Fixin' flats

Rebecca Bratburd wrote this terrific recap of our very first flat fix workshop last year.

With the arrival of spring (for real this time!) we wanted to share it with you to supplement any YouTube videos you may be watching on this topic.

At least one person has pulled up this post on her phone, while fixing her flat at the side of the road. Read it and bookmark it!

Photos are from the Redbeard / Liv Women's Flat Fix workshop earlier this year.

If you'd like to attend a future flat fix workshop, please sign up for our newsletter!

Fixin' Flats
Words by Rebecca Bratburd
Photos by Kasia Nikhamina

What happens if I get a flat tire far away from a bike shop? How can I be self sufficient on rides? Why do I have such good luck with not getting flats?

Ilya and Kasia of Redbeard Bikes at 69 Jay Street in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn held their first ever after-hours flat fix workshop. “The world would be a better place if more people knew how to fix flats,” Ilya said. If you spent your money on things you actually wanted instead of on having someone else fix your flats, you’d be a happier rider, he added.

Ilya stressed the importance of properly inflating your tires to the correct PSI. Too little or too much air pressure makes it much easier to get a flat through a puncture or pinch flats. As Kasia pointed out, the first step to fixing flat is preventing them in the first place. Correct PSI is not maximum PSI, but instead based on your body weight and what kind of riding you’re doing (racing, road, mountain, etc.).

Then we got our hands dirty.

Treat your bike not as though it’s delicate, but as though it’s precious.

Don’t use too much force removing or replacing the wheel from the bike.

If you have carbon wheels, rest them on the tops of your shoes while changing the tube, and not the ground, to avoid scratches.

Don’t take the tire off completely.

Remove the tube.

Check for glass and sharp things on the inside of the tire.

Put just enough air into the new tube to give it some shape.

Make sure no tube hangs out beyond the tire.

When placing the bead of the tire back in line with the rim, be organized about it and work symmetrically away from valve.

Use the palms of your hands, not the tips of your fingers, to nudge the tire to the inside of the rim.

If you use CO2 cartridges, the cartridge will freeze for a few seconds. Let it thaw for a second or two before removing it straight off from the valve. Do not wiggle the valve, because it could break. Note: CO2 leaks out faster than air from a pump, so you’ll probably have to refill your new tube the next morning with regular air.

When you put the wheels back on the bike, arrange the quick release levers nicely for your future self—that is, with a little space for you to grip your fingers onto it.

If you’re really stuck in the city, you’re never too far from a bike shop, and if you’re up 9W or in Central Park, it’s easy to wave someone down for help. It’s important to try to be that person who can be waved down for help, too. And, with all the money you’ll save on mechanic labor, you can buy the things you really want (I have purple racing socks in mind!).

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