How To Patch A Bike Tire In 5 Simple Steps [With Video Guide]

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Patches may seem like old technology in cycling, and not many cyclists carry them anymore – which is a big mistake!

Learning how to patch a bike tire is an essential skill every cyclist should learn that will save you money, reduce waste, and get you out of sticky situations on rides time after time.

Although we may have tubeless systems and near puncture-proof tires, there’s always a place for patches, in our opinion.

Patches could be the difference between getting home and calling a taxi. They are incredibly handy and can be an excellent backup in case you get unlucky and puncture all the tubes you have.

In this article, we’re going to be covering:

  • What Are Bike Patches?
  • What’s In A Patch Kit?
  • What Can Be Patched?
  • How To Patch A Bike Tire Tube In 5 Steps
  • What Else Can Patches Be Used For?
  • Robbie’s Video Maintenance Guide: How To Patch A Bike Inner Tube

Let’s dive in!

How To Patch A Bike Tire: Title Image

What Are Bike Patches?

When cyclists talk about bike patches, they are referring to a repair kit that you can use to repair punctures or holes in damaged inner tubes. They are incredibly handy when out riding as it means you can repair an inner tube instead of replacing it. 

Years and years ago, cyclists didn’t often carry spare inner tubes but just a patch kit instead. It used to be more about repairing in the past, but in modern times we tend to replace the whole inner tube. 

If you want to go on a long adventure and don’t think you will see many shops along the way, you can take a patch kit with you and some tubes and keep repairing them as you go. Patch kits cost as little as $10 and should be part of everyone’s cycling kit. 

A good example of a patch kit is Lezyne’s Classic Patch Kit or Park Tools GP2 Kit.

Two tire patch kits sit on a black floor mat with their contents exposed.

What’s In A Bike Tire Patch Kit?

A patch kit consists of several items that help patch a bike tube. Here’s what will usually be in a patch kit (although cheaper or more minimal sets might not include chalk or tire levers).

#1. Tire Patches

The first thing you will find in a patch kit is the patches themselves.

These are typically round, but some companies also use oval and square patches. They are typically made of a rubber-like substance and are fairly flexible. The better kits come with pre-glued patches. 

#2. Sand Paper Or Scratch Pad

You will also get sandpaper or a scratch pad in a patch kit.

This is used to scrub the area where you plan to patch to ensure it sticks properly. This is a vital piece to the process and where many cyclists go wrong when patching. 

#3. Glue 

Then we have the glue.

This is what is used to ensure the patch stays on the inner tube. Most modern patches now come pre-glued, but glue can always come in handy when it comes to repairs on the bike.

#4. Chalk Marker

Many kits you will find on the market will have a chalk marker.

Once you have identified the hole, this is used to mark it and not lose it again. 

#5. Tire Levers

Many patch kits also come with tire levers.

This is so that when you need to get the tire off, it is easy to do so. However, most people have these already in their kit.

Holding a silver bike patch kit in front of a bike wheel.

What Can Be Patched? 

Before starting, it’s important to understand that not all inner tubes are patchable. There will be occasions when you will need a new tube altogether. 

A good example of this is when the hole is near or on the value. This section of the inner tube is near impossible to fix, and unless you have no other option, we wouldn’t recommend wasting your time with it. 

You might also find the inner tube to start splitting at the seam. This could mean the inner tube is just getting a bit old and if it’s splitting in one place there’s a good chance it will split in others as well. 

How To Patch A Bike Tire Inner Tube In 5 Steps

Now the main event – learning how to patch an inner tube!

We highly recommend taking your time when it comes to this process. It can be tempting to rush, but you will end up doing it again and again until it’s right. Take your time.

What will you need To Patch A Bicycle Tire?

The equipment you'll need when learning how to patch a bike tire.

When it comes to learning how to patch a bike tube, you don’t need much equipment. You can make it much easier for yourself by having a few extra things besides the patch kit. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Bowl with water (Optional)
  • Pump
  • Patch Kit
  • Tire Levers

Step #1. Preparation

A bike hangs from a stand secured to a brick wall.

The first place to start is by finding a safe place to work.

If you’re out on the roads, we highly recommend getting somewhere safe off the roads and somewhere where you have a place for your tools and bike when the wheel is out. 

Step #2. Remove The Wheel And Tire

Removing the tire with a tire lever.

Start by undoing the quick-release skewer or thru axle. Then the wheel should just drop out easily. If you’re removing the rear wheel, you’ll need to maneuver the rear derailleur out of the way too.

Now, fully deflate the tire in case there’s any air left inside. Once deflated, take your tire levers and use them to get the tire half or fully off the rim, then pull out the inner tube.

Carefully check the inside of the outer tire with your fingers to check for glass or thorns that might have caused the puncture. Ideally this should be done with protective gloves.

Top Tip: If you line up the writing on the outer tire’s sidewall with the valve when installing it, you can easily locate the inner tube puncture if it was caused by a sharp object because it will correspond to where you found it on the outer tire.

Step #3. Locate the Puncture

Locating the puncture using a bucket of water.

To ensure we can fix the inner tube properly, we need to identify where the puncture is on the inner tube. Pump up the inner tube and listen and feel for the hissing. You should be able to hear and feel the hole fairly easily.

If you struggle here and you are close to home, use a bowl and water. Pump the inner tube up, hold it under water, and you will see the bubble rise to the top. Where the bubbles come from is where the puncture will be. 

Once you know where the hole is, mark it with chalk if necessary. If not, just hold the tube with your thumb on the hole to ensure you remember where it is and where to find it. 

Step #4. Patch The Hole

Patching the puncture in the inner tube.

Before applying the patches, you have to prep the puncture itself. By prepping correctly, you have a better chance of the patch sticking properly and not leaking.

Take the sand paper or scratch pad and scratch around the hole. Aim for around a centimeter on each side of the puncture to ensure the pad sticks properly. Once scratched, try to get the area as dry as possible. 

It’s worth now inflating the tube a little to make sure it has a bit of shape to it. If we patch it when it’s completely flat, you will find it can stretch the patch and leak air, so if you need to pop a little bit more air in.

If you are using a pre-glued patch, put it straight on. If you are not, you will need to pop some glue on, then apply the patch. We recommend self-glued patches as they are generally easier to use.

Once it is on, hold it down tight and continue to do this for 30 seconds to a minute. We’re trying to make a completely air-tight seal and for the glue to dry as compressed as it can possibly be.

You can test it in the bowl and water to see if it’s watertight here or listen for hissing.

Step #5. Put It All Back Together

Reattaching the front wheel to the bike.

It’s now time to get the inner tube back into the tire and the tire back on the rim. We recommend keeping some air in the tube when installing it into the tire to ensure you don’t get a pinch flat. 

Once inside, push the tire bead onto the rim, and if you get stuck, use a tire lever to finish the job. Double-check it is on securely, and then get your pump. Pop the adapter onto the valve and then start pumping until you have the correct PSI you want.

If you are unsure of the tire pressure you need, here’s a calculator from the people at SRAM.

Finally, install the wheel back on the bike and tighten up the quick release or the thru-axle. Then it’s time to get back on the bike and start riding again after you have packed away all your spares and tools. 

Now you know how to patch an inner tube!

Holding a silver inner tube patch kit.

What Else Can Bike Tire Patches Be Used For?

Not only are patches fantastic for healing inner tubes they also have some great other uses. We highly recommend not just for patching inner tubes, but also:

Fixing Large Holes In Tubeless Systems

If you’re running a tubeless system and get a large hole in the tire, you can use patches to block it from the inside. To do this, remove the tire, clean it, install the patch, and set it up again.

We recommend a suitably thick patch designed for this.

Preventing Cable Rub

The next great use is for preventing cable rub.

Where the cable outers run around the frame, you can put pre-glued patches to ensure your frame doesn’t get scratched.

Bodge Sidewall Repair

If you rip a hole in the side of your tire and cannot get home, you can use the patches and glue and make a block to stop the inner tube poking out and bursting again. 

A good patch kit is part of every Bikepacking Kit List.

Robbie’s Video Maintenance Guide: How To Patch A Bike Inner Tube

Check out the BikeTips YouTube Channel here for walk-through bike maintenance guides and more!

Now You Know How To Patch A Bike Tire…

Learning how to patch a bike tire properly is a skill that can really help you as a cyclist.

It gives you extra protection in case you get multiple punctures on longer rides. Check out the articles below if you want to learn other essential bike maintenance skills!

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Robbie has traveled the globe as an endurance athlete and bikepacker, breaking world records and competing in international ultra-cycling events such as the BikingMan series and the Transcontinental Race. He's also worked as an ambassador for some of the industry's leading names, including Shimano and Ritchey. If Robbie's not on a bike, he's either fixing them or out walking with his dog!

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