Motorcycle Tech Tips
Mounting A Tire (The Ole’ Fashioned Way)
There’s something about working with your own hands that makes you feel accomplished- especially when it comes to motorcycles. As a do-it-yourselfer, there is a therapeutic feeling when you physically man-handle a bike. It’s almost like letting out some frustration or aggression. Some jobs on a motorcycle, like engine removal and chopping up the frame, require physical strength. Changing tires is one that can also be satisfying.
With some jobs, machines make them easier, like changing a tire, but the machine is not something your everyday motorcycle wrench would have. It’s very big and expensive, and the job in low numbers can be done without it (obviously it would be counterproductive to do the manual technique of this article in a shop with high volume).
Whichever tire is being changed, the wheel will need to be removed from the motorcycle. This involves safely jacking the motorcycle up and removing the axle(s). Depending on the motorcycle, the brake caliper, fender, chain, etc. will also have to be removed.
A motorcycle tire can be tubed or tubeless depending on the wheel rim. A tubeless tire is usually cast aluminum or magnesium and has no spokes. A rim with spokes usually has a rubber band inside the rim and a tube to inflate the tire. In both cases, the tire is removed the same. A tube may need to be removed and replaced on a rim with spokes.
Once the wheel is on the ground, the valve can be removed from the valve stem to let all of the air out of the tire. The bead of the tire will need to be separated to remove the tire. This can be done with a special bead tool that is like a dull chisel meant to be stricken by a large hammer, or an easy way is to put the tire and rim in a large vise. You can mount the vise on the tire just below the rim and squeeze the tire until the bead is released from the rim.
One side of the tire will then need to be worked off the rim. Using the tire iron, one edge of the tire can be lifted over the edge of the rim. Taking a second tire iron, a small “bite” around 2-3 inches can be taken on the tire edge. Once one tire iron is over the rim, the next can be placed in a crisscross pattern. A little at a time can be taken until the tire has been lifted over the edge of the rim.