How do I change a bike inner tube?

  • @Jamie_Merrill

More than a million people started cycling last year and nearly 13 million weekend riders and daily commuters battle for space on British roads. But how many of us know how to change an inner tube at the side of the road?

If you get a puncture it is often far easier to simply replace the inner tube than try to fix it. Simon Usborne, The Independent Magazine's cycling columnist agrees: "Forget cumbersome patches and glue. Just carry two spare tubes, two or three tyre levers (a set of three is £2.99 from Evans) and a pump and you'll be going again in less than ten minutes."

British track cyclist and Olympic hopeful Andy Tennant recommends the following method: "Grab two tyre levers and put them between the wheel rim and one side of tyre, leaving a good space of about 6cm between them. Hook one lever under the rubber and pull down. This should lift the tyre up and over the rim. Use the remaining lever to slide around the wheel and slip the tyre off."

Now make sure you locate the source of your woe, says Usborne. "The worst thing you can do is change the inner tube but forget to find the shard of glass or sharp stone that caused the puncture in the first place. You should spot it by studying the surface of the tyre. Alternatively, run your finger inside the tyre. But do it slowly to avoid cutting yourself."

Now for the tricky part, continues Tennant. "Replace the inner tube with a new one making sure there's a little air in it so it will slide on easily. Then start feeding the tyre back onto the rim on the opposite side from the valve."

If you struggle, let a bit of air out, and try again. If that still doesn't work, gently prise it on with a tyre lever being careful not to puncture the new tube.

Then simply pump the tyre back to the correct pressure.