MCN's expert guide to changing your own tyres at home so you can put new rubber down for less

Learning how to change your own motorbike tyres means that you’re free to take advantage of some of the amazing, mail-order tyre deals on offer. That said, changing tyres at home is a fairly physical task and the larger the tyre, the harder the task becomes.

Fat 190 and 200 section, stiff carcass sports tyres can leave you sweating and swearing, wishing you weren’t such a tight arse and had taken it to the local dealer instead. And you also have to make the initial outlay on fitting tools and accessories such as bead breaker, balancer, levers and soap.

Then you have to work out what to do with the old tyre once you’ve removed it because they won’t accept it down at your local household recycling centre, which means if you’re anything like me, they’ll end up being piled up in the corner of your garage for all eternity.

Here’s MCN’s step-by-step guide to changing motorbike tyres at home:

Stand for action

Stand for action

Put the bike on a suitable stand that will allow the wheels to be removed safely. Use paddock stands, a swingarm pivot stand, or your bike’s centrestand, and tether if necessary. These devices give much more safety than simply propping the bike up with a jack, which could be easily knocked as you wiggle your wheels free.

Price: £61.64 (was £99.99)
Find the front paddock stand here

Pop the valve

Pop the valve

Before you remove the wheel, check the tyre you’re about to fit is the correct type and size. Remove the wheel and make a note of the wheel rotation, as it’s often not so obvious once the wheel is out. Place the wheel on a surface that won’t damage the finish. Undo the dust cap then use a valve key to remove the valve.

Break the bead

Break the bead

You will need a mechanical bead breaker to force the tyre off the rim. Apply pressure as close to the rim as possible to focus the force on the lowest part of the sidewall. Deploy enough force and the bead will pop of the rim and into the well of the tyre. Rotate the wheel and progressively push the rest of the tyre off the rim.

Push and shove

Push and shove

Flip the wheel over and use the bead breaker on the other side. With the tyre now off the rim on both sides, now’s the time to apply a bit of technique. The tyre will have a tendency to sit back onto the rim, so you need to push the tyre into the well of the wheel using your hands and knees prior to levering. It’s tricky and fairly strenuous.

Lever it off

Lever it off

Place a rim protector at 12 o’clock and another next to it. Holding the tyre off the bead with your knees, insert a lever between the rim and protector, and place another 3in away. Apply pressure to the first lever until the tyre flattens, then do the same with the other. Continue around the tyre.

Whack it!

Whack it

With one side free, insert a lever under the outside of the bead still on the wheel and, using a thick cloth or rag for protection, lever it over the rim. Strike the edge of the tyre close to the rim with a rubber mallet to knock the tyre off. Take care as sometimes the wheel can be spat out by the tyre.

Push it on

Push it on

Clean the inside of the wheel, particularly the area where the tyre seals. Lube the bead of the new tyre with tyre soap then offer it up to the wheel, making sure the rotation is correct. Place the tyre on the rim and push on and away from you, using the most force nearest you. As it pops over the rim, slowly transfer the force to the furthest edge and it will pop on.

On your marks

On your marks

With one side of the tyre on the rim, look for a yellow dot stamped on the sidewall, this indicates where the valve needs to be. Spin the tyre on the rim until the valve lines up with this mark. Doing this will help reduce the number of wheel weights needed to balance the wheel, and will also act as a reference to see if the tyre has spun on the rim.

Lever on and inflate

Lever on and inflate

Start to lever the tyre on using two levers at once, and use your knees to keep the bead away from the rim. If the tyre becomes extremely hard to lever it’s possible the bead will need pushing off the other side. Inflate the tyre with the valve core removed. When the tyre has popped on both sides of the wheel, fit the valve and set the correct pressure.

A fine balance

A fine balance

Place the wheel on the balancer with the dust cap fitted. Remove any stickers and old wheel weights. Spin the wheel, when the wheel settles the light spot will be at 12 o’clock, clean this area of rim and apply a weight. Turn the wheel to the 3 o’clock position and if it doesn’t move the wheel is balanced. If it still creeps around, add or remove weights as necessary.

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