How to Repair Tubular Tyres

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How to Repair Tubular Tyres

Tubular tyres feature an inner tube much like the more common clincher tyre does but the difference is the tubular tyre is stitched closed around the inner tube and then glued onto the tyre rim. The tubular tyre has an advantage in overall weight because the tyre glues directly onto the rim and does not require a rim bead to seal the tyre. This means less material in the rim and less overall weight, which is vital for increased performance in professional events. The main drawback of tubular tyres is the difficulty of repair if they puncture, but with a little knowledge and the proper tools, tubular tyres are repairable.

Permanent Repair

Repairing a tubular tyre properly is a time consuming affair because it must be taken apart to seal the inner tube. Since tubular tyres are light, many riders simply carry a spare tyre with them in case of a puncture, but when they arrive back home, a permanent repair is neccessary for both the inner tube and the exterior casing to get it back on the road.

Remove the Tyre and Open the Base Tape

The first step is to remove the tyre from the rim and determine the area of the puncture. Tubular tyres glue to the rim so they must be removed in order to open up the casing that surrounds the inner tube. The casing stitches together and a base tape covers it, which protects the stitched seam. The base tape must be carefully peeled back to expose the stitching in the area of the puncture. If the base tape is damaged or severely worn, it should be replaced.

Undo the Stitching

Once the base tape is pulled back to expose the stitching, it must be cut and removed in a small area approximately six to ten centimetres at the sight of the puncture. Begin by cutting the stitch and pulling it out with a sewing awl or similar device. Try not to damage the existing holes because useful when re-stitching the casing.

Patch the Tube

Gently pull the inner tube out of the hole in the casing and find the puncture. Prepare the area by cleaning it with rubbing alcohol or a similar product. Glue and place a butyl patch over the puncture location; once the glue is dry, place the tube back into the casing.

Repair the Casing

Repair larger punctures in the casing in order to prevent the inner tube from forcing its way out through the damaged area; specialised glue or even Super glue works well to bond the casing together. Using firmer butyl patches along with glue is also effective at sealing the casing.

Re-Stitch and Re-Glue

Utilising a sewing awl or needle and thread is the most effective way to reseal the casing together. Use the same holes to push the thread through. Stitch forward two holes and then back one hole; repeat this process until the seam is secure. Replace the base tape and apply a thin coat of glue to the rim ensuring it covers all surface areas including the edges. Place the stem through the rim and begin to stretch the tyre down evenly on both sides until it is completely on the rim. Partially inflate the tyre and carefully position it on the rim to make sure it is even all the way around. Ensure that there are no gaps in the glue by inspecting the point where the tyre meets the rim on both side.

Tools Needed

Repairing a tubular tyre is not as difficult as it may appear as long as the proper tools are used. For serious bike riders, having additional components on hand at all times is important to keeping their bike in top riding condition.



Base Tape

Fresh base tape is applied if existing is worn or damaged; overlap the base tape at the seam


This is specialised glue used to secure the base tape to the rim; applied onto the rim surface and edges

Patch Kit

Patch kits contain patch glue and butyl patches used to cover a puncture in the rubber inner tube

Sewing Awl

Used to re-stitch the casing together at the seam; a needle and heavy thread is also capable


Used to cut the casing stitching


Rubbing alcohol is used to clean and prepare the inner tube prior to patching


Sealant is injected into the tyre through the stem; sealant coagulates at the puncture and temporarily seals the leak

Riders might consider taking a patch kit with them on rides because it is possible to perform a temporary repair in the field. Super gluing a patch over a puncture and allowing it to dry might be the difference between walking and riding home.

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