The bicycle is one of the greatest tools of self-reliance. 

Without any need for electricity or gas, it can carry you far distances. 

But bikes only work towards your self-sufficiency if you know how to maintain them. They may have fewer complications than an automobile, but they’re still machines that can break down and need to be repaired.  

Several years ago Kate and I bought some bikes for ourselves (our kids already had them) so we could take family rides on Tulsa’s many pleasant bike paths. But I realized that I didn’t know beans about how to maintain our new purchases. If one of us got a flat tire, I wouldn’t know how to patch it. If my brakes were acting wonky, I’d be hosed. 

So I set out to learn some basic bike maintenance and repair. It’s been fun. I thought I’d share what I’ve learned with you all in a new series: Bike Maintenance 101. 

In today’s inaugural class, we’re kicking things off with how to patch a hole in your inner tube. I remember watching my dad patch a hole on one of my bike tires as a kid. It looked like a huge pain in the butt. But I learned that it’s surprisingly easy. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Remove Wheel

Let’s get that wheel off so we can get to our flat inner tube.

I like to flip my bike upside down. It makes it easier to work with your wheel. I don’t have one of those fancy bike holders you use to work on your bike.

Getting wheels off a bike is a breeze with today’s quick-release systems. It’s pretty much the same for all bikes. The only difference you’ll encounter is how you’ll disconnect your brakes. That will depend on what type of brakes you have on your bike. Here’s how I removed the wheel on my bike with v-brakes. 


It’s really easy to disconnect a v-brake. You squeeze the two brake arms together and unlatch the cradle from the noodle (that’s the thing with the rubber tip on it).


Flip the quick-release lever open and unscrew it until you have enough space to remove the wheel. 


You don’t have to take the quick-release rod out of the hub, but if you want to, that’s fine. I think it’s easier to work with the tire without the quick-release rod still in the hub, so I take it out.


Wheel removed!

Step 2: Remove Tire From Wheel With Tire Levers

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