Tyre Changing & Balancing


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How to change a motorcycle tyre and balance the wheel

Andy M wrote a good account on how to change a tyre on the group mailing list (Mon Aug 9, 2004) therefore we have saved it here

Disclaimer - I am not an expert, this is not advice, it is just a description of what I do, if you want to copy what I do then it is at your own risk!  - Andy

"I also was fed up not only with the cost but the pain of going to the garage/shop. I now have complete freedom when I want to change tyres.

I purchased a wheel balancer from I think M&P, not sure whether they still carry them since their business reduction but these are fairly easy to get hold of. I think it was about £70. Then you need the stick on wheel weights. You can buy them in small packs but that means they are well expensive. I eventually found this contact -

'Auto 4, unit 8, Barrett Ind. Park, Southall, Middlesex' tel 0208 574 8144.

They sell you a pack of say 25 strips for about £13 if I recall. I bought two boxes which is about a 10 year supply so you only need one!

Then the bead breaker, I used to do this by hand but it was too difficult. At the time I couldn't find a motorcycle bead breaker so in the end as I was running out of time I bought a 'hand' car tyre changing machine. Very simple, no motors or anything for about £70. Can't recall where I bought this but I think I surfed the internet for it. ("sure it was Machine Mart" - Andy)

It may have been that specialised tool place that you see advertised a lot (red banner title) but I can't remember the name ( I think Seeleys will sell one but I don't think I used them).

This machine had a bead breaker on it which is just about appropriate for bike tyres. So it costs a bit to set up but when I was paying best part of £220 for a couple of tyres plus the travel and time waste to get to the shops for tyre changes.

Of course you need tyre levers (and I also had a compressor anyway - which you need to get the tyres to fit to the rims - a foot pump will just not work) - you can also use rim protectors but they are fiddly, and lubricant but I just use washing up liquid.


  • Take valve out
  • Break bead on both sides.
  • Lubricate tyre round edge
  • Use levers to get one side off, fiddly and it is a knack - care to not damage your rims, not too much force on the rims.
  • Pull off one side of tyre.
  • Use tyre lever to just hook the other side of the tyre over the rim and then it is pretty easy to just push the tyre right off.
  • Lubricate new tyre all around one side
  • You can just push the tyre on for the first side with your hands so you only need tyre levers on the other side.
  • Again it is fiddly to get the last tyre side on, be careful about using too much force, again you don't want to damage the paint too much and also you could buckle the rim if you go 'ape'. have patience and if tough, go inside and have a beer - you will get the technique eventually.
  • Once on, inflate tyre with compressor (no valve), make sure it seats on the rim.
  • Usually you will get a couple of loud pops (bangs) as the bead finally seats.
  • Really check that it has seated squarely (or is that roundly) on the rim.
  • Deflate, put in valve and inflate to correct pressure.

This is another knack area.

  • Put it on the wheel balancer which is just a spindle on bearings.
  • Wait until wheel settles, this will be the heaviest weight down.
  • Turn lowest part of wheel to 9 o'clock and then let go. See how fast it goes to 6 o'clock.
  • Guess a test weight, a few squares of weight strip normally.
  • Put test weight nominally at 12 o'clock - just press enough for the weight to hold as you are likely to have to cut it or add more.
  • Move bottom of wheel to 9 o'clock, let it go, does it move? does it go up or does it go down.
  • If no move, then you may be close, move wheel to 3 o'clock and see whether it moves
  • If it goes up, then you have too much weight on the strip
    If it goes down then you have too little weight on the strip.
  • Modify weight and repeat.

It will take you time to get it right, but after a few tyre changes you can usually get it in 1 or 2 goes.

Once you have the right test weight, I usually use a fresh weight of the same length so that it attaches cleanly to the rim, make sure you clean the rim before hand otherwise it will not stick.

Getting the weight wrong on the rear wheel is not the worst problem, getting it wrong on the front can be dangerous so spend extra time on the front.

There you go.

Andy M



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