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ARTICLE - How do I install a motorcycle tire?

  • Warm the tire you are planning to install in the sun. This is an important step because it will make the rubber more pliable and easier to install.

  • Remove valve core to let air out of the old tire.

  • Break the bead on the tire on both sides.

  • Remove one side of the tire and then the other.

  • Clean the rim of tire residue. Often there will be rubber that has transferred to the inside of the rim. Best to clean that so the tire seals against the rim.

  • Some tires have installation marks/dots. If you are unsure what the dots mean do an internet search. For example, Metzeler has one or two red dots that indicate the lightest part of the tire. Align the red dot(s) with the valve stem and/or the heaviest part of the rim.

  • Press one side of the tire down onto the rim. Use lube if needed to get one side of the tire on the rim.

  • Now comes the hard part, installing the final edge of the tire on the rim.

    • Only lube the part of the tire that you will need to force under the rim. You need an un-lubed part of the tire so it doesn’t rotate on the rim when trying to install.

    • Either ratchet strap the rim to the tire installer, or install some type of rim lock so the rim does not rotate when installing the new tire.

    • Lube both the rim, tire edge and the tool you are using to force the tire edge on the rim. Use either a soap solution or tire install lube.

    • Press as much of the tire as you can on the rim. In the middle of the part you pressed on the rim, force the edge of the tire into the middle of the rim as much as possible. Use blocks of wood to hold the tire edge in the middle of the wheel well, and use ratchet straps to push the edge of the tire into the wheel well. This will make it easier to get the last bit of the tire over the edge.

    • Start pressing more of the tire edge onto the rim. Block/strap in additional places to force the tire edge into the wheel well.

    • Eventually the tire should make it over the edge of the rim.

    • Remove any blocks, straps or rim locks.

  • You now need to seat the bead.

    • Put a ratchet strap around the circumference of the tire and tighten. As you inflate the tire this will help force the tire pressure outwards and seat the bead on the rim.

    • Inflate the tire using a relatively strong compressor, watching the tire pressure. You should not exceed the max inflation pressure on the tire. The tire will pop when it seats correctly on the rim.

    • Once the tire/bead is seated on the rim install the valve core and inflate the tire to the recommended tire pressure.

    • If you are having trouble getting the bead to seat even using the strap and with the valve core out, it could be the compressor is not strong enough. You can also apply some soapy water to where the tire bead is touching the rim to help it slide into place. You can also bounce the tire, or apply downward pressure on spots where the tire may be leaking air.

  • Finally, you need to balance the wheel. Balance options include:

    • Spin Balancer – dynamic balancer, usually found in a motorcycle shop, somewhat expensive for an at-home setup.

    • Bubble Balancer – does not spin, tips in the direction of the imbalance.

    • Static Balancer – spins the tire, the imbalance point is either detected when the tire stops spinning with the heaviest part down.

    • Dyna Beads or Liquid/Sealant – settle in the appropriate parts of the tire to internally balance.

    • Most people who change their own tires either use a static balancer that spins the tire in an upright position or the balance beads/fluid. If using the static balancer, spin the wheel until is stops and add weights opposite to that point. Repeat.

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