Guide for New BMX Riders (Part two)

PT. 2 Common BMX Repairs Overview

Nothing is more embarassing than getting into a new sport and not knowing what is going on. Bmx is a unique sport with a diverse culture. To me, this sport has helped me make amazing friends, stay in shape and travel the world. I know it is a daunting process to buy a bike and learn new tricks. That is why I started this blog. Let's learn some common bmx repairs and how to perform them.

The common repairs that I will discuss are:

  • Changing a flat tire
  • Keeping your bars from slipping
  • Untangling a bmx chain
  • Tightening your chain

How to change a flat tire on a bmx bike

Knowing how to perform these simple repairs by yourself can save you a lot of money and keep you riding more often. No one wants to get a flat during a session, and have to go all the way to the bike shop and then pay them $15 to fix it. Let's get into it!

Flat tires are the number one repair on a bmx bike. Sometimes we hit thorns, glass, or maybe we even get a pinch flat from hopping up stairs.

A few months ago in England, I was riding 4-5 miles a day round trip to get to the skateparks. After a month of this my tires had been pretty work down. And once they were worn down I got a flat a few times a week, man that was expensive. Point of the story, it is going to happen to you so lets get you prepared to change your own tire.

Tools Needed

  • 17mm Socket
    This is the most common size for the nut on a rear wheel.
  • 6" Extension
    You only need this is you have pegs.
  • Ratchet
    Ratchets connect to the extension and socket so you can loosen the nut.
  • Tire Levers
    Most tires can come off by hand, but some people use tire levers all the time.
  • Pump
    An important step is airing up the new tube a little before you put it in.

Save Time With a Multi-tool

The Animal Kotulak has almost every tool needed to work on your bike. There are a few other multi took options, but I really recommend this one for the outstanding quality.

How-to Change a flat from Scott Hamlin

Scott was one of the first guys that I met in the U.K. He had set up a mechanic stand at the first contest and was fixing bikes for free. I thought that was really cool and we talked for a little bit. He is one of the most genuine guys. Watch this walkthrough with his accent so you can fix a flat on your own.

How to change a flat bmx tire

Removing the Old Tube
  1. Flip the bike over
  2. Slightly loosen each wheel bolt with the tool
  3. Completely loosen with your finders
  4. Disconnect brake caliper (if applicable)
  5. Remove the chain carefully
    Move the chain out of the way
  6. Remove the wheel
  7. Let the air out of the valve
  8. Use the tire levers to take off one side of the tire
  9. Remove the innertube
  10. Remove the other side of the tire
  11. Check the rim strip for any damage of bad spots
  12. Check the tire for sharp edges
  13. Familiarize yourself with the min and max tire pressure
Installing New Tube
  1. Put one side of the tire back on the rim
  2. Pump a little bit of air in the new tube
    this prevents pinch flats and makes installing it easier
  3. Put the new tube inside the half of the tire that is not on the rim yet
  4. Line up valve stem and hole, then place valve stem through the hole
  5. Seat the other half of the tire in the rim.
  6. (Be careful not to pinch the new tube)
  7. Pump up the tire to 10 or 15 psi
  8. Check around the rim to make sure the tire is seated properly without any bulges
  9. Pump up the tire to your preferred pressure
  10. Slide your wheel into the frame
    Make sure the chain is around the cassette when you do this.
  11. Put the chain back on the front sprocket
    the chain should be fully installed at this point
  12. (Rejoin the brake caliper)
  13. Use a wheel wedge, rubber handle tool, or pull on the wheel to tighten your chain
  14. (Keep the wheel centered in the frame)
  15. While putting tension on the chain, hand tighten the wheel nuts
    Start with the nut on the driver side
  16. Double check the chain tension
    You want 1/2" of tension on the chain
  17. Tighten the wheel all the way and double check wheel alignment and chain tension

Hopefully you do not have a crazy amount of flat tires. However, it happens and it will be good for you to know how to change it. The more you change the quicker you will be. Lets move on to keeping the bars from slipping.

How to keep your bars from slipping

I was so frustrated on my walmart bike. I would do a sweet jump down a 3 stair, and boom. When I landed, my bars had gone so far forward. I looked like i was riding a goofy motorcycle. No matter how much I tightened the bolts, nothing changed. Here are some tips and tricks that I learned to keep this from happening.

Make sure they are tightened correctly

When you get a complete bike, the stem bolts are usually loose. You will need to tighten them completely and correctly to ensure 0 bar slippage.

Use the right tool.

For almost all stem bolts, this is a 6mm. Do not use anything other than a 6mm. If you use the wrong size it will strip out the bolts and then you will be out of luck. 😰

Tighten the bolts in an x pattern.

how to tighten bmx bars

Start with a bolt and tighten it down until it starts to feel tight. Then move to the next one shown in the picture. Keep moving around and tightening until all of the bolts are super tight.

Make sure top and bottom have equal gap

how to tighten bmx bars

Clean off the inside of the stem and the clamp

Cleaning off this area is crucial to preventing bar slippage. Dust and paint tend to build up in here and this will reduce the clamp power. Always keep this area clean when you take off your bars or move them around.

Working with a bmx chain

Chains drive me crazy. Sometimes they tie themselves in a knot like a pair of headphones. Sometimes the get loose and smack your frame when you jump. And lastly, they sometimes fall off while you are pedaling. Who wants any of that to happen?

Lets go over a few common chain tips so you can avoid the hair-pulling stress of working with a your chain.

Fixing slack in a chain

Chain Tensioners

Using chain tensioners are one of the best ways to make sure that your chain has the perfect amount of tension. Heres how they work...

After market chain tensioners go on your axles. The tensioners had bolts that allow you to tighten them. When tightened they will pull your wheel back, and tighten your chain.

Use a wedge

Want to know a secret? We use a door wedge to tighten our chain while putting on a wheel. They work so good. Just jam it behind the tire and the frame and keep your wheel centered.

How to Untangle a bmx chain

This happens so often when you have your back wheel off. I remember the first time that I noticed this on my bike. I almost pulled out all of my hair. Luckily, I found a really good youtube video explaining this process.


Learning simple and common bmx repairs will help you be a better and more rounded rider. Were you able to learn how to fix a flat, keep bars from slipping, and untangle a chain? I love working with all of you and helping you become a great bmx rider.

The next part of this series will talk about Skatepark etiquette. Just some simple tips to help you use the skatepark to the full potential, and keep from being hated by everyone there.