Last Updated on June 25, 2023 by Matt
Flat tires and blowouts are an annoying part of the experience of owning an e-bike.
This a complete electric bike flat tire guide, based on my own experience dealing with the issue as well as the collective wisdom of other experienced riders. We will explain what you can do in the event of a flat tire or tire blowout in an e-bike. We will also discuss the different types of tires you should use in your electric bike to ensure maximum durability. Let’s get right into it!
How to fix a flat tire on an electric bike
Flat tires on electric tires are actually not as common as people may assume, especially if the right tires are used for every terrain.
This a general guide for fixing standard electric bike tires that have a tube. It should work for you regardless of the type and size of tires you have on your bike.
Step 1 – Get your electric bike repair kit
There are a few basic tools you need to do a simple repair on most electric bike tires. Whenever possible, I like to have my tire levers, a simple tire pump, pliers, basic work gloves, and a basic patch kit. They can all fit into a small bag or box that you can carry in your bike’s storage compartment.
You need the tire levers to remove the flat tire from the rim. A pair of levers made of plastic or metal is fairly affordable and you can have it with you at all times.
You also need a tire pump to inflate the electric bike tire after repairing it. Some electric bikes come with a portable hand pump or have brackets to attach an after-market one. I highly recommend that you ensure you have a hand pump with you whenever you head out.
Electric bike patch kits are easily available and a must-have in your emergency tire repair kit. They include glue and a few patches. I don’t recommend going for the cheapest kits, as good-quality patches last long and are easier to use, and the price difference is usually not that big.
Gloves are not essential for flat tire repairs, but I would still advise you to get yourself a lightweight rubber pair. They will protect your hands when repairing your e-bike’s tires. Depending on the terrain you ride on, the tire you are repairing could be having sharp debris or dirt that you wouldn’t want to touch with your bare hands.
I also like to carry a small wrench or pliers to remove the wheel from the frame. Sometimes the damage could be located on the inner side of the tube which makes it harder to patch. However, I would recommend you do such repairs at home especially if you are working on the rear wheels. The rear wheels on electric bikes have complicated designs and are much harder to remove from the bike.
In addition to these basic tire repair tools, I also like to have a bucket of water, and a multi-purpose towel with me when repairing. I shall explain where to use these two later in the guide.
Step 2 – Locating the puncture
Once you have your tools ready, the next step is to find where the puncture or hole is. I normally start with a visual inspection of the electric bike’s tire. Punctures on bike tires are mostly caused by driving over sharp objects such as glass, nails, or stone chippings. Sometimes a visual inspection may not work, especially if the puncture is too small.
Another method I use to locate punctures is by listening closely to hissing sounds from the tires. Sometimes you can tell the exact spot by listening as air escapes from the punctured tube. However, this method only works if you catch the puncture fairly early and the tube is not fully deflated.
A third, more foolproof method to locate a puncture is the water test. You can do this by submerging the tire or inner tube in a bucket full of water. Rotate the tube in the water and look out for signs of escaping air bubbles. For this method to work, you may need to pump a little air into the tube.
You can also just use soapy water to locate the puncture. Add a generous amount of liquid soap to a few ounces of water, and pour the soapy water all around the tire. Wait and see where air bubbles appear – that’s the damaged spot.
Step 3- Remove the wheel if necessary
Depending on the location of the puncture, you can either proceed with the wheel and tire still attached to the e-bike or remove it. The process of disassembling a wheel from the frame is usually different from one e-bike to another. If unsure, please go through the technical manual of your e-bike or consult an expert.
That said, it usually takes a few steps to unscrew a wheel from most electric bikes and a simple wrench or pliers is all you need. Just make sure you disconnect any components that may be attached to the wheel especially, if you are working on the rear wheel. Some electric bikes have a rear-mounted motor or cable running from the rear wheel to the controller on the mid-frame.
I find it much easier to repair a flat tire on an electric bike with the wheel removed from the frame. This way I can comfortably remove the tube or submerge the entire thing into a bucket of water.
Step 4 – Remove the tire from the rim
To reach the inner tube for repairs you need to pry open the tire using the tire levers. You can do this by inserting the levers between the rim and tire and prying it off. Be extra careful not to damage the tube or rim while you do this. You can watch this video on YouTube to get an idea of how to remove a bike tire from the rim using the tire levers.
Step 5 – Separate the tire and the tube
Regular electric bike tires have an inner tube filled with air. If you got a puncture, it is likely that the inner tube was damaged too, and deflated in the process. You need to separate the tube from the tire by lifting it off and setting it aside. Be careful not to damage the nozzle in the process.
Step 6 – Apply the patch kit
Start by gently cleaning the area around the damaged spot with soft sandpaper. Next, bring out the glue that came with the tire repair patch kit and apply it on and around the damaged spot. Give it a few seconds to dry before attaching the patch. Make sure the patch is attached firmly.
Step 7 – Post repair test (optional)
While this is an optional test, I recommend that you don’t skip it. Make sure the tube has been fully patched and ready to go by inflating it and repeating the water test. Sometimes there could be smaller, less-noticeable holes that need to be patched too for a clean repair job.
Step 8 – Reassemble the tires and wheel
After you are comfortable with the repair, deflate the tube and put it back into the tire. Ensure the nozzle is properly aligned with its exit hole. Next, return the tire to the rim using the tire levers. You can watch this video for an idea of how to go about inserting a bike tire to the rim using the levers.
After the tire is firmly attached to the rim, inflate the tire with your portable pump. Inflate the tire to its recommended pressure and make sure it is uniform all around by doing a visual inspection. Lastly, reattach the wheel to the bike frame. You are all done!
When is it not worth repairing an e-bike flat tire?
I prefer to repair my tires whenever I get a flat instead of replacing them. However, there are instances where it is not worth pursuing a repair even when I am on a tight budget. Here are some of them.
The tire has multiple punctures
Multiple punctures on a flat tire are not easy to repair and probably not worth the trouble or money spent. You may end up spending more money to repair the tube than you could have spent buying a new tube.
If there is significant external damage on the tire itself, then it is usually not worth repairing the inner tube. You may patch the inner tube but an opening on the tire itself exposes it to the elements. This increases the chances of getting a total blowout and an accident.
The tires are too old
You can expect to get between 3,000 to 6,000 miles on a normal electric bike tire, after which it may not be worth repairing. Old, worn tires are difficult to repair and dangerous to ride on.
Damage on the sidewall
If the tire damage is on the sidewall of the tire or inner tube, then it might not be safe to repair it. A sidewall damage on a tire or tube weakens it significantly thus increasing the chances of a dangerous blowout.
I don’t recommend going out on a cross-country ride or mountain climbing trip with repaired tires. You will likely experience a tire blowout when riding your electric bike for extended periods or on rough terrain.
How to avoid flat tires on electric bikes
While it might not be possible to avoid flat tires on electric bikes completely, there are a few ways you can get the best service from your tires over their lifespan. Here are my tips on electric bike tire care and preventive maintenance.
Choose the right tires for the terrain
There are different tires you can fit on your electric bike based on the terrain you will be riding and your preferences. Some tires have a higher tolerance for rough surfaces and can go for a long period without a flat or blowout. Using the wrong tire for the terrain increases the chances of getting a pinch flat or hastening wear and tear on your tires.
For example, road tires are narrow and smooth. They are designed to be used on the tarmac and paved surfaces. You will increase the chances of getting a flat if you ride your electric bike on rough surfaces and have road tires. Choose from the following types of electric bike tires depending on the terrain you ride frequently and your preferences:
- Fat tires – thick, durable, and suitable for off-roading.
- Hybrid tires – used on paved and unpaved roads but have more thread than road tires.
- Road tires – thin and smooth. Made for paved surfaces.
- Mountain bike tires – tough and durable. Designed to be used on rough terrain.
Observe weight limits on e-bikes
Every electric bike model on the market has a manufacturer-imposed weight limit. The weight limit is the maximum payload the electric bike can carry at any given time. Exceeding the weight limit on your electric bike stresses the tires and other components, thus increasing the chances of getting a flat.
Watch your tire pressure (PSI)
Always check that your tires are properly inflated before heading out to avoid pinch flats and blowouts. You can use an electronic PSI gauge to measure both tires and compare the figures with those printed on the sidewall of the tire. When I’m in a hurry, I just do the old tire-kick test – if the tire is firm and my foot bounces off the tire a bit, I consider the tire to be inflated enough.
Buy tubeless tires
Tubeless tires or Universal System Tubeless (UST) tires are more resistant to pinch flats and blowouts. I recommend going for a pair if you use your e-bike for long trips. Most modern electric bikes can support tubeless tires, as they come in all sizes and can fit most frames.
Bottom line, you can DIY-repair electric bike tires if you have the right tools and a good quality tire patch kit. You can also prevent most flats by taking good care of your tires and knowing the kind of terrain you will be riding in. All the best!