Under normal circumstances wheel removal should be fairly simple. With most modern bicycles wheel removal requires no tools as quick release mechanisms are now common. Wheel removal will require releasing or opening the brake and releasing the hub from the frame or fork dropouts.
Front wheels are less complicated for obvious reasons. First, open or release your brake. Next, be sure your tire is deflated enough to pass through the brake as it is.
If you have a normal Quick Release skewer securing your wheel pry open the QR lever and holding the nut on the opposite side unwind the QR 3-5 complete turns counter clockwise as you are looking at the lever. This will allow the QR to pass the "lawyer lips" on most fork dropouts. Lift up on the bike and the wheel should fall right out.
To remove a tire from the rim we must first consider the valve placement. Valve placement is very important for finding the puncture and removing the cause of the puncture from the tire/tube and preventing a recurring flat. In a professional tube/tire installation the mechanic will align the valve stem with the colorful printed label on the sidewall of the tire, usually on the drive side of the tire. If there is no obvious label, you can use the recommended inflation pressure stamped on the side of the tire as your mark. For now, if there is no obvious mark, simply take a sharpie and mark the side of the tire exactly where the valve is (before tire removal) and also the side of the valve stem (same side).
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With the tube completely deflated you can begin removing the tire at the point opposite the valve on the wheel. For example: Set the wheel on your bench with the valve area at the 6-o-clock position and begin your removal at the 12-o-clock position. This will ensure that you do not damage the valve stem, if you are patching and it also makes it easier to remove the tire. Begin removal using a tire-lever, any plastic tire lever will do, I like the Sportys. Separate the tire bead from the rim by pinching the tire with one hand, then with the tire lever dig under the tire bead and pry it out and over the rim.* With the tire lever between the rim and the tire bead pull or push the tire lever around the rim while holding the rim and tire in the opposite hand, this should allow the entire tire bead out of the rim. Next, again beginning at the opposite side of the wheel from the valve and on the same side of the rim pry up the other tire bead and repeat the process of removing the bead around the tire.
* Some tire/rim combos will be more difficult to remove and may require two tire levers to get started. After digging the tire bead out with two levers, one right next to the other, you can hook the opposite end of one lever to a spoke and then use the other lever to strip the bead from the rim as described above.
Inspection of the tire and tube also includes inspection of the rim and rim tape. To ensure fewer future flats be sure to thoroughly inspect the inside of the rim for barbs, foreign objects, and faulty rim tape. Spokes and debris can protrude through the rim tape causing a flat.
At this point you should have the wheel off of the bike, the tire off of the wheel and the tube out of the tire. Here's where that mark comes in handy.
First in order to inspect the tube and tire for the cause of the flat, unless it's really obvious, add some air to the tube and look/listen/feel for the leaking air. Once you find the hole be sure to mark the tube if you plan on patching it. (It can be nearly impossible to find the hole once the tube is deflated again.) With the hole located in the tube, simply line up the valve with the mark you made on the tire and viola! you should now be able to locate the cause of the flat. Sometimes there is still a piece of glass or metal in the tire and other times just a hole. The point here is to prevent future flats caused by the same problem. Be thorough, sometimes tubes can go flat in two places at once and finding that second phantom cause can be tedious. Now, if the tire has a hole large enough for the tube to bubble out upon inflation, you will need to replace the tire or just to get home patch the tire with some duct tape or a dollar bill or an energy bar wrapper, anything that will not stretch will do as long as you can keep it between the tube and the hole in the tire. Patching a tube is time consuming and not always effective, if you are patching the tube follow the instruction in your patch kit on how to do it before re-installing your tube/tire/wheel.
Reinstalling the tire/tube
The process of reinstalling the tire/tube uses the same steps as removal, but in reverse.
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First put a little air in the tube so that it has some body. Then align your valve stem with whatever mark on your tire you wish to use in the future and stuff the tire with the tube all the way around. Next push the valve stem through the valve hole in the rim and begin stuffing the tire beads into the rim between the side walls. Be sure to begin with the valve and work your way around the rim away from the valve on both sides until the last bit, which may require tire levers again, ending opposite the valve stem. This time the tire levers are more useful flipped over so that the lip of the lever is against the rim. This part may take some practice before you feel confident while out on the road. Once the tube and tire are seated in the rim bed all the way around the rim you are ready to begin inflation.
Seems simple, just inflate right?
Start by giving the tube some air, maybe 20 psi or so, now inspect the tire all the way around the rim on both sides to be sure the tire is seated properly. You should see no dips or bulges, in short the tire should be perfectly round. if you spin the wheel and you notice a part of the tire that dips while spinning, there may be more of the tire beneath the rim hook. If you notice a bulge while spinning, be sure that the tire bead is not outside the rim hook. Correct these problems by letting some air out and massaging the tire into place. Repeat the process and once you see no inconsistencies begin to inflate the tire to full pressure. BE CAUTIOUS INFLATING THE TIRE for the first time, you may notice a sudden bulge and need to deflate the tire rapidly to prevent a blowout. You may notice some popping sounds as the tire bead seats into the rim hook. This is normal and can be a satisfying perk of doing your own tire maintenance.
Reinstallation of the wheel
Reinstalling your wheel should be fairly simple at this point. The two things to remember are the QR and the brake.
Be sure to install the wheel under the bike, or at least the final tightening of the QR lever with the bike upright. This will ensure that the wheel is centered in the fork or frame. To find that sweet spot of how tight your QR is when you close the lever, you may have to experiment a little. I find that most levers have appropriate and safe tension when they catch at about the midpoint of the movement or in line with the hub. In any case closing the lever should require the palm of your hand and enough force to produce an imprint of the lever on your palm. Now close or re-engage the brake and give it a test squeeze. If all things are good, give yourself a pat on the back and get back out there and ride!
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