You are standing on the pegs. Riding through the most amazing single track, having fun. The fact that you are cold and wet from the rain, does not bother you at all. All is well, this is adventure. Right until the bike starts to feel weird. You stop to check and see you have a flat…

I have fixed many bicycle punctures, not a problem. But the thought of removing a motorcycle tire from its rim and putting it back on, has always intimidated me. Until last week. I ordered tools and tires from Adventure Spec and gave it a go in my shed. Better practise at home first, right?

So, this is not a tutorial how to fix your flat, there are plenty video’s on the topic. Instead I just want to share a few tips I learned from that experience.

Take your time and practise

I bought the T-6 combo levers by MotionPro and I really like them. On one side they have a tire spoon, the other side is a wrench to remove the axle nut. One of the levers has a 32mm for the rear axle, and with an adapter insert, it can be turned into a 27mm or a 22mm wrench for the front axle. The other lever has a 10mm and 12mm hex wrench to loosen lock nuts. Awesome product, light weight, fairly short so they easily fit in a little toolpack.

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MotionPro tools and Motoz RallZ tires, ready to go.
(The green slime was not used yet.)

This goes for many jobs you can run into while on the trail. Take the tools you have with you on the bike, set aside an afternoon and practise in the comfort of your workshop. I do not have a fleet of bikes to maintain, so I do not often have to change a tire. But if I do, I will use the exact same tools I bring with me on the trail. I get to know how to use them. Besides I have some money left to spend on other things.

I also bought a T-6 Trail Bead Buddy. You screw it on the rim when the first bit of tire is on the rim, to keep the bead from popping out once you start to put the rest of it on the rim. However, in my case that did not happen, with or without the bead buddy. But, I will keep it on hand, just in case.

Save your hands, wear gloves

You will be putting your fingers between metal and tough rubber a lot, especially when putting the tire back on the rim. I wore simple garden gloves, but it saved my knuckles and fingertips from chafing and scratching.

Do Not Use The Force

Although it does take some force on the tire levers to get a tire on or off the rim, it is not about brute forcing the tire into submission. When you find yourself pushing with your knees on the levers, stop and take a smaller nibble. The distance between two levers when putting the tire on is really small. If you put too much force on the bead of the new tire, you can break the bead, ruining the tire.

Put the tube in the tire before putting the tire on the rim

When researching how to do this, there seemed to be two ways to get the tube and tire around the rim:

  1. Put the new tire with one side on the rim, then feed in the tube.
  2. Put the tube in the new tire, then put the tire on the rim.
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The tire was used to protect the rim. I was not trying to put a 17″ tubeless tire on a 19″ spoked rim 🙂

Both ways can be finicky, but I much preferred the second option. Make sure you put a little bit of air in the tube (but not so much is registers on a pressure meter), so that the tube straightens itself out. My tube is an 6mm thick ultra heavy duty inner tire, which is so stiff it keeps it shape fairly easily. Hardly any air is needed when placing it in the tube.

At first, I found myself fiddling when putting the tube back in the new tire. However, when you put the tire upright, press down on it from the top, the bottom opens up and the slightly inflated tube, will easily slip in.

Check the rotational direction of the tire

I was so busy trying to figure out how to get the tire back on the rim, that I totally missed checking the direction of rotation of the tire. There are arrows on the tire indicating which way it needs to go on the rim. Mess this up, find out once the tire is on the rim, and you get to do it all again. No worries though, just more practise.

Lube the bead of the tire

When putting the tire back on the rim, you can lube the side of the tube that needs to go on the rim first. I used soapy water (washing up liquid and water in a spray bottle). That way the tire will have a lot less resistance when putting it on the rim.

Of course there are many other ways to lube a tire, but you want to make sure that:

  • You get no lube or grease on the brake disc or pads or clean those parts with brake cleaner before going riding.
  • Make sure whatever you use, does not deteriorate the rubber. When using grease, use a special rubber grease for that reason.

All in all, it really was not difficult at all. It took a lot more time then I would like to spend on the trail, but the fact that I know what to do now, means I can do it quicker next time. Also, I know I would like to fix a puncture in the front better then the rear. The tire is a lot easier to get on the rim and there are fewer bits to keep in place while putting back wheel in again. But both are not hard to do.

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Bigfoot Bike on his new shoes (Motoz RallZ)

Disclosure: None of the products or manufacturers mentioned in this article have supported this article in any way. All products I used, have been paid for out of my own wallet 🙂