You’re riding along on the trail, having a blast on a beautiful day, and all of a sudden, your bike starts weaving around like it was the one that had one too many drinks around the campfire last night. Dang, you got a flat. Or, you walk into the garage and look at your bike, and the rear tire looks more like a road racing slick than a proper knobby. It’s time to change it. Either way, no one really looks forward to changing tires or tubes. Luckily, Motion Pro has a lot of tools to help make your life easier when it comes time to work on your tires. Let’s look at some of the tools that we have available for you.
Motion Pro makes a wide variety of tire levers, from simple steel levers to our trick T-6 Combo Levers, and there is something to fit every job and budget. A particularly cool item is the BeadPro™ Tire Levers, which can assist with breaking the bead on tires, even stubborn tubeless tires.
One of the worst things about changing tires is it seems like two hands are never enough. Luckily, the Motion Pro Bead Buddy® II can help you out. The Bead Buddy® II is like a third hand, holding the bead down into the drop center of the rim, reducing the load on your tire levers and making the job easier. For the trail, the T-6 Trail Bead Buddy® can get the job done.
So now you have your tools all together, and it’s time to change the tire. One more thing that will help make this job easier is a tire changing stand, luckily, Motion Pro makes the super handy Tire Station. It is an ideal, secure, comfortable place for tire changing, but with a unique twist. The Tire Station is designed to hold a 5 or 10 gallon air tank. It functions like a normal ring type tire changing stand with the added bonus of capturing your air tank inside. The Tire Station also acts like a roll cage for your air tank, protecting the valves and gauge. Now that’s convenient!
Okay, we’re ready to go. But first, a quick word of caution: Changing tires can be dangerous! You are working with pressurized air, and using high leverage to remove a tire. If you do something wrong, it is easy to injure yourself. The best way to learn to remove and install tires is to learn from someone who is experienced in this work.
Start by removing the valve core to get all the air out of the tube (If you have Bib Mousse inserts or Tire Balls, we will have to address your situation in a different article). Once the air is out of the tire, loosen the nut holding the valve stem in place, loosen the rim lock, and push both back into to the tire. Then push the bead down into the rim away from the edges all the way around both sides of the tire.
Orient the wheel so that the rim lock is at the six o’clock position (closest to you). Insert your first tire lever at the three o’clock position, make sure the rim lock is pushed into the tire, lever the tire up, and hook the lever under the sprocket or rotor. With your second tire lever, insert it about an inch farther anti-clockwise, and pull the tire up out of the rim. Repeat this anti-clockwise around the tire, it will get easier as more tire is pulled up from the rim. Just remember to take small portions of the bead at a time. If you try to pull too much the effort goes way up. Also, make sure the bead that is still on the rim is down in the drop center of the wheel. Once the tire is all the way up outside the rim, you can pull the tube out of the tire (don’t forget the nut holding the valve stem in).
Now flip the wheel over, and pull the tire up over the rim on the other side. Now your tire will hang on the outside of both sides of the rim, and you can just reach in and twist the wheel out of the tire. This way you don’t have to remove the rim lock.
When it’s time to reinstall the tire and the tube, the operation is pretty much the reverse of what you did to remove it. There are a few special things to look out for, though.
Before reinstalling the tire, inspect the inside of the tire for debris or sharp objects and insure that the rim tape is intact (for the best protection, use Motion Pro Armor Rim Tape). Install the rim lock first, and make sure to get the rim lock inside the tire before trying to mount the tire on the rim. Some tires are soft enough that you can just push the first side on without using any levers. Tire mounting lubricant, soapy water or Windex helps make this easier. If the tire is stiff, you can push most of it on working from the rim lock as your starting point, and then use a lever for the last bit. Once the first side of the tire is on, now it’s time for the tube. It’s best to put the valve core back in at this point, and add a little air to the tube, just enough so it holds its shape. Too much, and it will be difficult to install the tire, and it is possible you will pinch the tube. Too little, and you can twist the tube, and you risk pinching here, too. Some talcum powder on the tube will help make it easier to get it inside the tire. Insert the valve stem portion first, and wrestle it around until you can push the valve stem through the hole in the rim. Thread the valve nut on just a couple of threads to hold it in place, but not too much. You will see why in a moment. Now insert the rest of the tube inside the rim. Pull the tire up some around the rim to make sure the tube is straight, and then push it down so the tube is centered over the rim all the way around.
Now take a deep breath, and maybe a sip of your favorite beverage. You are almost there, but like Mount Everest, the last part is the hardest.
When levering the second side of the tire over the rim, it is important to take your time, take small portions of the tire at a time, and try not to rush things. This is the time you can pinch your tube, and nothing is more frustrating than airing up your freshly mounted tire that you worked so hard on, to hear an air leak. So, ready to go?
Loosen the rim lock nut almost all the way off the rim lock, and push the rim lock into the tire. Use one tire lever to lever the bead over the rim at the rim lock, and then you can let the rim lock go once the tire is in place. With the rim lock at six o’clock (again, closest to you) you can push the tire down over the rim by hand for about 120-180 degrees of the rim, moving counterclockwise. Now insert the Bead Buddy® at the three o’clock position and keep going around the rim, this time with the tire lever, making sure just to take small portions of the bead at a time. Keep an eye on the bead you have already inserted, to make sure it is still in the drop center of the rim. Again, you can use some sort of lubricant on the tire bead to make this easier.
A hint about using your tire lever when installing a tire: When levering the bead onto the rim, never pivot the lever much past vertical. Going past vertical is one of the biggest causes of a pinched tube. With the lever just past vertical, the tire should slide on its own down the lever and into the rim. Sometimes a little extra nudge is necessary.
Once you get within a couple of inches of the rim lock, if everything is okay, you should be able to push the last bit over by hand. Whew! The tough bit is done. Now is the time to make sure the valve is in the right place. Remember when we left the nut on with a couple of threads? This will keep you from pushing the valve all the way into the rim, losing it, and then swearing a blue streak and worrying your neighbors. Just push the valve stem in enough to make sure it is not trapped by the bead of the tire. Yep, this is another cause of pinch flats... Check around the tire rim to make sure everything is looking good, and now we are ready to air it up!
Now, there is a whole mob of lawyers standing behind me as I write this, and they say that I have to say again how dangerous compressed air is, and that you can be seriously injured if there is a bead failure. This is not something to be trifled with, lawyers or not. I have seen tires fail, and you don’t want it to happen to you. Wear gloves if you can, and certainly wear safety glasses too. And tell Junior to go and play in the yard for a few minutes...
You do have an air compressor, right? I hope so. In a pinch, I have used a bicycle pump to air up a newly mounted tire, but you should be prepared to work at it for a LONG time, and be a quivering wreck when you are done. Just go and buy an air compressor if you don’t have one, and while you are at it, you can get some of those cool air tools you have been drooling over at the hardware store.
Sorry, I digress. Two things, they are safety oriented and then we can get to work. One, KEEP YOUR HANDS AWAY FROM THE BEAD OF THE TIRE WHEN IT IS INFLATING!!! I can’t say this strongly enough, you will have somewhere between 40 and 60 psi in the tire to seat the bead of the tire, and you don’t want your precious fingers anywhere near that. If you can, use a valve connector that has a lock on it to hold it on the valve and a remote trigger to pressurize the tire. This way your hands are away from the bead as it is seating. Second, you are wearing those safety glasses right?
Okay, back to work. At this point you can tighten the valve stem nut most of the way, and attach your air hose to the valve. Pressurize the tire, and keep a (safety glass covered) eye on the bead. There will most likely be a couple of pops as the bead seats. If you get to about 60psi and you haven’t heard the bead seat, STOP and let the pressure out and see what the problem is. Anything higher than 60psi is very dangerous, to you and to the tire. If the tire bead won’t seat, use some more lube around the bead, to help it slide in place. Sometimes pushing it all back down and starting over with inflation works as well.
Once you’ve heard both sides of the tire seat, you can remove the air chuck, reinsert the valve core and air the tire up to the proper pressure. Motion Pro makes a variety of pressure gauges, we are sure to have one that will suit the range of pressure you need, from low pressure ATV tires to street tires.
The tire bead should be even all the way around the rim, with no high or low spots, and hopefully, it is holding pressure. Congrats! You did it! You can feel proud of a job well done.
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Author: Chris Van Andel