How To Fix A Flat

One of the most annoying things in the cycling world is the fact that people have no clue on how to fix a flat.

This is especially bad etiquette on a group ride.

Fixing a flat tire is an essential skill in being self sufficient. Many people do not know anyone who is good at fixing flats so they think it’s a useless skill. Others tried to fix a flat, did a bad job, and then assumed that patches “don’t work for a long term solution”. These people are wrong. Patching makes a tire stronger than before. Patching can extend the life of a tire significantly.

Still, we have our Patch Nay Sayers.

Often naysayers get around the whole notion of fixing a flat by bringing extra tubes. The problem is that extra tubes are expensive and they are wasteful. You can fix dozens of flats with the equivalent space and size of a patch kit to that of a single inner tube.

So carry a patch kit, tire levers, tweezers, a pen, soap, water, a towel, talcum powder, and a pump. Make sure that the pump matches your tire which is presta vs. shraeder.

Next, learn how to use the kit. If you follow all my instructions below you should be fine.

Finally, let those who know do. Often those who know is a girl. If you’re a boy then please GET OUT OF THE WAY and let the girl do her job. Don’t be sexist. Your dick won’t get smaller for admitting that a woman can fix tires better than you. Also, BACK OFF. If someone is fixing a tire at a group ride give them ten or more feet and start a conversation, text, or read a book. Don’t stare at the the fixer.

Also, you could have a slow leak. If you have time, try to blow the tire up and ride on that. If you can get a few miles this way, then this might get you home.

If not, here’s how to fix.

First, feel the outside of the tire. Sometimes you can find metal or glass this way, best.

If you find something mark the spot with a pen. Then deflate the tire.

If you can’t find it deflate the tire anyway.

Next take the tire off with the levers. At this point, you DON’T NEED TO TAKE THE WHEEL OFF.

If you are opening the back tire make sure you do this on the side which DOES NOT HAVE THE CASSETTE. As the cassette can puncture your tire.

Pull out the inner tube and make sure there’s nothing poking it. Now inflate the tire. Use a normal pump and not the stupid CO2 pump. As you blow it up, feel around for the hole and also listen. If you still can’t find the hole, you need to feel around on the inside of the tire for glass or metal. If you find it, match the inner tube’s stem to the stem hole and you might be able to match where the glass came into the tire. If not, you might need to wet the small piece of soap and rub it around your inner tube. You’ll see lots of bubbles when you find the leak. Don’t be fooled by a few bubbles.

Finally, you have found the hole! Next wash the area around the hole. Then dry well with a towel.

Now buff really well with the sander. You need to do a big area around the hole. A really big area.

Now deflate the tire. Find an appropriate size patch and use the tin foil backing as a model for how much rubber cement to add. You only need a thin layer but it has to cover 100% of the inside of the rectangle. Mine is usually slightly bigger than the actual tin foil, and I do a little on each side of the tire as well just to make sure.

Set a timer for ten minutes. YOU MUST WAIT A FULL TEN MINUTES. If you rush this part, you’ll waste more time in the future.

After ten minutes take the backing off the patch. CAREFUL! If the patch folds in on itself, toss it. Now gently apply the patch WITHOUT FOLDING IT. IF YOU FOLD THE PATCH THEN PULL IT OFF AND START OVER WITH THE BUFFING PHASE, NEW GLUE, ETC.

Push really hard on the patch and especially smooth out the edges. Do not take off the clear plastic.

Blow up the tire, slowly while pressing on the edges of the patch. IF PART OF THE PATCH DOES NOT STICK, PULL IT OFF AND START OVER.

Once the tire is partially inflated and it looks good, rub the patched area with talcum powder. Some people dump a little powder into their tire, too. This is a sound idea. If you skip this step your inner tube could stick to the tire and you’ll get another flat and you’ll be one of those fools who can’t patch his tires because he doesn’t think it works. Loser.

Now put inner tube back into the wheel. You probably didn’t even have to take off the wheel! Once the deflated wheel is on and and the wheel is between the brakes where it should be, inflate. Done.

Now you are a step closer to self-sufficient and a step away from being a loser who forces his wife to sit by the phone to pick up up from his long ride. Forget all that. A cyclist can be _more_ reliable than a motorist if she knows how to fix a few things.


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