Being able to fix a puncture/install a road bike inner tube whilst your out is an essential skill. In my first year of riding, I got loads of them, primarily due to having inferior tyres, combined with a big dose of bad luck.
I recall on one-ride, getting three, so I've become a black-belt in the subject. Here are my Top 10 tips for replacing an inner tube/repairing a puncture when you're out and about.
- Have at least one replacement tube on you. Saves loads of time at the side of the road.
- Make sure you've got self-adhesive patches and x3 tyre levers in your saddle bag. If ground zero happens (3 punctures on one ride) you'll need to repair a tube on the move. You can see a video on Youtube about this here.
- Carry a pair of thin gloves in your saddle bag. I buy them from the pound shop, they scrunch up really small, but give you a layer of protection from your hands getting really dirty. Particularly useful if the conditions have been wet or muddy.
- Note where the valve is in relation to your tyre, before you take it off. This will allow you to quickly identify where the puncture is, relative to the tyre.
- Check your tyre thoroughly, before inserting the new tube. By noting where the valve is, you can inspect the tube you took off and then quickly pinpoint the area on the tyre where a foreign object may have entered. If you don't inspect the tyre, you may well blow your new tube up to quickly find you flat again.
- Carry an old piece of inner tube with you. If the puncture causes a big hole in the tyre, you can line the tyre with a piece of old inner tube, to at least get you home and stop the new inner tube bulging out.
- Blow a small amount of air into the tyre you are going to put on. This gives the tube some shape and makes it easier to poke into the tyre.
- Try to fit the tyre back on the rim using your hands only - it's possible with most tyres. This stops the tell tale pinch that can occur when using tyre levers. I've done it myself, put a whole new tube in, only to find that I pinched the tube and caused another flat. Experience has taught me this. It's not always possible, as some tyres can be a very tight fit.
- Inspect the tyre and rim to ensure that all the tube is sitting inside the tyre. Occasionally, the tube gets caught underneath the tyre rim, which will lead to another flat. This is a quick precaution worth taking.
- Buy a Co2 inflator. They are well worth it. Particuarly on a cold day, when you just want to get going. One small cartridge can give you around 130psi in about two seconds. An example can be seen here.