#PatchitForward: How to Patch a Flat Tire


Rag, sharpie, patch kit (vulcanizing fluid, sandpaper, patches), & a pump

 Step 1. Remove tire and tubeFlat Repair 1Start by fully deflating your tube. If your tire has a shrader valve, the hooky end of a tire lever works really good or this by pressing into the center to deflate. If you have a presta valve simply unscrew the presta valve nut and press the top of the valve down to release the air.

Flat Repair 2

You’ll want to start off by removing your tire from the rim. Work on the side opposite of your valve to get the most leverage. Insert your first tire lever on one side of the bead – that’s the stiff part of your tire that tucks into the rim and holds your tire in place. On the same side of the bead about four inches from the first lever, insert your second tire lever.

Flat Repair 3You should be able to use the leverage of both levers to pull the bead of your tire up and over your rim. Now you can use one of your tire levers swipe all the way around the first side of the wheel to completely unseat that side of your tire. Do the same thing now on the other side.


Once you have your tire off, you can pull your tube out and you are ready for the nest step.

Step 2. Find and mark hole

In order to find the hole in your tube so that you can patch it, you need to inflate the tube and listen for where the air is escaping. Sometimes you can get such a small puncture that you can’t hear the air; in this situation (if you happen to be around water) you can always dunk the tube in the water to look and see where air bubbles form on the tube and find the hole that way.Flat Repair 4

Once you find the hole you will want to put your finger on it so you don’t lose it. Grab a sharpie and make a quarter-sized circle around your puncture, drawing an x through the middle. You’ll want to do this with the tube still inflated. This way you’ll know exactly where your patch goes!

Step 3. Deflate tube, scuff area to be patched, and lay a thin layer of glue

Now deflate your tube and grab your patch kit. Inside you’ll find a small piece of sandpaper. Use this to scuff up the area of your tube that is getting the patch. You’ll want to scuff up the tube as to “score” it- similar to ceramics, it’s hard to get a good bond between two smooth surfaces without a little roughness.Flat Repair 5

Pull out the vulcanizing fluid from your patch kit. Apply a thin, even layer of glue over the area to be patched.

 Step 4. Let glue dry

Now wait… wait until the glue isn’t tacky anymore to apply the patch. This will ensure the best bond.


Step 5. Make the patch one with the tube

Once your glue is looking dull and not shiny anymore, go ahead take out your patch from your patch kit. As you’re pulling the tinfoil off of the patch, try not to touch the bottom of the patch. The oils from your hands will weaken the bond to the tube.

Flat Repair 6Apply the patch and for 5 minutes rub the patch into the tube. I usually rub from the middle outwards with both of my thumbsand have had good luck with my patched tubes holding up.

I like to peel the cellophane (the top layer of plastic) off my patches but you can just leave it I you want. A good sign that your patch is bonded well is that when you remove the cellophane, the sides of the patch stay secure to the tube.

Step 6. Test for Leaks

Flat Repair 7

Inflate your tube just enough to give it a round shape. Does the patch seem to be holding?

Step 7. Inspect!!

This is a very important step as you don’t want to get another flat from the same thing that caused the first one. You can also use the time you spend waiting for your glue to dry to do this…you want to inspect both your wheel and your tire to make sure that there isn’t anything wrong with  them that would cause another flat. Essentially, you are investigating where your flat came from.

I always use a cloth or t-shirt to check inside and outside of my tire for glass and road debris and pull them out. Checking to make sure your rim strip (the cloth or plastic on the inside of your wheel that covers the holes in your rim) is still intact is a good idea- having a spoke nipple coming in contact with your tube is a sure fire way to end up with a flat. You’ll also want to check your tire – check for wear and tear on the tread and the side walls of your tire to see if they are worn out and need replaced.Flat Repair 8

Side note: If you do end up with a gash in your tire you can always “boot it”. Grab a business card or a dollar bill and put it between your tube and tire and add an extra layer of flat protection long enough to get you to a bike shop or home.

 Step 8: Reinstall

With your tube inflated enough that it has its round shape put your tube back in your tire. You can line up your valve stem with the logo on your tire or the PSI indication on your tire although that is not necessary.

Put the valve stem back through the hole of the rim…. Some tires are directional so you’ll want to check and make sure that you are putting your tire on the right way. Your side wall will have all this information, but generally a lot of tires will have an arrow pattern and the arrow of the tread should always be “pointing” forward as the tire rolls forward. Put on one side of the tire bead at a time. If getting the last bit of the second side of your tire seems to be getting too difficult let all the air out of your tire to make it easier. Whatever you do, don’t use your tire levers to reinstall your tire. You’ll pinch the tube and give yourself another flat!Flat Repair 9

Once you tire is back on your rim, inflate your tire to the recommended PSI found on your tires sidewall. It’s a good idea to check along the way to make sure your tire is seating correctly on your rim (sitting evenly). Also check to make sure your tube isn’t getting pinched between your rim and your tire.

And now you’re ready to roll.

You give the value of a patch kit, Bike Works teaches the skills. Patch it Forward today.