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Imagine that you're out on your favorite trail when, all of a sudden, your tire goes flat. Now what? Being prepared for a worst-case scenario, with the right tools and know-how, can mean the difference between a minor inconvenience and a long walk back to the trailhead. In this article we will discuss how to get your bike back on the trail after a puncture as well as some of our favorite tools to get the job done.

First thing's first, make sure you’re off the trail and in a safe location to work on your bike. Be aware of other trail users coming from both directions and do your best to provide room for them to safely pass. (Pro Tip: Always lay your bike down on the non-drive side, opposite of the gears, as to not damage or misalign your derailleurs).

If you have tubes in your tires start by removing the deflated wheel from your bike. (Pro Tip: Shift into your smallest cog to aid in removing the rear wheel from your bike.) If your rear derailleur has a clutch push the bottom pulley forward and lock it in place so the chain is held out slack. This will allow you to remove the tire without tension on the chain. Remove the axle and then remove the wheel. Use a tire lever to remove one of the tire’s beads from the rim, followed by the second bead. Remove the punctured tube from the tire and carefully search the tire for, and remove, any thorns or sharp debris. Either patch the old tube or install a new one and re-install the tire and tube back on the wheel. Filling your tube with enough air to give it it's shape will help you put it back inside the tire. Use your air supply to re-inflate the tire. (Pro Tip: Partially inflate the tire and check that the bead has fully seated before inflating to full pressure). Install your wheel back on your bike and you’re good to go.

a tire lever, CO2 cartridge and innertube

Tools used:

  • Spare tube (We recommend a Tubolito tube for its extreme packability and light weight.)
  • Pedro’s Tire Levers
  • Specialized CO2 Trigger and CO2 cartridge
  • Topeak Mini Morph Pump


If you are running a tubeless system, it's a good opportunity to try using tire plugs to seal the puncture. Remember that if you are just patching your tire with a tire plug you do not need to remove it from the bike. For larger holes we like using a Stan’s Dart which uses fabric strips to react with the sealant and plug the hole. Smaller holes can be sealed with a more traditional plug like a "bacon strip". Thread the strip into the needle and insert it into the hole. Once the puncture is sealed use a pump or a CO2 cartridge to re-inflate your tire. Give the wheel a generous spin to distribute the sealant throughout the tire. Check to make sure that your plug or plugs are holding, and air is not escaping. It’s a good idea to carry multiple CO2 cartridges in case the puncture does not seal on the first try. If your tubeless repair does not work, your next option for fixing your flat is putting a tube in your tire to get home. Follow the steps in the previous section for how to fix a flat using a tube.
Stan's tubeless repair tool

Tools used:

  • Stan’s Dart Tool and Darts
  • Lezyne Tubeless Kit and plugs
  • Genuine Innovations Tackle Kit
  • Specialized CO2 Trigger and CO2 cartridge
  • Topeak Mini Morph Pump
  • Tube or Tubolito

Stay tuned for our next post where we will discuss additional equipment that you can carry with you and the various ways to pack your gear.