Step 6: Put the wheel back together

Before putting the tube back into the tire, you should check the inside of the tire for anything that might cause another flat, far too soon. Leaving the tire on the rim, stretch the free sidewall out so you can examine the inside of the tire. Work your way around the tire, inspecting the entire tire. If you find anything sharp, such as a spur from a plant or a tack, remove it.

Now, with your tube patched, or replaced with a new one as needed, and your tire clear of things that would re-flatten the tube, you should be ready to refit the tire and tube to the rim. These are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Let most, but not all, air out of the tube.
  2. Hold your rim and tire in front of you with the valve stem hole at the top.
  3. Hold your tube with the valve stem at the top. Tuck the tube between the tire and rim, and stick the valve stem through the valve stem hole.
  4. Work your way around the wheel in either direction, tucking the tube into the center of the rim.
  5. Feel inside the tire with your fingers to make sure that the tire is evenly fitted, not wrinkled anywhere and fully in the center. Otherwise, the tube might pinch and flatten again.
  6. Use your thumbs to press the sidewall back into the rim, working your way around the tire. You may need to use a tire lever to finish inserting the last segment of the tire.
  7. Make sure the valve stem is straight. If it is not, hold the valve stem, pinch the tire together so that you're also holding the tube, and slide the tire around the rim to adjust the alignment.
  8. Pump up the tire. When you think you have enough air, check the pressure. Either pump more air into the tire, or press the valve stem to release some air as needed.
Put wheel back on frame

Step 7: Return the wheel to the frame

Make sure that you put the wheel back on the rim in the correct direction. This is fairly easy for the rear wheel, as your freewheel(s) --chain sprockets-- will need to line up with the chain.

The front wheel is not always as easy. Many mountain bike tires have a directional indication. You should line the wheel up according to that direction, remembering to figure the correct rotation direction with your bike upside down. Or, if you have a quick release, line up the wheel so that both quick releases are on the same side (usually left) of the bike.

Insert the hub into the notches, making sure they go all the way in. Make sure the wheel is straight--it should be in the middle of the fork (front) or evenly between the chain stays (rear). If the wheel is not lined up, use the heel of your hand to nudge the wheel right or left as needed. When lined up, you can tighten up nuts or close the quick release.

Now, grab the frame and flip your bike upright. You should be ready to ride.
©2004 Mark J. Smith
All rights reserved
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