Before we get into replacing it, what is a bike tube? It is a balloon-like ring found beneath or on the interior of a bike tire. You can inflate or deflate it through a valve. It acts as an air cushion to ensure that you are comfortable whenever you ride a bike and that you can do so at a fast pace.
The inner tubes come from natural rubber or synthetic butyl rubber. You can repair or replace them when they get a puncture. It is vital to note that some tires lack tubes. They trap air using liquid sealant or a rubber layer on the inner part of the tire. The tubeless tires are resistant to pinch or snakebite punctures.
Table of Contents
- 1 Step-By-Step Guide On How To Replace Bike Tube
- 2 How Much Does It Cost To Replace The Bike Tube?
- 3 How To Tell When You Need To Replace Bike Tube
- 4 Final Thoughts
Step-By-Step Guide On How To Replace Bike Tube
For someone who rides a bike, whether once in a year or every weekend, high chances are at one point you will come across a flat tire. It could be you ran over a piece of glass or even a thorn. You could start by pumping the tire to ensure that its problem is not with it being soft. If that is not the issue, proceed. The tools you require are:
- 1 floor/mini pump.
- 2 tire lever.
- 1 new tube.
With the following steps, you can easily change the tube and get back on the bike in no time:
Remove The Wheel
If your bike has rim or v-brakes, start by releasing them. However, if you have disc brakes, you do not need to fuss about them. For the v-brake, you want to relieve the tension and free the cable by pressing the brake arms together. On the other hand, if the brake has a quick-release bike lever or skewer, open it. In most cases, you can locate the lever on the left side.
Once it is open, unbolt the nut to take off the lips on the fork. You can use a wrench if the bolt is too tight. Reducing the tension in the skewer makes it easier to drop the tire from the frame.
To take off the rear tire, move the chain onto the smallest gear/cog on the rear cassette. Ensure the brakes are open to prevent the wheel from getting stuck. Shove the rear derailleur to the back, so the chain pulls away from the gear.
Take off the wheel from the dropouts on the frame.
Tips for this step include:
- Flip the bicycle or use a stand.
- Avoid touching the rotor if you have disc brakes. It can burn your hands. Keep the discs away from contaminants such as oil.
- Make it a habit to take the tire on and off to make it faster for you to repair it in a critical situation.
Access The Bike Tube
Completely deflate the bike tire. There are two ways to do that according to the type of valve your bike has:
- For the Schrader valve, which is more expansive, you want to press the pin at its center.
- For the thinner Presta, you will remove its plastic cap, whirl the valve in a counter-clockwise manner and push it down to get rid of the air.
Dislodge the bead, which is the periphery of the tire tucked under the rim. It is easier to use a lever. Move it towards the middle and repeat that process on the entire circumference. If you have levers, perform this step by starting on the opposite side of the valve to avoid damaging it. You align the lever with a spoke, scoop the bead and push the lever to lift the tire. Use a notch to fix it to the spoke.
It is difficult to use a single lever in some instances. Therefore, you can position the second one two or three spokes away from the first on both the left and right sides. The lever has a notch that helps it to stay in place until you remove it.
Once a particular section of the bead is off the rim, you can peel off the rest with your hands.
Take Off The Inner Tube
Detach the valve found on the bike tube.
Pull out the tube. Inspect both the tube and tire for cuts, tears, or punctures. You do that to ensure the same fate does not occur to the replacement. For example, if there is a thorn in the tire and you fail to remove it, it will damage the next tube. You can run a piece of cotton through the circumference to detect an embedded object to avoid hurting yourself.
It may be hard to spot the damage on the tube. To counter that, you can inflate it and look for the air escape route. Submerging it in water can help because you will see bubbles. You can also bring it close to your ear and watch out for a hissing sound.
It is possible to take the tube off using the same process without entirely removing the wheel.
One good practice is to add tweezers to your repair kit to remove dislodged items.
Install The New Bike Tube
Take off the cap, lockring and unscrew the valve on the tube.
Inflate the tube using a pump. Do not inflate it entirely because you only want it to hold some air and get a shape.
Locate the valve hole on the rim and drive the valve stem through it. Ensure that it is straight; otherwise, you will have another puncture.
Move the rest of the tube into the tire.
Re-Install The Tire
Push the bead towards the inner parts of the rim. Proceed with this step all around. You can use a lever for assistance. However, be careful so that it does not pinch the new bike tube.
Inspect the tire to ensure the tube is not in between the bead and rim. You can do so by pressing the sides of the tire all around.
Inflate The Tire
Attach a pump to the valve. Inflate while checking whether the bead sits firmly on the rim. Ensure the valve is straight. Where you do not have a gauge, use your thumbs to pump it to the required pressure. If on pressing with your thumbs the tire moves inwards, continue pumping.
Re-Install The Wheel
For the rear wheel, drape the chain over the smallest gear/cog in the cassette.
Position the axle of the wheel in line with the dropouts found on the frame.
Bring the axle down while pulling the rear derailleur away. Ensure the axle is secure on the dropouts.
Fasten the bolt while gripping the quick-release skewer. Then close the lever and ensure it does not come into contact with the frame. If it touches it or closes quickly, it is loose, and you need to tighten it.
Reconnect the breaks and test whether they work well.
Check whether the gears and pedals move well.
For the front wheel, the first step is to guide it into the dropouts. The other steps are similar to those of the rear wheel.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace The Bike Tube?
The cost of standard tubes ranges from $5 to $9. Some models can go as high as $35 or as low as $2. The puncture-resistant and specialized ones are more expensive. The price is relative to the quality.
Replacing the tube yourself is the cheaper alternative. If you go to a bike repair shop, it will cost you about $25. If you have your inner tube, you will pay $20.
You will pay more for specialized tubes and the complexity of your bike. A good example is bikes with hubs containing internal gears.
How To Tell When You Need To Replace Bike Tube
The recommended time frame to change the inner tube is 3 to 5 years. However, if it has minimal patches between that period and still works well, you do not have to replace it. If you keep repairing the tube or it causes too much trouble, it is wise to change it. The installation and maintenance are important factors. Poor installation is what causes problems in most cases. Pinching the tube makes it lose air and eventually flatten.
If your tube has too many repairs, it is time for a new one.
Tubes consist of rubber, and they are therefore prone to cracking after too much drying. When they start to break or have significant cuts, feel comfortable to replace.
Another reason would be if it no longer holds air. That is, after all, its purpose.
A broken valve means you need a new tube. A broken one means that the tire loses pressure quickly, leading to flats.
You need to know how to replace or repair a tube because a flat tire is inevitable. You will get better at it with lots of practice. So you do not have to get it right the first time. Always carry an extra tube whenever you go cycling. Buy good quality wheels to reduce the chances of damaging the inner tube. You could also use a path with fewer sharp objects.