How can I help?

  • By Fatma_sh on at 2:22pm 20 November 2013
  • Posted in: General
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So being new to the cycling world, I passed a cyclist who was changing the tube of the wheel yesterday. I started asking him questions about how often this occurs and do I need training etc. He was really helpful and informative. ~ my greatest fear is having a punctured tube whilst I am in the middle of nowhere!

Then it turned that the bike shop sold him the wrong tube, too big! That made me trrified and feel sorry for him at the same time. Unfortubately as he was semi-struggling with the situation I had no clue on how I could help, whilst other cyclists wizzed by. It was cold and late about 10ish at night.

So my question is, how I can I help a cyclist while I am cycling or being a pedesterian in that situation?

*P.S I didnt know what to do, I just offered him a breakfast bar that I had in my bag :S Understandbly he rejected it but I wanted to help (and I am new to this!)


Hi Fatma, 

Well that is very kind of you to stop and try to help him!

Short of carrying around a variety of tubes and a puncture repair kit as a pedestrian, not sure you could have helped!

Something else I carry around and have offered to people a number of times - wet wipes! 

How about taking a cycle maintenance course?  A lot of boroughs offer them for free - have a search on the internet. Also, if you do some cycle training ( also free in most boroughs) you'll learn a bit about maintenance too. 

The best way of not getting a puncture, is to keep your tyres well inflated (so they feel HARD to squeeze) - invest in a track pump :)




  • By Fran at 3:36pm 20 November 2013
I've been cycling daily for the past 4 years and I can't repair puncture to save my life! Plus, I have a Dutch bike so it's not so straight forward. You'd find that as you get to know your town and your routes you'd pick up where all the bike shops are. Failing that, there's always Google map. And yes I have been left with punctured tyres in the most unsocialable hours where no bike repair was available. But I simply ride it home, slowly. It took a bit longer and it's not the best thing for your bike, but the world didn't crumble. I guess my point is, getting flat tyers is part of the cyclist's life. It's no big deal. Yes it's annoying but just get it fixed and life goes on. You don't need to become a bike mechanic to ride a bike!
  • By phufbl at 4:22pm 20 November 2013

I've been cycling 50 miles a week for over three years and never had a puncture. I think the best ways to avoid them are having properly inflated tyres and having a good quality tyre.

Replacing an inner tube is really a simple job and anyone can learn how to do it so if you are caught with a flat tyre a long way from home you shouldn't have to either walk or damage your rims by riding.

The mistake your road-side friend made was having the wrong spare inner tube. Take your current inner tube into a shop and buy a spare which is the same size.

I got a puncture late on Kentish Town Road, so I walked to the nearest minicab office and got a cab home, they will put your bike in the back, a little expensive but paid for easily by the savings in tube fares.  Stuff happens!  But less frequently than a stuck tube or cancelled tube.

You are usually only 20 mins away from the nearest bike shop who can fix punctures while you wait.  Try to work out where the nearest mini cab office or bike shop is along your route.  

In 5 years of cycling every day this type of thing had only happened 4 times to me.  

- and to try to help it avoid happening to you, you could invest in the puncture resistant tyres on the market - the ones I have are by Sch..........    (you know who"  as the old drinks ad. used to say)

  • By Kepi192 at 12:09am 22 November 2013

Best money I have spent - bike wise - since moving to London was to join the London Bike Kitchen and then sign up for their Introduction to Maintenance course. My knowledge and more importantly my confidence in being able to deal with problems were increased dramatically. Since taking the course I've had to change 3 inner tubes at the side of the road, two of which included the rear tyre! My main problem with road side punctures is Im not strong enough to get anywhere near the correct tyre pressure with my mini pump - good job I have a track pump at home.

  • By Kepi192 at 12:14am 22 November 2013

phufbl, 3 years of cycling and no puncture, I envy you but clearly you don't live in Southwark! They have better road surfaces in some deserts!

  • By phufbl at 9:43am 22 November 2013

My usual commuting route does generally have pretty good road surfaces. I do notice when crossing between different boroughs that some are better and some are worse at road maintenance

  • By luic at 11:09am 22 November 2013

Hi Fatma,

Have a look at the youtube videos on bike maintenance. There are some about changing a tyre. You do not need to remove the wheel to fix an inner tube though. Also there are many many sites with info on maintenance. For me punctures have been very rare. I cycle for more than 30 years. One time abroad in the mountains I had 4 holes on the same spot. It was some thorns on a bit of country road. In the streets it happened once or twice,as far as I remember. But really, it is nothing to be worried about. Just carry the repairs or spare tube (in the worst case) with you. At the moment I have only a small tyre pump and it has been pretty effective. Ok, you have to pump some 80-100 times to get the tyre hard, but it is fine, you get some exercise for the arms too :-P

And keep your tyres well inflated. There is kind of protective band for sale that you put between the tyre and the inner tube, but it is not really necessary. There are some parts that can break and there is no other remedy than having a new one installed. This is rare too. Keep your bike well maintained and you are on the safe side.

Good luck and happy miles

This post was edited by luic at 11:16am 22 November 2013.

When I first started cycling in London I got an incredible number of punctures, probably around 2 a month.

When I had bought my bike I had asked the shop if it was possible to buy one with stronger tyres fitted, but they said they could only deliver it with the tyres it came with, which were of pretty poor quality. It did mean that I got very proficient at changing the inner tube, and ended up being able to do it really fast.

But on one occasion I got 2 punctures on my way in to work, the second one in the new inner tube I had just put on (different objects caused them - I found both of them); really unlucky I guess, but it meant that I had to go searching for a bike shop to buy another inner tube as I only carry one spare with me.

The best thing I can advise for this is to get reinforced tyres. Since acquiring my own about 1½ years ago I have had just one puncture. That said, when you do get a puncture with reinforced tyres, they are really difficult to get off and on the wheel rim (more difficult to get on). In fact it was so difficult I bought a tool to help me the next time; the only thing is there hasn't been a "next time" yet, so I don't know if my tool will do the trick!

For passers-by who wish to help (which is a really kind offer!) I'd suggest:

- After dark, offering to hold the front bike light to shine some light on where you're working.
- Wet wipes, as someone mentioned above would be really helpful if you happened to have any, but even a clean tissue would be nice.
- Does anyone walk around carrying surgical gloves? This would be another way to keep your hands clean. I try to keep some in my pannier, but they always sink to the bottom and I can't find them when I need them.
- An extra pair of hands to get the tyre back on the rim could be very helpful.
- Local knowledge of where the nearest bike shop is, if needed.

I'm really impressed that you offered to help, Fatma. Although I have extensive experience of changin inner tubes on the roadside, no-one has ever offered me help - not that I've ever asked.

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