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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks. I’m about to attempt to change my tires for the first time. I’ve had the front off before to do brakes so think I’m okay there.

I had researched this procedure before and I’m almost positive I saw a video or read a post NOT to touch the belt tensioners when removing the tire. Unfortunately I cannot locate that info again.

The service manual does not have loosening these as part of the process. However, the videos I’ve found now all show these being loosened. That would bring in all the posts regarding proper belt tension which I’m trying to avoid because my belt is fine.

Am I correct that you can remove the rear tire WITHOUT loosening the belt tension nuts? I’m assuming if you did, you’d need some sort of leverage from In front of the rear tire to get the axle bolt lined up again? I was thinking of using a ratchet strap to assist me with that.

Thank you
 

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Hi folks. I’m about to attempt to change my tires for the first time. I’ve had the front off before to do brakes so think I’m okay there.

I had researched this procedure before and I’m almost positive I saw a video or read a post NOT to touch the belt tensioners when removing the tire. Unfortunately I cannot locate that info again.

The service manual does not have loosening these as part of the process. However, the videos I’ve found now all show these being loosened. That would bring in all the posts regarding proper belt tension which I’m trying to avoid because my belt is fine.

Am I correct that you can remove the rear tire WITHOUT loosening the belt tension nuts? I’m assuming if you did, you’d need some sort of leverage from In front of the rear tire to get the axle bolt lined up again? I was thinking of using a ratchet strap to assist me with that.

Thank you
Yeah, I really want to know the answer to this question as well, because I am under the impression that you have to buy a belt tensioner to make sure it ends up the way it was before you pull the wheel. And like you said if you don’t have to adjust (and are not supposed to touch) the belt tension, how will you ever get the thing back together!
 

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I changed my rear tire this Spring and I had to loosen the tensionners to push the wheel forward enough to get belt off the rear pulley. I did buy a belt tension gauge beforehand so I was able to adjust the tension when I put the rear wheel back on. The manual calls for a belt deflection of 2 to 4 mm @ 10 pounds but at that setting, the belt squeaks. I set mine at 7 to 9 mm deflection. Don't try to have your belt run in the center of the rear pulley, if it does, your rear wheel is probably mis-aligned. Every pic I see of people's rear wheel has the belt running to the left of the pulley. You're left and right tensionners must be at the same mark, so there's a little fiddling to do to get the wheel aligned straight and the belt tension just right.

This is just from my limited knowledge and personnal experience with my bike. Someone may have a better, different way of doing it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I changed my rear tire this Spring and I had to loosen the tensionners to push the wheel forward enough to get belt off the rear pulley. I did buy a belt tension gauge beforehand so I was able to adjust the tension when I put the rear wheel back on. The manual calls for a belt deflection of 2 to 4 mm @ 10 pounds but at that setting, the belt squeaks. I set mine at 7 to 9 mm deflection. Don't try to have your belt run in the center of the rear pulley, if it does, your rear wheel is probably mis-aligned. Every pic I see of people's rear wheel has the belt running to the left of the pulley. You're left and right tensionners must be at the same mark, so there's a little fiddling to do to get the wheel aligned straight and the belt tension just right.

This is just from my limited knowledge and personnal experience with my bike. Someone may have a better, different way of doing it.
Ok, thanK you
 

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I changed my rear tire this Spring and I had to loosen the tensionners to push the wheel forward enough to get belt off the rear pulley. I did buy a belt tension gauge beforehand so I was able to adjust the tension when I put the rear wheel back on. The manual calls for a belt deflection of 2 to 4 mm @ 10 pounds but at that setting, the belt squeaks. I set mine at 7 to 9 mm deflection. Don't try to have your belt run in the center of the rear pulley, if it does, your rear wheel is probably mis-aligned. Every pic I see of people's rear wheel has the belt running to the left of the pulley. You're left and right tensionners must be at the same mark, so there's a little fiddling to do to get the wheel aligned straight and the belt tension just right.

This is just from my limited knowledge and personnal experience with my bike. Someone may have a better, different way of doing it.
Yes thanks a lot. That actually confirms both that you need a belt tension gage for the job and that the belt should be to the left side of the pulleys, even though both sides are at the same mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
What’s confusing to me is why the service manual doesn’t specifically indicate to loosen the tensioners…. I can’t believe with all the do it yourself mechanics on here we can’t get a definitive answer from those who have changed their tires many times. Oh well, we’ll see how it goes tomorrow
 

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What’s confusing to me is why the service manual doesn’t specifically indicate to loosen the tensioners…. I can’t believe with all the do it yourself mechanics on here we can’t get a definitive answer from those who have changed their tires many times. Oh well, we’ll see how it goes tomorrow
Well, I’m not surprised you have to loosen them because we’re talking about a super heavy duty belt that has to have minimal deflection, so in order not to damage that thing or die in a wrestling match with it, you’re going to have to loosen the tensioners to bring the wheel forward. It’s perfectly logical. I don’t think it’s that bad. what bothers me is if I ever have to change the belt, the cost of the belt and the amount of labor involved (read the threads about drive belt removal), that’s the real kicker. changing the rear wheel and tensioning the belt seems relatively easy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
ok, I found the thread. it’s called “Tire Change” in the 2000 forum. From 2010. Several people said they didn’t loosen the tensioners and it worked fine.

I’m going to try it without loosening and will report back.

my mind is saying getting the axle out is doable. I’m just wondering how hard I’ll have to pull back on the tire with the belt fighting me to get the axle back in 😳
 

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I can't address your 2000, but both my 900 and 1700 service manuals tell you to loosen the belt adjusting nuts completely. You probably can get it apart and back together without loosening them, but I would think it's less trouble to simply readjust it when you reassemble. Between these two bikes, I've removed and replaced the rear wheels about 8 times and never had a problem aligning and adjusting the wheel/belt. It's actually a very simple job. I did it for years without the tension tool, but with my Vaquero I finally realized it was worth the $20 to do it right. At 66 my 'calibrated fingers' aren't what they used to be. :cool:
 

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I can't address your 2000, but both my 900 and 1700 service manuals tell you to loosen the belt adjusting nuts completely. You probably can get it apart and back together without loosening them, but I would think it's less trouble to simply readjust it when you reassemble. Between these two bikes, I've removed and replaced the rear wheels about 8 times and never had a problem aligning and adjusting the wheel/belt. It's actually a very simple job. I did it for years without the tension tool, but with my Vaquero I finally realized it was worth the $20 to do it right. At 66 my 'calibrated fingers' aren't what they used to be. :cool:
That sounds reasonable. My PO had just done both tires so I still have a few thousand miles before I have to worry about it, but when it’s my turn at bat I’ll probably go ahead and disassemble it without toying with the tensioners, and when it’s time to reassemble if I can’t do it without loosening them I’ll just have to go through the process. In either case I’m going to get a gauge ahead of time, because I’m gonna need one eventually.
 

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I loosen the tensioners. I tried the first time to install the wheel without doing so and it was just too hard to do by myself without loosening them. The marks on my tensioners are very accurate, but some say they are not. I double checked by measuring from the center of the swing arm bolt to the center of the axle on both sides and it was exactly the same with the tensioners set to the same position. Now, I mark them before I loosen them, but always do a tension check (7 - 8 mm deflection at 10 lbs) when everything is back together and adjust as needed.
 

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I loosen the tensioners. I tried the first time to install the wheel without doing so and it was just too hard to do by myself without loosening them. The marks on my tensioners are very accurate, but some say they are not. I double checked by measuring from the center of the swing arm bolt to the center of the axle on both sides and it was exactly the same with the tensioners set to the same position. Now, I mark them before I loosen them, but always do a tension check (7 - 8 mm deflection at 10 lbs) when everything is back together and adjust as needed.
That’s very helpful, thanks. I am pretty OCD about marking things ahead of time so I’m gonna do just like you said with a little paint marker
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So, not sure why people said they loosen the tensioner bolts. Once you remove the axle bolt and start to push the axle though the tensioner just falls loose… First on the right then on the left as you make the final push of the axle out.

I marked everything and took my tension reading before I started (7mm), but like I said, didn’t need to loosen the tensioner on either side. I think this is why the manual doesn’t list that step.

BiggER problem is trying to get the old tire off and new tire on manually. I bought the motion pro bead breaker removal and install wrenches but these tires are WAY too stiff. I got the rear off the rim (with GREAT effort) but can’t get it back on. I’m giving up and taking it to a shop for mounting before I damage my tire. Totally frustrating to say the least. Them YouTube videos must be using kiddie tires when they demonstrate.

Once I get the tire mounted then balance it myself and try to put it back on I’ll let you know how that went. I’d say it took me less than 30 min to get the wheel off the bike.
 

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I'm fairly certain it's expected practice to loosen the tensioners. Did you have to beat out the axle to get it out?

My guess is they just figured it was normal to do it, not a special step they had to mention, or just didn't get it written in. If you look at the pictures in the service manual, at least in mine, you can clearly see the tensioner has been backed off from the picture showing the axle nut to the next picture showing moving the wheel forward to disengage the belt. In the picture showing the axle nut before loosening the tensioner nuts are midway down the thread. In the next picture with the axle out and wheel forward to remove the belt the tensioner nuts are nearly all the way to the end of the thread.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
no. i just tapped it out most of the way with a center punch then pulled the other side while holding the wheel on the disc side to take pressure off the axle.
 

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Just loosen each side ten turns ...then tighten them back up ten turns when done.
Mark em with a dab of paint or fingernail polish so you can easily keep track of the turns....then rip that wheel out...you can reinstall it exactly how it was...takes ten seconds to dab two dots of fingernail polish
 

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So, not sure why people said they loosen the tensioner bolts. Once you remove the axle bolt and start to push the axle though the tensioner just falls loose… First on the right then on the left as you make the final push of the axle out.

I marked everything and took my tension reading before I started (7mm), but like I said, didn’t need to loosen the tensioner on either side. I think this is why the manual doesn’t list that step.

BiggER problem is trying to get the old tire off and new tire on manually. I bought the motion pro bead breaker removal and install wrenches but these tires are WAY too stiff. I got the rear off the rim (with GREAT effort) but can’t get it back on. I’m giving up and taking it to a shop for mounting before I damage my tire. Totally frustrating to say the least. Them YouTube videos must be using kiddie tires when they demonstrate.

Once I get the tire mounted then balance it myself and try to put it back on I’ll let you know how that went. I’d say it took me less than 30 min to get the wheel off the bike.
It's not getting the axle out that's the problem, it's getting it back in with all that tension on the belt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
It's not getting the axle out that's the problem, it's getting it back in with all that tension on the belt.
That makes sense. I was expecting a fight with that. So if it is I’ll loosen and tighten to my marks
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
So… final word on it. Definitely loosen the tensioners from the get go. Yes, the tensioner mounts come loose when you pull the axle and it’s easy to get the wheel off. BUT… when you go to install the wheel back on, like others have said, there is too much belt tension. Problem you have if you don’t loosen them prior to removing the axle is you have no torque to loosen them later. So then you have to reinstall the axle to loosen the adjusting nuts. Don’t repeat my mistake.

So while the manual doesn’t mention the tension nuts, DEFINITELY mark your stating spots on both sides, take a belt deflection reading, then loosen them before pulling the axle through.

I have a bike jack that lets me get the bike up high so the wheel and tire rolled out pretty easy. On install, I placed the tire on my low profile floor jack and used that to do the heavy work of lining up the axle holes and associated spacers once I got the belt back on. That made it WAY easy to get the axle back in without straining my own back.

I tightened the adjuster nuts until my marks lined up then checked belt deflection and it was dead on the pre-removal reading. Took a 10 min ride and no belt whining or slapping etc., and it didn’t pop off ☺

Hopefully it stays that way!

As for trying to get the old tires off and new tires on I gave up! That rear tire is WAY too stiff. Tried heating it, had motion pro Wrenches, big flat pry bars, lots of soapy water, and while I got the old off (after enormous struggle), no way I could get the new one on. I took it to a small shop and they charged me $40 to mount it.

I’ll close by saying I didn’t muck with the belt once I took it off the wheel. Just let it hang there. When I got everything back together but before I tightened the axle nut I happened to look towards the front sprocket and my belt was way toward the right (passenger side) of the sprocket. I tried everything to reach in and encourage it to the left but couldn’t get it. It wasn’t off, but way too far right. Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of the front before I broke it all down. But don’t know how I could have done it because I barely touched the belt.

Anyway, I tightened everything else and took that test rIDE. When I got back I shined a light up front and it had moved itself back to the middle. Don’t know if anyone else has seen this but it definitely concerned me.
 

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Once you had the wheel off the belt was free to go wherever it wanted. Assembled, it followed its previous path. Congrats on a job well done.
 
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