Why Do Bicycle Tires Lose Air? [An Expert Guide]

Wondering why your bicycle tire is losing air? This article covers this topic in an in-depth manner.

Properly inflated tires guarantee that you will reach your destination safely. A range of causes can cause deflation in your tires. Some are even natural.

Bikes lose air because of punctures, valve problems, wear and tear, riding surface, altitude changes, and natural causes such as permeation. Bike tires are more porous and tend to lose air more than car tires as they have a larger surface-to-volume ratio. 

I’ll dig into all the reasons why you’re inflated bike tire may lose air.

Common Reasons Why Bicycle Tires Lose Air

Punctures and Tears

why do bicycle tires lose air

Tyre tears or punctures are among the most common causes of bicycle tires losing air. These punctures can be because of materials such as glass, thorns, sharp rocks, or road debris.  

They nick the tire causing a tear which leads to loss of air. To be safe when shopping for tires, choose those with a high puncture resistance rating.

Use tire liners inserted between the tire and the inner tube for prevention. Adding the layer of protection your tire needs. 

As best practice, when you get a puncture, don’t wait. Ensure it gets fixed immediately. Fixing will involve patching the hole or buying a brand-new tube altogether. Whatever the case, make sure you do it right away.

Valve Issues

Problems with the valve can also cause tire deflation. Schrader valves and Presta valves are the two primary types of valves. 

Schrader valves are found primarily on budget-friendly bikes. Also, they are used in cars. On the other hand, Presta valves are more common on expensive bikes and are thinner and lighter.

When the valve is not completely tightened, or the valve stem sustains damage, valve problems develop. In addition, the valve occasionally gets blocked with debris, which might result in air leaks. 

Reducing issues with valves will require you to tighten them fully. You’ll also have to regularise checking for damage or debris to detect issues early.

Age and Wear and Tear

Bike tires will eventually become worn out like any other mechanical component. The rubber might grow brittle and split, causing air to flow out. 

The tread can deteriorate, increasing the risk of a puncture. That’s why you must look out for signs of wear and replace them when necessary.

Proper maintenance plays a part in keeping your tires in good condition. Keep them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. This way, the rubber won’t dry up and break down. 

You should also avoid riding on rugged terrain. I know it’s a big ask. I get also get carried away sometimes. But for the sake of your bike, try to cycle on smooth terrain. 

Inner Tube Material

Most bike tubes are made of either latex or butyl rubber. Although latex tubes are lighter and thinner than butyl tubes, they are more vulnerable to punctures. Yet, butyl tubes are heavier, thicker, and more pierce-resistant.

Choose a tube that best meets your needs to prevent air loss caused by the tube material. A latex tube can be a wise choice if you’re a competitive rider. However, a butyl tube would be a better choice if you’re more concerned about longevity and puncture resistance.

Sealant Efficacy

Many tubeless bike tires are packed with sealant, which helps to seal punctures and prevent air loss. However, the sealant can dry out or become less effective over time, causing air to leak out.

Routinely check your tubeless tyres and top them off with new sealant to avoid this. Ensure you use a high-quality sealant that will be effective and last long.

Natural Phenomenon

Not known to many, your bike can lose air naturally. The loss is through a process referred to as permeation. Through this process, there is molecular penetration of air through the material membrane of your bike. That explains why bike tires are more porous, unlike car tires that don’t tend to lose a lot of air.

While your tires can lose air naturally, one way to check whether the loss is natural or otherwise is to check for the magnitude. A massive puncture will reduce air significantly and fast, but the natural loss is slow. That’s the stack difference you need to look out for.

How to Fix a Flat Bicycle Tire

Despite your best efforts, your bicycle tires will go flat occasionally. Here’s how you can fix them:

1. Take the Wheel Off

The first step in fixing a flat tire is to remove the wheel from the bike. This usually entails using a wrench to remove the axle bolts or releasing the quick-release lever. Remove the tire from the rim using tire levers after the wheel has been released.

2. Try to Find the Puncture Area

Next, find the tire’s puncture. Check the inner tube for holes or inflate the tube and check for leaks. 

Once you’ve located the hole, look inside the tire to ensure nothing sharp is still lodged there.

3. Patch or Replace the Tube

Use a tire patch kit to patch the inner tube if the hole is slightly damaged. Rough the area around the puncture with sandpaper and apply adhesive to the patch. 

Place the patch over the hole and firmly press it for a tight seal. If the puncture is extremely large or the tube is severely damaged, you may need to replace the entire tube.

4. Put the Wheel Back Together

Reassemble the wheel after replacing or repairing the inner tube. Put the tire back on the rim first, paying attention to how it fits with the rim. 

Whenever necessary, use tire levers. When you put the tire back, use a pump to inflate the tire to the recommended pressure.

5. Test the Tire

Rotate the tire to check for bulges or other problems, and tenure you fasten it to the rim. Check if the tire is pristine by repeatedly bouncing the wheel on the ground.

These steps will help you fix a flat tyre so you can resume enjoying your ride. Remember to always bring a spare tube and tyre levers on longer rides in case you get a flat. Better safe than sorry!


How do I stop my bike tyres from deflating?

Check bike tyres with a gauge and inflate them to the required pressure on the sidewall to prevent deflation. Avoid road and trail debris, and check your tires for damage. Always have tire liners or sealant, a compact pump, and a spare tube on extended trips in the event you get a flat tire.

Why is my bike tyre losing air but no puncture?

If your bike tire is losing air but there is no visible puncture, it could be due to a valve leak, a damaged valve core, or leaky rim tape. Apply soapy water to the valve area and look for bubbles to check for a valve leak. Damaged valve cores may need replacement if badly damaged. Also, temperature and altitude fluctuations can temporarily affect tire pressure.

Is it normal for bike tires to deflate?

It is common for bike tires to gradually lose air over time owing to variations in temperature, normal air penetration, and even the rider’s weight. However, if you observe severe air loss, it could indicate a puncture, valve leak, or other issue that must be handled. Regularly checking your tire pressure can help prevent unexpected flats and ensure a smoother, safer ride.

Why won’t my bike tires stay inflated?

One common issue is a leak or puncture in the tire or tube caused by sharp objects on the road or trail or worn-out tires. Another cause could be a damaged valve. Also, note that variations in temperature or altitude can induce transitory changes in tire pressure. 

Why do my tires lose air easily?

Tire and tube leaks are a common problem brought on by sharp debris on the road. Tire pressure might also fluctuate momentarily due to changes in temperature or altitude. Always inspect your tire for punctures when you notice the loss of air. 

How often should you put air in bicycle tires?

You should put air in your bicycle tires at least once weekly, especially if you ride frequently or longer distances. The type of tire, your weight, and the terrain all play a role in how often the tyre needs to be inflated. Check the sidewall for the manufacturer’s suggested inflation pressure, and use a pressure gauge to ensure your tires are correctly inflated.

Can tyres deflate without puncture?

Changes in temperature, normal air permeation, and even the rider’s weight can all cause tyres to lose air pressure without a puncture. Loss of tyre pressure over time is caused by air leaking out of the rubber. If you suddenly or significantly lose air, a leak or other problem may need fixing.

Before You Go…

Now you know why your bike tire loses air sometimes. Have you ever wondered what if bikes have the right of way? Here’s a helpful article you can read that answers that…

Does A Bicycle Have Right Of Way?

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