Getting new tires is an exciting experience for any motorcyclist. The thrill of taking new rubber out for a spin is unlike any other. With this in mind, we know some riders prefer to have new tires installed by mechanics or at dealerships instead of doing it themselves.
While there's nothing wrong with that, we think installing new tires on your own can be more satisfying. Plus, it can also be a great learning experience. So, what are the steps to changing motorcycle tires at home?
What you'll need
Whether you're on a commuter bike, sportbike, or scooter, you'll need many of the same tools to change a tire. If you don't already have them, you can acquire most of the following tools online, or at hardware and automotive stores.
- Tire irons, sturdy pry tool, or crowbar - You'll need two of any of these to pry the tires from the rims.
- Rim protectors - You'll also need two. You'll be using these with your prying tools to protect your rims from getting nicked or scratched.
- Bead breaker - This tool is optional but can be immensely helpful for breaking the tire bead easily.
- Valve core tool - As you’ll be inflating and deflating tires, you’ll use this for removing and reattaching the valve core to the tire valve stem.
- Water and dish soap - Make a lubricant solution by mixing water and dish soap with a 50/50 ratio. Lubrication is important for various steps in the procedure, so be sure to make enough.
- Spray bottle - Use this with your lubricant solution for easier application.
- Small carpet or rug - Keep your floors clean by placing a small piece of carpet or rug underneath your working area.
- Air compressor or tire inflator - You will need compressed air to set the bead after installing the new tire.
Replacing your tires
If you haven't bought replacement tires yet, make sure you pick one that's appropriate for your rims and bike. Also, warmer tires are more malleable and easier to handle, so if you can, park your bike out in the sun for a bit before proceeding. 15 to 20 minutes should be enough time. When your new tires, tools, and bike are ready, you can proceed with the steps.
- First, get your motorcycle upright by engaging the center stand or using a jack to elevate it. The bike will need to be stationary and well-balanced for best results.
- Start with the rear tire and remove it from the motorcycle.
- Next, spray the lubricant solution that you made on the tires and rims. This will make it easier to break the bead and remove your old tires from the rims. You'll need to spray the solution constantly as you move along the steps.
- Take the rear tire and deflate it. Then, break the bead using a bead breaker tool, tire irons, or other prying tools. When using tire irons, you need to use rim protectors as well to prevent rim damage. Spray the lubricant again and pry the old tire away from the rim.
- Get your new tire and spray it with the solution. Look at the embossed rotation marker on the tire and match it with the rim's rotation orientation.
- Grab your prying tools and rim protectors. Working in small sections, start to fit the tire by levering it over the rim. Be careful not to work on larger sections than you can handle. If it becomes difficult, spray with more lubricant to help the process along.
- Once the new tire is fitted, you'll still need to inflate it to set it fully against the rim. You can use your tire inflator or air compressor here with your valve core tool. If you don't have these tools, your nearest gas station will have an inflator you can use. Watch out for a loud noise when the bead sets.
- Lastly, check the bead for any leaks. If you did the steps correctly, you should have no problem. Now, if you're also replacing the front tire, just repeat the same steps above, and you should be good to go.
Changing motorcycle tires at home isn't complicated. You only need the right set of tools, some patience, and a bit of time. While it's perfectly okay to have this done at a shop, we can promise that changing tires yourself will make you proud of your work.