Every rider at one point did not know how to change and balance their motorcycle tire. Whether you have a flat tire or it’s time to change the tire after thousands of miles of wear and tear, removing it and fitting your bike with a new tire is a pretty straightforward process.
If you’re nervous about doing the job yourself, you can always take your bike to your trusted mechanic and have the job done in a matter of an hour. But many riders learn to love maintaining their bike on their own and consider it all part of the riding experience. So, if you want to learn how to get this job done yourself, you came to the right place.
If you’re looking for a stand to help you with the balancing, check out my buyer’s guide on some of the best motorcycle stands for this year!
Table of Contents
Taking off the Old Tire
After you’ve purchased a new tire, you can begin the tire changing process by removing the old one. You can use a stand or jack it up. Whichever method you use, make sure the bike is stable and both of the wheels are off the ground.
Once you’ve removed the tire, now mix up a solution of half dish soap, half warm water. This will act as a lube.
You can break the bead on your bike using a type of tool called a tire bead breaker or you can press your heel into the sidewall.
To remove the old tire from the rim, use a tire lever, working around the rim and getting the tire’s lip over the edge of the rim. When one side of the tire is done, work on the other side to easily pull the tire free.
If the tire is being stubborn and doesn’t seem to want to break free, then stand the wheel up and place your knee on the tire where you’ve inserted the tire iron. This level of force will help with pushing the sidewall over the lip of the rim.
Installing the New Tire
Spray the lube, then check the rotation marker on the tire and rotate the tire on the rim. Work in small sections to lever the new tire onto the rim. Using a lot of lube will help, so spray it on often. Next, line up the valve stem with the balance dot. This will come in handy when you balance the wheel.
The bead can be set by inflating the tire. You can inflate the tire by using your air compressor or head to your local gas station and use theirs. Keep in mind, when the bead set’s it’s very loud and can pinch stray objects near it.
Avoid placing fingers or tools near the rim. Check the bead for any leaks by spraying your soap and water mixture along the rim’s edge and be on the look for bubbles. If you don’t see any deflate or inflate your tire to the right PSI and install the wheel.
If you’re changing a tire on your own instead of having a mechanic do it then you will be responsible for recycling the tire yourself. Avoid tossing it in a dumpster, and instead, go to a recycling center to dispose of it the right way.
If you don’t own a set of tire irons then you can change your tire using zip ties. This technique requires you to use more muscle and zip ties that measure in at more than twenty inches long.
Once the bead has been broken, you can take a zip tie, snaking it between the inside of the rim and the bottom lip of the sidewall. Cinch the tie, pushing a couple of the sidewalls closer together as you stand on each side of the tie. Cinch it until each side of the sidewall is touching.
Use a star pattern and do this until you’re able to push the tire of the rim’s lip. You can loosen the zip ties and reuse them for the tire installation or simply cut them off, which would be much faster.
Next, check the bead for leaks and deflate or inflate the tire to the correct PSI level, then install the wheel and you’re ready to go.
If you’re changing your tire in your garage, then the following tools can help you get the job done:
- Valve core tool
- Bead breaker
- Rim protector
- Tire levers
- Analog or a digital tire pressure gauge
- Zip ties
When you ride you need the right gear, including a cool helmet, a jacket that can protect you from the elements and potential road rash, and a visor or goggles. But if you want to learn how to actually work on your bike, you’ll also need to pick up some essential tools that you can use for a variety of repairs.
Balancing a Motorcycle Tire
Learning how to change motorcycle oil is an important aspect of maintaining your bike, but so is learning how to balance the tires. A tire that’s not balanced will cause uneven wear that can lead to dangerous riding conditions.
A tire that’s balanced properly will ensure a smoother ride. Anytime you buy new motorcycle tires you should ensure that they’re balanced. You can also balance the tires if you notice that the tires are beginning to wear in an abnormal way or if you happen to notice that the weight falls off.
When you have instructions and the right tools you can easily balance the wheels and tires on your own. There are several methods you can use to balance the wheel, however, regardless of the method you use, having the right tools on hand can make all the difference.
You can use a stand that’s designed specifically to balance wheels. These stands offer very low amounts of friction and allow you to use the slightest weight variation in order to rotate the wheel. This means that if the weight of the tire is not balanced perfectly, then the heavy side of the tire will rotate to the bottom.
- Usually, a person will balance the wheels only after they’ve installed new tires, so if you want to get both jobs done at the same time, make sure you leave the wheel off so you can go directly from changing the tire to the balancing process.
- Make sure that the balancer that you’re using is placed on a surface that’s stable and that the shaft is kept level. You can use a basic nine-inch magnetic lever to make the process much easier.
- Next, remove the cones from the shaft before you slide it through the axle sleeve. It’s important that you ensure that each of the cones fit inside the axle sleeve, otherwise, the wheel won’t be perfectly centered, which will have a negative impact on balance.
- Use a degreaser to wipe off the rim thoroughly.
- Spin the tire gently and allow it to come to a full stop on its own. Gravity will cause the tire to stop spinning with the heaviest part of the wheel placed at the lowest point. Use masking tape to mark this area on the rim. You can also use a cleaner at this time to remove any grease, grime, or dirt.
- The lightest portion of the wheel will be at the highest point. Because of this, you’ll add weight to the top of the wheel, across from the heaviest point. Placing some tape on the tire will make it simple to remember the heaviest point on the tire. If you have a rim that’s not spoked then you can use weights with an adhesive backing. These weights are easy to use and affordable, allowing you to distribute the weight out on each side of the rim.
- Add just two to three ounces of weight on the lightest area of the tire. If you’re relying on adhesive-backed weights then you can use some tape to keep them firmly in place.
- Rotate the tire until the heaviest and lightest portion are positioned at an equal distance from the work surface.
- A wheel that’s properly balanced will remain still when it’s released since there will be no heavy portion to pull the tire around. Once you have the wheels balanced you can rotate and release the wheel.
- If you have spoked weights then you’re now done balancing the wheel and can take it off the balancer. If you have weights with adhesive backs then use a piece of tape, marking the edge of the line of weights before you remove what you used to keep the weights in place temporarily. If the tire is balanced is will remain in place regardless of what position it’s in.
For more information on basic bike care, click here to read my guide on how to change a motorcycle chain.
Since wheel weights come in fixed sizes, perfectly balancing your wheels can be difficult since the weights might not add up to the amount of weight you need. Learning how to change and balance your motorcycle tire can save you mechanic fees and will also give you a sense of accomplishment that only comes when you know how to care for and work on your bike on your own.
While the trickiest part for many is learning how to balance their tire once the tire has been changed, you’ll find that over time, with some practice, you can get both of these maintenance tasks done in under an hour.