Of all the wear items on your motorcycle, the tires are the most important. They’re the only connection between you and the road, and neglecting them is putting yourself on a fast track to the ICU. Why put yourself at such a risk when it is so easy to change tires on your own? Kyle Smith has a few tips to make it even easier in this week’s Hagerty DIY video.
The first step is to remove the wheels and tires from your bike. Be sure to hang any brake calipers in a way that does not stress the brake likes, and support the bike in a safe and sturdy manner. Often times getting the wheels off the bike is the tough part, especially once you know the process for removing and replacing the tires.
The tools you’ll need are simple: tire levers, baby powder (if you have a tube-type tire), and tire lubricant. These items are affordable, easy to store, and really don’t wear out with use unless you are a professional shop. Longer tire levers can be useful for pesky tight-fitting tires, but the tradeoff is that they can be unwieldy and tough to store. For tire lubricant, buy the proper stuff. Kyle has tried all kinds of different stuff that you might find elsewhere in the garage, but some chemicals can damage the rubber on your tires and others fail to measure up to the real deal. It’s best to just buy the purpose-engineered goop once and not take any risks.
Start the removal of your old tires by taking out the valve cores. This allows all the air in the tube to come out and make it easier to compress the tire when breaking the bead—which is step number two. If you have an off-road rim and tire setup, be sure to check for a rim lock and loosen it before breaking the bead. Older or loose-fitting tires can sometimes be broken down by hand, but if you need more leverage, use a long pry bar and a small scrap of wood.
Once the bead of the tire is in the deepest part of the rim, you can use the tire levers to pry the bead over the outside of the rim. Take you time here to minimize scratching or damage to the rims. If you have delicate rims, there are protectors that can be purchased or made from things around the garage that will help keep them safe from damage. Work one bead off the rim and then remove the tube before flipping the wheel over and repeating the process with the second bead. Take the time now to carefully inspect the rim. Use a wire brush to remove any corrosion or built-up grease and grime.
Once your tire-free rim is clean, it’s time to start reassembly. A new rim strip for spoke wheels is cheap insurance to keep the nipples from putting holes in your new tube. Be sure to align the valve stem hole now before putting the tire on.
Now lube up the bead of the tire and get a portion of it settled into the rim and lever the rest on little-by-little with your tire levers. Levering on a small chunk of the bed at a time not only makes it easier to handle, it also reduces the risk of damaging the bead of the tire. Once one bead is on completely, use baby powder to lubricate the tube and slip it into place, carefully pushing the valve stem through the rim strip and ensuring there are no twist or kinks to the tube. Tuck it in as far as you can, as this prevents it from getting pinched between the tire lever and rim while fitting the second bead. Lube up that second bead and begin carefully levering it into place. Take you time here, or you will be doing it again because you damaged the tube.
Inflate the tire and make sure the bead is completely and evenly set. Set the air pressure to the correct amount and reinstall on your bike. It is really that easy, so stop making excuses for those worn out treads on your motorcycle and get to swapping them out.