Tech Tuesday - Flat Repair Without A New Tube Or Patch Kit

Aug 9, 2011
by Mike Levy  
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.

What you'll need:

• While this emergency repair doesn't require a new tube or patch kit, you'll still need a pump to get back up and riding.

n a
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...
n a
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.
n a
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...
n a
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.
n a
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.
n a
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.

Have you used this technique to get out of the bush? Have your own tips to add? Put them down below!

Past Tech Tuesdays:

Technical Tuesday #1 - How to change a tube.
Technical Tuesday #2 - How to set up your SRAM rear derailleur
Technical Tuesday #3 - How to remove and install pedals
Technical Tuesday #4 - How To Bleed Your Avid Elixir Brakes
Technical Tuesday #5 - How To Check And Adjust Your Headset
Technical Tuesday #6 - How To Fix A Broken Chain
Technical Tuesday #7 - Tubeless Conversion
Technical Tuesday #8 - Chain Wear
Technical Tuesday #9 - SRAM Shift Cable Replacement
Technical Tuesday #10 - Removing And Installing a Headset
Technical Tuesday #11 - Chain Lube Explained
Technical Tuesday #12 - RockShox Totem and Lyric Mission Control Damper Mod
Technical Tuesday #13 - Shimano XT Crank and Bottom Bracket Installation
Technical Tuesday #14 - Straightening Your Derailleur Hanger
Technical Tuesday #15 - Setting Up Your Front Derailleur
Technical Tuesday #16 - Setting Up Your Cockpit
Technical Tuesday #17 - Suspension Basics
Technical Tuesday #18 - Adjusting The Fox DHX 5.0
Technical Tuesday #19 - Adjusting The RockShox BoXXer World Cup
Technical Tuesday #20 - Servicing Your Fox Float Shock
Technical Tuesday #21 - Wheel Truing Basics
Technical Tuesday #22 - Shimano Brake Pad Replacement
Technical Tuesday #23 - Shimano brake bleed
Technical Tuesday #24 - Fox Lower Leg Removal And Service
Technical Tuesday #25 - RockShox Motion Control Service
Technical Tuesday #26 - Avid BB7 Cable Disk Brake Setup
Technical Tuesday #27 - Manitou Dorado Fork Rebuild
Technical Tuesday #28 - Manitou Circus Fork Rebuild
Technical Tuesday #29 - MRP G2 SL Chain Guide Install
Technical Tuesday #30 - Cane Creek Angleset Installation
Technical Tuesday #31 - RockShox Maxle Lite DH
Technical Tuesday #32 - Find Your Tire Pressure Sweet Spot
Technical Tuesday #33 - Three Minute Bike Preflight Check
Technical Tuesday #34 - MRP XCG Install
Technical Tuesday #35 - Stem Choice and Cockpit Setup
Technical Tuesday #36 - Handlebars - How Wide Affects Your Ride
Technical Tuesday #37 - Repairing A Torn Tire
Technical Tuesday #38 - Coil spring swap
Technical Tuesday #39 - Trailside help: Broken Shift Cable
Technical Tuesday #40 - Installing a Fox Float Air-Volume Spacer
Technical Tuesday #41 - Replace the Seals on Your 2011 RockShox Boxxer World Cup Fork

Visit to see their entire lineup of tools and lubes.


  • 74 0
 If this tech Tuesday would have been shown on Monday I wouldn't have been hiking my bike today... Rats!
  • 9 1
 never thought of that but it sounds like a really good idea!
  • 3 0
 Ditto, Elspecialized. I was riding Schweitzer in Idaho two days ago and went through 3 tubes and 7 patches (all pinch flats). My last run I had to hike down over 2 miles to the village. I don't often ride DH like that with jagged shale EVERYWHERE, so just in case, I've already ordered two DH tubes in case I need em. ;-)
  • 2 0
 deffinetly going to helpful for my week trip at Northstar! thanks!
  • 16 0
 supremedork, if they were pinch flats, maybe the problem is tire pressure??
  • 1 0
 SupremeDork, i was at Schweitzer last week, and all i can say is that pinch flat holds true to its name,, :'(
  • 1 0
 ^^^^ + 1

we were there for the race a few weeks ago and those rocks are NASTY! i had just went tubeless and hit my rims several times. would have been walking down if i had tubes for sure!
  • 2 2
 I'm afraid not, VTwintips. Newcombe said it! The trail is called Pinch Flat for a reason. You need 2.5+ DH tires with 1.5mm+ thick DH tubes at 40PSI minimum I'd guesstimate for best results.
  • 3 0
 you would still have to have a pump....
  • 24 0
 If worst came to worst...

Rim It Baby...
  • 5 2
 who needs tires any way
  • 18 3
 Cool method, but if you're carrying a pump wouldn't you have a spare tube or at least a patch?
Duct tape or plastic notes (like Aus money) also work Smile .
Worse comes to worse, stuff the tyre with grass and roll slowly home
  • 9 0
 I gashed a 2 inch hole in my innertube last month. I had a pump but no spare tube.The hole was too big for a patch.
My normal plan of attack would be pump the tube up as much as possible, ride as far as possible, then repeat. But the air was coming out as quick as it was going in. Knowing about this would have saved me a 2 hour walk =(
  • 10 12
 Has anyone actually tried to do this before? I've tried as a joke at home and it's damned near impossible to get the knot tight enough to achieve an air tight seal
Also, if you're dumb enough to go out on a ride without a tube or patches and far enough away from home not to walk it, or a contingency plan to cover such an eventuality, frankly you deserve to get a flat. $0.02
  • 1 0
 ive done this many times, i dont cut it in half thou i just tie a knot. and sometimes you get more then one flat when your out. coupe weeks ago buddy got a front flat and his axle was seazied in his fork. so we cut a tube and fixed it like this to get him home
  • 3 0
 Cable ties on top of the knot also help.
  • 6 0

I've used this method a few times in the past with good results. Even the flat tube that I used to shoot the photos above is still holding air.. that was 4 days ago now!

And it isn't a matter of being "dumb enough" to go on a ride w/o a tube, but rather using all of your tubes or patches up during a ride.
  • 2 0
 I've heard that spitting on the ends helps create a better seal.
  • 24 0
 That's what she said
  • 1 0
 I stand corrected. In hindsight I overlooked the fact that you may have run out of tubes, but rather saw a one-sided argument which you have highlighted. Apologies Mike
  • 10 0
 The best part of this article are all the asinine comments.

We haven't heard this one yet: "This article is useless to me because I never get flats. Oh and I ride every day on thorn bushes and huck 20 footers with 15psi."

I love the Tech Tuesdays articles, keep 'em coming. This one is an ace to keep up your sleeve...
  • 8 0
 When I have been stuck out with no spares I have stuffed the tyre with what ever I found laying around, Potatoes,(or any other root crops) leaves, ferns, any thing. Enough to get it looking tyre shape.
The first mile or so will be eeerrrr bumpy, but once all the folage and veg has been beatten to a pumlp becomes quite good. Enought to ride along the road to safty.
  • 2 0
  • 3 0
 potatoes are always just lying around. hahahaha
  • 1 0
 idk about potatoes, but foliage would make a pretty good and simple tube substitute.
  • 7 0
 What happens if you've taken a spare tube... and already used it!?

Oh and last time I asked a tree for a tube, I got my hopes up, but then the bear only had road tubes left :/

(damn it! I meant to hit reply)
  • 5 0
 Cool trick! Looks like it would get you back to the trailhead without issue. Nice to see a chain ring being used to cut something useful, instead of my pantleg, ankle, or calf ;-)

Here's a novel solution, courtesy of my pal Vish: He flatted out in the Gatineaus one time, and his riding partner forgot the patch kit he promised to bring. He repaired the flat with a cherry Fruit Rollup.

  • 1 0
 What's the method for repairing with a Fruit Rollup? Do you lick one side or both sides? Or, do you chew it a good ten seconds to make it a wet blob? And, do you lovingly pat it on the punctured area or cram it in the hole? Honestly, I'm really curious....
  • 1 0
 Like I said, it was my pal Vish who came up with this stroke of genius, and we've lost touch (dude doesn't even ride anymore >sob, and certainly is not on pinkbike). It was a long ago and my memory is a little foggy, but to my recollection it was pretty much a straight application of the rollup. Them suckas are sticky enough that I doubt you'd even need to lick it - I would guess a good approach would be to slap it directly on the tube, or alternately on the inside of the tire. You might lose a little air until the magic combination of fruit-like substance and red dye #5 bonded to the tube/tire interstices, but after that I think you'd likely be solid for another lap.
  • 2 0
 Lol, thanks! Then it becomes a toss-up whether I'm more hungry or need to actually ride back to the car.
  • 4 0
 I have done this before but I dont tie the tube together. Cut the tube a not on each end of the tire. so not you just have a straight tube, not a round tube. It works and it can get you home, but you usually get a flat spot in your tire.
  • 5 1
 To all the people commenting on this technique only being used by people that were too stupid or cheap to pack a spare tube....Me and my buddy both had spare tubes with us and we both suffered flats, using up our tubes. On a Gnarly downhill section, he blew his spare riding a bit beyond his skill level. Thank god for the spandex clad lad that came riding by and offered us his spare. Its very odd that we would ever go through that many tubes in a run (sometimes dont use that many in a year). The point is though....This is a cool little trick that could get you out of the bush faster, and alot better than riding on the rim, or filling the tire with trash/leaves....which I have done both of before lol
  • 4 2
 People still use tubes?? Smile Other night whilst riding, my mate had a 2 inch rusty iron nail go right through the sidewall of his tire. He only knew about it because it made a a noise hitting a part of his bike as the wheel went round. Once pulled out the sealant did its job and he didn't even need to pump it up! Tubeless is awesome!
  • 3 0
 So useful. I have had some sitiations where I was a long way out without a tube. This would have been so useful. But I honestly hope I don't have to use it.
  • 1 0
 Another way of doing this is to cut it like shown, but then tie each side of the cut seperately so you have 2 knots and a piece of rubber that can be straight. Then install that. You'll have a little flat spot but it will get you out of the bush like this one.
  • 1 0
 If I'm riding DH I always have my car nearby but when riding XC I could be 20km out in the woods and also riding tubeless, even if I can put a patch on the inside I won't be able to get it to inflate with a small hand pump so then I probably would try stuff it with grass.
  • 1 0
 you can also try to patch a puncture with some large leaves or whatever junk you have in your pack such as duct tape, choc bar wrappers etc. I succesfully sealed a puncture using the plastic bag my bread roll came in while doing a super isolated epic ride in new zealand. you won't get it first time, but if you persist you will hopefully eventually get the plastic bag to form a seal while pressed up against rim and tyre.
  • 1 0
 I have used this method a few times, but I do it a different way....rather than tie the two ends together I tie each end in its own over hand knot that you can get really really tight and uses less tube to do so....then it is also easier to put the tube back on the rim and in the tire because it is not a smaller circle well....I have used it when riding in arizona and all our patches got used up because of the bull head thorns, also in the rockies when the guys I was riding with were not prepared and my limited supplies soon ran out.
  • 1 0
 Nice I run tubeless now but I've also used the zip ties every 4 inches trick to stop the tire from flopping all over the place but you'd need about 20 ties to do it right and not everyone carries that many at once or at all. I rode TNT top to bottom at Fernie with a blown front from a delayed blow out right as I got off the lift. Zip ties worked about 1/4 of the way down because of all the rocks haha. I'll definitely remember this one though. Thanks!
  • 2 0
 Mike Levy, the majority of us really enjoy TT (subtracting a few kids with nothing better to do but complain). Please keep up the great work, I'm sure one day I'll be thanking you for this one.
  • 2 0
 Maho, I did this on the overlander once. Worked like a charm!
  • 2 0
 Thats awesome!
  • 1 0
 Good tip! I always ride with a tube and CO2 cartridge. Through all my years of riding I've been lucky to only get one flat on a day of riding, never 2. But I always wondered what I'd do if I got a 2nd flat on one ride. Now I got a 2nd backup plan. Very basic tech tuesday, but a useful idea. Too many people bashing this tech tuesday, when this could save someones ride someday down the road.
  • 1 0
 I've seen a similar video by Jeff Lenosky, probably here on PB, but he made 2 knots - one on each side of a cut tube (like in the first comment). Seems like many people missed that :-)
  • 2 0
 What happened to tech Tuesday videos sure this is an easy and helpful trick but it's still easier to watch somebody do it instead of pics
  • 2 0
 This is genious. I don't know why I've never heard of it before. Could have saved me a 2 hour walk last month !
  • 1 0
 its genius. cheers.
  • 4 0
 That's what I said, genious... Cool whhipp !!
  • 3 0
 Is that a family guy reference? Big Grin
  • 1 0
 This looks like it could potentially work. You'd feel a mug cutting your inntertube down the middle though when you have just a pea sized puncture...
  • 3 0
 This is what Macgyver would think in case of flat tire.
  • 1 0
 hahahah this is coool, i had to use clothes before as i was 'stuck in the bushes' and yes i did have a spare but my brother used it
  • 1 2
 Bunch of uneducated kids in here I swear... this is an ANCIENT method of tube repair... its been published dozens of times over the years. There's nothing particular genius about it. I'm surprised the author didn't include the "stuff your tire with weeds, twigs, and leaves" method also.
  • 1 0
 A few cable ties instead of a knot works wonders but will only be good enough to get you home. Wouldn't rely on it for long though.
  • 1 0
 I thought I knew most things about bikes and Pinkbike again proves me wrong! This just shows you learn something new everyday!
  • 2 0
 Good tech tuesday, cheers
  • 2 0
 Nice one. Might come in handy some day
  • 2 1
 You can fix them with a lighter pinch the hole and melt it together run it at a low pressure and it will get you home Smile
  • 2 0
 umm, I'm pretty sure 99% of tubes are vulcanized. AKA they dont melt
  • 1 0
 they burn pretty good though, I usually take one rolled up tight minus the valve in my camping kit for starting fires in wet conditions.
  • 1 0
 hmmm interesting! i guess people will try this even though they carry a spare tube and patch - curiosity's sake...
  • 1 0
 ja.. that happen to me last satuday 2 tube 2 flats , and a pump that didt work...
  • 1 0
 Did this years ago on my beater bike and rode with it for a good month before I pinched it again and finally changed it out.
  • 1 0
 Man I could have used this last week when I got a flat a mile into a 2.5 mile dh ride. It was a long walk out
  • 1 0
 Ya tying the tube always works as last resort. This is an old roadie trick but will get you out of the woods if necessary.
  • 1 0
 Thanks for another great tech tuesday, I would never have thought of that and it could come in very useful indeed!
  • 1 0
 this is no secret!!! I did this years ago in algonquin park and rode 2 days like that not by choice i may add!!!
  • 3 2
 Sort of a useful tidbit, but meh.
  • 2 2
 The whole point was to get out of the bush without walking for god nows how long before you buy a new tube !!!
  • 2 0
 cowboy as fuck
  • 1 0
 very useful to keep in the back of your mind, could save ur ass
  • 1 0
 who knew!!! thats Mike Big Grin
  • 1 0
 Cool tip - I just hope I never have to use it! Wink
  • 1 0
 Sorry i didn't understand that it was for when you run out of tubes!
  • 1 0
 Awesome idea Mike. Thanks
  • 1 0
 Or you could just go tubeless.
  • 2 1
 Good tip, Why is it that all the uk comments are full or retards.
  • 1 0
 very useful! wasn't aware of this kind of fix...
  • 1 0
 thats ghetto
  • 1 0
 this is awesome!
  • 1 0
 great idea!
  • 1 0
 This was before.
  • 1 0
 nice tip
  • 1 3
 if your smart enough to carry a pump, wouldent you be carrying a tube too?
  • 2 0
 Really? If you read the intro you would know why this trail side repair is relevant. Sometimes you run out of tubes and/or patches during a ride. Sometimes you forget to replace the spare tube that you used on your last ride.
  • 1 4
 This is bull shit doesn't work 99% of the time
  • 3 0
 Really? Maybe you're just noting doing it right... the tube that I used to shoot the photos above is still holding 30psi since I did it 4 days ago.
  • 1 3
 Yes I'm sure it works a treat every time in the workshop. The problem is when your out in wet and mud this often doesn't work, thats just going off the experiance of mysel and friends.
  • 3 0
 Mike- I'd stop replying to these kinds of people who obviously don't get out in the bush on epics.
Below threshold threads are hidden

Post a Comment

Copyright © 2000 - 2021. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.014798
Mobile Version of Website