How I Changed The Tires On My Motorcycle With A Shovel.

During my lunch yesterday, before I even got off the motorcycle, I was told by the local inspection station that I needed new tires, a license plate light, and a more visible location for my license plate.  Apparently I have been riding dirty for a while now.  “Oopsy! You caught me!”  I won’t lie though, I was aware of all of this, and figured somebody would call me out on it eventually.  As it turns out, that time was yesterday.  Ah well, at least once I fix it all I won’t have to cross my fingers, toes, and bring a lucky rabbit’s foot to the inspection station each year.  What a relief.

Since I was replacing my tires this year whether I had an inspection sticker or not, I ordered them about a week ago. Now, I have never had new tires on my bike, so I had no idea that shops charge anywhere from $25 – 50 per tire for mounting and balancing.  Surprise! Yea, no.  I am way too cheap, and I tend to stress out when people touch my vehicles.  I have trust issues I suppose. Anyway, when I got home yesterday, my fresh new tires were waiting for me, and “operation tire swap” was about to commence.  I had swapped car tires without machines before, but never motorcycle tires, but how different could it be?

I began by hanging my bike from my garage rafters and popping the rear wheel off.  I laid it on a piece of cardboard, and pulled the schrader valve out of the valve stem to let all of the pressure out.

With my fingers crossed and happy thoughts in my head, I broke the bead loose on the old tire with a shovel.  Yeah…. I basically just jumped on it, and it worked flawlessly!  I did this to both sides, and then spread laundry detergent around the tire bead to allow it to slide off of the wheel easier.  Laundry detergent works awesome for this process by the way. I highly recommend it.

Then I shoved 3/4″ by 2″ by ~ 6″ pieces of pine around the edges of the tire to hold the bead down while I popped the tire off the rim using a pry bar, a flat screwdriver, and some leather gloves to protect the paint on the wheel from chipping. Tada! – Tire came right off.

Then I lubed the new one with more laundry detergent, and slipped it onto the wheel with the same pine boards holding the bead down.  The tire is rotational, so I double and triple checked that I installed it in the proper direction.  Sure enough, I did.

It was then time to inflate the tire, reinstalled the schrader valve, and toss it back on the motorcycle.

I then repeated the entire process for the front wheel, but I needed to remove the brake rotor so that I didn’t risk bending it.  Overall, it took exactly 2 hours (to the minute) from the time I rode the motorcycle into the garage with the old tires, to the time I returned to my driveway after a test ride with the new tires. I do intend to balance the wheels myself as well, I just haven’t gotten to that yet because I was too anxious for the test ride.

The new tires feel much better than the dry rotted ones that were on there since I bought the bike 8+ years ago. My friends have been telling me for years that my tires are rocks. They were right. The new ones are far less rocky.

2 comments to How I Changed The Tires On My Motorcycle With A Shovel.

  • JohnEd

    Be sure and watch the sidewall rim alignment ‘bead’ or else you’ll git a bouncy ride!
    Speaking of laundry detergent, I have my wife save the used up containers. There is just the right amount of soap mix when filled with water and the thumb squizzle tap works great for washing semi-clean hands.

  • Tom C

    I was 170 miles into a 1000 mile in 24 hours Iron Butt ride when the shifter linkage on my motorcycle “disassembled” itself. I am not a quitter. In fact of all the riders that started the ride, I was the only successful rider to complete 1024 miles in less than 24 hours (I logged over 700 miles in the rain). Anyway, the linkage … I pulled into a service station following the Joe Nemecheck hauler, coasted to a stop and started to work. 15 minutes later I was gassed up, linkage fixed using 3 zip ties and I was on the road ahead of Joe. I passed him in the pits! But I am glad I didn’t have to change a tire…

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