Many cyclists often face problems taking off the tires. For me, I’ve never experienced any issues taking off one side of the tire from inside the rim.

I have always done that with my bare hands by running fingers along the tire’s bead and lifting it out. For 700c tires, consider using a pair of levers.

Plastic levers are better because they don’t chip off the paint from the rim. Insert one lever under the bead and apply pressure to pull it out.

Without removing the lever, insert the other lever about 4 inches apart. Once the bead is out, pull it out in a circular motion until the bead is entirely out of the whole rim.

Step 5: Get the Old Tube Out

Did your tube valve come with a ring and cap? Perhaps you’ve already misplaced the cup, but it doesn’t affect the quality of your riding. Open the cup, and then the ring and rotate anticlockwise until it’s out of the valve.

Press the valve stem downwards until it’s off the rim. Pull out the old tube. If you don’t have a spare tube, you can opt to patch the current tube after finding the tiny hole or holes.

Remember to run your fingers all around inside the tire. It will help you find any sharp objects that may have gone through the tire and pierced the tube. Tiny wires and thorns are the biggest culprits of causing punctures.

Step 6: In Goes the New Tube

Assuming your sole goal was to replace the tube, perhaps after it served you for quite a while.

We have arrived at the part where the tube will go inside the tire. Take it out of the package and remove the caps and rings from the top of the valve, if any.

With the valve close to the large hole on the rim, place the tube inside the tire. Put the valve stem inside the stem hole and ensure that every part of the tube is inside the tire.

Step 7: Put the Tire Back

It’s time to return the tire inside the rim. Insert it with your hands until you arrive at the most challenging part, where the bead seems to give resistance.

At this point, if your MTB tire is not as tight, especially if you are using a foldable tire, you can insert the bead in with your bare hands.

If your tire is hard to insert back into the rim, don’t force it. It might pinch your finger. Grab your levers and use them to push the tire back in.

Step 8: Return the Wheel on the Bike

With the tube already inside the wheel, attach the wheel to the bike. If it’s the front wheel, the process is pretty straightforward. Just place the wheel on the crown of forks and do the necessary.

If it’s the rear wheel, make sure the chain goes on top of the cog before returning it to its rightful position. The wheel should sit comfortably without touching the edges of the frame.

Step 9: Return the Chain

The essence of removing the chain was to make sure you have an easier job removing and taking back the wheel.

With the chain running over the cog, you can pull the derailleur towards the front to loosen the chain and place it on the chainring.

Step 10: Tighten up the Bolts

With the chain in its correct position, tightening the wheel position is the next most important step.

Get the bolts and tighten the axle. If you use quick release, simply run one side through the axle and tighten with the nut on the other end. The lock should be on the left side.

If you use a through axle, push it through the hub to the other side and tighten the screw with Allen keys. With the wheel tightly attached to the bike, you give it a little spin to see if the chain works awesomely.

Step 11: Pump Air into the Tube

Now that everything is okay, you cannot ride on a flat tire. Pump in some air into the tube. You should not exceed the PSI instructed on the side of the tire.

With the tire filled up and ready to roll, ensure your tools are clean and stored well before jumping on your bike.

The Cost of Replacing a Bike Tube

Tubes are not expensive. You can get a tube from your nearest bike shop for as little as $5 or more.

Special tubes with thornproof, long valves, or oversize, for instance, 29×4.0 tubes, cost more.

You can easily buy a tube and install it in your bike’s wheels like directed above, but if you don’t have the time, the tools, or the skills, you can head down to the bike shop.

Installing the tube will cost you $25, and if you take the wheel alone, that might cost you about $20.

The more complicated it is to remove the wheel, the more you may have to pay for a tube change.

While at it, you’d want to true your rims and replace any broken spokes. That will cost you another $15 to $30, depending on how complicated the service is.

I usually advise riders that when you take your bike for service or have something replaced, ask the attendant to do general service and maintenance on your bike.

Your bike’s condition is of utmost importance, and your mech should ensure that every part is working just fine.

Changing the Bike Tube Without Taking the Wheel Off

Changing the bike tube without popping out the wheel is impossible, but you can expose the tube when patching up a puncture.

If you had the tube fitted just recently, there’s no need to replace it due to a few punctures.

Please remove it from one side of the bike, patch it up, and return it. Why would you be worried about having to remove the wheel before fitting a tire?

It could be because your bike’s wheel is held in place by the axle nuts, which makes the process more stressful. You can change your axle nuts to quick release, which are locally available and cheap.

You can remove a wheel with quick release easily. If you use a wrench to tighten the axle nuts, you may not have it in your time of need.

You will be left with no choice but to patch up with the wheel tightly attached to the bike. It’s usually advisable to carry a patch kit and a tool kit.

How to Tell Your Bike Tube Size

When buying a tube, you need to purchase one that fits inside your tire. There are two measurements worth considering when choosing the proper tube for your bike, namely:

  • Diameter
  • Width

The diameter of the wheel is also the height of the wheel from one edge to the other. The dimensions are usually written on your tires. When you see 26, 27.5, 29, and 700c, that’s the diameter of the wheel.

The digits that follow after X on the tire represent the width of your bike. For example, when you see 29×2.5, that means you should use a tube that is between 29×2.0 and 29×3.0. It means that the diameter of the bike wheel is 29 inches, and the width is 2.25 inches.

Some tires, especially for road, CX, or hybrid bikes, have their dimensions in millimeters.

So instead of inches, you get a tire that measures 700c x18, which means the tire has a diameter of 700 millimeters and 18 millimeters width.

The tire is estimated to be 28 inches in size, and the wideness is smaller than a mountain bike’s tire. Why talk of these tires?

Well, you may decide to shift from the wide, grippy tires to some hybrid tires to reduce the drag when riding on the road. 700c x 35 and above are just fine with your mountain bike.

700c tires are usually the same size as 29-inch tires, except that the latter are wider. You cannot use 29-inch tubes in a 700c wheel as they are large and awkward.

Neither can you use a 700c tube in a 29-inch tire since they will balloon and explode in there.

All tubes come with a recommended size of tires to use. Try as much as possible to use the right tube for the wheel. I’ve heard people say you can use a 27.5-inch tube in a 29-inch tire and vice versa.

How Often You Should Replace Your Bike Tubes

You can run the same tubes on your bike for 3 to 5 years without ever worrying about them. It depends on the quality, though.

If your tubes have too many patches, then you should replace them as soon as possible. If your tube runs for over five years and has a few patches, you can use it further for a few years as long as it’s in good condition.

I have heard cyclists talk about their bike tubes. Some have used the same tubes for over 15 years which begs the question.

Do tubes even have an expiry date? They say that not exposing the tubes to petroleum fumes or UV light can guarantee a 20-year service.

The only thing you should probably worry about is the tire. The rubber degrades, especially when exposed to too much heat.

It’s recommended that you inflate your bike from time to time. Sometimes the air inside may need replacing, so deflate the whole tube and inflate again.

Tubes only expand against the tires and keep the tires inflated. It’s the tires that do the brunt of the work and face all the punishment mother nature has.

If you decide to change your tube, get a quality tube that will give you more years of service. When your tube has more than five patches, you should start thinking of buying a new tube.

Also, if your tire is of poor quality or worn out, you’ll get punctures more often, reducing the lifespan of your tubes. If your tires top-line indicator is worn out, replace the tires right away.

Do I have to Buy a New Bike Tire or Just a Tube?

As stated earlier, the tube is just there to keep your tire inflated. If the tire is not in its suitable condition, then you only need to replace it. Look at the state of your tire before making a decision.

If your bike is getting frequent punctures and the tires are worn out, then replacing your tire is the way to go.

If your tire is still new with a lot of life left, but you get a puncture every other day, you’ll still have to buy a quality tire. Otherwise, you’ll be replacing tubes every month and removing your wheel from the bike more times than you should.

You only need a tube because of too many patches, or you are changing tires, and the tubes don’t fit. As long as your tube is still new and proven to be good, no need to replace it.

There’s nothing as tiresome as patching up your tube almost daily. The struggle can only come to a halt by replacing the tires.

Household Items to Use to Patch a Bike Tube

There are times when shit happens, and you wonder how to solve it with what’s available.

If you experience a puncture at home and don’t have the proper tools to fix the puncture, what should you do?

Well, I hope you have a pump at home. Everything else, you can find some hacks at home and ride your bike back to the shop.

Tools needed

  • A pair of spoons
  • Clear mailing tape
  • Deodorant
  • Pump

The process of patching a bike with your household items or to DIY is simple. Just take the wheel off the bike, take the tire off like the process stated above, but with the pair of spoons acting as levers. With the tube out, now it’s time to patch it up.

Inflate the tube and navigate around it to find the puncture. Once you notice the puncture, apply the deodorant on the part, then tape around the area. Deflate the tube, return it inside the tire, and push back the bead section into the rim.

Use spoons to force back the tire into the rim. Put the wheel back on your ride, and pressure it up. The wheel will be able to serve you until you reach the next bike spare shop.

Inner Tube Sealant Liquid

Tired of repairing punctures? Well, there’s the inner tube sealant option. It’s a liquid that repairs punctures of up to 3mm.

Once a thorn goes through your tire, piercing the tube in the process, the sealant rotates inside the tube, finding the puncture hole and sealing it permanently.

However, avoid using too much sealant fluid as it can change from liquid to semi-solid state and deform the side of the tire. If you want a lasting solution for punctures or hate having to repair them every time they occur, go tubeless.

The tubeless option means you get to ride your bike without the use of tubes. You are only required to get a tubeless kit and tubeless-ready tires. The sealant will permanently be sealing the holes without you even noticing.

Final Words

The only advantage tubes have over tubeless versions is that you can find tubes anywhere.

If seeking for a permanent solution, then going tubeless is a better option. Even with the tubeless option, you’ll still need to carry a spare tube. Any questions? Please contact us.

From riding to school since the age of 13, attending BMX races and events with his dad to himself conquering 10+ trails across the globe, for Rob, his Giant Stance 29 2 2020 is the friend that makes everything better. He is also a proud member of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

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