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How to Change a Mountain Bike Tire

Tom

Written by bike expert Tom. Last updated:

If you’re an avid biker, you surely know that having a durable, trusted mountain bike is an absolute must. You probably took your time and did thorough research before buying your favorite model and the entire gear to go with it. We bet that riding your favorite trails has never been so exciting! Still, you can never predict what will happen on the road. As such, you should be prepared for everything, but more importantly, you should know how to change a mountain bike tire.

Flat tires can happen at any time, yet some people still find it difficult to deal with this issue. Don’t let a minor inconvenience dampen your mood and stop you in your tracks! If you don’t know how to change a mountain bike tire, this article is for you. Read on to learn more!

Necessary Tools

To change a mountain bike tire, you’ll need a couple of tools you should carry with you during your rides just in case:

  • Spare tube
  • Tire lever
  • Hand pump/CO2 cartridge
  • Allen wrench

Change a Mountain Bike Tire in 6 Easy Steps

When you have all these tools with you, changing a tire in your mountain bike will be much easier. Here’s what you should do:

1. Remove the wheel from your mountain bike

Turn your mountain bike upside down and rest it on the seat and handlebars. Undo the rear wheel brake if necessary to ensure the wheels move freely. Pull out the cable from the brakes to make room for the wheel to slide off and open up the pads. The tire should be mounted to the axle by two nuts – loosen them with the Allen wrench to remove the wheel.

Pro tip: If your bike has disc brakes, don’t squeeze the brake lever once the wheel is off. This will cause your brake pads to extend too far and will make reinstallation impossible.

2. Take the tire off the rim

Once you manage to remove the wheel, you can proceed to remove the tire off the rim. Use a tire lever to make this task easier!  Pinch the tire on one side of the rim to remove the tire bead from the rim. Leave the other side of the tire on the bead. The one side of the tire should now have room for your tire lever. When you get one part loose, you should be able to loosen the rest of the tire by running the lever along the rim. At this point, the tire should be easy to pull off at this point, so just remove it. This will give you access to the flat tube or a sealant if you’re riding tubeless.

Pro tip: for easy tire removal, release any remaining air from your tire.

3. Remove the old tube

Once you manage to get one side of the tire off the rim, you can remove the flat tube. In case you’re riding tubeless, remove the valve stem. Put these items in a safe place because you’ll need them later. You can create a new spare tube by patching up the old one, and the valve stem will be required to set up your tire tubeless again.

4. Inspect the inside of the tire

Something damaged your tire, so you should check if there’s anything else that can cause punctures. Nails, debris, or thorns are common culprits. To protect your tire from future damage, inspect the inside of the tire, including the inner tube and inner surface. Look for places where the air is escaping by running your hands along edges, trying to spot them with the naked eye, or placing the tube close to your eye, nose, ear or face.

Pro tip: If you happen to change your mountain bike tire near a body of water, use it to your advantage. You can look for air leaks by placing the tube underwater. Look out for bubbles – they will indicate where the puncture is.

5. Install a new tube

When you’re sure there’s nothing else that can damage the new tube, you can now put it in the tire. Give it a little bit of shape by adding a small amount of air to the tube. It will also make it easier to align without folds. Next up, pull the tire back over the rim so both sides of the tire are inside the rim. You can use a tire lever to help stretch the tire back over the rim, just be careful not to puncture your tubeless tape or rim strip with it. When the bead is loose enough to, you can slide off and then pull the tube out.

6. Reinflate and replace a new tire

Now’s the time to reinflate the tire and put it back in its place. Use a hand pump or a CO2 cartridge and inflate the tire to the correct pressure. Then you can secure it back to the rim starting at the valve stem. Put the valve through the hole in the rim, then put the tube into the rim. Make sure the tire is holding the air and the axle is tight before you secure it. Don’t forget to screw the nuts onto the axle and try to connect the tire to the brake cables. Be careful not to damage the new tube and use a tire lever to help you with the replacement process.

Before you go on your merry way, double-check if everything is in order. The tire should be in the central place of the bike, the brakes must be working without a hitch, and all parts must be tight and secure. If everything looks fine, you can hop on your bike. Pay attention to how your mountain bike is performing and examine it once again if you think something still needs fixing.

Changing a Front Tire

The front tire of your mountain bike is not connected to the brakes or chains. As such, it will be easier to remove. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Remove the tire from the frame of your mountain bike. Once again, we recommend using a tire lever to do this, but you can also use your hands.
  2. If your bike has nuts, loosen them with the Allen wrench.
  3. Hold the wheel axle to the frame.
  4. Follow the steps mentioned above – remove the old tube, inspect the inside of the tire to look for debris, and install a new tube.
  5. Fasten the new tire back to the frame – don’t forget about the nuts if your bike has them.
  6. Inflate the tire to the correct pressure.

Fixing a Puncture

Not everyone rides with a spare tube. However, you should at least carry a patch kit or a puncture repair kit with you – they will help you fix the damage and get back on track.

You can fix a puncture with a patch kit by following these steps:

    1. Locate the puncture.
    2. Clean the tube and make sure the area is dry to avoid further damage.
    3. Take out your repair kit. Depending on the brand, instructions will differ, but they usually use a patch which you will have to apply over the hole.
    4. Wait a few minutes for the patch to secure itself enough in place.
    5. Double-check and re-test for any other air leaks.
    6. Repeat the process if necessary.

The Bottom Line

If you’ve never changed a mountain bike tire before, it may look like a complicated process. However, now you know how you should deal with it, and the tips mentioned earlier should make it even easier. Also, don’t forget about the necessary tools – they will surely help you with your task.

Ultimately, keep in mind that practice makes perfect, and changing a mountain bike tire will get easier with time. Still, let’s hope you won’t have to do it too often – but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Stay safe on the road and happy trails!

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