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Inflate and seat the tire: Place your pump on the valve and inflate the tire. To prevent valve damage, brace it by wrapping a finger behind a spoke (photo left) so you're pushing against your hand, not the valve. Inflate the tire until it's just firm (not fully inflated). At this point, inspect the tire to make sure it's "seated," which means that it's sitting correctly on the rim.

If the tube gets trapped beneath a bead (photo top), inflating further may blow the tire and tube off the rim! There's a bead line on the side of the tire (photo bottom) that should be equidistant from the rim all the way around on both sides of the tire. If it's not, or if you see a section of tube peeking out from under the rim, let the air out, work the tube back into place, reinflate partway and check the tire again. When it's seated correctly, inflate it fully. Install the valve nut (if your tube uses one) and cap finger tight (overtightening the valve nut can damage the tube and make it difficult to loosen it when you need to fix a flat). Reinstall the wheel in the frame, close the brake quick release or reattach the noodle or cable and you're ready to ride!

Tips

  • Not all portable pumps have the power to fully inflate all tires. But that's okay. You only need enough air to make the tire firm enough to ride on. If you can't get it hard enough to finish your ride, find a bike shop or head home to fix it properly.
  • The first time you fix a flat it may take 30 minutes to an hour. But, with practice, you'll get much faster. Experienced cyclists can easily repair one in 10 minutes.
  • If you ride regularly and haven't fixed a flat yet, practice at home to build your confidence.