Fixing Problems with the Wheel

On this page: About the wheel, maintaining a healthy tire, changing a tire tube

The Wheel

In my opinion, the wheels are by far the most important part of the bicycle. Without them, you wouldn't be able to go anywhere or do anything. So, it is important to keep these in the best shape possible. Later on this page, I will describe how to properly replace a flat tube, since that is probably the most common problem you will have. But first, let's learn a little about bicycle wheels.

One of the most noticeably differences between mountain bicycles and road bicycles (the two most common bicycles you will encounter) are the wheels. Mountain bicycles are built for durability and abuse, allowing the rider to plunge into the depths of a forest and race down a mountain without falling apart. Considering the purpose of this bicycle, it makes sense that the wheels would need to be strong. However, road bicycles are designed to be aerodynamic, allowing for high speeds over flat surfaces. Whereas a mountain bicycle is built with heavy, smaller tires, a road bicycle has larger wheels and more narrow tires. The differences in their sizes and weights correspond to their contrasting uses.

A Healthy Tire

Jacob Adams, manager of Spin Cycle Outdoor Center, in Gainesville, Fla., said that depending on how you use your bicycle, you are going to want to pump up your tire anywhere from every week to once a month. The only way to know for sure when to do this is to check your tire’s PSI rating, in other words, its air pressure. Generally, mountain bicycles should have a PSI of about 35 and a road bicycle's PSI should be around 140, Adams said. If it is below these, pump it up. After a couple months of doing this, you should have an idea of how often your tires need air.

Changing A Tube

Below you will find videos, showing how to change a tire tube, but I have also provided written directions, in case you are less visually inclined.

The following is how Adams recommends you change a tire tube:

  1. Let the air out of the tire
  2. Work the bead of the tire off of the rim. The bead is the wire imbedded into the tire
  3. Use a tire lever to get underneath the bead and work it off the rim
  4. Take off the tire and pull out the tube
  5. Inspect the tire for holes and check for dry rotting, which causes cracks in the tire. If you find a lot of these things, you might want to consider buying new tires
  6. Place the valve of the new tube under the label of the tire
  7. Partially inflate the tire and place the valve through the hole in the tire rim
  8. Make sure the label of the tire faces the drive-side of the bicycle (toward the gears)
  9. Start at the valve and move the bead of the tire back into the rim
  10. Work the bead gently around the tire to ensure evenness when it is blown-up
  11. Blow-up your tire, and you're done!

The next two videos, hosted by expertvillage on YouTube, will show you how to change a tire tube. The first video shows the beginning half of the process, with the second video finishing the process.