Ride With Pride: Well, It Won't Fix Itself: Part 3

Outside magazine, March 1995


Ride With Pride: Well, It Won't Fix Itself: Part 3

The ego-inflating way to fix a flat...
By Scott Sutherland


When I'm in the middle of a race and I get a flat, I have to fix it myself," says ultradistance mountain-biking champion John Stamstad. "Not to win, but just to finish." Where Stamstad rides, that can be quite a haul. He won last year's lung-searing Leadville 100 (that's miles) mountain-bike race and is the defending two-time champion of Alaska's 200-mile Iditabike. But even if your rides are shorter, some Stamstad-style self-sufficiency is a good idea. "I carry two spare tubes, one or two tire levers, speed patches, and a pump," says Stamstad. Similarily armed, you're ready to heal your tread.

1. Hang your bike by its saddle from a tree limb or fence post. If you must leave it on the ground, keep your chain out of the dirt.

2. For a flat in the rear, move your chain onto the smallest rear cog to get it out of the way before taking the wheel off. Then, for either tire, undo the brake, loosen the quick-release skewer, and remove the wheel.

3. Use the tire levers to pry the tire from the rim. Remove the bead on one side of the rim only.

4. Make sure that whatever caused the flat isn't still stuck there. Pump air into the tube to determine the area of the puncture and check the tire -- inside and out -- for the culprit. Remove the tube.

5. If you patch the tube, rough the puncture site with the sandpaper provided in the patch kit (this will help the patch to hold). Glue a patch in place.

6. Inflate the new or patched tube just enough to give it shape, and then seat it inside the rim (it's easiest if you start at the valve). Reinstall the tire's bead inside the rim -- by hand if possible, with levers if necessary.

7. Check to make sure the tire's bead isn't pinching the tube. "If you inflate the tube while it's pinched," says Stamstad, "you'll have another flat in no time."

8. Inflate the tube, reinstall the wheel, and wipe your grungy hands on your shorts.

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