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How to fix a flat on a difficult bike tire

Schwalbe Marathon

I ride a folding bike with ridiculous 16" wheels. To make things worse, I use the notorious old-school Schwalbe Marathon tire which has a hard wire bead with no give. But I recently got a master class on the nuances of fixing a flat without losing my mind on even very difficult tires -- hopefully these tips can help you too!

1) Do not try to fix the flat quickly. Slow and deliberate, carefully checking your work at every stage, is the only way.

2) Work at a hip-high bench or counter, standing up. If you don't have one, like you're on the side of the road, prop the tire against your hip.

3) Every video and article I've ever seen tells you to pump up the new tube a little bit to get it into the tire. But you might also need to COMPLETELY DEFLATE it once you have it seated properly, or you won't have enough room and will be fighting the tube as well as the tire. Use any metal tool to deflate the valve, and then squeeze the tire to make sure it's deflated. Be sure the valve isn't being pinched by the bead.

4) An amazing thing I learned: bike mechanics only use a tire lever to get the tire off the wheel, not to get it back on. I was super skeptical but in fact my tiny weak ladypaws were enough to do the job.

5) Work around the tire, squeezing it so that the beads are both in the well of the wheel. Make sure you aren't pinching the tube at any point. Slow and steady! This will create a little bit of slack which you need to finally get the whole tire onto the rim.

6) When you get to the last 6 inches or so, the task will seem impossible... but do not despair, you CAN impose your will on this tire! Prop the tire against your hipbone; squeeze with your right thumb; and use your left hand in a rolling motion, like rolling out a piece of bread dough, to ROLL the tire over the rim of the wheel. It doesn't seem like it would work, but it does!

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Thanks for writing this up Joyce. I don't think these instructions are anywhere on the Internet!

Most tires are not this tough! I think I got to learn mostly because Junior Bike Shop Guy wanted to learn how to do it from Senior Bike Shop Guy.

What makes these tires bad? That they're 16", that it's for a folding bike, or that the tire has no give?

16" + no give.

Thanks. I thought this was well said:

Slow and deliberate, carefully checking your work at every stage, is the only way.

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