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How to Fix Your Bike on the Fly

Don’t let a slipped chain or flat tire ruin your ride. Follow these tips to fix your bike on the fly

Whether you’re an avid cyclist or a newbie rider about to join the legions of lycra on your local roads and trails, mid-ride bike maintenance skills are a must—you never know when you might pop your tire on a rough patch of road or have your chain slip off you gears during a steep hill climb.
 
Follow these tips to repair two of the most common mid-ride bicycle failures.
 
How to fix a slipped bicycle chain
 
  1. When you notice your chain has slipped, downshift into lowest front gear and keep pedaling. This might actually fix your chain; if not, stop and get off your bike.
  2. Lift your rear tire and spin the pedals with your hand. If this doesn’t realign the chain, you’ll need to push the rear derailleur forward to release tension on the chain and manually put the chain back on the chain ring (if you have a pair of latex gloves handy, put those on before putting the chain back on the chain ring to keep your hands clean).
  3. Turn the pedals with your hand while lifting the rear wheel until the chain realigns on the gear.
 
If your bike chain continues to slip, take your bike to a local bike shop to have the chain or cogs replaced.
 
How to fix a flat bicycle tire
 
  1. Before you even start your ride, ensure you have a bike tire repair kit handy. Your repair kit—which you can find at most bicycle shops—should include a screwdriver, tire levers, rubber patches, a small pump or air cartridge, and carrying case that can attach behind your seat or on your bike’s crossbar so it’s out of the way.
  2. When you notice you have a flat, remove the tire by hooking the rounded end of one tire lever under the outer edge of the tire to unseat it. Then, hook the other end onto a spoke to hold the lever in place and to keep the unseated tire from popping back into the rim. Hook the rounded end of the second lever under the outer rim next to the first lever and slide it around the tire rim until one side of the tire is pops off the rim.
  3. Remove the tire tube and use your air cartridge or small tire pump to pump air into it determine where the hole is located.
  4. Once you find the hole, clean the punctured area an alcohol prep pad if you have one in your kit. Next, apply a bike tube patch over the hole. A patch can either be glueless and placed right over the hole, or require a thin layer of glue (which should be in your kit) before affixing the patch.
  5. Inflate your patched tube half way before inserting it into the tire. Carefully work the tire back into the rim with your hands by rolling the outer edge away from yourself. When you get to the valve stem, tuck both sides of the tire edge low into the rim then push upward on the stem to get the tube up inside the tire. Once the tube and tire are completely inside the rim, inflate the tire fully.
 
If you need a visual, check out this video about how to change a flat bike tire from Trek Bicycles.



 

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