Ever needed to change a tire on your dirt bike? Winter time or the ‘off season’ can be a good time to put some new rubber on your bike, or other needed maintenance. Changing tires can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few tips to get you rolling again. With just a few simple tools and some patience, you can have the new tread installed and ready to rip in no time!
There are many fancy tools out there for changing tires. Many of them are pretty pricey and if you don’t change tires more than a couple of times a season, the investment may not be worth it. However, with a couple tire spoons and a wrench or two that is probably already in your tool box, changing tires yourself is definitely worth it.
Many people resort to taking their tires to someone else to do the dirty work. A couple of reasons can be lack of time, don’t want to deal with the hassle, afraid of pinching a tube, etc. It’s totally fine to have someone else to do it and is frankly easier if you have the time to wait and money to pay for it. But, if you’re among the brave and want to learn a new skill and same some time, then keep on reading and hopefully we can build some confidence and add another ‘tool’ (knowledge) to the tool box.
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*Always verify parts are for the correct make and model. Some of these links or parts may have changed or vary slightly from the time I purchased them, or may not be bike specific.
- Rear Tire – Dunlop Geomax MX52
- Tire spoons/irons
- Core removal tool
- Soapy water – simple spray bottle with some soap and water
- 12mm wrench
- Bead holder
- GoPro Hero 7 Black – Just in case you want to make cool videos!
For those who would rather watch a video than read a bunch of instructions, here is a basic installation video. For those who would rather read, simply skip the video and continue on!
First, obviously remove the wheel from the bike. I also like to make sure the bike is clean before I do any maintenance. This just makes it nicer to work on and keep the work area and tools clean also.
Once the wheel is remove from the bike, inspect the rim, spokes, hub, brake rotors, sprockets, and any other hardware that may be installed. This helps to identify any other potential wear and tear on the wheel setup. May as well make any other repairs while you’re at it.
With the wheel off the bike and laying flat on the work bench, remove the valve stem core. This releases the air in the tire and will allow the bead to relax off of the rim. If the bead is really stuck to the rim, grab a tire iron and break it loose by inserting the tire iron between the rubber of the tire and the rim.
Next, loosen the rim lock. This looks like a bolt sticking out of the rim similar to the valve stem with a nut on it. I like to leave the nut installed if I’m not going to remove the rim lock. This way I don’t lose it. Some valve stems will also have a nut on them. If you’re rim has a Tubliss system in it, this will also need to be removed. Tubliss systems require a different method than described here for installation and removal.
Once the bead is broken all the way around the tire, insert one tire iron between the rim and tire and grab the inside of the bead with the tire iron and pry the tire up and over the rim. It helps to make sure as much of the tire as possible is up inside the rim on the OPPOSITE side of where you are prying. This allows as much rubber as possible to work where you’re prying.
Continue to pry the tire off the rim completely on one side of the rim. Spraying some soapy water around the bead will make life much easier. Flip the wheel over and do the same on the other side. The rim should end up inside the tire when complete. Do not try to pry both sides of the tire off of only one side of the rim.
With the rim inside the tire, make sure the valve stem is out of the rim and push the tire one way and pull on the rim. This will separate the rim and tire.
Before installing the new tire/tube, it’s always a good ideas to perform a good cleaning on the inside of the rim. This is also a good time to inspect the rim tape/rubber and tighten/replace any spokes or broken rim locks.
With the rim flat, lay the tire onto the rim. Insert the tube into the tire and put the valve stem core back in. Pump the tube up just enough to give it some form. Especially if it’s a new tube. This helps to keep the tube up and out-of-the-way so it reduces the risk of pinching it when prying the tire back on. Notice I said ‘reduces’, not eliminates. Too much air and it won’t be possible to put the tire on.
Once the tube is in place, take the valve stem and feed it through the rim and screw the nut on it to keep it from backing out when putting the tire on. Do not tighten all the way. Just a few threads will do. Spray the bead down good with some soapy water and begin prying the tire onto the rim. Unlike removing the tire, you will pry from the same side of the rim for both sides of the tire. I like to put the sprocket side down so I don’t mark-up or bend the rotor.
Be patient and take little bites at a time with the tire irons. The first side should go on fairly easy. It may be necessary to flip the rim over and pry the tire up over the rim lock.
With one side on, keep the rubber up inside the rim and begin prying side two onto the rim. Take special care not to grab the tire too deep because it is possible to grab the tube with it. A few extra seconds and precautions here is better than having to start completely over.
I like to start opposite of the rim lock and get a couple good pulls up over the rim. Once about a quarter of the second side is inside the rim, take the bead holder tool and insert it between the rubber and rim. The hook on the tool will then reach over the rim and hook onto a spoke. This tools helps keep the rubber help down as the rest of the tire is worked onto the rim.
Continue to work the tire onto the rim. The tire can get really tight towards the last couple pulls. Again, be patient and take little bites at a time. Continue to take careful consideration to keep the rubber inside the rim as far as possible on the opposite side from where you’re working.
Once you manage to get the tire on the rim, pull the valve stem core out again. The bead will need to be set and removing the core helps to seat the bead better. Be sure to spray plenty of soapy water on both sides of the tire bead all the way around. Pump the tire up (if you managed to not pinch the tube) and set the bead. Check the spacing all the way around the tire to ensure the bead is set completely and the tire is centered on the rim.
Once the bead is set, insert the core back into the valve stem and pump up the tire to the desired PSI. If you managed to get this the first time and you don’t hear any hissing or end up with a flat tire the next day, it’s time to celebrate! Not only did you do it yourself, but you don’t have to do it twice and you have some new tread to go tear up some of your favorite terrain!