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How to Change a Bicycle Tire

by Denise Sullivan

Man inflating a bicycle tire

If you own a bicycle, at some point you will probably have to change the tires. Worn down or cracked bicycle tires can be very dangerous because the tube inside is exposed and may suddenly blow out if you ride over a sharp object. Another reason to change your bicycle tires is if you plan to ride on different types of terrain. You will need a tire with more traction if you switch from cycling on paved roads to cycling off-road, while tires that are narrower are more efficient on smooth, paved roads and trails. When it comes to safety, tires are one of the most important bicycle parts and accessories to consider.

Changing a Bike Tire:

  1. Deflate the old tube completely before you remove the tire. This will give you the maximum amount of room to maneuver the tire levers around the wheel's edge.

  2. Detach the wheel from the bicycle's frame. Depending on the type of bicycle you have, this is done either by flipping the quick-release lever to the open position or unscrewing a nut at each end of the axle to release the wheel. If you are removing the rear wheel, first slide it forward to release the tension in the chain. Slip the chain off of the hub's sprockets before pulling the wheel away from the bicycle.

  3. Insert the round end of a tire lever between the rim of the wheel and the tire, slowly pushing it down until it slides under the edge of the tire. Press down on the other end of the lever to pry the tire from the rim. Once the edge of the tire pops free from the rim, use the small notch in the lever's end to hook it onto a spoke and keep the tire held open.

  4. Insert another tire lever into the gap between the tire and wheel. Slowly slide this lever around the edge of the rim until you have pried one whole side of the tire out of the wheel. If the tire lever becomes stuck, insert a third lever and work that around the rim until you can free the tire. Pull the tube out from inside of the tire and remove the tire from the wheel.

  5. Set one edge of the new tire inside the rim. Insert the valve of the tube into the hole in the rim and then push the bicycle tube into the open edge of the tire, making sure there are no kinks or creases. You can pump a small amount of air into the bicycle tube to make it easier to push into the tire.

  6. Push the second edge of the tire onto the rim with your hands, stopping when it becomes too difficult to proceed without using a tire lever. Wedge the tire lever between the open edge of the tire and the wheel. Push up on the lever to force the tire down onto the edge of the rim. Continue to work around the wheel until the tire is completely on the rim.

  7. Inflate the tire to the manufacturer's recommended air pressure. This is usually listed on a label on the side of the tire. Place the wheel back onto the bicycle's frame. Make sure the brakes are correctly aligned after the tire has been mounted to the bike's frame before cycling.

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