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Dirt Bike Tire Change Guide

Wednesday, April 8, 2009
This guideline is for rear tire changes. Performing a change on the front tire is very similar but requires less detail than a rear tire. If you can figure out how to swap out the drive wheel then a front will be a piece of cake. Having the proper equipment is important and there is a host of products on the market that can help make this job easier. However, in order to serve even the lowliest garage monkey, this is an example of a good, old-fashioned tire change that can be performed at home or on the trail. So good luck, and remember that it gets a little easier every time as you get familiar with the process.

Refer to the tire changing photo gallery for full-size pictures of each step.

Tire Change Steps:

Step 1: Remove the wheel
With the bike on a stand, remove the rear wheel and set aside the axle, axle spacers, wheel spacers and washers where they won’t get in the way. Keeping track of them is easiest by putting them all together on the axle and screwing on the lock nut.

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.
2). Loosen the valve stem lock nut and then remove the valve stem core. 
Step 2: Deflate the tube 
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.

Step 3: Break the bead
Break the bead on both sides. Use your hands to break the bead by pushing downward on the sidewalls. If too difficult to perform by hand, try using a tire spoon to leverage downward. If that also fails, stand with one foot on each side of the tire and press down and inward with your bodyweight. Make sure to spread the weight as evenly as possible on opposite edges to avoid bending the sprocket or brake rotor. Flip the tire back to the sprocket-side-down position when both sides have been popped.

Step 4: Starting opposite of the rim lock  place three tire spoons roughly four inches apart under the tire edge. Pry the first one over and tuck it under the brake rotor followed by the next two. Remove the first and place it another four inches beyond the third and continue to work around the rim until the entire side is free.
4). Start spooning opposite the rim lock, using multiple spoons to lift the edge.
Step 4: Spoon off the tire
Starting opposite of the rim lock, place three tire spoons roughly four inches apart under the tire edge. Pry the first one over and tuck it under the brake rotor followed by the next two. Remove the first and place it another four inches beyond the third and continue to work around the rim until the entire side is free.

Note: Larger spoons provide more leverage, but small, trail-sized spoons can be locked under the sprocket or brake rotor and act as a spare hand.

Step 5: Remove tube
Pull the tube out of the tire, replace the valve stem core. Inspect for signs of wear and set aside. Do not remove the rim lock or rubber strap

Step 6: We use the over-over technique which might seem counterintuitive at first  but with the sprocket side up  perform the same spooning action and pull the tire over the edge of the rim so that the wheel is completely inside the tire. Stand the wheel up and rotate it until the bead lock is at the bottom nearest the floor. Bounce the wheel to force the rim in to the tire cavity. This should create a gap at the top. Grab the rim and the tire above it and force it off the wheel. This will take a little muscle  but if the rim is deep enough into the tire it will flex and come about halfway off. This will allow you to pull the rim upwards and free of the tire.
6). Pull the tire over the edge of the rim using a little elbow grease.
Step 6: Pull the rim
We use the over-over technique which might seem counterintuitive at first, but with the sprocket side up, perform the same spooning action and pull the tire over the edge of the rim so that the wheel is completely inside the tire. Stand the wheel up and rotate it until the bead lock is at the bottom nearest the floor. Bounce the wheel to force the rim in to the tire cavity. This should create a gap at the top. Grab the rim and the tire above it and force it off the wheel. This will take a little muscle, but if the rim is deep enough into the tire it will flex and come about halfway off. This will allow you to pull the rim upwards and free of the tire.

Note: Setting the complete wheel and new tire in the sun for awhile before starting this process will help soften the rubber and make it more pliable.

Step 7: Inspection
Clean and check the rim, bead lock and rubber seal for wear or damage. Replace as needed.

Step 8: Starting with the sprocket side  spoon the new tire onto the rim. Start at the rim lock and push the bolt to create space for the tire bead to fit between. You should be able to force at least half of the tire on by hand before using the spoons.
Note: Use Windex to lubricate the rubber. Window cleaner is slick but evaporates quickly once the job is done. Use it liberally and don’t be afraid to give the tire an extra quirt if it starts to dry out. Soapy water works as well  or in a pinch  like on the trail  just water is better than nothing.
8). Push the bolt of the rim lock to create space for the tire bead to fit between it and the wheel.
Step 8: Install new tire
Starting with the sprocket side down, spoon the new tire onto the rim. Start at the rim lock and push the bolt to create space for the tire bead to fit between. You should be able to force at least half of the tire on by hand before using the spoons.

Note: Use Windex to lubricate the rubber. Window cleaner is slick but evaporates quickly once the job is done. Use it liberally and don’t be afraid to give the tire an extra quirt if it starts to dry out. Soapy water works as well, or in a pinch (like on the trail) just water is better than nothing.

Step 9: Install tube
It’s a good rule of thumb to replace tubes whenever you change a tire, but if the original is still usable then it’s ok to re-install it. Locate the valve stem hole from the sprocket side. 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 again. Place a foot in the middle of the wheel hub 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 starting with the valve stem. Once the stem is through, use the lock nut to keep the stem from pulling back through the hole. Proceed around the rim making sure that the tube isn’t twisted or folded on itself. It helps to have a little air in the tube, but not enough to stretch the rubber. Once the tube is fully installed, adust it as necessary to make sure the valve stem isn't crooked.

Step 10: Starting at the rim lock  place one spoon on either side and use your hand to push the rim lock bolt to create space for the tire. Spoon the tire into place and use the third spoon to move about halfway up the rim on either side in small increments. Make sure that the tire bead is pushed down into the rim well on both sides to allow the tire to spoon on with less resistance. If you find yourself fighting the tire excessively on the spoons  make sure the bead is pushed down. This can be the difference between a ripped bead  sweat and cursing or a simple installation. Don’t forget the Windex!
10). Anchor two tire spoons and use the third to move up the rim gradually.
Step 10: Finish spooning tire
Starting at the rim lock, place one spoon on either side and use your hand to push the rim lock bolt to create space for the tire. Spoon the tire into place and use the third spoon to move about halfway up the rim on either side in small increments. Make sure that the tire bead is pushed down into the rim well on both sides to allow the tire to spoon on with less resistance. If you find yourself fighting the tire excessively on the spoons, make sure the bead is pushed down. This can be the difference between a ripped bead, sweat and cursing or a simple installation. Don’t forget the Windex!

Step 11: Air the tire
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.

Step 12: Install the wheel
Replace the wheel and make sure the axle is clean and has fresh grease. Adjust the chain as needed and go ride. (For more details on this check our Dirt Bike Axle and Chain Adjustment Guide.)

Bike courtesy of Oregon Motorcycle Adventures.

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Comments
Paul -Front tire  August 11, 2009 07:14 AM
how do Itake off the fron tire to change it?
Jeff -Tires  May 22, 2009 08:41 AM
Isnt there a machine to change it?
Ralph -cool  April 12, 2009 01:30 PM
that is a good thing to do becuase ocording to my coculations 2 divded by the quantity is 5 to the third power