In early May, I was dreading changing my bike tire over from the trainer tire back to a regular road tire. I had never changed a tire fully on my own before, and the fact that it was the rear wheel was intimidating since it’s marginally more complicated than the front wheel.
Prior to that point, I had gotten exactly two flat tires in my past few of years of cycling. Both times were somehow mercifully within walking distance of an open bike shop. That was a mixed blessing, because this also meant that I’ve never had to learn to change a tire.
But I really wanted to get out and take advantage of being away from the big city this summer. I knew that meant some solo riding and I also knew that I’d need to be more self-sufficient if I got a flat out on my own. So, armed with some YouTube videos (linked at the end of this post), I sat down at an unhurried time and got to work.
In the end, I was surprised to find that it wasn’t that difficult! I used a tire lever to pry the trainer tire away from the rim, but when putting the old road tire on, I found I didn’t need tire levers at all. In fact, it was so much less intimidating than I expected that at first I thought I had done something terribly wrong! But I took the bike out for a quick spin and nothing exploded or fell apart so I gave myself a nice pat on the back and told myself this must mean I was Good At Changing Tires.
Of course, having decided that, the universe promptly decided to test my skills. The following week, I got a flat on my commuter bike in Toronto as I was heading to my soccer game. I didn’t have anything on me to repair it, but I was very lucky because I was about 20m away from a bike shop that still happened to be open!
The next week, as I was grabbing my bike from my friends’ balcony, I told them about how lucky I was to have had a flat so close to the bike shop. I gestured to my front wheel, and lo and behold… it was flat! I had ridden over some glass on the way in and must have had a slow bleed. Thankfully my friends are cyclists, and they had a patch kit handy. So I sat down in their living room and patched my tube and was all ready to show them how Good I Am At Changing Tires. Until I couldn’t get the tire back on. Oops. Needed tire levers and a bit of help for that one!
Finally, earlier this month, I was riding home at night from an outdoor shindig and I got a 3 inch long nail skewered right through my rear tire. Thankfully I didn’t crash, but I was so annoyed that I ripped the nail out and threw it in the trash, completely forgetting that I have a blog now and definitely should have saved it for a photo op. Alas. I’m learning. I had to TTC home the rest of the way (again – thankfully this happened right in front of a subway stop!). The next day I popped in a new tube and this time I was able to get the tire on with relative ease.
The upside to all of these flats is that I’m no longer intimidated by changing a tire! I still hope I don’t have to keep doing it quite so often, however…
And if anyone is wondering, here are a couple of the video resources I used to step me through the process:
A comprehensive step-by-step guide:
For just removing and replacing the rear wheel:
For putting on a tire without levers: