Nothing stops a bicycle rider in his tracks faster than a flat tyre. A flat tyre is no fun. The problem, however, is usually not the tyre itself, but rather the inner tube, a rubber doughnut-shaped tube with an air valve. A tyre becomes flat when the tube has a slow leak from normal riding or when left sitting idle or when a foreign object punctures the inner tube, or when pinch cuts occur as a result of hitting stones, curbs, or sharp edges in the road. Finally, but less frequently, a complete blowout can occur which is usually the result of over-inflation. Luckily, damage from most inner tube problems can be easily and quickly repaired and the rider on his way again. Many experienced riders carry a bike repair kit with them for just such emergencies. Bike repair kits are available for purchase or riders can compile their own according to what they like to use and package it in a small bag attached to the bike.
If a blowout causes damage to an inner tube, replacement is neccessary. If the damage is from a puncture or pinch cut, it is quickly repaired by following a few steps and using a few important tools that cyclists should have on hand.
The first step in repairing the inner tube is to remove the wheel from the bike. Some bicycles are equipped with aquick release lever, otherwise use a wrench to loosen the nut. Flats on rear tyres first require the removal of the tyre through the chain. Shift the gears to the back and innermost sprocket to make this action easier. Release v-brakes before removing wheel if applicable.
Next, use the tyre lever to remove the tyre from the rim. Use care to avoid pinching the tube. Remove the inner tube and inspect it to find the hole that caused the leak. Find the leak can be found by inflating the tube and feeling for escaping air or listening for the sound of a leak. A more effective method, if water is available, is inflate the tube slightly and place it underwater and watch for bubbles to escape. After discovering the leak, use a rag to dry the spot and mark it on the inner tube with a piece of chalk. Check inside the tyre carefully to see if any foreign object is there and remove that if necessary. One tip for achieving this inspection without personal injury is to use a cotton ball or bit of cotton wool and run it around the inside. It snags on any sharp items and protects fingers.
Cyclists need a patch kit to make the actual repair. A patch kit contains a scuffer such as a small piece of sandpaper or metal rasp, glue or cement, and a small rubber patch. Some patch kits are gluelless and contain self-adhesive patches. First, use the scuffer tool to roughen the area around the hole the same size as the patch to be used. Second, apply the glue to the tube and follow glue instructions if waiting time is required. Place the patch over the hole. If using self-adhering patches, remove the paper or foil backing and press onto the tube. Hold the patch firmly in place for several minutes until the glue has sealed.
After completing the repair, place the tube back in the tyre and secure the tyre back onto the rim. Pump up the tyre slowly and not to full capacity and then gradually decrease the air and then inflate again. This process allows the inner tube to settle correctly inside the tyre. Use a tyre gauge to ensure proper air pressure. Replace the wheel securely on the bike.
Cyclists inspect their bikes regularly and frequently to make sure everything is working properly, but occasionally flat tyres occur and require a repair of the inner tube. Patching is reliable and not difficult. While it is easier to do at home or in the shop, cyclists can repair tubes on the road as well. A prepared rider carries a repair kit with him on the bike. Bike repair kits are available from eBay or cyclists can assemble their own repair kits with supplies they prefer. Place kits in bags and keep them under the bike seat, and place them in a metal and plastic box for garage storage. Find products to repair inner tubes on eBay by typing keywords into search field or searching in the cycling section. Narrow searches by various categories, condition, price, brand, type, location, and more. eBay has a great supply of sporting goods including biking maintenance and tools.