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Home > Bike Repair > Wheels

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2 star rating

How to Patch a Tube

by Levi Bloom

Why waste your money buying a ton of new tubes when you can patch your old tubes and reuse them? A well-patched tube is just as strong as a new one, so let's get to patching.

You'll need a patch kit, and I recommend a nice patch kit with glue. Glueless patches will work, but glued patches are basically guaranteed for success.

Let's get started:

1. First you have to find the leak.

Put a little air in the tire, then try to pinpoint the leak. Sometimes the hole is big enough that you can find it by the sound of the air escaping. Other times the hole is so small that you have to slowly pass the tube by your ear, face, or even eyes to notice where the air is coming out.

(Your face and especially your eyes are delicate, which is why they will notice the air.)

Some people recommend the water method, which involves submersing your tube in water and looking for air bubbles, but I think that is a waste of time and energy.

2. Check the tire.

Once you have found the leak in the tube, check the corresponding area of the tire for glass, thorns, or other debris. You should also check the rim for sharp edges that may cause flat tires.

Remove any contaminant that could have caused the flat.

(If there are two big holes in the tube like a snakebite, then you have a pinch flat. These are usually caused by not running enough air pressure in the tire.)

3. Prep the tube.

Lay the tube out flat and use sand paper or a metal scraper and scuff the area around the puncture. Make sure to scuff an area slightly larger than your patch. Then wipe off any dust.

4. Use the glue.

Coat the scuffed area with a layer of rubber cement, making sure to have the glue a bit wider than the patch. Then let it dry for a few minutes. (It will go from clear to cloudy looking.)

5. Apply the patch.

Grab your patch and peel the foil off the sticky side. Then fasten it onto the tube, sealing the puncture. Take care not to touch the sticky side.

6. Get a good seal.

Press down on the patch firmly to ensure a good seal. Press from the center out to the sides to remove any air bubbles. (Hold it in place a few seconds, too.)

7. Peel off and go.

Now you can peel the plastic layer off the back of the patch, and the patch should stay in place on the tube.

The tube should be all set now, so put it back in the tire, inflate, and ride away!

 

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patch bicycle tube video

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The tools for this repair can be purchased at:

Performance Bike, REI, or eBay.

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