How to fix a puncture

If you ride a bike regularly, then sadly, punctures are a fact of life. Being able to fix a puncture quickly and efficiently while you’re out on a ride or at home is essential for any rider. The less time you spend working on your bike, the more time you can spend riding it! 

In this guide, we talk you through the process to fix a bike puncture. Fixing a puncture is a simple thing that every rider should be able to do. If you haven’t done it before, take your time and follow our instructions and you’ll be fine

You should also check out our video guide on how to fix a puncture

What you’ll need

Before you get started, make sure you’ve got all the right tools, you will need:

Step by step guide

1. Take out your wheel

For most bikes, you’ll need to take the wheel out to remove the inner tube. Before removing your rear wheel, shift onto the smallest cog on your cassette. 

If you have quick-release wheels at the front and back, undo the quick-release on the skewer. If you have rim brakes on your bikes, you’ll also need to undo the quick-release for the brake so that you can take out the wheel.

Be gentle when pulling out the wheel. If you’re taking out the front wheel, be careful when placing your forks on the floor. Dropping them can damage them, particularly if they are made of carbon.

If you’re removing the rear wheel, gently pull back the derailleur to release the rear wheel from the chain. Guide the wheel out, being careful not to catch the spokes on the frame or get entangled with the chain.

If you don’t have quick-release wheels (for example, if you ride a fixed gear bike or BMX), you’ll need a spanner to undo your wheel nuts. They’re typically 15mm, so keep a suitable sized-spanner handy (or an adjustable wrench).

2. Deflate the tyre

Once you’ve got the wheel out, let all of the air out of the tyre. Even if you’ve had a puncture, there might be some air left in the tyre you’ll need to get rid of.

Remove the dust cap if there is one. If you have Schrader valves (large valves similar like those on your car), press down the pin in the middle of the valve to release the trapped air.

For Presta valves (long and thin valves used on road bikes), unscrew the locknut you see at the end of the valve and then press it in.

3. Remove the tyre on one side

To get to the inner tube, you’re going to need to take off one side of the tyre. 

Starting away from the valve, insert a tyre lever under the bead of the tyre and apply some pressure. This should lift one side of the tyre off the rim of the wheel. 

An expert tip is that you can hook this lever under a spoke to keep it in place. Trust us, it won’t damage the spoke. Move the tyre level along the rim a few inches and do the same with a second tyre lever.

Once this is done, you should be able to run one of your tyre levers around the entire circumference of the wheel. As you work around the wheel, the tyre will become loser and easier to handle.

4. Remove the tube and find the puncture

You should now be able to remove the deflated inner tube. It’s tempting to chuck the tube in the bin or stuff it in your jersey straight away, but you must identify the original cause of the puncture. 

If your puncture was caused by a nail, shard of glass or something else sticking into the tube, you must remove it, or you’ll be dealing with another puncture a few metres down the road. 

To identify the cause of the puncture, add some air to the tube. You should be able to see where it’s split. Once you’ve found the hole, check its relation to the valve and check inside the tyre to see where the obstruction is. You can run your fingers around the inside of your tyre, but you could nick your finger so be careful. 

If you find the cause of the damage, remove it. Also, check the outside of the tyre too. Shards of glass on the outside of the tyre can work their way through the rubber if they’re left in place.

5. Fix the puncture

Bike tubes can be repaired if you’re prepared to put in a little work. Take your tube and rough up the area of the puncture slightly with some sandpaper – this will help the patch to stick to the tube.

Then, add glue to the area, stick down your patch and wait a moment for the glue to dry. If you have self-adhesive patches, just apply it like a sticker. Make sure it’s airtight by putting a little bit of air into the tube.

You can watch our video on how to fix a puncture if you want to see the process in action. 

Lots of riders prefer to carry a spare inner tube instead. Spare tubes are cheap, easy to carry and it’s much quicker to swap a tube at the roadside than repair one. Don’t worry, you can stash it in your back pocket or bag and fix it when you get home or recycle it.

6. Replace the tube

If you’ve repaired your tube, or using a brand new replacement, it’s time to put it in place. 

Start by inserting the valve. If you’re using a Presta valve, use the supplied nut to hold it gently in place. Now tuck the tube inside the tyre at the valve and work your way around the wheel.  

Tubes without air can be flappy and challenging to manage. Adding a small amount of air to the tube can help your tube hold its shape, making it easier to slot into place. It’s not essential, but it can help – just don’t add too much!

7. Put your tyre back on

Starting near the valve, tuck the bead of your tyre back onto the rim. Make sure your inner tube ends up inside the tyre and not trapped between the tyre bead and the rim, because this can cause another puncture.  

Work your way around the wheel with your thumbs, pushing your tyre onto the rim. You may be able to roll the tyre onto the rim, but if it gets too difficult, use your tyre levers to push the tyre on to the rim.  

8. Inflate your tyre

All that’s left now is to put some air into your tyres. As you’re pumping up the tyre, check that the tyre is seated on to the rim properly. 

Once you’re happy it’s in place, pump up your tyre to the required pressure, and you’re ready to go. You can use your CO2 to do this more quickly if you have it – just watch out for freezing your fingers!

When your tyre is fully inflated, put your wheel back into your bike. Tighten the quick release skewer or bolts, and the quick release on your brake too. Spin the wheel to ensure that it’s fitted correctly and check your brakes before setting off.

Can you fix my puncture?

Nobody likes fixing a puncture, and they always seem to happen at the worst possible time – or during the worst possible weather! 

While we sadly can’t join you on your rides, we’re happy to replace your tubes and fix your punctures in store

Inner tube and tyre replacement costs just £10 per wheel and can be completed while you wait.

We also offer 1 and 3 year CycleCare plans to keep your bike in great condition.

Puncture protection

If you’re finding that you’re regularly having to deal with punctures, or just don’t like getting your hands dirty, there are some options for you.

Slime bike tube sealant can banish punctures to the past. This wonder fluid lives inside your tube and essentially seals it if it’s punctured. The non-toxic and environmentally friendly liquid is sprayed directly into the tube. It’s called slime because it’s sticky and messy – but don’t worry, we can slime your tyres for you in-store if you want for just £6.

You can also purchase tyres with puncture protection. While they won’t stop every puncture, they’re built from strong and sturdy materials to help protect you while you’re riding. Our Carrera range of bikes come with puncture protection as standard, across all models. 

Modern tyre technology continues to improve, with tubeless tyres the latest innovation. Tubeless tyres grip tightly to the wheel rim and have a sealing gel inside them that instantly seals and rips or tears in the tyre without losing critical tyre pressure. Check out our guide on how to go tubeless on a road bike.