I will cover some must have tools, basic procedures, and tips about the dreaded tire changes. This will help make your life easy and have all of your friends paying you to change their tires. Everyone knows changing a dirtbike or mx tire is not fun to do.
-First thing to know about any job is having the correct tools for the job!
1. Tire irons and / or tire spoons. (Used to pry Tires on to a wheel or rim)
– Things to know about tire irons and spoons: It is good to have more than one, I generally use 2 8 1/2 inch Motion pro irons, they are cheap, and they are just the right length for installing the tire, anything longer can potentially damage the tire or wheel from over leverage. You can find them here:
-There are also fancy spoons, handled irons, or some even come with a box end wrench that fit your axle nuts, combine 2 of them with your Axle nut sizes. For instance, the 22mm common on current front axles Honda CRF250r, CRF450R, modern CR 2-Strokes, and others makes/models, then the 32mm Rear Axle nut on same models:
-There are many kits, or sets available. Most include 3 tire irons, but i only have 2 hands so the 3rd sits in the tool box. For instance, Motion Pro’s most popular 3 piece tire iron kit is honestly not a bad option for the price:
-Just remember bigger is not better, it’s very common for some to damage a tire during installation using too large of a tire iron or spoon, bead breakage and so on. So with that in mind I use 2 Motion Pro 8 1/2in tire irons…you should never need much more than that. (DO NOT FORCE A TIRE OR PRY EXCESSIVELY!)
2. A wheel/tire stand
-There are several variations from floor and table top stands, as well as free standing. There is not much to them, they simply hold your rim in place while you work the tire off and back on.
– A key thing to remember is that it’s not fun to roll around on the garage floor or driveway struggling with a tire change without a stand, ( This can damage fingers, hands, the garage floor, wheels, hubs, spokes, brake rotors, and sprockets to name a few) so if you don’t have a stand you should purchase one, it’s well worth it. If you just cant afford one I survived many years and several tires a night using an old 15in Chevy steel wheel on the ground. Generally the off set of the wheel has enough room when laid on its face to not interfere with the sprocket or rotor.
3. Soap or tire mounting lube.
– I can’t tell you how important it is to lubricate a tire with something safe for the rubber that will not dry up before you are finished. There are several options available like:
-From the small spray bottle, to the industrial size gallon jug it serves the same purpose. In a pinch, something like dawn dish soap works well, or I almost always have a bottle of SC1 around for cleaning the bikes up, and it works great as well when applied generously around the beads of the tire:
-This helps with bead seating, and over all installation. I have installed thousands of motorcycle tires. the most common thing I hear is: “This tire is defective, the bead wont seat in one little spot on the rim” . That’s not necessarily the case, more than likely your tire is not defective…you either didn’t lubricate the tire or your lube dried up before you could seat the bead.
– On a side note it is sometimes good practice to use some baby powder on the tube and inside the tire as well to keep the tube from chafing as it is inflated or the tire is installed.
4. Wrench for rim lock/tube nuts.
– Generally these are a 12mm in some cases it might be a 13mm depending on the brand. I prefer a ratcheting box end wrench, one of my most important tools in the tool box! Gear wrench is hands down the best available wrench that ratchets. Their large ratcheting wrench sets and small ratcheting wrench sets available:
You can use a socket in most cases as well, or a regular wrench, but if you have a crescent wrench you need to throw that thing away. Gear wrenches are available as individuals as well if you want to slowly build your tool kit, or eliminate unnecessary sizes from your tool box:
5. A Valve Core Removal Tool. (Same as any automotive vale stem tool)
– It’s very important to deflate your tube completely prior to removing the tire. This can only be done by removing the valve stem core. There are many options, I like to use the valve stem cap styles on the rear of my bikes, then its always right there with the tire:
– You can also get something more like a screwdriver with a valve core tip that will go nicely into your tool box after the job is done:
6. A bead buddy.
– Most people look at a Motion Pro bead buddy, Tusk or HP tire bead tool, and don’t know how it would actually work, or how to start to use it. It’s very simple, and I will go on to more about how it’s used explain later in this post. For now i’ll tell you this “Its like having an extra set of hands!” Some people go beyond and use 2 of them (couldn’t hurt):
-Overall this tool will ease a lot of pain during an install and even during removal if used correctly, don’t short yourself and fight the tire. Get one and try it.
**Optional rim protectors? There are several rim protectors or rim shields out there, basically they protect the wheel from scuffs and scratches during the tire install. I don’t use them unless I have an anodized or powder coated wheel that I am changing the tire on.They’re kinda a pain to use, you can get the idea of them here: