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How To Change And Balance Your Motorcycle Tire

How To Change And Balance Your Motorcycle Tire

Let me guess why you want to learn how to change a motorcycle tire. You got a flat, so you’re doing a quick Google search. Or, you bought new tires but you don’t want to pay for the installment costs. Here’s hope you’re in the second situation. Either way, you need to change a tire, so here’s a guide on how to do it. We’ll also leave a guide on balancing tires.

To change a motorcycle tire you need to take it off the bike, inflate it, detach the bead, fit the new tire into the rim, and attach the tire. You’ll need Windex, tire irons, a bead breakervalve stem tool, and an air compressor.

That was just a quick summary of what you need to do. If it’s your first time changing tires, read the whole post. If you’ve changed a motorbike tire before and you just needed to refresh your memory, you can go on.

Tools You’re Going To Need

Before we get into it, I would like to go over the tools necessary for replacing motorcycle wheels. I already mentioned some of these in the beginning. However, I think most of you are beginners, so going over each tool step by step makes sense. If you know the basic tools, you can skip this section.

Tire Irons

This is a special tool that I think you’re familiar with. Every car or motorcycle driver should have one tire iron in the back of the vehicle.  With this tire tool, you remove the entire tire from the bike.

You may be thinking about the cross-shaped lug nut wrench but that’s not it. You want a tire iron for motorcycles.

Bead Breaker

The wheel consists of a tire which is the rubber part, and of a rim which is where the tire is placed. There’s the rim protector too but that’s not as important right now. Separating the rubber from the rim can’t be done by hand. You’ll need a bead breaker tool.

It’s called a bead breaker because the part of the tire that’s attached to the rim it’s called a tire bead. So, you are breaking the beads to disassemble the tire, hence, the bead breaker. When we get to the step-by-step guide, you’ll see why exactly you need this.

Silicone Lubricant/Windex

Breaking out the old tire and fitting in the new is kind of exhausting if you don’t use a lubricant. You’re trying to fit a huge rubber wheel into a metal rim, there’s a lot of friction there. The lubricant will help the process. You can also use Windex spray, in fact, this is the preferred product.

Valve Core Tool

To disassemble the wheel you’ll need to remove the valve stem core. You’ll need to install it after that too. This requires a special tool called the valve core tool. Removing the stem is really easy only if you have this tool. So, make sure to get it.

Air Compressor

Now, breaking the beads is impossible on an inflated tire. It needs to be deflated. Okay, you can quickly deflate it with the valve core tool. But you’re going to inflate the new tire a bit, so you’ll need an air compressor too.

Optional Tools

The things I mentioned so far are just enough to replace your wheel. But there are other tools you can get to make the process easier.

  • Get a rim strip. This will help you fit in the tire and it will also protect your rim from scratching it.
  • Try using C clamps for breaking the beads. You can do it with just a bead breaker but a combination of C clamps and bead breakers will do the job. That tire will fit in effortlessly.

You can find most of these tools on Amazon. Here’s a link.

Replacing A Motorcycle Tire

Replacing A Motorcycle Tire

So, we arrived at the hard part. Once you’re done reading this part too, you can gather up your tools, and change your tire. You’ll see that it’s nothing complicated, just follow this step-by-step guide.

[Related Article: When Should You Change Your Motorcycle Tires]

Remove Wheel From Bike

The first thing you need to do is to remove the wheel, so you can work on removing the rubber. This easy enough to do, by far the easiest thing to do in this guide. Here’s what to do.

  1. Place your bike on a flat platform so the wheels are floating. Between the front and rear wheel, the bike has a flat surface so you can place it on a platform. 
  2. Using a tire iron, unscrew the lugs that are holding the wheel. Once you’ve unscrewed the lugs, the entire tire will come out, the tire attached to the rim.
  3. Remove the rim protectors.

Preparing The Tire

Now you need to break the beads. But to do this, you have to do some preparation. We’ve mentioned something but let’s repeat if necessary.

  1. Using the valve stem tool, deflate the tire. A deflated tire is easier to work with.
  2. Mark the direction of the spin of the wheel. On the rim, draw an arrow to indicate the direction of the spin. When you’re fitting the new tire, you need to know the direction of the spin.
  3. Spray the entire bead with Windex or lubricant.

Detaching The Bead

This is the hardest thing to do while changing tires. Don’t let me scare you, it’s not that complicated, it’s just that you’ll have to use brute force.

Note: Removing the tire is necessary only if you bought a tire without a rim. If you bought a tire and a rim like a set, you don’t need to do this. All you need to do is mount the set on the bike.

Back to detaching the bead, here’s what to do.

  1. Get your bead breaker. This is easier if you have more bead breakers on hand, also a friend to help is useful too. Place the tire levers at the edge of the rim where the rubber touches the rim.
  2. Try to get in between the rubber and the rim. Once you’re in, push the lever downwards, so the bead pops. Spray bead lube while you’re doing this to help the process.
  3. Using the tire levers break out the bead so it’s over the rim and not tucked in.
  4. Repeat this throughout the entire bead until you make sure it’s out. Spray bead lube while you’re doing this if necessary.

Installing The New Tire

So, we’ve removed the old soft rubber, now we need to install the new tire. How do we do that? This is slightly more complicated but you can’t quit now.

Preparing The New Tire

All you need to do now is fit the new tire into the wheel rim. But before you go on, you need to prepare the new motorbike tire. Here’s how to prepare.

  1. Spread tire lube over the inside of the new tire. As I said before the best tire lube just maybe Windex but any of the tire lubricants will work.
  2. Place the wheel rim inside the tire while making sure you’re matching the direction of the spin. The direction of rotation is very important while replacing tires. Make sure you get the proper direction

Attaching The Bead

Attaching the bead is the same as detaching it. You’ll need the same tire mounting tools, tire levers, or tire irons.

  1. Using the tire lever, pry one side of the bead into the rim. 
  2. With the air compressor, inflate the tire just a little bit. You don’t want to fully inflate it here, just enough so the rubber rises and fits into the rim by itself. You’ll hear a pop when the bead is closed in.
  3. Again, with the tire lever, pry the bead in where the process was unsuccessful.

For me, this is the most challenging step, but the air compressor technique should work.

Finishing Up

There you go, we’re almost done. Just a couple of things left to do.

  1. Insert the tire valve into the valve stem hole. You know what you need here, the valve stem tool. Just make sure to not damage the valve stem hole.
  2. Fully inflate the tire. By this I mean, inflate it to the appropriate point. You don’t want poor tire pressure or an overly inflated tire.
  3. Install the wheel in the bike.

I think visualizing things will help a lot, so let me add a YouTube video for you to watch.

Testing

Believe it or not, you’re still not done. You want to be absolutely sure that the new tire is ready for the road. To do that, you’ll have to test it out.

  • Check the tire for damage
  • Is the direction of the spin alright?
  • Are the brakes working? Check the brake rotor and brake caliper to see if everything alright.
  • How does the new tire feel?

Note: A brand new tire won’t be smooth as you want it to be from the start. You’ll have to break it in. After a week of driving the tire should provide that smooth ride.

How To Balance A Motorcycle Tire

You may have successfully changed your tire but you feel as though something is not right. Have you heard about tire balancing? Since you’ve changed tires, is the tread getting damaged really fast? Do you feel a vibration in the steering wheel? Do you spend more gas? If so, your tires may be unbalanced.

What Is Tire Balancing

What does it mean to balance your tires? Balancing your tires will make for a much better drive. Basically, it means that the weight distribution around the bike is adequately adjusted. So, balanced tires receive an equal amount of weight throughout each side of the tire.

Balancing A Motorcycle Tire

This is done by experts who provide this service, I don’t think you can do it by yourself. First of all, you’ll need a tire balancing machine. That is pretty expensive, so if you don’t have one on hand it’s better to pay for the service.

  1. Place your wheel on the balancing machine. To do this remove one of the axles from the machine, so the wheel can get it. Insert it into the axle and lock it up.
  2. Spin the wheel for 90 degrees and let it rotate. Once it’s done rotating mark the top side. The top side of the wheel is the lighter side(this is your balance mark), and the bottom one is the heavier one.
  3. Add the counterweights to the lighter side.
  4. Check if the wheel is balanced. Repeat step 2. If the wheel doesn’t spin after 90 degrees, it’s balanced. Repeat all these steps until you find the right balance.

Related Questions And Other FAQs

What Is The Difference Between Tube Tires And Tubeless Tires

Tubeless tires have nothing but air inside them. The space between the rim and the tire is only filled with air. Tube tires have a layer of tubes inside them, this holds the air.

Are Tubeless Tires Worth It

It depends on what you’ll be using the tires on. Tubeless tires are especially good on rough terrains like mountains and trails. In the city though, tubeless tires are pretty much worthless.

What Happens If Motorcycle Tires Are Unbalanced

Unbalanced tires are more prone to wear and tear than balanced ones. The tread of unbalanced tires will quickly get eaten away. So, ultimately, unbalanced tires are a safety hazard.

How Much Does It Cost To Balance Tires

Balancing tires is not that expensive, on average it costs 40$-50$. It all depends on the tire servicer you visit. I’ve seen some people charge 70$-80$ but they usually offer a warranty.

Conclusion

We’re finally finished. Did you find it confusing or these are simple steps? I tried my hardest to explain this. If you’re having trouble with the wheel components or breaking the bead, do a quick search for your bike model. Also, check out the YouTube video, it helps to visualize things.

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