How (not) to Change a Tire...In 47 Steps.

author : BGTwinDad
comments : 3

One procedure for changing a tire that you might learn from, but certainly don't want to follow precisely!

When the icy cold of winter gripped our fair town, I carefully swapped my expensive, flat-proof Specialized Armadillo rear tire for the cheap original rear tire that came with my bike.  The idea was that the bike would be spending far more time attached to my magnetic trainer than on the road, and I’d rather waste the tread on the cheaper tires.  I vaguely recall that things went fairly well during that switch, but then time has a way of making all memories look a little rosier than reality.


Now that the temperatures are beginning to rise, and the fuel prices are rising even faster, I decided it was time to get the new steed road-worthy again.  Having a bit of free time last night, I decided to put the Armadillos back on in preparation for beginning to commute to work and do training rides outside where God intended.  What follows is a mostly honest account of just how NOT to replace a tire.  Hopefully along the way you will be able to learn a few things about the correct way to replace a tire.


Procedure for Replacing a Tire


  1. Move bicycle from storage area to work area.
  2. Retrieve toolkit from separate storage area.
  3. Retrieve floor pump from third storage area.
  4. Give creative explanation to spouse why this must happen in the den, next to the good couch, and not in the garage, where greasy things belong.
  5. Consider moving all bike-related stuff to a single location.
  6. Realize the work-to-laziness ratio of step four and decide to take care of that “later.”
  7. Remember the chain mark left on the carpet last time you removed the rear wheel and rested the bike on the dropouts.
  8. Turn bicycle upside down and balance it on the seat and handlebars instead.
  9. Remove rear wheel from bike
    1. Release the Quick-Release lever
    2. Turn the other end a few turns to clear the “lawyer tabs”
    3. Pull the wheel free of the dropouts
    4. Remember you should have shifted to the smallest cog first, but it’s too late now.
    5. Fish the wheel free of the chain, trying to minimize the amount of chain grease you get on the furniture in the process.
  10. Fish through the toolkit for the tire levers.  Praise the Lord that you find them.  Consider organizing your toolkit.  Review step 6.
  11. Stare at the tire levers, trying to remember which way they go in.
  12. Find the spoke as close as possible to directly opposite the valve, and try to insert the lever there, “lip” toward the tire.
  13. Put the lever down, open the valve, and let the air out of the tire.
  14. Retrieve the lever and try inserting it again.
  15. Pull the lever down, popping the tire bead over the rim, and hook the lever’s hook around the nearest spoke.
  16. Hunt for the other tire lever.
  17. Insert the second tire lever one spoke over from the first.  Pull it down.
  18. If you’re lucky, you can slide the second lever around the rim now, quickly popping one side of the tire completely off the rim.
  19. If you’re not lucky, hook lever #2, unhook lever #1, and move lever #1 one spoke farther away from lever #2, repeating the process until the tire does pop loose.
  20. Pull the tube out of the tire, starting from the side opposite the valve stem.
  21. Try to pull the valve stem out of the rim.
  22. Remove the retaining nut from the valve stem.
  23. Remove the valve stem from the rim.
  24. Pull the tire completely off the rim.
  25. Put one side of the new tire over the rim.
  26. Push the tire out of the way and insert the valve stem all the way back into the rim hole.
  27. Work your way around the tire, pushing the now-flat tube into the tire.
  28. Stop about ¼ of the way around and add a little bit of air into the tube to help get it straight in the tire.
  29. Oops.  Too much air.  Let some back out.
  30. Talcum powder?  We don’t need no steenking talcum powder!  That’s for pros and people who know what they’re doing!*
  31. Start back at the valve stem and push the other side of the tire bead back inside the rim.  Work your way around the tire in both directions and meet opposite the valve stem.
  32. Curse a little, then use the tire lever to get the last bit of bead over the rim edge.
  33. Go around the tire, squeezing it a bit and looking to make sure the tube is not trapped under the bead.
  34. Inflate the tire to about 30psi.  Check to make sure the tire is seated properly.
  35. Inflate to 100psi.  Observe the tube sticking out like a hernia next to the valve stem.
  36. Release the pressure, try to re-seat the tube, and re-inflate to 100psi.
  37. Explain to wife that no, it was not a gunshot she just heard, it was your tube puncturing itself on the rim because it still wasn’t seated properly.
  38. Retrieve your last spare tube from storage area #4.  Reconsider steps 5 and 6.
  39. Repeat steps 10 through 33 using the new tube at step 27.  Bite your tongue to keep the children from hearing what you’re thinking.
  40. Push in on the valve stem to push that part of the tube back into the tire and away from the bead.
  41. Re-inflate the tire to 30psi or so, checking again for unseated tire beads and pinches.
  42. Continue inflating to 100psi while seriously considering replacing your Wal-Mart Special floor pump with a real pump.
  43. Breathe a sigh of relief when the tire does not explode.
  44. Look at the tread pattern and realize the tire is on the rim in the wrong rotation direction.
  45. Repeat steps 10-34 AGAIN, pray you don’t have to repeat steps 35-41, and then repeat steps 42-43.
  46. Carefully slip the cassette back in the chain loop and ease the tire back on to the rear dropouts.
  47. Check to make sure the tire is centered between the brake pads, tighten the quick release, and voila!  You have changed your rear tire!


* A light dusting of talcum powder on the tube helps it slip into the tire casing more easily.


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date: April 3, 2005


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