Got a flat tire and no tubes or patches? No matter how prepared you think you are or how many spare tubes and patches you pack in your bag, there comes a time when you end up facing a long walk out of the bush. It could happen on the quick after work spin where you forgot to throw another tube in your bag, or maybe during that epic death march that saw you and your friends make your way through every spare tube in the group - but all hope is not lost. By removing the flat tube, cutting it in half at the puncture and then tying it in a tight knot you may just be able to take a pass on the walk of shame. Keep in mind that this trail side repair is strictly designed to get you home and no further. Sure, it may hold air for days, but pedal carefully and be sure to replace the knotted tube with a new one once you get home.
• While this emergency repair doesn't require a new tube or patch kit, you'll still
to get back up and riding.
Start your self rescue mission by removing the tire and tube, being sure to figure out exactly what it was that caused the flat in the first place - this trail side fix will only work once per tube so you want to be sure that you won't flat again. Using your pump to inflate the tube sightly will make finding the puncture much easier. It's time to perform a bit of surgery once you've found it...
If you carry a folding knife or Leatherman in your bag you can use that to cut the tube across its diameter exactly where the puncture is located. If not, you'll need to use the teeth on your chain ring to do the job. If your bike uses a single ring and guide, lift the chain up and off of the ring. Take your time and be careful not to cut yourself as you do it. The straighter the cut, the more likely it will hold air when the time comes to test it out.
This is what it should look like if you've done it right. You'll now need to tie the two ends together in a very tight knot that will hopefully be airtight...
It is important to have enough slack to easily tie the two ends together in a tight knot, but at the same time you don't want to use so much tube length as to make reinstalling the now too-small tube back on the wheel difficult. Again, the tighter the knot is, the better chance you'll have at getting out of the bush.
Pump some air into the tube once you've finished tying your knot, putting enough in to allow you to hear if air is leaking at the new joint by holding it up to your ear. There is a good chance that you'll have to undo your first few tries to get a tighter knot before it becomes air tight, but when done right it shouldn't leak at all.
The ''repaired'' tube will now have a much smaller diameter, making it a bit trickier to install than when you first put it in. Put one side of the tire onto the rim and then work the tube up and onto the rim. The tube should stretch enough that once it is onto the rim it will stay there on its own. Now install the other bead and pump up the tire to a bit less than your usual pressure. Remember that this repair is only to get you out of the bush - go around any jumps or drops that you would usually hit and ride well under your limits, stopping frequently to check the tire's pressure. This is especially true if you've repaired your front tire.
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