Tire Changing – The Dunlop Method

December 31, 2009
JC Hilderbrand
JC Hilderbrand
Off-Road Editor|Articles|Articles RSS|Blog |Blog Posts |Blog RSS

Hilde is holding down the fort at MotoUSA's Southern Oregon HQ. With world-class dirt bike and ATV trails just minutes away, the hardest part is getting him to focus on the keyboard. Two wheels or four, it doesn't matter to our Off-Road Editor so long as it goes like hell in the dirt.

Heading into desert racing our biggest fear was the idea of changing a tire out in the middle of nowhere. JC puts in some practice.
We knew there had to be a better way to change tires, so we let Jay Clark explain the standard Dunlop method. We were able to learn a few things from this tried and true technique.

Dunlop tires are some of the best and most popular motocross and off-road treads available. We’ve worn out our fair share of them, and though we’re always excited to get new ones, swapping them is never at the top of our fun list. Everyone has their own way of changing tires, but the Dunlop team all uses a single format. Jay Clark works with Dunlop through his Jay Clark Enterprises business, and during his time associated with the big D, he’s adopted the Dunlop method as well. Jay pulled us aside during our 450 Motocross Shootout to share the formula with us and demonstrate with a new Geomax MX51 tire for the 2010 Yamaha YZ450F.

Like we said, everyone has their own way of doing tires, but check out Dunlop’s guide and see if you can learn a thing or two. For us, it was laying the tube inside the tire before installing the tire on the rim, something we hadn’t considered before. It looks like a lot of information to digest, but make sure to watch the video below for a start-to-finish demonstration.

Videos Our Sponsor

Dead-blow hammer, valve stem remover, baby powder, 12mm wrench or socket, Motion Pro tire spoons (two minimum), Motion Pro Bead Buddy, tire paste, pressure gauge, and of course a good tire stand. Of course you don’t have to have a stand; it just makes it a lot easier. Wearing good work gloves will also help your grip and reduce those dreaded bloody knuckles. Let’s get started.

1. Start with the sprocket side of the wheel up.

2. Remove the valve core completely to make sure all air is out of the tube.

Step 2: Place the wheel on a hard  flat surface with the sprocket side down. Loosen the valve stem lock nut and then remove the valve stem core. Loosen the rim lock nut to the end of the threads but do not remove it. Use your fingers or a tire spoon to push the rim lock inwards so that you will be able to break the bead.
Always start with a completely flat tube by removing the valve core.

3. Loosen the rim lock nut and back completely off until it’s held by only a couple of threads.

4. With the sprocket side up, break the bead from the edge of the rim, of the used tire, work your way all of the way around the rim in this manner.

5. Flip the wheel to the disc side up and continue to break the bead all of the way around the tire. Push on the tire to ensure the bead is completely broken and then hit the rim lock loose to break the bead there.

6. While you hold the tire down off the bead with one hand, slide your spoon-style tire iron in, pull the tire out and keep the iron under the disc while you work others in.

7. Continue to slowly work your way around the tire with short bites about 1.5”-2” apart from each other. The luxury of three Motion Pro tire spoons (or more) makes it easier as you don’t have to fight and pull irons out as much.

8. Once you have the tire all the way off, pull the valve out of the rim and then pull the tube out of the tire.

9. Re-install the valve core now to ensure tube is ready for re-installing. Flip the wheel to the sprocket side and start dismounting the tire so that the tire is on each side of the rim.

10. The used tire will now easily push off of the rim.

11. Inspect the band and the rim lock to ensure that there is no debris or spoke issues.

12. Drop a bit of baby powder in the new tire to keep the tire and tube from chafing too much and wearing the tube.

13. Insert the tube into the tire and put a small amount of air (very small) to keep the tube’s shape.

Step 9: Its a good rule of thumb to replace tubes whenever you change a tire  but if the original is still usable then its ok to re-install it. Locate the valve stem hole from the side you just spooned on. Insert a tire spoon as if you are going to pull the tire back off  fold it over and pin the spoon handle under the sprocket. This will create space for you to work in when trying to install the valve stem. Flip the wheel over so that the brake rotor is up. Place a foot in the middle of the rotor and squat down to provide pressure. Lift up on the tire sidewall with one hand and use the other hand to tuck the tube inside. Once the valve stem is through  use the lock nut to keep the stem from pulling back through. Proceed around the rim making sure that the tube isnt twisted or folded on itself. It helps to have a little air in the tube  but not enough to stretch the rubber.
This is one area where the Dunlop method is superior to our previous technique where the tube was inserted after one side of the tire was mounted on the rim (shown).

14. Apply tire paste to the tire bead with a sponge, or a 50/50 mix of dish soap and water. Don’t use chemicals (like WD-40) as they can stay slippery and cause the tire to spin once on the bike.

15. Insert the valve stem into the rim with a nut to keep the tube in place.

16. With the tube in the tire, work the tire on which is relatively easy, and don’t worry about the rim lock not being on. Take small bites with your spoon around the tire and get one side completely on.

17. Flip the rim over to the sprocket side. (This is key to the Dunlop way of mounting.)

18. With two spoons, work the tire back and forth in a walking motion, and walk the tire over the rim lock.

19. While holding the tire off the bead, push the rim lock up to make sure it is over the tire. Then let the tire go back in place with the rim lock on the inside of the tire.

20. Flip tire back over and apply tire paste or soapy mix to this side as described above.

21. Using two tire irons about four inches apart, push down and insert your Bead Buddy tool to keep the tire down off the bead. I like to keep this about two inches from the valve stem.

22. Start working the tire on with small bites about 1.5” apart or so. Keep one hand pushing down on the tire to keep it off the bead. When you get to the last 6-8” you might need to push and pull on the tire to make sure that it is all off of the bead. If you do this correctly the last bite you take will be relatively easy. If it is really hard you might still need to push the tire down more.

23. Take the last few bites with tire spoons carefully; not too deep, but with good lube and the key is keep the tire pushed down off the bead it will not be too hard for these last few sections.

24. Remove your Bead Buddy with a slight pry on the tire.

Step 11: Once the tire is completely on  check for any visual signs that the tube might be pinched. Once the coast is clear  add air until the tire bead pops on both sides. If stubborn  use some more Windex to help ease it on. Often pulling the valve stem core and completely flatting the tube once or twice helps if the tube is being extremely difficult. Once the bead is secure  adjust the tire to the proper inflation and tighten the rim lock and valve stem nuts.
Proper tire inflation is critical, and the same goes for tread pattern and tire sizing. Watch for future tire tips from Dunlop to address these topics.

25. Set your tire pressure between 12-14 pounds for most use.

26. Install the valve cap so that it stops against the valve stem nut. Don’t tighten the nut down to the rim as this can cause it to rip the tube if the tire turns.

27. Tighten the rim lock nut, however be careful of over tightening as you can damage the rim.

That’s it, Dunlop’s standard motocross tire changing method. It might seem like a lot of steps, but once you practice it once or twice it won’t seem like much. Be sure to watch the video to see Jay performing these steps in person. For more information, visit Jay Clark Enterprises.