How to change an inner tube

A fundamental skill for any cyclist, but one that lots of us don't quite get right. Check out our steps for the easiest and most efficient way to change a tube.

Clock08:00, Monday 16th October 2023

Changing an inner tube is an essential skill for any cyclist. It's a really simple task, and with practice, you'll be able to change an inner tube in less than five minutes. Learn this skill, and you'll be well on your way to becoming an independent cyclist.

Read more: 5 essential tools for cyclists

For steps on repairing those punctured tubes, see our guide on how to fix a puncture. Or, if you're wondering if you can avoid punctures completely, see our guide on whether puncture-proof tyres are any good.

Read more: How to fix a puncture

Tools Needed

a wheel being removed from the bike

Step 1

Remove the wheel

Take your wheel out, either by loosening your quick release or removing your thru axle. If you need some help getting your wheel off, check out our guide on how to take your wheels off your bike.

Use a tyre lever to lift the tyre bead off the rim on one side of the wheel. Once you’ve levered a little bit of the bead out of the rim, push the tyre lever around the rim until the rest of the bead has been taken out of the rim.

With the bead off on one side, you should be able to remove the inner tube. Pull the tube out until just the valve remains. To take out the valve, push the tyre out of the way, and pull the valve out of the rim.

ollie bridgewood inspecting the tyre for damage

Step 2

Inspect the tyre

Inspect the tyre for damage by running your finger along the inside of the tyre. Take care with this – if there are any sharp objects sticking through the tyre, they could easily cut your finger. Remove any embedded objects so they don’t puncture the new tube you’re about to put in.

Top Tip

If the tyre looks worn, now’s the time to take it off and replace it. To learn when to replace your tyres, have a look at our tips for identifying a worn out tyre.

partially inflating a new inner tube with a little air

Step 3

Put some air in the new tube

Put a little bit of air in your new tube to give it a bit of shape. This is especially important if you're installing latex inner tubes or thin polyurethane ones.

fitting an inner tube into the centre of the rim bed

Step 4

Position the tyre

Position the tyre in the correct place. Have one side of the tyre bead on the rim bed of the wheel, and fit the inner tube into the centre of the rim bed too.

Make sure the tyre bead is pulled into the centre of the rim bed, ideally in the little U-shaped channel. This makes pushing the other side of the tyre on easier.

positioning the tyre against the rim of the wheel

Step 5

Fit the tyre

Put the other side of the bead on the rim. Starting at the valve, push the bead into the rim, working around the wheel symmetrically until you’ve put most of the tyre in. Getting the last bit over is usually quite difficult. To make it as easy as possible, make sure the bead is in that central channel of the rim bed.

Resist the temptation to use tyre levers for this last bit, as this will often damage the inner tube and give you another puncture straight away. Instead, persist with both sides of your thumbs, and work the rest of the tyre towards the part that you’re working on to maximise the amount of slack in the final bit of tyre bead. If you’re still struggling, have a look at our tips for fitting tight tyres.

inspecting the rim of the tyre the whole way round

Step 6

Check before you inflate

Before you inflate the tyre, inspect the rim the whole way around, to make sure that the tube isn’t caught under the bead of the tyre. To free any areas where the tube has got caught under the tyre, give the tyre a wiggle side to side.

GCN presenter Oliver Bridgewood inflating a tyre with a track pump

Step 7

Inflate the tyre

Check the recommended pressure on the side of your tyre, then inflate. As you pump it up, check the tyre is seated properly on the rim – it should be consistent the whole way around, with no bulges. If you spot any irregularities, let the air out and inflate the tyre again.

Read more: How to inflate bike tyres

Top Tip

If your tyre has a big hole in it, you’ll need to repair it. You can use all sorts of things to patch a tyre, the easiest being a purpose built tyre boot or patch. But if you don’t have one, you can use a section of old tyre, an old gel wrapper, or even a £5 note (tenners also work, but make it a fairly costly job).

GCN's Essential Road Bike Maintenance
GCN's Essential Road Bike Maintenance

For road, gravel, commuter and hybrid bikes, Essential Road Bike Maintenance is intended to be a proper bible to all those essential bike maintenance, repairs, and set-up tasks that we all need to know. Everything from basic bike set-up, how to get your wheels on and off, through setting up gears, bleeding brakes, and beyond to things like installing electronic gears, converting to a 1x transmission and more. In a nutshell, pretty much everything you would want to tackle on your bike (or bikes, plural) yourself. And then some. Like bike set up tips for taller and shorter riders; bottom bracket standards explained; common bike maintenance mistakes and how to avoid them; essential roadside fixes to keep you riding; how to make your bike more comfortable; how to puncture-proof your ride and much, much more. “A huge amount of knowledge, hacks, and know-how to help improve both your workshop skills and your ride” – Ollie Bridgewood, GCN Presenter Each chapter is structured with the tasks you’ll most likely need more of the time at the start (like how to adjust your gears, replacing brake pads, or changing a tyre), before running through to those that you’ll do much more infrequently (such as changing disc brake hoses, servicing a freehub or pedals, and so on). This also means that many of the tasks naturally ratchet up in difficulty as you go through each chapter which should also mirror your natural progression as you become more mechanically capable and confident. In short, 260 pages packed with all the essential knowledge you’ll need to confidently take on and complete pretty much any bike maintenance task. Get Some ‘Show-How’ With Your ‘Know-How’ Each walkthrough is linked to a companion video which you can watch for free from your computer, tablet or smartphone. To watch, either type in the walkthrough’s short-link URL – e.g. https://gcn.eu/GetPerfectShifting – into your browser, or scan the QR code with your smartphone or tablet so you can get the best of both worlds: know-how and show-how. Simple. All you need to know to fix your bike. Product Details: Pages: 260 (120sm) Size: 280mm (h) x 216mm (w) (portrait) Cover: Paperback Cover Finish: 300gsm, silk stock with anti-scuff matte laminate and spot UV gloss finish Please note: There may be some additional shipping charges for orders consisting of 2 or more books. However, our customer service team will contact you after you have placed the order to advise on delivery options. Click here to explore all GCN best selling books

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