If you’re a cyclist, it’s likely that you’ve had to change a bike tube at some point in your life. And if not, you might be wondering why the heck anyone would ever do that when they could just buy new ones (which are more expensive). I’ve always been one to save money and try to repair things before throwing them away, so here’s how I learned how to change a bike tube without tire levers.
To remove the tube from the tire and place it in a safe location, you will need to deflate it. Here’s how:
- Place your bike on its side with both tires facing up and locate the valve stem in one of them.
- Using a pump, work at slowly removing air from the tube until you can reach over with your hand and feel for pressure inside. At this point, you’ll know that all of the air has been removed from within the tube (you may have to use more than one cycle of pumping).
- Remove the axle nuts with an Allen wrench. It’s a good idea to have one of those tools on hand for this step, but you can also use another tool that fits in the keyhole-shaped space in the center of each axle nut.
- Remove the wheel from your bike frame by pulling it straight off or using your hands if you’re feeling strong and confident (or if you’re just really stubborn).
Remove Tire and Tube
To remove the tire, press down lightly on the area around the valve stem and pull the tire away from the rim. If you are using a tire lever to do this, place one end of the lever near your thumb and use your thumb to push against it as you lift up on both sides of the rim with your other fingers. If you’re using both hands, place one hand at 12 o’clock and another at 6 o’clock, then slide each finger up toward 1 o’clock until there is enough room for you to twist off your wheel by hand.
Once off of its axle, lay down your wheel so that only about half of it stays inside its frame (you’ll see where this looks like a good spot when you put everything back together). Lift up one side of your inner tube until there’s enough room between it and its tire for you to slide out an old tube if necessary—this will make inserting new ones easier later on!
Remove any rubber bits that may still be stuck around inside or outside of either ends of each piece before moving on to next step.
Inflate Tube with Air
Once you’ve removed the tire and tube, inflate the tube with a bike pump or compressor. If you’re using a valve stem, put it back on and secure it with the valve cap (a separate piece of hardware that screws onto your valve stem). A better option might be to use an integrated pressure gauge like those found on some high-end tires.
Look for Hole by Listening or Feeling Air Leaving the Balloon
If you are changing your own bicycle tire, you need to know how to find holes in the tube. There are two ways: by listening for hissing air or feeling for escaping air. To listen, hold the tire up next to your ear and check it for any sounds that indicate a leak. If you don’t hear anything, then you have good news! Your tire doesn’t have any holes in it! To feel for escaping air, place both thumbs on opposite sides of the tube at first and move them together as if they were rubbing each other back and forth quickly (this is called “sniffing”).
If Hole Is Too Large, Use a Patch to Cover Hole
If the hole is too large to be covered with a patch, you’ll want to use a new tube. If this happens, you can still try to patch the tire and then place it back on your bike; however, since there’s no way of knowing exactly how big the hole was before you patched it, there’s no guarantee that this will work. If you’re having trouble finding a small enough tube for your tire size or if you’d rather not risk riding along with a patched-up tire in case something bad happens (and let’s face it: bad things happen), just buy yourself an entirely new tube!
Tubeless tires are another option for those who would prefer not dealing with tubes at all—but they can be difficult and expensive to install correctly. Contact us with any questions about tubeless tires or other bicycle maintenance!
Patching old tubes costs less than buying new ones. If patching is a skill you want to learn, it’s easy to do and saves lots of money in the long run. Not only that, but it keeps used bike tubes out of landfills and helps to keep the environment healthy for us all.
If you have any questions about changing a bike tube without tire levers, please feel free to ask in the comments below. We’d love for you to share your own tips and tricks for doing so!