Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: The Deep South of Vermont
Tire changing my way
I decided to take a few pics during a front tire change so I could share the technique. My intention is to encourage anyone who is thinking about doing their own tires but doesn't want to spend the money or have the space to dedicate to a commercial tire changer.
I use few tools, and don't have a commercial tire changer.
One thing not pictured is a bottle of dishwashing liquid.
Warm the tires, put them in the sun or next to the woodstove for a couple of hours.
My workbench is a WorkMate; a workbench you can walk around helps, but a picnic table will do. An old car rim with a piece of old carpet on it is on top of the WorkMate. The rim is big enough that no force is applied to the brake rotors.
Tools consist of two decent comercially available tire irons and a couple of homemade long tire irons which are just pieces of pipe flattened on one end, and bent in a vice to put a little curve on the end, and then the ends dressed on a bench grinder. If you want rim protectors, pieces cut out of a laundry detergent bottle work well.
Bead breaker is a couple of big "C" clamps and a small board to place across the rim for the C-clamps to work against when breaking the bead.
Once the bead is broken at one point I use a tire iron to unseat the bead the rest of the way around. Once both beads are fully unseated I lube beads of the tire with dish detergent all the way around the tire.
Using my homemade long tire irons with the axle inserted in the wheel (for the rear wheel I put a socket extension or large diameter wooden dowel in the center bolt hole of the rear rim). Using a mallet to making sure that the bead opposite the tire irons is in the "well" of the rim and not up on the bead seat I use the two long tire irons in opposite directions, levering them against the axle.
When the tire isn't too cold, the bead is well lubricated, and the tire opposite the tire irons periodically whacked with the mallet to keep the opposite bead in the "well" of the rim, the tire slips right off the rim.
Once one side of the tire is off the rim, I flip the wheel over and do the opposite side the same way. Once both beads are outside the rim, it is relatively easy to pull the rim out of the tire.
For mounting the new tire I don't use my long, homebrewed tire irons. I just lube up the new tire, set it on the rim and muscle one side of the tire as far onto the rim as I can. Then using my two short tire irons and the mallet I work one side of the tire onto the rim. Excessive force on the tire irons is not really needed if frequent hits with the mallet keep the bead opposite the irons in the center well of the rim. A warm tire, plenty of lube, and frequent strategic hits with the mallet are key to keeping the forces on the tire irons needed to get the bead over the rim relatively low. After the first bead is fully on the rim, I proceed in the same fashion with the second bead.
Note that the new tire does not go on the same way the old one came off. On removal, each bead is pulled off its respective side of the rim, flipping the whole wheel over in the process, and then the rim is pulled out of the tire. On installation, the new tire is mounted from one side of the rim, pulling the first bead down over the rim, and then the second bead down over the same side of the rim. (Remember to observe the direction of rotation when setting the new tire on the rim... I was wholly pissed at myself once for mounting a tire wrong.... "Return to "Go", Do Not Collect $200.")
Once the beads are seated I balance with a Marc Parnes balancer. I used to use a homebrew balancing techinque but the Marc Parnes balancer has adaptors for my airheads as well as the LT and the thing doesn't take up much space. I did build a 2x4 structure to support the balancer which I attach to the WorkMate with clamps.
There is a definite learning curve with these big tires (I have been doing old tube type tires for years but those are much easier than the big LT tires) but I can change a tire in about the time it would take to get the bike to a dealer and have them do it.
Hopefully the pics will help to convey my technique.
Last edited by CharlieVT; Apr 10th, 2007 at 8:17 pm.