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Changing my own tires

4226 Views 13 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  bcusick
Checked the front tire of the 800 Classic (spoke wheels) the other day and saw the date stamp was from ’00. That’s right – 15 years old, and I’ve been riding on it for 5 months! The rear is ‘new’ since ’06. Yikes! So, even though they’re not very worn or dry rotted, I will need new tires SOON. Looking at shop prices, adding up the fees, I am looking at about $230 in costs in addition to the tires’ price (about $150 less if I just bring in the wheels and buy tires from them). That seems a bit ridiculous to me, so I’m thinking of doing it myself. I use a homemade jack that can lift a wheel but not high enough to remove a wheel from the fender. I feel I can invest in a $100 HF jack to lift it high enough and a $30 set of spoons to do the change. My concern is with the balancing. Read online about a way to do it by building a jig to hold the tire vertically and adding weights till no part settles to the bottom. Do I need to buy multiple lead weights to have on hand? Anything need done with the spokes? Right now she’s smooth to 90 mph and I have no need to go any faster. Also can’t believe I went 90 on such an old tire. Thanks in advance y’all.
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Well I think I've got the balancing thing addressed by using dynabeads (assuming all the rave reviews online are correct).

Building a shopping list - I think ive got everything:
dunlop elite 3 Bias ply (looks like the only good tire with the combination of sizes I need)
130/90-16 front
160/80-16 rear (seems like the fattest that will fit)
(2) 16" rim strips
front tube
rear tube w/90 degree stem
$354 shipped from http://www.americanmototire.com/

dynabead (tyrebead) kit
$20 amazon
Anyone have a comment on the the 160/80 rear or dynabeads?
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I've been changing my own tires for a few years now. I do all of my friends as well. I highly recommend Ride-On tire sealant to balance the wheels. Not only will it balance the wheels like the Dyna beads, but it will also be a decent level of insurance against flats.


goes for about $15 per 8oz bottle, and the amount you need depends on the ire size.
they have a dosage calculator on their site to help you figure that out.
Wheels and tires is something I've only recently gotten interested in doing myself.
Maybe because before this I always had tubeless tires and it's a little easier to deal with emergencies on those.

But I really liked the idea of gaining the tools and knowledge to do my own tires, even if I later choose to trade cash for effort.

So far I've only done one, the rear on the 500, and it went well enough that I have no plans to have somebody else do the rest.

Breaking the bead seems to be what gives people the most trouble, and the trick of propping a short piece of 2x4 on the tire while levering down on it with a long 2x4 under the edge of your truck should handle that fine. Spoons and soap and sweat for the rest.

As for balancing I've not done mine and it never vibrates, but I would like to build or buy a balancing stand just because.

I am also not taking the "old tires" thing all that seriously. I've had a bunch of old and VERY old tires under me with no ill effects. I wouldn't do it by choice but I'm also not panicking to change it. But don't take that as a recommendation.
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Thanks for the reassurance and balancing recommendation. I had no idea there were such simple ways to dynamically balance a tire.

Ida - you posted while I was posting. Good idea using the truck/2x4 lever. Thanks!
Thanks for the reassurance and balancing recommendation. I had no idea there were such simple ways to dynamically balance a tire.

Ida - you posted while I was posting. Good idea using the truck/2x4 lever. Thanks!
Well I didn't think of it myself, but it did work for me.

I do have a craftsman lift but I haven't yet made the "prop" to go on it to fit between the exhaust. I just lifted under the engine, and prayed it wouldn't break anything, and it worked, but I wasn't happy with doing it that way.
A couple 6" or bigger c-clamps works great for breaking the bead also. As for spokes, lightly tap them with a wrench, if any have a dull sound compared to the others, you may need to tighten them slightly. Look on you tube for videos.
Also try checking out YouTube for tire removal. Someone showed me an easier way of getting tires on and off the rims by using cable ties. I did it on my son's dirtbike and was much easier than tire spoons....you'll be pleasantly surprised.
For as often as I've been changing tires, I picked up one of the Harbor Freight tire changers.

Tire Changer (P/N: 69686): http://www.harborfreight.com/manual-tire-changer-69686.html
Motorcycle Wheel Attachment (P/N: 60810): http://www.harborfreight.com/motorcycle-tire-changer-attachment-60810.html

I also improved it with a set of Mojo Blocks which hold the rim in a lot more securely.
For breaking the bead, the tire changer comes with a lever that makes this very easy.
To get the old tire off and new tire on, I'm using a Mojo Lever. Spoons rarely required.

Mojo blocks: http://home.comcast.net/~prestondrake/mojoblocks.htm
Mojo Lever: http://home.comcast.net/~prestondrake/mojoweb.htm

Excluding time to get the wheel off/on the bike, I can change a tire in about 10-15 minutes. No grunting, sweating, or swearing.

This guy does a pretty good job demonstrating the setup close to what I have.


I will say though that the job is MUCH easier with the HF tire tool securely bolted to the floor.
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Thanks for all the ideas everybody. I have re-measured and think I will just go with the stock rear size due to chain clearance. So now the dunlops will not fit but Metzeler ME880s will. Only problem there is they have a bias rear and radial front so thats a no-go... Sheesh.
I'm lazy, local tire shop does the actual tire change for me for 10 bucks. They don't have any heartburn about mounting car tires on motorcycle wheels either. Balancing tires is not difficult. I use 2 jack-stands and a 2ft piece of 1/2" steel rod. Picked up 1/4 and 1/2 oz tape weights from local tire shop. Rod thru bearings, raise jack-stands until tire clears, rotate SLOWLY and add weight to high side until wheel rotates with no tendency to stop in any particular position. Make sure brake rotor, pulley or sprocket are installed and you are balancing the whole rotating assembly. This is also a real good time to check, clean and grease wheel bearings
Motor vehicle Vehicle Mode of transport Motorcycle Automotive tire

Vehicle Automotive tire Car Tire Automotive wheel system
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Wow that's a great shop!

I've got everything to do the job but it looks like our weekends are booked thru Feb for the most part. Metezler 888s are really pretty tires BTW.
I used to balance my tires with weights but stopped when I started using the Ride-on since it dynamically balances the tires anyways. From my own personal experience, it does a better job then weights anyways.

I still have my wheel balancer for my friends/family that decide they don't want to throw down the extra money for the ride-on...
Changing tires myself

I just changed two tires and I'm retired and cheap now. But I am getting too old for that. I used a bottle jack under my pick-up to break the bead. I used two jackstands and teh axle shaft to balance and I'm happy how good it came out.
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