Follow these steps to patch a punctured bicycle tube. This article assumes you are repairing a pinpoint hole or a very small tear no larger than a quarter inch, which are the most common leaks. A tube with a tear longer than a quarter inch, or with a leak directly adjacent to the valve stem, should be replaced.
Find the Leak
Things You’ll Need:
- Pump Bucket of water Patch kit (sandpaper, patching glue, patches)
- Bucket of water
- Patch kit (sandpaper, patching glue, patches)
With the tube removed from the wheel, inflate it until it begins to take on a circular shape. Beginning at the valve stem, slowly inspect every inch of the tube. Look, listen and feel for air escaping. If you find the leak, keep your finger on it and skip to Step 3. If not, go to Step 2.
Submerge the tube in the bucket of water, about six inches at a time. When you see bubbles, you have found the leak. Dry the tube thoroughly, but make sure you keep your finger on the leak.
Using the sandpaper, scuff a quarter-sized area of the tube around the leak. This will not only prevent you from losing the leak, but will also help the patch adhere to the tube. Let any remaining air out of the tire and flatten it out so that the leak is in the middle.
Patch the Tube
Apply a nickle-sized portion of patch glue to the scuffed area surrounding the leak. Let the glue set up until it is tacky and cloudy-looking.
Press a patch firmly onto the tacky glue. If your patches have foil on one side, remove it and put that side onto the glue. If there is a layer of cellophane on the side opposite the foil, leave it in place.
Hold the patch in place for a few minutes, squeezing it between thumb and forefinger. Pay special attention to the edges of the patch to make sure that they fully adhere to the tube. Let the patch cure for another 10 minutes before use.
If your patch has cellophane on the back, it will peel off very easily when the patch is fully adhered to the tube.
Pump air into the tube. When you are satisfied that it is holding air, reinstall the tube on the wheel and ride!
Tips & Warnings
Patch kits are available from any bike shop, but you can also assemble your own: Small circular sections cut from an old tube can be used as patches. Sandpaper is available from any hardware store; use a medium-fine grit. Patch glue is otherwise known as “vulcanizing fluid” and can also be found at hardware stores.
- Patch kits are available from any bike shop, but you can also assemble your own:
- Small circular sections cut from an old tube can be used as patches.
- Sandpaper is available from any hardware store; use a medium-fine grit.
- Patch glue is otherwise known as “vulcanizing fluid” and can also be found at hardware stores.
- Always test ride your bike in a safe area after doing any repair.