Riding dirt bikes is an expensive hobby.
You've got the cost of the bike and unless your backyard is connected to a trail system or the open desert you'll need to transport your bike to the appropriate place to ride. Did we mention maintenance? It's not like a car. Maintenance is an after-every-ride type of thing to keep your dirt bike in good mechanical condition.
The costs add up and wherever you can DIY-it, you're not only investing in the machine you ride but you're saving money too. Most dirt bike owners can perform some basic routine maintenance like oil changes, air filter replacement and even bleeding the brakes.
One task you might think is best left for a mechanic but is something you can easily do yourself is changing a dirt bike tire. We won't lie - it's a pain at first. In fact, it might even be maddening but with the right tools, a lot of patience and some practice eventually you'll get to charge your friends to change the tires on their dirt bikes. Changing your own tires can save you anywhere from $20 to $60 per tire.
Removing a dirt bike tire is done primarily for two reasons - new tires and/or new inner tubes. A flat tire usually means a hole in the tube and regular routine maintenance tells you when it's time for new tires.
Tools to Change a Dirt Bike Tire
- Three tire irons
- Rim Shields
- Tire stand with bead breaker
- Work gloves
The first step is to loosen the rim lock. Next remove all the air out of your tire. Squeeze it till it's flat or just remove the valve stem. The more air you can remove the easier your task of changing the tire.
Pop the rim lock in and use a tire iron to break the bead of the tire or use your knee and press down on the tire. Turn the tire on its opposite side and follow the same steps.
Use rim shields to prevent scratching or bending the rim when using the tire iron if you have colored rims. Use one tire iron to lift a section of tire away from the rim and use a second iron to extract the rest of the tire from the rim. A third iron can be used to lift the opposing side of the bead if desired. Work your way around until this section of tire is completely free from the rim.
Flip the tire around and repeat the above. Once both sides of the tire bead are loose you can remove the tube. If you're only changing the tube you only need to remove one side of the bead.
Whether or not you're changing the inner tube, tire or both - before installing inspect the bead lock and rim tape. If the rim tape is torn up you can buy a replacement, however you can also use duct tape in its place if needed. The rim tape serves as a barrier between the spoke nipples and the inner tube. It's a good idea to just use a new tube, however you can inspect and reuse the old inner tube.
Next, spray the rim and bead of the tire liberally. Windex, soapy water or a lubricant like Maxima's SC1 work well. The lubrication allows the tire to slip over the rim far easier than without and prevents damage to the rim or tire during installation.
You're now at the point where most people run into difficulty. This is where patience and perseverance really pays off. Take your time! If you run into trouble - take a break and come back to it.
Ensure the rim lock is in place and using the tire stand place the tire (without the tube) over the rim and secure one side of the bead. You'll use the tire irons again to wrap the tire around the rim. Once you're ready to install the tube fill the tube with a slight amount of air so it's rigid. Some people rub baby power on the tube before installing to prevent chaffing.
Line-up the tube with the valve stem hole and install the valve stem first. Work the tube inside the tire. Find the rim lock and install the nut. Grab a tire iron and push the section of tire around the rim lock into the rim. Hold the first tire iron around the rim lock steady and use a second tire iron to work the rest of the tire inside the rim. A bead buddy really helps in this instance to keep the opposite side from popping out. Once half the tire is securely inside the rim you can remove the first tire iron and work on the rest of the tire.
Overinflate the tire to get the bead to pop. Set the tire pressure for riding (typically 11-13 psi), tighten the rim lock down and valve stem.
Get out and ride!
Written By: AndrewT