Changing the tire on your dirt bike offers an excellent way to save money on a potentially high-cost undertaking. It can also produce fits of rage and an overwhelming feeling of defeat leaving you haggard and still without a ride.
Suffice it to say, the dirt bike tire change does not come easy, not at first anyway, but if you know what to expect prior to diving in you can prepare for the inevitable both mentally (having patience) and physically (having all the right tools at your disposal).
Once you notch a few tire changes under your belt the process becomes much easier and actually takes very little time at all. Therefore, having a friend with experience who can help supervise really helps. If you learn better via the hands-on route nothing gets you back on two wheels than someone with experience showing you the ropes.
Note: This covers specific problems riders tend to encounter when changing tires and the solutions. See How To Change a Dirt Bike Tire for more of a step-by-step guide on dirt bike tire installation.
What to Expect When Changing a Dirt Bike Tire
Regardless of whether you tackle the tire change yourself or with an advisor expect to encounter at least one if not more of the following problems:
- Getting both sides of the tire bead loose
- Installing the inner tube or mousse
- Getting the tire around the rim
- Seating the bead
- Proper placement of the air valve
- Pinched inner tubes
Tackling these challenges requires some specific tools. You will need:
- Tire spoons or irons
- Bead Buddy times 2
- Tire stand
Most riders use soapy water or a spray lubricant which helps the tire slip over the rim. The tire spoons and bead buddy work as extra hands and arms. The tire stand makes the whole process easier.
Loosening the Tire Bead
Deflate the tire then remove the valve core and rim lock. Break one side of the bead using a tire iron and work your way around the tire. Now you face the first challenge - releasing the bead on the other side. With one side free the other side has even more pressure making it difficult to free its grip on the rim.
- Press rim lock into the wheel
- Place bead buddy a few inches from the rim lock to hold the bead in on the loose side
- Place second bead buddy on opposite side same distance from the rim lock
- Work the bead from the rim using the tire spoons and hands
Once you have released the bead from both sides the tire comes off pretty easy especially with inner tubes since you can completely deflate those. You will need to work at it a bit if you have a mousse system installed.
Installing the inner tube or mousse
Position a partially inflated inner tube inside the new tire. You cannot install a tire with a fully deflated or fully inflated inner tube. Using baby powder helps the tube slide into place as you might find the rubber to rubber contact chaffs quite a bit.
However, most problems in this area come from installing a mousse because of its size and firmness. Use your foot to push it in by slowly working your way around the tire. You need lots of lubrication and water. Check out Off Road How To: Mousse Bib-Installation With Cody Schafer which features a video and written instruction on installing a mousse.
Getting the Tire bead Around the Rim
The tire installation process gets a bit more complicated at this point as you need to position the tire around the rim which means getting one lip of the tire carcass past the two lips of the rim. This normally easy process turns difficult with the mousse or inflated inner tube stretching the tire and leaving less room to navigate. Use lubricant to help slip the tire over and prevent rim damage. You also might benefit from using a tire spoon to leverage the tire up and over the rim.
Bead Buddies and gloves
Setting the Bead
Even veteran tire installers find setting the bead a challenge. You have to set both sides of the tire and using your hands does not work. So, grab your spoons and bead buddy. You can drop one side of the bead relatively easy but without the bead buddy you can't drop the other side. You will simply drive yourself mad popping in one side only for the other to pop out.
Therefore, drop one side and use the bead buddy to keep it in place while you work the other side in using the tire spoons. You have to work the bead buddy along the rim as you work on the other side. Move in small increments otherwise you risk popping the bead and have to start over.
Proper Placement of the Air Valve
Aligning the air valve and setting the bead actually go hand-in-hand as you need to make sure the air valve pops through the rim hole as you place the bead. If you have experience installing new tires or inner tubes on a bicycle perhaps you might recall an experience where the air valve refused to line-up and after several tries you left the valve leaning awkwardly to one side. That might work for pedal bikes but not on a dirt bike.
Ensure the air valve stands tall which might take a few attempts as the bead buddy, tire spoons and you setting the bead all have to work in unison.
Pinched Inner Tubes
Using a mousse eliminates any problems with pinching the tubes but since most riders use inner tubes pinching can become a real problem during installation. Pinching happens with the tire spoons as you place the bead or between the tire and rim once the bead gets set. Yes you can puncture the tube so don't install in a hurry and bring lots of patience. Speaking of patience...
Having a lot of patience helps when installing tires on your dirt bike. Expect to encounter problems and the only way to reduce issues or blowing your top comes from practicing. Some riders find the process so tedious and irritating they usually find someone else to install the tires either through a trusted friend or paying a shop or mechanic.
Find a talent in changing tires you just might get your track fees paid for, a few gallons of gas and some trusty riding partners.
Written By: AndrewT