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Should all cyclists know how to change a flat tire?

The consensus online is split

mountainbike flat tire on road Photo by: Getty images

Flat tires are a fact of life for cyclists. A pothole, some glass on the road, or a worn-out tire can mean deflate your mood, and fast. If you have a tube or sealant, tire levers and a source of air, you can fix your flat in a matter of minutes. The other option is to grab an Uber, train or ride from a friend. Or, ride home on a flat tire which can severely damage your rim.

On Saturday Arleigh aka Bike Shop Girl tweeted that she didn’t think all cyclists needed to know how to fix a puncture. “Saturday vent: Fellow “cyclists”, stop telling people they must know how to change a flat.” Arleigh, a bike mechanic herself, doesn’t think it’s necessary for people to know how. Her argument was all about getting people into cycling, and not being dissuaded by a lack of technical skills.

“I don’t believe it’s important that everyone knows how unless they start venturing from home pretty far. We aren’t going to replace car trips under 3 miles with bike trips if we tell everyone they need to be able to change a flat tire first,” she added.

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Not everyone agreed. “I think we can probably agree anyone riding a bike should have a puncture contingency plan appropriate to the type of riding they do. Of course for some “walking” or “subway” will be enough, but always good to know how to fix a flat–and at a certain point, necessary,” Bike Snob NYC replied. “BTW, I have helped people with thousands of dollars of race equipment fix a flat who would otherwise be stranded. I gotta say, I just don’t get it.”

Arleigh reiterated that her primary concern was that of people who were riding short distances. “I’m focused on utility cycling for 3 miles or less. Anyone going for a recreational ride more than 5 miles from home (reasonable distance for friend pick up) should know how to fix a flat and have the tool.”

Some said that knowing how to change a flat tire was important for any cyclist. “Sunday reality: What’s one to do with a flat, on a ride far from assistance? Wait for a kind soul with the right knowledge…? Inconvenience someone to come pick you up…? Or, know how to fix a flat and do it? Knowledge is power,” Tom Zizka, a television personality added.

Some people tweeted that they have often seen people on the side of the road with a flat tire, and helped them out. “I have helped a few fellow riders with extra tubes, know-how, etc. Not always worked out, but I’ve never not stopped and asked. I didn’t tell them to learn,”
@KidinaSandbox pointed out.

However, there were those that believed that changing a flat tire is a fundamental for any rider.

“Why? Changing a flat is bike ownership 101,” sobiewan said.