View Full Version : Need a quick flat rear tire consultation

10-24-2011, 07:27 PM
As I was getting ready to start my commute home from near the Capitol tonight, I saw that my rear tire was completely flat and could not hold new air that I pumped into it. I'm trying to decide if I should drive into town tonight and pick up my bike, or leave it at the office and put a new tube in it at lunch tomorrow. I have a fresh tube, tire levers, and a bike tool, but I've never had to change a rear tire before.

My question is how difficult and messy is it to do that? Is it something I can do myself in work clothes if I watch a couple of how to videos tonight, or should I just go pick up the bike and bring it home and maybe take it to a shop? I want to be able to use the bike ASAP, so any advice would be greatly appreciated. Plus, I need to leave shortly if I'm going to get the bike and bring it home. Thanks for any suggestions!

10-24-2011, 07:36 PM
It's a pretty straightforward job. You'll get your hands a little dirty but it's best to learn.

Joe Chapline
10-24-2011, 07:37 PM
If it's a conventional drivetrain and brakes, you can do it and only get your hands dirty. I hear it's a bigger deal with disk brakes.

Addendum: or maybe it's an enclosed hub I'm thinking about. Anyway, it's not hard with most bikes. Don't forget to find what caused the flat before putting the tire back on.

10-24-2011, 07:43 PM
I plan to learn either way. Just need to be cleaned up for work and don't want to find out in the middle of the job at the office that I should have done it at home. The bike is a Trek hybrid with standard brakes, triple cassette.

I'll try to figure out what caused it. At least the weather will be nice. Any hand cleaner suggestions for grease? I could pick something up tonight from the store. I should keep some around anyway.


10-24-2011, 08:26 PM
I just had this dubious pleasure a few weeks ago. Not difficult, but time consuming if you haven't done it before (or at least that was my experience).

Do get the hand cleaner, but someone also recommended keeping surgical gloves in your emergency supplies.


Joe Chapline
10-24-2011, 08:34 PM
Any hand cleaner suggestions for grease?

Any kind of soap will work. (Although I won't be surprised if we find out there's special bicycle-grease-removing soap.)

10-24-2011, 08:40 PM
Any kind of soap works for me. Liz, thanks for the encouragement. Do you remember about how long it took to do this your first time? I'm hoping it won't take more than an hour.

10-24-2011, 08:48 PM
You may want to reconsider changing the rear tire in nice clothes simply because of the need to handle your chain, etc. Rubbing alcohol is pretty good for removing grease. You've probably got alcohol wipes in your office first aid kit---in a pinch.

10-24-2011, 09:32 PM
I think about an hour? But I was double and triple checking everything to make sure I was doing it right, and I have an Old Man Mountain rack that is attached to the rear skewer, adding to the fun.

On a semi-related note, and all of you veterans should ignore this next piece of advice, but there are lots of good books on bike maintenance out there. Most of them assume some knowledge of bike maintenance already. I have found the Complete Idiot's Guide to Bike Maintenance and Repair is a good guide that assumes no prior knowledge. It is out of print but you can get used copies at Amazon.com and ABE Books. It answers all the questions you are too embarrassed to ask with good illustrations. I had that book open next to me and was consulting as I went along.


10-24-2011, 09:43 PM
I forgot about my rack. Arghhh. I wish I had a book like that. I'm starting to think I should just go and get the bike and bring it home. I could end up sitting on the plaza with a mess on my hands and no time to figure things out.

10-24-2011, 10:03 PM
I changed my first flat at home. I've since done it on the road (like outside the Continental, for example), but I'm glad the first one was in the privacy and comfort of my living room.

10-24-2011, 10:19 PM
This may be overkill, but the first time you change a flat you'll probably want to be in a place that's well-lit, where you won't be rushed, and where you won't mind getting your hands, arms, and legs a little dirty.

If the tire is tight, you will spend a lot of time trying to muscle it off the rim. At some point it may be useful to step back, take a deep breath, grab a suitable beverage, maybe mutter some curses or prayers.

Don't forget to look for the cause of the flat - road debris, pinched tube, torn valve, etc. - and then figure out whether you need to do anything about it.

I think 15-30 minutes for your first few flats is a reasonable expectation. With practice, you can change a tube in a couple of minutes - really!

10-24-2011, 10:33 PM
Thanks, everyone. The bike is happily home in its living room, and I'm no longer stressed at the prospect of trying to do this for the first time outdoors in my office clothes with a time limitation.

10-25-2011, 05:17 AM
Update: I got up early this morning, got the wheel off and the tube out (it was a bit of work - I was glad to be indoors and not in office clothes) and found the leak in the tube. However, as I was levering (leveraging?) the tire to loosen it from the wheel so I could pull out the tube, I noticed that the rubber around the sidewalls was very dried out, and the area around the stem was actually threadbare. I'm pretty sure these are the original tires that came with the bike when I bought it in 1998. Later - took the wheels to the shop, where they installed new tubes and tires, and then came home and reassembled the bike. Once I figured out how to get the chain and rear wheel on correctly, the rest was easy. This was a great learning experience.

10-27-2011, 10:51 AM
I work somewhere near you, Arlingtonrider. Let's ride together some day.