How to Patch a Bike Tube


bike tire

Ed. note: This is the fourth in a series covering common bike repairs in a mountain bike trail setting, including repairing your flat tire, fixing your dropped chain, and fixing a broken chain with a power link. Many of these repairs can be applied or adapted to road bikes as well.

My favorite half-day mountain ride loops through three local trail networks—and back again—over tight old-school singletrack and buffed out flowy trails; it crosses streams, climbs and descends boulders, and offers both gnarly sections of rocks and roots and the modern trail features that leave you grinning ear to ear. It’s a ride that earns you a beer, and bacon-bleu cheese fries at my favorite local spot. It’s also a ride that demands a full tool kit, because you don’t want to miss any of it, or get stranded nine miles out with a repair you’re not prepared to make. Read: Pack your spare tubes and your patch kit.

Patch Tube (9)

The square of sandpaper included in your patch kit roughs up the rubber so that the patch adheres well. Photo by Tristan Von Duntz

Patch kits are lightweight and teeny-tiny, so it’s wise to always carry one, but especially so for those all-day epics. That’s because the kit is far lighter and less bulky than carrying several tubes, and on a long ride like this it’s always possible there will be multiple flats, meaning you’ll use up your spare tubes. The kit is basic: It includes a small square of sand paper, rubber patches, and adhesive. It takes a little know-how, but is relatively quick and easy. Follow these instructions to repair your tube, and you’ll be grinning again and eating fries in no time.

In Your Pack

Spare tubes

Patch kit

Tire levers

Bike pump


On Trail

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Adhesive included in your patch kit is used to adhere the patch to the tube. Photo by Tristan Von Duntz

As always, work off the trail. If you’re patching your tire, you’re also going to need the know-how from the first part of this series, “How to Fix Your Flat Tire.” The following instructions apply once you’ve removed your tube and it’s exposed.

Start by finding the puncture in your tube. If this is hard to find visually, listen closely for a hissing sound. Once you’ve found the puncture, use the small square of abrasive paper included in your patch kit to rub the area around the puncture. You want to scuff it up a bit to be sure the rubber patch sticks well.

Next apply your adhesive to the patch and cover the puncture with the patch. Wait five minutes for the adhesive to dry. Once the adhesive is dry, you’re good to reinstall your tube and tire, and be on your way.

Ride On!

Patch Tube (12)

Peel the clear plastic cover off of your patch and apply the patch to your tube, pressing down on it to help it stick. Let the adhesive dry for 5 minutes before peeling off the foil backing. Photo by Tristan Von Duntz

With your tube patched and your friends impressed, you’re ready to hit the trail again. Happy trails!



Last modified: September 22, 2014

One Response to :
How to Patch a Bike Tube

  1. Andrea P. says:

    Loving this “How To” series. I use the patch the opposite way though. I peel the foil backing off apply that side to the tire, then once the glue is dry – peel the clear cover off (you can leave this on as well).

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