How To Change A Motorcycle Tire

Perhaps your heart sank when you heard that dreaded hissing sound. There’s no denying it once the thud-thud noise starts. If you haven’t done it before, you’re probably wondering, how to change a motorcycle tire? Hopefully, you have some tools with you.

It’s not a hard job, but it helps to know what to look for and how to get it done right. You needn’t panic and start looking at the prices of motorcycles. Once you do the first time, it’ll go much faster if it happens again.

Tools You’ll Need

You’ll need some gear to get the job done. You probably have most of the things on hand anyway if you do any work on your ride. You can buy most of them for under $100. You can go the DIY route with a few of them too. The ones you have to have include:

  • Open-end wrenches or a racket and socket set, depending on the model of your cycle
  • Tire spoons or irons
  • Valve stem remover
  • Rim protectors
  • Bead breaker
  • Compressor
  • Tire gauge
  • Lubricant spray
  • Wire brush
  • Replacement tire

The best way to start is to get the wheel off of the bike. Ideally, you can get it off the ground with a center stand. If not, whatever you can find to prop it up to make it easier on your back.

Removing the Wheel

This step will vary with the type of motorcycle you have. Typically, it involves getting some slack on the front clamp and taking off the brake caliper and axle. Then, you can get at the wheel. While you’re at it, it’s a smart idea to check your brakes. Take a look at the disc and pads. If they look worn, it’s probably time they get replaced too.

There are several other points along the process where this guide will suggest that you examine other parts for damage or wear. Regular maintenance is essential for getting top used motorcycle values. It’s always easier to repair something before it fails instead of it sending you to the road’s shoulder for some impromptu work on your ride.

Steps to Changing the Tire

The tough part is over now. Everything else you need to do is straightforward, requiring some elbow grease as needed. The key is to work slowly through each step and avoid excessive force or pressure to protect the rim and spokes. You may find it helpful to don a pair of work gloves to protect your hands.

Deflate the Tube

The first thing you have to do is deflate the tube if it isn’t already tapped. You can do this by taking off the valve stem core using the remover tool. Don’t be tempted to use something else or you’ll risk breaking it. You’ll often see it with a nut attached to it so that it stays in place. Take it off and set it aside. Better yet, put it in your pocket so that you don’t lose it.

Breaking the Bead

This part is where the muscle comes into the game. The bead is the place where the rim and tire come together to keep everything attached. Not anymore. Use the bead breaker tool by prying the tire from the rim. Don’t force it or pound on it. You might end up dinging your rim in the process. Make sure it’s broken along the entire diameter of the wheel.

Then, rinse and repeat on the other side. If you’re having trouble, you can use a welding or C-clamp to force the issue. A spritz or two of the lubricant spray might help too. In a pinch, you can also use soap and water.

Removing the Rim

Before you start this step, you should slip the rim protectors on to keep them from getting damaged since they’ll be in the proverbial line of fire. Put them on the side with the valve stem. Use your tire spoons to work the bead over the rim gently, working your way slowly around the diameter. You can take out the tube at this point.

Repeat on the other side. You may find it a bit easier since you’ve released some tension by getting the bead over once already. Free the tire from the rim.

Assessing the Damage

Take a close look at the tire, both inside and outside, to find the reason for your flat. If nothing pokes out at you, use a flashlight or your smartphone to search for glass shards or any other sharp bits inside of it. Don’t skip this step. Otherwise, you might end up on the roadside again if something was still in there, waiting to puncture the next tube.

Also, inspect your rim while you have it free too. Make sure that no spokes have found their way through the strip. You can either leave the band on or replace it with electrical or duct tape that will serve the same purpose. Laying the tape around a few times in the channel will provide an effective barrier to keep the tube from damage. Besides, it won’t slip. While you’re at it, clean the rim with a wire brush.

Preparing the New Tire

Hit the inside of the new tire with the lubricant spray. That will make it easier to get back on the rim. It will also help if you leave the replacement in the sun until you need it. The warmer rubber will also make the job faster with the extra give that the heat will provide. Remember that motorcycles ride harder when the tires are cold.

Next, you must line up the new tire correctly with the rim so that it spins in the right direction. Look for an arrow mark along the edge. Then, inflate the tube slightly so that you can still flex it to put it back inside the tire. Make sure that the valve stem is by the balance mark. Alternatively, you can also insert the tube back after the next step.

Run your hand along the tube to ensure that it’s sitting snugly within the tire and not getting bunched up or folded anywhere along its length. Don’t continue with the next step until you’ve inspected it.

Working the Beads

Starting at the valve, you’re going to get the bead over the rim, taking care that everything is still lined up correctly. Use the spoons if the tire is putting up a fight. Next, slide the valve stem through the hole in the rim. Put the nut back on the end with a few twists.

Then, flip over the tire and repeat to get the second one in place. You’ll likely find this one a bit tougher. Just take your time and slowly get it seated again, using your spoons to move it along.

Wrapping Up the Job

Once you have the tire and rim together, look over both sides to make sure everything looks all right, including the position of the valve stem. Inspect the edge, noting the alignment with the bead indicators around the inside of the tire. They should all be an equal length from the rim.

Next, inflate the tube as per the recommended PSI for your bike. Do not exceed this limit. Sometimes, there’s a snapping sound when filling up the replacement tire. Also, pay attention to any hissing noises that you may hear, which indicate a damaged tube. Hopefully, you won’t, meaning that you did it right.

If you wondered how to change a motorcycle tire, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised how straightforward the process is. With the right tools and a systematic approach, you’ll have your knees in the breeze in no time. Consider the flat just a bump in the road. You can save researching Ducati prices for another day.