Friday, July 18, 2008

I Change my First Motorcycle Tire

Today the tire irons from Adventure Motostuff, they had been due this Monday but UPS managed to lose the contents of the first shipment and the motostuff people had to re-ship me another set.

The black curved one is well worth the $15 I paid for it

I was now officially out of excuses for trying out my first tire swap on a motorcycle. As I'd mentioned before, the thread depth on the Metzeler ME77s that came with Brigitta on the front had been approaching the TWI or Tire Wear Indicator so it was time to get new rubber on her front wheel. Not to mention I did not like the way the tire performed on grooved pavement.

I referenced several DIY sites on the Net, using bits and pieces out of each one to prepare and actually do the tire swap, they're worth reading thoroughly: LINK1, LINK2, LINK3 and LINK4. Thanks to these guys' efforts, the job was accomplished with not much cursing and no injuries!

Here's Brigitta with a floor jack supporting her oil pan as instructed in the manual for when I removed her front tire. This is important as you don't want the front forks to come crashing down once you've removed the wheel. Right?


I started getting things ready when I got home and was removing the front tire by 1430hrs. I followed the directions on the Clymer Manual to the letter and the tire came off pretty easy. Because the previous owner had put 100/90 size tires on her, I had to also remove the left brake caliper in order to slide the tire out once I removed the axle. No big deal.

Next I broke the bead on the tire using the method I found at webbikeworld: LINK

Here's my $4 tire bead breaker setup:

The bottom 2x4s prevent damage to the brake rotors!

Breaking the bead, once I figured out the right angles on the pieces of wood turned out to be a snap. Note to self, next time, remove the tire valve core BEFORE trying to compress the tire down, works much better to let ALL the air out!

The bead broken I then spent the next 30-40 minutes with my loving wife lending a hand as I used tire irons for the first time in my life. I used a cut-up plastic bottle of motor oil as the source of plastic strips to protect the rim's finish by the way. A small bit of cursing, some trial and error, a couple of breaks and some thinking later, we had the wheel out of the tire! Yes! I did however forget to take a picture, sorry. AND, I managed to not damage the brake rotors!

Next, make damn sure you followed the instructions in the links above and marked the direction of rotation somewhere on your wheel! Then, match it with the rotation arrow on your tire! It would really suck if you went through the motions of putting on the new tire only to find you put it with the thread pattern on backwards! I triple-checked this step.

I used a marker to put a small arrow on each side of the wheel

Next, I worked the new Metzeler ME880 100/90 tire onto the wheel, had to use a little bit of soapy water but finally did get the lower bead onto the wheel. After lining up the red dot the maker put on the tire indicating lightest point of the tire with the valve stem, next came some more mild cursing, a big helping hand from my loving wife (thanks Dear!), some careful use of the tire irons and voila, got the upper bead to be inside the rim as well....ready for inflation.

Almost that is. Now came the point where I had to use the dispenser that came with the dynabeads I'd bought on Monday from the local dealer. 2 ounces is what I was told to use and 2 ounces is what I put in. Others in the online forums I frequent had raved about this balancing method, the local motorcycle rental outfit uses them so I figured why not? It beat paying some bucks for a tire balancing setup. Here's a link to dynabeads for more information: LINK.

The insertion of the beads took some time, 20-30 minutes perhaps as the feed of the ceramic beads via the valve stem takes time, patience and a lot of tapping against the side of the tube.



Finally, all 2 ounces was inside the tire, I dropped one or three beads but I don't think that'll matter. I put the valve stem back on and hooked up the air compressor to the valve stem.

I set the compressor at 40 PSI and slowly inflated the tire, soon I heard some small pops, three in all I think and the bead seated on both sides, neat as you please! Take cautions when doing this, don't be bending over the tire, or have fingers anywhere near the rim and such! This Metzeler came with a line indicator all around the tire and all I had to do is make sure it was even with the rims. Easy. I even bounced the tires a bit while rotating it to ensure the beads were seated.

Here's the new tire, inflated and ready for installation back onto the front forks.


As I went to install the wheel back onto the front forks, I found I had to now also remove the right-side brake caliper to ease the tire easily into its place. I put a bit of axle grease onto the axle and it slid it in with just a bit of effort. I made sure to replace the spacers, got every bolt tightened to specified torque values per the manual using my torque wrenches and I was done! Wow. 2.5 hrs overall, not too bad.

Yeah, sure I could have taken it to the shop, they'd have done it in 30 minutes and charged me only $60 but now I know I can do it if I have to on the side of the road, I can save myself the $60 each time I need a tire change and it's one more step towards wrenching experience. Not to mention, I do it at my convenience, not at the convenience of the shop's schedule.

After dinner, I went out for a test ride and the tire was perfect! I went through some grooved pavement (not the really bad stuff, did not have the time to go to the nearest section of road that was being prepped for new asphalt) and the tire was much better! Sure, I could still feel the grooves but the front wheel did not want to wander anymore!

Only did about eight miles but the tire felt fine. I didn't go above 55mph during the ride but I'll do that tomorrow to ensure the dynabeads are doing their job of balancing my tire.

A final shot of the new rubber on the front of Brigitta, no injuries to me, the tire performed fine during the test ride, it's all good!

1 comment:

dave said...

Thanks for the play-by-play. I'll need new rubber next season and I've been wondering if I could change my own. Sounds like a manageable job.