Fix A Puncture – Patch An Inner Tube

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Even if you only ever plan to fit new tubes it’s useful to know how to patch a tube. You may have multiple punctures on one trip and a patch kit – which only weighs a few grammes – will help get home. It’s also useful if you meet a rider without puncture tools whose tubes are a different size to the ones you carry. If you want to patch tubes for routine re-use the most efficient way is to store punctured tubes until you have a few and then process them together.

Step 1 – Clean And Dry

If you used water to trace the hole make sure the tube is dry. Use fine sandpaper or an emery board to clean the area around the hole. Clean an area larger than the patch you intend to apply.

Step 2 – Spread The Cement

Smear a thin layer of rubber solution around the hole.

Step 3 – Wait

The cement is a solution. Don’t apply the patch until all the solvent has evapourated. If you sniff the layer of solvent you must smell only the rubber of the tube, not the alcohol solvent. The length of time this takes depends on the weather conditions it’s quicker in warm dry air, longer when it’s cold and wet.

Step 4 – Rediscover The Hole

If you’re not certain where the hole is pump a small amount of air into the tube to show where the air escapes

Step 5 – Apply The Patch

Peel the protective layer off the patch. If the patch has paper on one side and foil on the other it’s the foil that comes off. If it has paper and cellophane, it’s the paper. Apply the patch to layer of glue so the hole is centred under the patch.

Step 6 – Bond

Place the tube on a firm smooth surface and rub the patch onto the tube with a smooth implement. A tyre lever works well. This action encourages the patch to bond to the tube.

Step 7 – Remove The Backing

Fold the tube to crack the backing paper or cellophane and peel it off from the centre outwards. If you want to leave the backing on that’s no problem. The tube will work with it still on.

Step 8 – Dust

Dust the patch and surrounding area with fine dust or chalk. A patch kit often has a block of chalk to generate this dust but you can use any fine dust lying around. The dust neutralises the glue around the patch so that the tube won’t stick to the inside of the tyre.

Pro Tip

If this is a routine patch — as opposed to an emergency repair — hang the tube up overnight with enough air in to hold an ‘O’ shape. If they haven’t sagged to an ‘I’ by morning they are holding air and ready for re-use.

Step 9 – Roll

Roll the tubes carefully to force all the air out then fold with the valve on the inside and secure with a rubber band.


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