Fixing a puncture is one of the most basic repairs you may need to do your bike and there are many ways to do it, though some methods are definite no, no’s. For example when fixing a puncture in front of a hotel in China, the consierge took my inner tube and started bashing it with a hammer. I just stood there perplexed and waited until he was done, and I wasn’t surprised when his dodgy repair method resulted with the air leaking out as soon as the tube was pumped up.
To fix a puncture you first need to get to the inner tube by taking off the tyre. Opposite the valve, insert a tyre lever between the rim and tyre, then lever off part of the tyre and clip the lever onto the spokes. Do the same with a second lever, an inch or so from the first, and if required, use a third lever. It should now be easy enough to pry the tyre away from the rim and dig out the inner tube.
To find the puncture, pump up the tube and listen out for hissing sounds, or run your hand or face over the tube to feel for the spurting air. If the hole seems to be hiding, submerge the inner tube in a basin of water and keep an eye out for a stream of bubbles, be sure to dry off the tyre after though or the glue won’t stick.
Fixing the actual puncture is where the methods vary, but here’s my preferred method that – like Uncle Ben’s – works every time. Smear a thin layer of glue the inner tube making sure to cover an area bigger than the patch, and also put glue on the patch itself. Leave both aside for about 3 – 5 minutes (depending on air temperature) until the glue is very nearly dry (I’ve left it for 10 minutes before and they still stuck). Now apply the patch to the tube and bobs your uncle, no need to bash it with a hammer or anything. Put the tube back in the tyre, then by using your fingers, push the tyre sidewall over the rim and if necessary, use the levers to get the last stubborn bit of the sidewall over. Pump up the tyre and remark at how much easier it is to pedal with a hard tyre.