Motorcycle Tires – Finally

Well, I finally got the tires mounted on my Suzuki.

As mentioned earlier, I mounted the tires myself, to save the $150 the dealer would have charged. Of course, I had to buy a set of tire irons, and altogether, it probably took me around four hours.

I did the back tire first. Removing the wheels went exactly as predicted by the manual, and with a little help from my son, J, I finally broke the bead off the rim with the use of a middling-sized C-clamp. It took several tries.

These are spoked rims, so the tires have inner tubes. First you use the tire-irons to pry one side of the tire bead off of the rim, then you fish the inner tube out, then you pry the other side of the tire off the rim. This takes about three hands, but it is manageable with just two. It helps to set the wheel on the floor so you can use your knees. Ow.

Also, note: tire irons, when left in place to hold a position, are under tension. They can hurt you if the tire moves and they can flip around when your hand isn’t on them. Ow. At one point I had the end of one narrowly miss my face – an incident from which I learned, and made darn sure it didn’t happen again.

Pay attention to the rotation arrow on the tire. Motorcycle tires are unidirectional, unlike car tires. Even though I knew this, and checked it, I still somehow managed to put the back tire on backwards, and had to take it back off. I made doggone sure I had the front one on the right way!

In removing the front tire from the rim, I managed to pinch the tube, which punctured it. So I had to go find a 21″ inner tube. That, and rain, caused a week-long wait to finish the job.

After assembling the front tire, I used the shaft and a couple of jack-stands to spin the wheel to balance it. Not having any of the proper weights, I used some heavy gage copper wire that I happened to have on hand. I’d spin the tire gently and see which side came to the bottom. Then I cut a piece of wire and taped it to the spoke closest to the top of the wheel (opposite the heavy side). Repeat until the wheel no longer brings any particular side to the bottom.

Remove the taped-on wire and lay it all in a line, cut one piece that length. Weave it between the spokes, centered on the one spoke that the pieces had been taped to. Bend the ends around the spokes near the end of the wire (hard, because it was seriously stiff wire). Crimp to the spoke at those bends, and put a bit of tape in the middle to keep it from moving around.

Mounted the front tire on the bike, checked everything, and test rode it. It’s all good, so if there’s still air in the tires tomorrow morning, I’ll be riding it to work.

I plan to buy actual made-for-the-purpose motorcycle tire weights to replace my improvised weight. What I did works fine, but looks tacky.

-Popgun

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One Response to Motorcycle Tires – Finally

  1. Ali says:

    *sigh*

    Why don’t they make everyone take shop? I never knew what the process to “balancing” a tire was. . .

    Am now adding “Tire Balancing” to my wiki list.

    Congratulations, and have fun riding!

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