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How to Change a Motorcycle Tire

Posted on November 10, 2015 by Eric Ellis.

You can save quite a bit of money by doing most of your own service and maintenance work on your motorcycle. Sure, more in-depth things like full engine rebuilds may be beyond most people’s skill level and should be left to the professionals, but thing like oil changes and brake services can easily be performed in the average home mechanic.

One thing some people often get intimidated by is changing their dirt bike tires. If you have the right tools and take your time you can become pretty proficient at MX tire swaps. We stopped into the Chaparral Motorsports Tire Dept so we could show you how easy it is to remove and install a dirt bike tire.

Twm-0415-tips2-01Getting Started

When it comes to performing your own dirt bike tire changes it’s best to have the right tools for the job and it all starts with a good set of tire irons. The Extra Long Tire Iron from Motion Pro is very handy because the long length provides extra leverage and you can work with either the curved or straight end depending on your needs. They are sold individually, experts can usually get away with only two tire irons but having three on hand is makes the job much easier. While not absolutely necessary, a tire changing stand can come in very handy and make the tire changing process much easier. Seen here is an Ocelot Stand Up Tire Changing Stand.  With its adjustable height this stand can really save your back, and the rim cage provides a solid and sturdy place for the wheel as you work.

Twm-0415-tips2-02Valve Core

To get started, we removed the valve core and then loosened up the nut on the rim lock. You don’t want to remove the nut completely, just make sure the rim lock moves freely by pushing on the stem. If it’s your first time changing a rear tire you may want to start on the rotor side as it’ll be easier on your knuckles when you start working on the jagged sprocket side.

Twm-0415-tips2-03Bead Break

Next, we used the narrow end of one of the tire irons to break the tire bead off the inside of the rim. He simply pushed the tire iron between the tire and rim and then leverage the iron downward and the bead broke loose. He repeated the process in several spots around the rim.

Twm-0415-tips2-04Lift The Lip

Once the bead was broke free, we grabbed a second tire iron and then dug in a couple inches on either side of the bead lock. He used the tire irons to lift the lip of the tire over the rim. Hint: spraying a little bit of soapy water on the tire as you work can help the tire slip on and off the rim easier.

Twm-0415-tips2-05Three Iron

We tucked the ends of the two tire irons underneath the sprocket to help keep them in place as he began working with a third tire iron.

Twm-0415-tips2-06Over The Rim

We then worked the tire over the rim with the tire iron. It’s easiest to take small bites out of the tire (move the tire iron around the rim only a couple inches at a time) rather than trying to lift a larger chunk of tire over the rim. If you find you’re struggling to get the tire over the rim move the tire iron back an inch or two from where you were just working.

Twm-0415-tips2-07Air It Out

Once he had the first side of the tire off the rim we then removed the tube. If your tube is in good shape and you are going to try and reuse it, fold it up to help get all the air out.

Twm-0415-tips2-08Flip It

Next, we flipped the wheel over so that he could work on the other side. There are two ways to get the other side of the tire off the rim. You can either work downward and push the tire off the bottom side of the rim or you can work upwards and flip the tire over the top side of the rim. We decided to work the tire upwards. Similar to the other side he started by working two irons on either side of the rim lock.

Twm-0415-tips2-09Off The Rim

Once he had the top lip of the tire over the rim it freed up the tire enough that we were able to use a tire iron to push the tire down and off the rim.

Twm-0415-tips2-10Half Off

With half the tire off the rim he was able use just his hands to push the tire the rest the away off the rim.

Twm-0415-tips2-11Check It Out

Once the tire is off the wheel check the rim lock and rim band to make sure they are in good shape before installing a new tire.

Twm-0415-tips2-12Rim Lock

When it came to installing the new tire we started at the rim lock. He made sure to push the rim lock all the way down so that the bead of the tire would sit underneath the rim lock.

Twm-0415-tips2-13Valve Stem First

Then with the rim lock situated on the tire we began working the tire onto the rim starting at the valve stem hole in the rim. He used a tire iron to lift the bottom side of the tire over the rim.

Twm-0415-tips2-14Get Situated

Once he had the bottom side over the rim, we used a tire iron to push the top side down at the valve stem hole so that he could get the tube/valve stem situated on the rim. Hint: Some people like to sprinkle baby powder inside the tire to help the tube slide and prevent it from getting bound up/pinched when airing up.

Twm-0415-tips2-15Tube Time

We then slid the tube into the tire and made sure that the tube was all the way inside so it wouldn’t get pinched by the tire irons when he started working the tire onto the rim.

Twm-0415-tips2-16Add Some Suds

After lubing the tire with some soapy water, we started working the top side of the tire onto the rim; again he started with two tire irons on either side of the rim lock and made sure not to get a hold of the tube as he worked.

Twm-0415-tips2-17Bead Buddy

A little trick and another tool to help things go a little easier is a Motion Pro Bead Buddy II. The topside of the Bead Buddy locks around one of the wheel spokes and the bottom side keeps the bead in place. We then took small bites on the top side of the tire with the tire iron and worked the tire the rest of the way onto the rim.

Twm-0415-tips2-18That's Wrap

And that’s all there is to it. Just make sure the rim lock moves freely before you tighten down the nut and then air up the tire slowly as you set the bead on the rim. Air the tire to the recommended specs on the side wall.

Sidebar: Tools of the Road

124-1039Portable Tire Changing Stand With Bead Breaker

Even cruiser and street bike riders can perform their own tire changes with this Portable Tire Changing Stand with Bead Breaker from Ocelot Racing. Often the biggest struggle with changing your own street bike tire is breaking the bead of the tire off the rim, it can be a real pain if you don’t have the right tool and you can end up scratching or damaging your wheel.

The nice thing about this tire changing stand is that the bead breaker lever is adjustable so you can get it set up perfectly on any size wheel/tire from 16- to 21 inches in diameter. Also, the length of the heavy duty handle makes it easy to get good leverage on really stubborn tires. It has a wide base to provide a solid working foundation and the fact that it’s so compact means it won’t take up a ton of room in your garage. The top ring is coated in rubber so it won’t scratch up your wheel and will help provide a non-slip surface while working.

315-8546Motion Pro Rimshield II Rim Protectors

If you’ve got a really nice set of chrome or powdercoated wheels and are worried about them getting dinged and scratched up from the tire irons then a set of Motion Pro Rimshield II Rim Protectors can come in really handy. Made of highly durable resin, they slip over the lip of the rim and have an apron that provides a large protective surface for the rim lip and face of the wheel. Also, cutouts for your fingers make it easy to pull the rim protectors on and off the wheel.

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