How to Change a Mountain Bike Tire

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You can change a mountain bike tire with the right tools and a little patience. Use this step-by-step guide to walk you through the process.

We’ll discuss how to change a mountain bike tire and what supplies you’ll need too.

Step 1 – Removing the Front Wheel
Step 2 – Removing the Rear Wheel
Step 3 – Replacing the Tube
Step 4 – Replacing the Front Wheel
Step 5 – Replacing the Rear Wheel

Supplies You’ll Need

  • Tire lever: Some can use their hands, but you need to be strong
  • Hand pump
  • Spare tube or patch kit
  • Small wrench
  • Gloves are useful

1. Removing the Front Wheel

Mountain bike front wheel being removed with quick-release axle
Removing a wheel with a quick-release axle
  1. Rim brakes: If you have v-brakes, squeeze the brake arms together to release the cable or open the lever if your mountain bike has a quick-release lever.
  2. For a quick-release axle, open and hold the lever, then unscrew the nut on the opposite side.
  3. For a bolt-on axle, use a wrench. (It’s helpful to have the bike flipped upside down while you are working on it)

2. Removing the Rear Wheel

Removing rear mountain bike wheel with a through-axle
Removing wheel with a through-axle
  1. Shift your bike chain to the smallest cog.
  2. If you have rim brakes, you will need to open them up following step 1 under Removing the Front Wheel. You do not need to release the brakes if you have disc brakes.
  3. If your rear wheel has a quick-release axle system, pull on the lever and spin it. You might need to unscrew the nut on the opposite.
  4. The chain will lift away from the cog when you push back the rear derailleur.
  5. Remove the wheel from the bike frame.

3. Replacing the Tube

Using tire lever to put mountain bike tyre back on
Using a tire lever to replace the tube
  1. Deflate the tube completely.
  2. Pry the tire bead up over the rim edge with your tire lever. Avoid using tire levers near the valve as you may damage the valve stem.
  3. Once you have a section of the tire bead freed, remove the tube and valve stem.
  4. Find and repair the cause of the flat or grab your new tube.
  5. Partially inflate the tube.
  6. Reinsert the valve stem back into the valve hole, making sure it is not at an angle
  7. Replace the rest of the tube inside the tire.
  8. Starting opposite the valve, push the tire bead back into the rim.
  9. Slowly inflate your tire while making sure that the tire bead stays within the rim.

4. Replacing the Front Wheel

  1. Lower the wheel into place, making sure the axle is seated securely in the dropouts.
  2. Tighten the nut while holding the quick-release lever. Once the nut is tight, you can close the lever. If the lever closed too easily, the nut is not tight enough.
  3. Reconnect the brakes and test them out to ensure they are working.

5. Replacing the Rear Wheel

  1. Lower the axle into place and make sure it is seated firmly in the dropouts.
  2. Hold the quick-release lever while you tighten the nut. Close the lever. If the lever closes too easily, you need to tighten the nut some more.
  3. Reconnect the brakes and test them out to ensure they are working.
  4. Check to make sure your gears are shifting normally.

Try practicing removing and replacing the wheels on your mountain bike at home so when it comes time to have to change a tire out on the trail, you know what you are doing. You should also be aware of visible signs of wear your tire will experience over time. Happy trails!

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Paul Tuthill
Growing up in Scotland, Paul developed a love for the outdoors and a desire for adventure from an early age.