How to Change Your Own Motorcycle Tire
When you need to change a motorcycle tire, you can turn to a professional. With the proper tools and knowledge, though, you may be able to change your own motorcycle tire.
In this video, Matt Bochnak from HowToMotorcycleRepair.com explains some ways to tell whether you need a new motorcycle tire and demonstrates how to remove an old tire and install and balance a new one.
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- [MATT] Hey what’s up everyone, it’s Matt from HowToMotorcycleRepair.com. In this video, I’m going to show you how to install a new tire on a motorcycle.
Now, there are a couple of reasons on why you need to replace a tire, the first being a flat tire caused by a nail or some other object. If this happens, tire manufacturers usually recommend replacing the tire since patches and plugs can be too risky to use in some situations.
Another reason to replace a tire is if it’s worn past the tire tread indicator. Here is a quick and easy way to measure the tread depth: take a penny and place it in one of the tire treads. If you can see the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head, then the tire is worn out and needs to be replaced. And lastly, and the most common reason to replace a tire is its age. The front tire we will be replacing in this video has been sitting in a barn for more than a decade, and is starting to develop cracks, or dry rot.
Now, you can easily determine the age of your tire by looking for the Department of Transportation or DOT number located on the sidewall of the tire. If your tire has a three-digit code, it was manufactured before the year 2000 and should be replaced.
Tires made since the year 2000 have four-digit DOT numbers. The first two represent the number of weeks into the year, while the last two represent the year the tire was manufactured. For example, 1019 means the tire was made the 10th week of the year, which is March, of 2019.
So, at what age should you replace your tires? Well, there seems to be much debate on exactly how many years a tire can be in service based on when it was manufactured. And that is simply because there are too many factors that can affect tire life, such as outside temperature and UV light exposure from the sun. So, as a result, many experts say tire life is anywhere between 5-10 years from the date of manufacture. Once your tire hits 5 years old, I would have it professionally inspected on an annual basis.
OK, let’s talk about some of the tools needed to change a tire: three tire levers, valve core remover, common hand tools, wheel balancing stand, rim protectors, bead breaker, a motorcycle jack, baby powder and a tire changing stand, which is optional.
One more thing I want to mention about changing your own tires: Low profile tires are much harder to install, and sometimes you have no choice but to bring it to a shop that has a tire machine. We will be working on a tire with a pretty tall profile, or sidewall, so a manual install with levers should go smoothly.
With the motorcycle on a lift or motorcycle jack, raise the front wheel off the ground. Loosen and remove the axle. Once the axle is removed, the wheel should come right out.
Place the tire on the changing stand and remove the valve core with the core-removing tool. This will release all the air in the tube quickly. You can also remove the locknut on the valve stem.
Next, if the tire bead is stuck on the rim, you will need to use a bead breaker to pop the bead from the rim. This tool has a wedge that separates the tire from the rim. Go ahead and flip the wheel over and break the bead on the other side as well.
Back on the tire changing stand, insert the rim protectors. These help protect the rim from getting any scratches from the tire levers. Insert the tire lever and hook it under the tire bead. Make sure to avoid hooking the tube in this step. Insert a second lever a few inches away. Then, work the lever and tire over the rim, one after the other. Take a third lever and repeat the process a few more inches away. Now, you can remove the middle lever and use it to work the tire off the rim a little at a time. Don’t try to take too much off at once, as it will be difficult to work the tire off.
Once the tire is halfway off, the tube can be removed by just pulling it out.
Now, position the tire at a slight angle and begin removing the other half of the tire using the same method with the tire levers. Remember to work the levers around the tire a few inches at a time.
With the tire off, inspect the rim strip if you are working with a spoked wheel. The rim strip prevents the top of the spokes from damaging the inner tube. I’m going to replace the rim strip with a new one, since this one is probably as old as the tire. This part simply stretches over the rim and lays in the valley. Make sure to center it in the rim, and line up the valve stem hole on both the rim and rim strip.
Next, I like to take a small amount of baby powder and pour it into the new tire. Then, rotate the tire to distribute the powder. Baby powder reduces the friction between tire and tube and prevents any pinching of the tube. You can also smear powder over the tire bead, which will help with install. Soapy water can also be used.
Now, before installing the tire, you will want to note if there are any directional arrows noted on the tire. This arrow should point toward the forward travel direction of the motorcycle. So, on this model, the right-hand side of the wheel is facing up, so the tire needs to be installed with the arrow in a clockwise direction. Another thing to look for is a red dot on the sidewall of the tire. This dot represents the lightest part of the tire and the manufacturer instructs to line up the red dot with the valve stem, so less weight will be used during balancing later on.
Lay the tire on the rim and push it on as far as it will go. Notice the slight angle of the tire relative to the rim. This puts the bead in the valley of the rim and reduces install effort. Position the rim savers and use the tire levers to work the tire over the rim.
Next, fill the new tube up with a small amount of air, just enough for it to take shape. Install the tube into the tire and feed the valve stem through the hole in the rim. Install the locknut.
Once again, work the bead over the rim, being careful not to pinch the tube with the tire lever.
If at any point the tire gives you resistance, or the tire bead becomes very taut, stop and backtrack a bit. It might help to push the tire bead into the rim valley at the opposite end of wheel to give you a little more wiggle room.
Once the tire is installed, you can now inflate it to the specification outlined in your owner’s manual.
OK, now it is time to balance the wheel. Balancing the wheel will even out the weight and minimize any vibration. To balance a wheel, it needs to be mounted in a balancing stand. This stand uses an axle to allow the wheel to spin freely. Make sure to remove any old weights. The first step to balancing is finding the heaviest spot on the wheel. After spinning the wheel, you wait for gravity to pull the heaviest spot towards the bottom, or the six o’ clock position. Next, you add weight to the opposite side to even the weight distribution. You can use weights that stick on, or clamp to the spoke depending on what style of wheel you have. Repeat the process of spinning the wheel and check for heavy spots. You may have to add or remove weight to achieve perfect balance.
This is a good time to clean the wheel of any powders or soaps that were used during tire installation.
Installing the wheel is the reverse of taking it off. Make sure to refer to the service manual for proper torque specifications.
Now that the tire install is complete, keep in mind that most tire manufacturers recommend that it will take at least 20 minutes of riding to break the tire in. So, be cautious and take it easy while riding during this break-in period.
Alright, I hope you enjoyed this video on how to install a new motorcycle tire.
If you’d like to see more of my videos, head over to HowToMotorcycleRepair.com, or check out my YouTube channel, MatthewMCrepair. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next time.
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