How To Change A Bike Tyre

Why do we need to change tyres?

Tools required to change a bike tyre

How to remove a bike tyre

How to fit a bike tyre

Is your tyre worn out? Have you treated yourself with more puncture protection? Either way, at some point you will need to remove the old tyre on your bicycle to fit a new one. Find out how to change a bike tyre this easily and effectively with our step by step guide.

Why do we need to change tyres?

There are a number of reasons why we need to change our tyres. Overtime and use, bicycle tyres become worn like anything else and will need replacing. When the tyre becomes worn out, if the tread is worn the chances of puncture causing debris penetrating the tyre. If the tyre is perished then the tyre can disintegrate completely. 

Another reason you might need to know how to change a bike tyre is to fit a different type of tyre. For example, a normal, smooth road slick tyre actually provides better grip than a tyre with a tread. This is because the contact area is larger. 

Tools required to change a bike tyre

Tyre levers – There are little levers that are used for getting tyres off a wheel. They can be made of plastic or metal. The plastic ones are preferable because they will not damage your rim.

Tyre removal tool – works this same as a tyre lever but has a long arm for extra leverage. Thanks to it, tyre removal is much easier, but as it’s so big it isn’t portable.

Pump – tool that puts air in the tube. It is fitted on to the valve. There are two fundamental types, hand pump and track pump. Hand pump is easier to carry but a track pump makes tyre inflation to the correct pressure much easier.

How to change a bike tyre– Removal

Step 1

In order to learn how to change a bike tyre, it is important that you know first how to remove the tyre.

The first step is to remove the tyre and/or tube. To do this you will initially need to locate the valve. Here you should find a dust cap, although they are often missing.  Standard ones are plastic and should be just hand tight. However, you can fit more funky dust caps as a way to customise your bike. The sole function of the dust cap is to keep out dirt. Losing them doesn’t compromise the function of the cycle, but it is a good idea to have them to stop them getting bunged up with debris thus making them harder to pump up. 

Step 2

Now you can remove the dust cap. If you have a valve collar, remove it as well. It should be hand tight, but if it has rusted in place you may need to use pliers. Get as much air out of the tube as possible. The more air you get out, the easier it will be to remove your tyre.  If you have a Presta valve then unscrew the little brass nut at the top.  It should only be hand tight, but if it’s stuck then use a pair of pliers. 

Step 3

Depress the brass nut once it is unscrewed and the air should whoosh out. Leave it open for now as you will need it to pump the tube later.  If you have a Schrader valve you will need to depress the little pip inside the valve.  You can sometimes do it with your fingernail, but a 4mm allen key or screwdriver does an excellent job. It’s important to do this because even if you have a puncture, there may still be air in your inner tube.

Step 4

Next, go around the rim and push the edge of the tyre away from it, although sometimes moving the tyre from the rim will require some effort. The tyre sits on a little ledge and you have to force the tyre off it. Do this on both sides.

Step 5

Now you can use tyre levers to help remove the tyre. Although they are not as strong as metal levers, they are unlikely to damage your rim and they can be bought for a few pounds.  Some mechanics have preferences for different makes of tyre levers, but at Cycle Maintenance Academy, in our years of experience we don’t think that it really matters.  

The tyre levers sometimes come in sets of three, but two is normally adequate. Pick a part of the rim and use the curved end of the lever to fit under the edge of the tyre. Keep it upright. Travel around the tyre about 10 to 13 cm and insert the next lever and keep it upright. Push down on the two levers. It might feel hard at first, but eventually the levers will go down and the tyre will come off in the section between the two levers. 

Step 6

Take one of the levers and put the hooked part around a convenient spoke. Grasp the other lever and pull it towards you. Keep the lever straight.  You are peeling off the tyre. 

On the inside of the rim there should be some rim tape.  This is designed to stop the protruding spoke ends or the spoke holes from damaging the inner tube. They are made of plastic, cloth or rubber, and if the rim tape is not damaged and is sitting over the spoke ends or spoke holes correctly there is no need to touch it.  It has a tendency to perish, so if it is looking a bit tired then treat yourself to a new one.

How to change a bike tyre- Fitting

Now we have covered the first step in learning how to change a bike tyre, which is the removal of the tyre. Next we wanted to move on to explaining the fitting process of the tyre. Before you fit the tyre and tube, put a bit of air into the inner tube.  Find the correct fitting and put the pump onto the valve.  Pumps connect to the valve in different ways. If you are not sure how to connect your pump, we have a separate blog post about it, simply click here: ‘how to use a bike pump’. Please read it first before you carry on. 

Step 1 

Make sure the pump sits firmly in the valve.  You don’t need to fill the tube, we suggest just putting in enough air to give it a bit of shape.

Step 2

Stand your wheel with the valve hole at the top. Have a look at your tyre. You’ll see different markings.  There may be a directional arrow, tyre sizes, manufacturers label and pressure recommendations. Pick something that you want to put near the valve hole so that when you put the pump on the valve it is easy to see how much pressure is needed.

Top tip: I like to put the tyre pressure guidelines but it might be better to put the manufacturer’s logo so that it lines up with the logo on the rim. The choice is yours.

Step 3

Assuming you have the correct size, the next step is to go ahead and check that the tyre is going in the right direction and fit one side of the tyre.  You may need to do this with the wheel on its side or lift the wheel. 

Now insert the inner tube into the valve hole, INSIDE THE TYRE. This is an easy mistake to make as it’s much easier to fit it on the outside of the tyre. Tuck your tube into the tyre. Because you slightly inflated it, it should sit there easily. Remember, the tube sits in the tyre, not onto the rim. Also, make sure the valve is as straight as possible.

Step 4

Starting at the valve you are going to put the other side of the tyre onto the rim. Once the tyre is on around the valve, push the valve up into the tyre. The idea is that the sides of the tyre will go around the thicker bit of rubber that surrounds the inner tube. Again, try and keep the valve as straight as you can. 

Now you can release the air as it will help tyre go onto the rim and now it is fitted it doesn’t need to hold its shape. With the wheel in front of you, push the tyre into the rim. The centre of the rim, or well, is smaller in diameter than the sides of the rim, so by pushing the tyre into this part it is easier to put the tyre into position. The tyre should slip on with this method. Despite this, often you can get left with the last bit that stretches across the rim.  It is very tempting to use tyre levers, but this can trap the inner tube and end up puncturing the new tube. Ease the tyre on bit by bit with your thumbs or your whole hand or use a tyre removal and refitting tool. Don’t use tyre levers as they might pinch the tube. 

Step 5

Check the tyre to see if any inner tube is poking out. If it is, push it back. Check that the valve is straight because once the tube is inflated it’s very difficult to move. If it is not then hold the wheel with one hand and with the other thump the tyre around the rim. 

Now pump the tyre. If you have a pressure gauge then use it!  Check the pressure rating on the tyre. It is usually shown as PSI or bar. Safest way is to aim for the middle reading.  Do it slowly while checking that the rubber of the tyre isn’t bulging out and that the inner tube isn’t trying to escape!  If it is, then deflate the tube. Push the tyre back onto the rim, but make sure that the tyre isn’t sitting on the inner tube. Now you can re-inflate.  Pump the tube slowly, checking the seating as you go. Keep pushing the tyre into the rim. When you reach correct pressure give it a final check.

Pump the tyre up a little bit. If you have a pressure gauge then pump it till about 15 PSI or 1.2 bar. Check if the tyre sits properly. 

While you have the tyre close at hand, have a look on the edge of the tyre. You need to make sure that the rubber of the tyre isn’t bulging out and that the inner tube isn’t trying to escape!  If it is, then deflate the tyre.  if you don’t then the relatively thin inner tube can be trapped between the thick rubber of the tyre and the hard metal of the rim and the tube may burst. Push the tyre back onto the rim, but make sure that the tyre isn’t sitting on the inner tube. Now you can re-inflate.  Pump the tube slowly, checking the seating as you go. Keep pushing the tyre into the rim. Once it is refitted without the bulge it shouldn’t cause any more problems.While you have the tyre close at hand, have a look on the edge of the tyre. The tyre is either held in shape by a wire hoop or if it a floppy tyre then it will be held with Kevlar TM.   This is called beading.  You can’t see it because it has a bead protection tape wrapped around it. If you look at this you will see it fits against the sidewall. This is a strengthened piece and it is important that the rim sits on this tape. This is called seating the tyre. If the rim sits on the sidewall of the tyre then over time it will damage the sidewall and cause premature wear to the tyre.

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