How to Change a Mountain Bike Tire Step by Step
Knowing how to change a flat tire on your mountain bike will enable you to ride without worrying about your trip being interrupted. Besides that, the steps to repair or replace a flat tire is something every MTB owner should know for safety reasons. Whether you ride a mountain bike with rim brakes or the one with disc brakes, changing a tire is not as challenging as it may seem. In this article, we’ll discuss how to change a mountain bike tire and help you navigate regular vs. tubeless tires as well.
To change a mountain bike tire release the brakes, remove the whole wheel, loosen the tire and the tube off the rim, inspect the tube for punctures, cuts, or tears while ensuring that nothing is stuck in the tire. After thoroughly checking the tube and the tire, determine if a repair kit can be used or if the tire needs to be fully replaced. Finally, fit the patched or a new tube into the tire, attach the tire onto its rim, inflate the tire, and reattach the wheel to the mountain bike.
Having a flat tire really shouldn’t mean the end of your ride so as long as you follow these steps, you can easily repair or change your tire and get back on the trail. And even if you do not have an entire set of tools with you and are not a very experienced mountain bike rider, we share some alternative options to work with. If you are just getting the hang of mountain biking you may find our article about which mountain bike you should buy quite useful.
Below is our ultimate guide to changing a flat tire on a mountain bike with rim brakes or disc brakes. You will also find tips for replacing a tire without tire levers. We will also share step-by-step instructions for changing a mountain bike tire to a road tire or a tubeless tire.
How to Change a Flat Tire on a Mountain Bike
While there are many different types of mountain bikes with various brake systems, wheels, and tires, the majority of them feature some common characteristics. Therefore, when it comes to changing a flat tire, some basic tips will definitely help you to complete the task.
To change a flat tire on a mountain bike, first, become familiar with the terminology of the bike and tools. Then, release the brakes to remove the wheel, remove the tire and the tube and inspect them for any punctures, cuts, or tears, and check that nothing is lodged in the tire. If the tube can be repaired, use a bike tube repair kit. If it needs to be replaced get a new tube and insert it into the tire. Finally, attach the tire onto the rim, inflate it, and reattach the wheel onto the bike.
Below is a detailed guide that can be used when repairing or replacing most mountain bike tires.
Materials Needed to Change a Flat Tire on a Mountain Bike
|What You Need||Why You Need It||Should You Carry it With You On a Ride?||Example from Amazon|
|A hex key (Allen key)||To remove the wheel from the bike||Yes||Amazon Basics Hex Key Allen Wrench Set with Ball End - Set of 26~ $15|
|Bike tire levers||To remove the tire from wheel||Optional||Gorilla Force Ultra Strong Bike Tire Levers - 4pcs~ $10|
|A bike tire repair kit and a tube patch kit||To repair the tire or tube if there is a puncture||Yes||TL Tooluxe 50002L Universal Heavy Duty Tire Repair Kit~ $20Maifede Bike Inner Tire (Tube) Patch Repair Kit ~ $10|
|A replacement tube||To replace the damaged tube if it is not repairable||Yes||SCK 2-Pack 20-Inch Bike Tubes and 2 Tire Levers~ $15|
|A replacement tire||To replace the tire if needed||Optional||Schwinn Replacement Bike Tire for a Mountain Bike, 26 x 1.95-Inch~ $25|
|A bike pump or CO2 Inflator||To inflate the tire||Yes||BV Bicycle Ergonomic Floor Pump with Gauge and Twin Valve Head~ $35PRO BIKE TOOL CO2 Inflator for Road and Mountain Bikes - Presta and Schrader Valve Compatible~ $20|
If you're putting together a tool kit to keep on your bike, make sure to take a look at our ultimate list of tools needed for mountain bike maintenance as well as our related article explaining how to fix a mountain bike tool bag that's heavy. You will find a lot of great, usable information in both of those places.
Step 1. Familiarize Yourself With the Terminology and Tools You Might Need
Before you even start changing a flat tire, you should ensure that you are familiar with the terminology and tools you might need during the process. This will make it much easier for you to complete the task. If you are a beginner, start by learning some common terms.
The table above lists the tools you will need to repair or change a flat tire. We have also included the purpose of each item to help you even if you are a beginner.
Here is some terminology that you will need to know:
- Bike tire casing - the foundation, also referred to as the inner layer
- Bike tire bead - the part of the tire that fits into the rim
- Breaker belts - provide puncture protection and durability
- Bike tire tread - the outer layer that is in contact with the ground while cycling
- Bike tires - what you see on the outside
- Bike tubes - inner tubes that hold the air and are hidden inside the tires
- Tubeless tires - compatible with tubeless-ready wheels and are used without inner tubes
- Rim - the metal part of the wheel that holds the tire
- Valves - allow you to inflate the tires
- Schrader valves - wide and short valves, similar to car valves
- Presta valves - narrower compared to Schrader valves
- Quick-release levers - levers that keep wheels in place when attached to a bike
- Rim brakes - braking force is applied to the rim of the bike wheel
- Disc brakes - braking force is applied to the disc rotor mounted to the hub of the bike wheel
- Derailleur - a device that changes gear by moving the chain
- Bike tire levers - tools used for removing tires from bike wheels
- CO2 inflator - a special type of pump that uses compressed carbon dioxide to quickly inflate tires
Now that you are familiar with the terminology, we can continue with the actual guide for changing a flat tire on your mountain bike.
Step 2. Remove the Wheel From the Mountain Bike
Now you are ready to remove the wheel from your mountain bike. To do so, you should position your mountain bike properly. Ideally, you should mount your bike on a stand like this but if you do not have a bike stand, simply lay it down on its left-hand side. Keeping your bike laid down provides a stable platform for you, making the overall process much more straightforward. Make sure the derailleur is facing up. Failing to do so could cause it to get damaged.
If you have a bike with rim brakes, you will need to release your brakes by releasing the cable tension. This will allow you to easily slide the wheel past the brake pads without damaging your bike.
In the case of an MTB with quick-release levers, you should undo the lever so that the front wheel can easily pass through. Just pull the lever down and loosen the adjusting nut if needed.
While quick-release levers were pretty popular in the past, most modern mountain bikes feature either quick-release thru-axles or quick-release Allen key axles.
You will not need any tools when removing a front wheel with a quick-release thru-axle. You just need to undo the cam-based lever and unwind it counterclockwise. Then, slide the axle out of the hole and the wheel will come right off the bike.
If your bike has quick-release Allen key axles, then you will need a 6mm hex key, just like this one. Put the Allen key into the head of the axle and completely loosen it in an anticlockwise direction. As a result, you will be able to slide the axle out of the hole and slip the front wheel off the bike.
When removing the rear wheel of your MTB, you do the same as with the front wheel. However, you will first need to shift the derailleur to the outermost gear so that the chain is over the smallest cog. This will reduce the chain tension and make it easier to remove the wheel. Next, just undo the axle and remove the rear wheel from the bike.
This YouTube tutorial by the Global Mountain Bike Network provides detailed instructions on removing the front and rear wheels of your mountain bike.
Step 3. Take the Tire Off the Wheel
The next step is to take the tire off the wheel. While it may sound a bit challenging, you can do it in no time at all as long as you do it systematically.
First, you will need to deflate the tire. If your bike has a Schrader valve, you should remove the cap and press the center pin with a sharp object to release the air. In case of Presta valves, you should just remove the top and loosen the nut. Twisting the nut 2-3 times is enough as there is no need to remove it. This bicycle forum on Stack Exchange discusses how to deflate a tire properly.
Next, get a couple of bike tire levers, like these to remove the tire with little or no effort. Bike tire levers hold the tire bead over the rim, making it easier to remove the tire
Pull the tire back and hook the curved end of the bike tire lever right under the tire bead. The other end of the lever should be hooked over the rim spoke to keep it in place. Use another 2-3 tire levers across the tire bead if the tire is tightly attached to the rim. If your bike has a loose-fitting tire, you can just slide the tire lever across the rim and that should be enough to remove the tire.
While bike tire removal is pretty common, some bikers prefer the one-sided removal option. In this case, you only remove half of the tire bead and still access the inner tube. Read more about some easy ways to remove bicycle tires from rims in this article by Livestrong.
This YouTube video by Unior Bike Tools USA demonstrates the use of bike tire levers to remove a tire from its wheel.
Step 4. Remove the Tube From the Tire
You do not need any tools or further instructions to remove the tube from the rim. As soon as you remove the tire, the tube will simply detach with it. If not, you can carefully pull out the tube and you are ready to go.
Step 5. Inspect the Tube for Punctures, Cuts, or Tears
After removing the inner tube from the wheel, you should inspect it for any punctures, cuts, or tears. When the tube is deflated, it might be a bit tricky to notice the damage. The easiest way to spot the puncture is to inflate the tube and check if the air is escaping from it.
While larger cuts and tears can be easily detected, you should consider using soapy water, using soap like this, to locate tiny punctures as the soapy water will form bubbles where the air is escaping the tube.
You can also place the inflated tube into the water and bubbles will form where the air is escaping. This YouTube tutorial by How-To shows how to find a hole in a tube.
Step 6. Check the Tire for Embedded Objects
Although some beginner bikers skip this step, it is crucial to check the tires as well. There might be some embedded objects, such as rocks or even nails. Even tiny rocks stuck in the tire might damage the inner tube again as you replace it.
To prevent further damaging the tube, thoroughly inspect the inside and outside of the tire and remove objects puncturing the tire.
Step 7. Determine Whether You Need to Repair or Replace the Damaged Tube or Tire
After finding punctures, cuts, or tears, you should determine whether the tube or tire is repairable. If there is a tiny puncture, you can definitely use a patch kit to repair it. If there is a large hole, it would be better to replace the inner tube with a new one instead.
Sometimes, tires are punctured by larger objects, leading to bigger holes. In this case, you may also need to replace the tire with a new one. Otherwise, the inner tube could be damaged again.
To fix the inner tube of your bicycle tire, locate the hole, use a metal scuffer to file the area, apply vulcanizing fluid, and attach a patch. For detailed instructions on how to fix a bike tube puncture, check this YouTube video by Global Cycling Network.
Step 8. Insert the Patched or Replacement Tube into the Tire
Whether you have fixed your old inner tube or decided to replace it with a new one, the next step is to insert the tube back into the tire. As an alternative, you can install the tube into the tire while it is on the rim, but many bikers prefer the first option. Feel free to do whatever works best for you.
First, inflate the inner tube by giving just a pump or two with a pump since installing a tube that has form or shape is much easier. Putting a half-inflated tube into the tire will also prevent the formation of pinch flats.
Next, insert the tube into the tire. If your tube does not seem to be fitting inside the tire, simply release some air and you should be fine.
Positioning the tube valve along the branding of the tire will allow you to locate the valve easily whenever needed.
Step 9. Fit the Tire Back onto the Rim
To reseat the tire back onto the rim, you should put the inner tube valve into the valve hole of the rim. Then, work your way around the rim, starting with the non-drive side of the tire. Finally, use both hands to flick the tire over the rim.
Next, start right where the valve is and tuck the tire bead into the rim. The easiest technique is to lift the tire up and then push it into the rim. If you find it hard to tuck the tire bead in, let some air out and proceed. You might need to go back and forth until the tire is installed evenly along the rim. For safety reasons, you should take your time to complete this step.
This YouTube tutorial by RoadBikeOutlet demonstrates how to install inner tubes and tires on a bicycle wheel.
Step 10. Re-inflate the Tire
The next step is to reinflate the tire. To do so, you can either use a hand pump or a CO2 inflator. While hand pumps are perfectly fine, CO2 inflators are relatively lightweight and can inflate your bike tires faster. For this reason, CO2 pumps are favored by those riding mountain bikes on a regular basis.
To inflate the tire, identify your type of valve and use the appropriate pump fitting. Having a pump head adapter just like this one will make your pump compatible with both Presta and Schrader valves. Next, you just unscrew the cap of the valve and attach the pump head to it. You can now start pumping and stop depending on what type of tire your bike has. As mountain bikes typically have wider tires, they will require less pressure (about 25 psi) compared to road bikes with narrower tires (about 85-110 psi).
Check this YouTube video by Global Cycling Network for a detailed guide on how to inflate a bicycle tire.
Make sure to check out our quick and easy guide to mountain bike tire pressure when you're filling your tires back up. It will surely provide you with some extra knowledge on how to find the right pressure.
Step 11. Re-install the Wheel
For the last step, you should reinstall the wheel. To re-install the wheel, ensure that it is orientated correctly and that the quick-release lever is in the open position. Then, simply position the wheel into the dropouts and tighten the adjusting nut.
When installing the rear wheel, you will need to hold the derailleur down and back. Then, position the wheel so that the chain is attached to the smallest sprocket. Finish up with closing the system and ensuring that the quick-release lever is tight enough. You should feel some resistance when locking in the quick-release levers. Also, do not forget to reconnect the rim brakes after installing the wheel.
The image below shows the proper alignment of quick-release levers on mountain bikes with rim brakes.
Similarly, you might be interested in learning how to change pedals on a mountain bike. If so, be sure to check out our related article for more information. Additionally, our detailed guide to mountain bike armor pieces and the methods for mountain bike armor qualification might be something you're interested in reading. If that's the case, make sure to take a look at those guides too.
How to Change a Mountain Bike Tire With Disc Brakes
Although mountain bikes with rim brakes are still available worldwide, most modern mountain bikes feature disc brakes. Along with outperforming rim brakes in almost every aspect of cycling, disc brakes also make the tire repair or replacement process less complicated.
To change a mountain bike tire with disc brakes, first, remove the wheel and take the tire and the tube off the rim. Next, thoroughly check both the tire and the tube for punctures, cuts, or holes. After deciding whether the tube is repairable or needs to be replaced, place the patched or new tube into the tire and attach it back to the wheel. Then, fit the tire and reinflate it according to its type. Finally, position the wheel by sliding it right between the fixed brake pads.
The overall process of changing an MTB tire with disc brakes is pretty similar to what we have discussed in the previous section. The difference is that you do not need to release the brakes before removing the wheels from the bike and the wheel slides in and out between the fixed brake pads.
Materials Needed to Change a Mountain Bike Tire With Disc Brakes
No matter what type of brake system your mountain bike features, the tools required for the repair or replacement of the tire and the tube are the same:
- A hex wrench (Allen key) ~ $5
- Bike tire levers ~ $10
- Bike inner tube patch kit ~ $15
- A replacement tube ~ $20
- A replacement tire ~ $20
- A CO2 pump ~ $30
|What You Need||Why You Need It||Should You Carry it With You On a Ride?||Example from Amazon|
|Cardboard sheets||To place between the brake pads and prevent damaging your bike if you accidentally press the brake lever after removing the wheel||Optional||Sodaxx Corrugated Cardboard Sheets~ $10|
Step 1. Remove the Wheel from the Mountain Bike
When removing a wheel from a mountain bike with disc brakes, you follow the same steps as with a bike with rim brakes. The only difference is that you do not have to release the brakes before removing the wheels since the brake pads are mounted on the axles inside the caliper.
To remove a wheel from an MTB with disc brakes, you just undo the quick-release lever and take the wheel off the bike. No further steps are required.
Keep in mind that accidentally pressing the brake lever after removing the wheel might damage your bike. To prevent this from happening,take a piece of cardboard, fold it in half, and place it between the brake pads so that pressing the brake will not affect the equipment.
Step 2. Detach the Tire and the Tube From the Wheel and Check Them Thoroughly for Punctures or Holes
Just like with bikes with rim brakes, the next step for changing a flat tire on a bike with disc brakes is to detach the tire and the tube from the wheel. To make the process easier, consider using bike tire levers that come in handy, especially when a tire is tightly attached to the rim.
After removing the tire and the tube, check both for punctures, cuts, or holes. Also, ensure that there is nothing stuck in the tire to prevent the tube from further damage.
By thoroughly inspecting the tire and the tube, you should be able to tell whether the tube needs a replacement or can be fixed using a patch kit like this.
Step 3. Insert the Patched Tube and Fit the Tire Onto the Rim
After patching your old tube or getting a replacement one like this, inflate the tube just a bit and fit it inside the tire. Fit the tire onto the rim and slightly massage with your hands to ensure that it is in properly.
As there are no differences between the rims of the bikes with rim brakes and those with disc brakes, the tube, and tire installation process is identical to what we have discussed in the previous section.
Step 4. Inflate the Tire and Install the Wheel so That the Brake Pads are in the Correct Position
After inflating the tire with a hand pump or CO2 inflator, you can reinstall the wheel. At this point, you will need to take into account that your bike has disc brakes.
When attaching the wheel back onto your bike with disc brakes, you should first ensure that the wheel is oriented correctly. Next, simply line up the disc rotor right in between the disc brake pads.
Finish up by tightening the quick-release levers and making sure that the lever is facing in the right direction. While the front-wheel lever should be completely in line with the fork, the rear-wheel lever should be sitting right below the chainstay.
How to Change a Mountain Bike Tire Without Tire Levers
Bike tire levers make the overall tire replacement process much more straightforward. However, levers are not the only tools you can use to remove a tire from the wheel. If you do not have tire levers on a ride or at home, you can use tire lever alternatives and still change the tire with little to no effort.
To change a mountain bike tire without tire levers, use your hands or any object with a flat surface and rounded edges (pump levers, quick-release levers, plastic items, etc.). Avoid using screwdrivers or knives as they may damage the inner tube.
If you do not have tire levers to detach the tire from the wheel, consider using your hands first. While levers are favored by some people, others prefer removing bike tires without them. The reason for this could be to save some money, but some bikers claim that levers with slightly sharp or rough edges could damage lower-quality inner tubes.
Whatever the reason is, you can definitely use your hands as an alternative to tire levers to remove the tire and the tube from the rim. Start by releasing as much air from the tire as possible. Next, squeeze the tire and try to separate the tire bead from the rim. Then, pull the tire up so that you get one of the tire beads out of the rim. Finally, remove the second side of the tire bead from the rim. This will be much easier and you should not need to apply any pressure to it.
For detailed instructions on how to change a mountain bike tire with no tools, check out this YouTube tutorial by the Global Mountain Bike Network.
If changing your MTB tire with your hands seems to be a challenge, you can get creative and find an alternative to tire levers. It could be anything with a flat surface and smooth edges that is robust enough to hold the tire. Consider using your pump lever or quick-release levers.
You should always avoid using any sharp objects when replacing a flat tire. Screwdrivers and knives might seem to be a suitable option, but they could damage the inner tube pretty easily.
How to Replace a Mountain Bike Tire With a Road Tire
As a mountain bike owner, you may want to use your bike for other purposes at some point. You may simply want to cycle in urban areas or get more speed out of your mountain bike when road cycling.
To change a mountain bike tire into a road tire, first, do your research to find a suitable pair of road tires based on the type of your mountain bike and your needs. Then, replace your mountain bike tires with new road tires. To improve your road cycling experience, make some final adjustments, including replacing gears, changing air pressure, modifying seat positioning, regulating handlebar height, adding a rear view mirror, lights, and reflectors, and using clipless pedals.
Along with your pedaling technique and efficiency as discussed in our article about how to choose mountain bike pedals for maximizing grip, the type of tires you use influences how fast your bike can go. In fact, road tires increase the speed of your mountain and this is one of the most common reasons why people want to replace mountain bike tires.
While riding an MTB when road cycling is also an option, some bikers prefer switching to road bikes instead. As an alternative, those on a tight budget opt for replacing mountain bike tires with road tires. Although this sounds tempting, there are a couple of factors you should consider to ensure a safe transition from mountain bike tires to road tires. Read though our article about choosing mountain bike tires for maximized grip which provides some useful information on what tires will be best for your bike.
Since road tires are not meant to be used for mountain bikes, not all road tires will fit your MTB. This is exactly why you should take your time to find the right road tires for your mountain bike to enhance your experience. Along with selecting the suitable pair of tires, you might need to make some additional adjustments to ensure your safety as you ride your bike in urban areas and traffic including so check out article about the benefits of clipless pedals on a mountain bike to find out more.
Materials Needed to Change a Mountain Bike Tire To a Road Tire
|What You Need||Why You Need It||Example from Amazon|
|Suitable road tires.||To replace mountain bike tires with road tires that fit your bike||Maxxis Hookworm Wire Clincher Tire | 29 x 2.5 |~ $50|
|Tools to change the tire, including an Allen wrench, bike tire levers, and a pump.||To remove the wheel and replace the mountain bike tire with a road tire||Allen Wrench - Set of 10~ 10Bike Tire Levers - Set of 4~ $15Vimilolo Portable Bike Pump with Presta and Schrader Pump Valves~ $15|
|A road bike rear cassette||Having suitable gears for road cycling will promote smooth and effortless pedaling||Shimano Ultegra R8000 Cassette~ $85 - $200|
|A rearview mirror||To check the surroundings when cycling in traffic||Hafny Bike Handlebar Rearview Mirror ~ $25|
|Lights and pedal reflectors||To ensure your safety when cycling at night||Ascher Ultra Bright USB Rechargeable Bike Light Set~ $30Wellgo Bolt-on Pedal Reflector Set~ $15|
|Clipless pedals and cycling shoes||To keep your feet in the right place and increase your pedaling efficiency||Shimano Spd Clipless Pedals~ $70Venzo Unisex Road Bike Cycling Shoes~ $90|
|Pedal straps||A cheaper alternative to clipless pedals||Outgeek Bike Pedal Straps ~ $15|
Step 1. Choose the Right Road Tires for Your Mountain Bike
Since mountain bikes and road bikes feature contrasting designs, not all tire options are suitable for both of them. While MTB wheel rims are typically wider, road bikes feature a bit narrower rims and tires. However, you can still find the right road bicycle tires to convert your MTB into a road bike.
Generally speaking, trail and all-mountain bikes have tires with a width ranging from 2.25 inches to 2.4 inches. Finding a pair of road tires with the same width will allow you to upgrade your MTB tires.
Step 2. Replace the Mountain Bike Tires with Road Tires
After finding the right pair of road tires for your mountain bike, you should unfasten the wheels using a hex key or the quick-release lever. Next, insert the tire levers to remove old tires from your mountain bike wheels. Then, inflate the inner tubes and insert them into the road tires. Finally, attach the road tires to your mountain bike wheels and reinstall them.
For detailed instructions, check previous sections of the article. You will find tips on how to change tires on mountain bikes with rim brakes and disc brakes.
Step 3. Change the Gears to Make Your Mountain Bike Road-Worthy
As mountain bikes are designed for rough terrain and road bikes are meant for cycling on paved surfaces, they are equipped with different types of gears. Therefore, you should consider switching your MTB gears after installing road tires to make the bike compatible with road cycling.
The easiest way to make your MTB road-worthy is to change its rear gear cassette with the one tailored for road bicycles like this. First, remove the old cassette and clean the freehub. Next, use grease to lubricate the freehub and slide the new cassette onto the freehub body. Finish up by tightening the cassette with a torque screw.
Berm Peak shares a quick YouTube guide on changing a bicycle rear cassette in just a couple of minutes. This step-by-step guide posted on Bike Components provides detailed information on changing your cassette.
To ensure your safety and enhance your cycling experience on the road, you might also need to adjust the length of the chain. Here is a YouTube tutorial by Global Mountain Bike Network on how to fit an MTB bike chain.
Step 4. Modify Handlebar Height and Seat Positioning
To achieve the ultimate comfort while riding your MTB with road bike tires, you should consider adjusting the position of your seat and your handlebar height, in which case you may have to check the entire set up of your bicycle. We also look into the positioning of your upper body while cycling in our article about where to hold mountain bike grips to maintain correct posture.
Lowering your bike handlebars enables you to lean forward, improving your cycling efficiency by keeping the wind resistance minimal. Lower handlebars also offer you more control over the bike by placing weight onto the front wheel and increasing traction.
In the case of seats, you will probably need to raise them. However, saddle height is something every biker needs to adjust based on personal preferences and level of comfort. Consider raising the saddle by little bits at a time until you reach the optimal height. Should you find that your mountain bike feels a bit too big or small then our mountain bike sizing chart is just for you.
Step 5. Add a Rearview Mirror, Lights, and Pedal Reflectors
When riding a bike in urban areas or at night, it is essential to be equipped with a rearview mirror, lights, and pedal reflectors. These components not only make your cycling experience more enjoyable but also ensure your safety while riding. Whether you are on a tight budget or not, these are essential pieces of equipment that you should never save money on.
Step 6. Use Clipless Pedals to Increase Your Pedaling Efficiency
While clipless pedals are often used by mountain bikers, they are especially popular among road cyclists. Along with keeping your feet in the right place, clipless pedals increase your cycling efficiency and allow you to pedal even faster and with more force. Even though you would need to invest in a pair of cycling shoes to use clipless pedals, professional bikers claim that it is definitely worth it.
If your budget is limited and you do not really want to carry a pair of regular shoes whenever you go cycling, you can simply get pedal straps instead. These straps also provide some security for your feet, while allowing you to wear any type of shoes you already own. If you would like to know more about pedal straps why not check out our article that provides step-by-step instructions on how to thread a pedal strap.
How to Change a Mountain Bike Tire to a Tubeless Tire
Although tubeless tires are more expensive than regular tires with tubes, they offer plenty of benefits, and enhanced performance, especially when it comes to mountain biking. The two main reasons why tubeless tires are becoming more and more popular are that they reduce the risks of have a flat tire, and you can have a better ride. However, properly installing these tires is key to benefiting fully from them.
To switch from a standard mountain bike tire to a tubeless tire, first learn how they work and purchase a suitable pair. Then remove the old tires, and attach the tubeless tires leaving a portion of the tires free from the rims.
Despite the fact that installing tubeless tires can take longer, many mountain bikers are still switching to these modern options. If you find it tricky to change a mountain bike tire to a tubeless tire, here is a step-by-step guide for you. We explain everything from the tools you will need, to how you will complete the task.
Materials Needed to Change a Mountain Bike Tire to a Tubeless Tire
|What You Need||Why You Need It||Example from Amazon|
|Tubeless tires||To benefit from the increased traction and enhanced ride quality||Continental Mountain Bike ProTection Tubeless Tire~ $50 - $100|
|Tire levers||To remove old tires and tuck new tubeless tires into the rim||Gorilla Force Ultra Strong Bike Tire Levers~ $10|
|Air compressor and inflator head||To inflate the tubeless tire after the installment||AstroAI Portable Air Compressor Tire Inflator ~ $35Lezyne Inflator Head, Presta & Schrader Compatible~ $30|
|Tire sealant||To seal the tubeless tire into the rim||Gempler’s Bulletproof-Grade Ultraseal Tire Sealant~ $80|
|A measuring cup||To measure the right amount of tire sealant needed||Pyrex Prepware 2-Cup Measuring Cup~ $25|
Step 1. Learn More About How Tubeless Tires Work
Before you even purchase or switch to tubeless tires, you should learn more about how they work and what benefits they offer. This will ensure that you are not investing your well-earned money in a pair of tires you do not actually need.
Generally speaking, tubeless tires are attached to the rims of the wheels and special tire sealant fluid is used to keep them securely attached. As these tires do not include tubes and the sealant provides protection against punctures, the chances of getting flat tires are significantly less.
Besides this, tubeless tires can be functional with lower tire pressures, preventing bikers from leaning forward when hitting a bump on the trail. This makes tubeless tires especially beneficial for mountain bikers who enjoy riding on rough terrain.
Tubeless tires also offer improved traction, allowing bikers to corner easily and climb better. By decreasing rolling resistance and increasing ride quality, tubeless tires ensure an unforgettable experience, no matter how rough the terrain is.
In addition, tubeless tires are lighter than regular tires with tubes. Although you add sealant fluid, tubeless tires are still lightweight.
Although tubeless tires offer numerous benefits, there are some disadvantages you should consider. Fist of all, tubeless tires are more expensive and require more maintenance. Second of all, mounting and installing a tubeless tire is trickier and you might make a mess during the process. Lastly, you might still need to carry a tube and a replacement tire just in case.
This complete pros and cons guide by Where The Road Forks compares tubed vs. tubeless bike tires. After reading the article, you should be able to determine whether tubeless tires are suitable for you.
Step 2. Prepare your Mountain Bike Wheels
If you have decided to change your mountain bike tires to tubeless tires, then you should start by preparing the wheels. You will just need to remove the wheels from the bike and detach the old tires from the rims. Simply follow the steps we have already discussed in previous sections.
Step 3. Attach the Tubeless Tire to the Rim While Leaving a Portion of the Tire Bead Uninstalled
The next step is to attach one side of the tubeless tire bead to the rim. As you continue with the other side, you should leave a portion of the tire bead uninstalled. This will later be used for pouring tire sealant into the tubeless tire.
Step 4. Pour the Tire Sealant into the Tubeless Tire and Slowly Rotate the Wheel All the Way Around
Then, check the instructions and measure the right amount of sealant using a measuring cup. If your bicycle tires are 1.0-2.4in wide, you will need approximately 2-3 oz of fluid. For tires with a width ranging from 2.5 to 4.0in, it is recommended to pour about 3-4 oz of sealant. After pouring the sealant, slowly rotate the wheel all the way around to spread the fluid throughout the tubeless tire.
Step 5. Finish Installing the Rest of the Tubeless Tire Bead and Inflate the Tire
You can now finish installing the tire bead. If your tire bead is tight, you might need to use soapy water to lubricate the edges or tire levers to adjust the beads. When you are done, inflate the tire and keep rotating for a minute or two. This will ensure that the sealant is evenly spread within the tire.
While some tubeless tires are compatible with regular floor pumps, others require special air compressors like this.
Step 6. Let the sealant fully set and re-inflate the tire if needed
For the final step, allow the sealant to fully set. This may be an immediate process in case of UST tubeless tire systems. However, other tubeless tires might take hours to days for the sealant to fully set.
As you wait for the sealant to set, you should keep reinflating the tires when needed. When you notice that the air is holding consistently, it means that the sealant has been fully set and the tubeless tire can be used on the trail. At this point, you can inflate the tire to your desired pressure and attach the wheel back to your mountain bike.
This YouTube video by Park Tool demonstrates the tubeless tire installation process. Watch it carefully to properly install your tubeless tires and get the most out of your mountain bike.