Whether you’re trekking down the adventurous terrain of Baja California or hanging out in your garage prepping your bike, being able to change the front tire of your Honda dirt bike is an important skill to learn. Being stranded in the middle of the desert without the right tools or struggling with a new tire in your garage all afternoon because you lack the fundamental techniques for fixing a flat a tire can put a damper on your entire day. Here are a few tire-changing steps that every rider should know before going on another long trip.
Things You'll Need
- Air pump
- Valve stem remover
- Talc-based baby powder
- 12mm wrench or socket
- 10 mm wrench or socket
- Three tire spoons
- Bead Buddy
- Spare tire
Place the bike on a stand. If you don’t have a bike stand use anything sturdy that can lift the front tire off the ground. With a socket or wrench, loosen the nuts on the right-side of the fork that holds axle shaft. Turn the axle counter-clockwise.
Remove the axle shaft and slide the front wheel off.
Place a towel on the ground and put the front tire disc-side up in order to prevent bending or damaging it.
Deflate the tube. Remove the valve core and let the air out of the tire.
Loosen the rim lock, which is located on the rim in between the spokes. Using a wrench works best. Make sure to remove it all the way down to the last thread. Insure the rim lock is free and moving.
Break the bead. The bead refers to the inner lip of the tire which pushes up against the rim, acting as a seal. It needs to be broken down in order to remove the tire. Use the palms of your hands or your heel to break the bead by pushing down on the tire sidewalls. If you’re not successful, use a tire iron and push down until the bead breaks. Do this on both sides of the tire.
Remove the tube. Use three tire irons to spoon out the tire. Place the tire irons under the tire edge, approximately four to five inches apart from each other, on the opposite side of the rim lock. If you have rim savers place them on your tire, before using the tire irons.
Press the rim lock into the bead seat as you begin to pull the first tire iron in with a little pressure. Remove your hand from the rim lock and hold the remaining two tire irons in place. Finish pulling the first tire iron all the way down. Then fold over the remaining two tire irons. Easily remove the middle tire iron, and then place it underneath the tire edge again, about four to five inches apart. Use your fingers to apply some pressure before inserting it and then fold it down.
Repeat the process along the rim. When finished reach inside and pull out the tube. Inspect the tube. If there is no visual damage you may use the same tube, but if there is tear or puncture use a new one.
Separate the tire from the rim. Flip the tire over so that the discs are facing up. Use your three tire irons to repeat the same removal process as you did with the tube in the previous step. Once the tire is loose, push it over the top of the wheel to remove it.
Inspect your wheel. If there is any dirt or debris wipe it down. Inspect the spoke nipples and insure they are not protruding. This may cause a puncture in the tube.
Replace the tube. Remember to adjust or replace the valve stem first. Add a little air to the tube to prevent twisting when slipping it back in the tire. In addition add baby powder to the tube in order to reduce friction.
Tuck the tube inside the tire starting with the valve first. Once in place check the rim lock to make sure it’s in place.
Install a new tire. Start with the disc-side up and place the tire over the rim.
Add some lubricant that will make attaching the tire easier, such as Windex or soapy water. Be liberal with the application.
Start at the bolt lock and push it in order to make room for a “Bead Buddy” to fit between the wheel and rim; this device keeps the bead down and prevents the tire from folding back in. Try not to pinch the tube. Use the tire irons to spoon the tire back on. Remove the “Bead Buddy.”
Inflate the tube. After the tire is on, check to see if you’ve pinched the tube. If you have not, add air to the tube until the bead pops out. Then tighten the rim lock and valve stem nuts.
Mount the wheel back on the bike, but be aware of the front brake pads as they sometimes tend to interfere with re-installing the wheel. If you have another biker assisting you, he can guide around the brake pads so as not to hit them.
Once in place tighten the axle shaft and nuts.
Tips & Warnings
- When changing your tire, remember that it's all about technique. If you're struggling with one of the steps, you may need to tweak your technique.
- The more you change the tire, the better you'll get at it.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images