If you are a mountain bike owner, you need to know how to change a mountain bike tire. Flat tires can become a life problem at any point in time, which is why staying prepared can help you save time and money – not to forget the inconvenience.
Changing a mountain bike tire gives you the skill you need to change a tire on the trail or even at home. Not only does this give you an edge in emergency matters and but it also helps you be more responsible in terms of your own safety.
Sometimes, your bike’s tires may eventually give up when you push your bike to the limit.
Therefore, changing a flat tire or replacing an old tire with a new one counts as basic knowledge, especially for mountain bikers. If you can fix a flat tire or replace one, it can also save you the pain and embarrassment of walking your bike home!
Before learning how to change a tire on a mountain bike, let’s take a look at a few types of flat tires that you might encounter during one of your rides
Flat Tire Types
Note: It is important to remember that the procedure of changing different kinds of flat tires is exactly the same, but it is always helpful to know what type of flat tire situation you are dealing with.
A pinch flat tire situation is caused by low air pressure within the tire. This results in the tube succumbing between the rim and an external object such as a rock.
Pinch flat tires usually look like a snake bite with two holes opposing each other. If you want to avoid pinch flats altogether, you can use tubeless tires on your mountain bike.
A puncture is perhaps the most common tire situation that you can run into. They can be easily caused by rocks, sharp sticks, or any other sharp objects on the terrain that you are riding on.
Punctures affect both the tire and the tube and are often characterized by a single hole. You can easily locate a puncture in the tread of your mountain bike tire.
No matter which type of flat tire you encounter, with the right tools and knowledge, you will be able to deal with them all.
Tools: The Essentials
Now, let’s shed some light on the tools you need to carry around to change a mountain bike tire. Of course, you have to keep these sets of tools in your garage to make repairs at home.
But it is highly recommended to carry some of these tools with you on the trail if you have to change a tire while riding.
A Hand Pump
A hand pump or CO2 cartridge will help you reinflate your flat tire. When you purchase a CO2 adapter or pump, it is important that you buy a valve compatible with the tube of your mountain bike.
Even though most hand pumps come with a universal valve, it is still crucial for you to check before making the purchase. If your hand pump does not fit your bike tube, it will be of no use when changing a tire.
A Spare Tube
Whether you are running tubeless or have tubes on your mountain bike, you will need a spare either way to fix your flat tire.
A Tire Lever
A tire lever is one of the essential tools to remove a stubborn tire from your mountain bike rim. Without a tire lever, it will take incredibly strong forearms to get the job done.
Here are a few optional tools that you can carry:
A Tire Boot
In case the sidewall of your mountain bike is not in perfect condition, you can use the tire boot to inflate the new tube. This will help you inflate the tube without pushing out the tire sides any further.
You can use tire plugs to seal any small holes inside your tubeless tire, which any other sealant material is unable to do. This is a great product to carry for smaller punctures, especially ones you encounter on rocky trails.
A Patch Kit
A patch kit can help you patch a big hole in your mountain bike tire tube. Even though this is an effective way of fixing the patches, it is a very slow process. Hence, it may only be ideal for your garage station and not the trailside.
Now that we’ve discussed the flat tires you’ll be dealing with and the tools you’ll need, let’s get into the step-to-step outline of how to change a mountain bike tire.
Step-to-Step: Changing A Tire
Step 1: Remove the wheel from your mountain bike
In order to remove the wheel from your mountain bike, you must remove or loosen the axle. If you have installed rim brakes in your mountain bike, you must open the brakes so that you have enough room to remove the wheel fully.
On the other hand, if your mountain bike has disc brakes, do not squeeze the brake lever when your wheels are off. If you do this, it will cause your brake pads to extend for their then they are supposed to making reinstallation or most impossible.
If you are in the process of removing a rear wheel off your mountain bike, make sure to shift your drivetrain into the small cog. This will make the process is smoother and easily remove the wheel from the bike chain.
Step 2: Take the tire off the rim
To easily remove the tire, you must release any remaining air from it. This will save you from any resistance while pulling the tire off the wheel.
To do this, all you have to do is pinch anyone side of the rim to easily remove the tire bead by leaving the other side of the tire still connected to the bead.
The side of the tire you just removed should now give you enough room to place your tire lever. Now, you can use a tire lever to pull the side of the tire over the rim, providing accessibility to the mountain bike’s flat tube or tubeless sealant.
Step 3: remove the old tube
Once you have removed one side of the tire from the mountain bike rim, you can also go ahead and remove the flat tube. If you have a tubeless bike, you can pull off the valve stem instead.
However, be sure to keep these items safe with you because they will be needed again to set up your tire again. Moreover, the old tire tube can be recycled and used to create a can you spare two which you can use later on.
Step 4: analyze the inner side of the tire
Once you remove the old tube, you must inspect the inside portion of the tire, especially if you have a puncture. This is important because there might be a sharp object such as a rock inside the tire which can puncture the new tube if you do not remove it.
Hence, inspect the inner sides thoroughly before beginning the replacement to save yourself from changing the tire again.
Step 5: replacing the new tire tube
After thoroughly checking the inside portion, it is now time to put the new tube inside the tire. To make the process simple, you should add a tiny amount of air inside the tube.
This will give the tube a little bit of body and make it easier for you to align it with the tire without any folds.
Pull the tire over the rim on both sides, making sure they’re neatly tucked inside it. However, make sure you do not pinch the new tube between the rim of your mountain bike and the tire beads.
In some cases, people use a tire lever to help stretch the tire back to fit everything perfectly. But you should be extra careful not to puncture your new tire while putting it on your mountain bike.
Step 6: reinflate the tire and replace the wheel
Now, you must use an air pump to reinflate your mountain bike tire. You can use your preferred tire pressure or look up the recommended tire pressure for mountain bikes. Either way, make sure your axle is tight enough, and your tire is able to hold the air inside it.
In some cases, the tire begins to deflate right after replacement because of a leak or the axle isn’t tight enough.
Basic Tips To Prevent Flat Tires
Talcum powder to the rescue
Generously coating your inner tube with talcum powder helps control the friction between the tire and the tube’s rubber surface. This also prevents any holes that could cause a tire puncture.
Control your PSI range
If you keep your tires inflated with the correct PSI range, you can avoid flat tires even with a mountain bike.
Usually, flat tires are a result of over or under-inflated bike tires that are not able to take a hard impact against potholes, sharp objects, or any other obstacles like a curb or a manhole.
Switch to tubeless tires
Even though tubeless tires are a more expensive option, they can be incredibly effective in controlling the number of flat tires you have while biking. When you get rid of your tubes, pinch flats are no longer an issue that you have to cater to.
Other than this, you also need incredibly less air pressure to inflate your tire, giving your mountain bike better shock absorption.
Try using a tire sealant
If you do not want to get rid of your mountain bike tubes, you can use a tire sealant instead.
The sealant will help prevent minor punctures and flats, giving you much better use of your tires. Some tubes and tires come with sealant already in them, but they can be a bit on the pricier side.
Regularly replace your tires
Even though it is normal to push the limit of your tire to give you maximum mileage, replacing one after the recommended time can save you the hassle of dealing with flat tires and pinch flats.
Invest in better protection
You can always purchase tire liners and rim strips to stop your tire from puncturing. Rim strips can protect the tube from the holes as well as spoke-ends.
Similarly, tire liners can protect the tires from external objects penetrating the surface. Both of these protective measures are inexpensive and can provide some insurance for your tires.
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The Bottom Line
Changing a tire on a mountain bike is a pretty simple process. If you have previous knowledge about changing bike tires, you would know that this process is pretty similar to changing tires on other bikes like road or cruiser bikes.
In a mountain bike scenario, all you have to do is make sure that all components match and your new tires should be ready within minutes. Having the proper tools on hand also helps you avoid any chances of having to walk your bike back home or being left stranded in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire.
I am Michael, an avid rider and bike expert. I am here to provide, biking tips and expert advice on in-depth bike reviews covering features, capabilities, price range, and much more. Specially on electric bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes, etc. I will provide honest product reviews, along with expert advice on purchasing, training, and maintenance. Check out my complete profile.