Change a Motorcycle Tire


1974 Yamaha DT125 Enduro

Changing tires isn’t a particularly fun or rewarding job, but like many chores, it’s a good one to know how to do when the occasion arises. Frankly, this issue’s How-To reminded us of how rusty we are at the job, rarely changing our own tires because A) it’s usually rolled into the cost of a new tire and B) you still need to get the wheel and tire balanced once you’re done, also usually rolled into the cost of a new tire.

If you want to change your own tires, there are a few tools we suggest having on hand. You won’t use them all at one time, but they’re worth having and they’re relatively inexpensive, to boot. Our lineup consists of a valve core tool for removing and installing valve cores ($4.95), a valve repair tool for cleaning threads on damaged valve stems ($5.95), a puller for fishing the valve stem on a tube through the rim hole ($11.95), a valve stem mounting tool for tubeless rims ($17.95), a set of tire irons ($25.95 each for heavy duty irons — extra leverage and strength is always nice — or $13.95 each for standard 11-inch irons — great for smaller tires and they’ll fit in a tank bag), and a set of rim protectors ($7.95 for the pair and especially appreciated with aluminum or cast rims). We picked up everything you see here from BikeMaster, including the new tube ($12.95).

BikeMasterThe biggest challenge can be getting an old tire off. Tires get stiffer with age, and tire beads have a tendency to weld themselves to the rim over time, making it hard to break the bead and pull the tire over the rim. It’s not unusual to have to cut off stuck and stiff decades-old tires to avoid damaging the wheel rim.

The front tire on our 1974 Yamaha DT125 Enduro didn’t put up much of a fight. With the valve core removed and the tire deflated, the bead broke with simple downward hand pressure. When that doesn’t work, push a tire iron between the bead and rim in one spot, then pry the iron down to push the bead down and off the rim, working around until it falls loose. Rim protectors are great if you’re worried about marring your rim. We used them for the dismount, but we didn’t bother with them during remount as our new tire went on easily. If there’s a colored balance dot on your new tire, line it up with the valve stem hole. And finally, give the bead a light coating of soapy water or tire mounting paste to help the new tire slip over the rim.

Tools needed for changing a motorcycle tire

12/5/2020 7:25:39 PM

Some tires have an arrow on them to indicate which way they should be mounted. Also I find putting a little air in the inner tube can help keep the tube from getting pinched during installation.

12/4/2020 10:35:24 PM

It always helps to partially inflate the tube once it's in the tire. Not too much, just enough for it to take shape. This will help to keep it away from the levers. The spoon shaped levers reduce the probability of pinching the tube. You could do a whole 'nother article on installing rim locks.

12/3/2020 11:33:58 PM

Some tires have an arrow on them to indicate which way they should be mounted. Also I find putting a little air in the inner tube can help keep the tube from getting pinched during installation.

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