HOW2: Change your Own Tyres

andrew Maintenance, Tutorials Leave a Comment

I just threw a new set of Pirelli Angel GT tyres on the VFR yesterday. It took, all in, about 2 hours to do. That’s a record for me. Having done the job before, I knew what was required, I also knew that it’s more about technique than brute force. But we learn in life from doing, busting a gut, and realising there is an easier way.

My tools? A Powerpack / Compressor, three tyre levers, three rim protectors and a Valve Core Tool. The other ‘specialist tools’ were a bottle of Muc-Off Bike Cleaner (as lubricant) a plank of wood and another small piece of wood I found lying about the garage. Oh, and a brick wall. I have a wheel balancer, but the wheels were fine.

The various bits of wood and the brick wall were required for the hardest task, breaking the beads of the tyres, the rest was pretty easy with generous application of lubricant and the correct technique, which means working steadily round with three levers and protectors, and making sure the bead nearest you into the middle portion of the wheel.

If you’re in the market for rim guards I use those cream coloured ones with a bit of string on. They are sold by laser, sealed and various other brands and you can get them on eBay and Amazon. The tyre levers I use are Sealey Deluxe tyre levers. I use three which is necessary for the job. Two wouldn’t be enough. One holds the position, and two are used to alternately advance the tyre over the rim.


you’ll need three of these…..


and three of these…..

Technique Technique Technique….

The key to the whole process, including the initial bead breaking, is plenty of lube coupled with good technique. You can’t get enough lubrication when you’re man-handling industrial rubber. Remember these tyres stay in place on the wheel by their own friction. That’s a lot of friction force, so if you want to get around it , and if you don’t want to sweat a lot, you’re going to need some water based spray to slip it all up. I used Muc-Off Bike Cleaner as I have a bottle in the garage and it dries non-greasy, but window cleaner works too. Don’t use oil, for obvious reasons.

  1. The first task is to break the bead. First you need to let the air out of the tyre. Remove the valve core with a Valve Core Tool, and using your plank and block and a wall to lever it against, push down the tyre edge until it pops over the bead. Spray on lubricant liberally to aid the process. Once it is broken, push the bead down all the way around. Flip the wheel over and repeat the exercise on the other side. If your wheel in question has brake disc(s) present, prop the rim up on a bit of wood to keep it off the floor.
  2. Press down the bit of the tyre nearest you until it is in the middle of the wheel. This is going to make it easier to get the opposite edge of the tyre over the rim. In the middle of the wheel, the diameter is smallest, and this makes the effective wheel diameter shortest at this point, which should make it easier to get the other side off. Every millimetre counts in this situation. Install your rim protectors and start to lever the tyre off the rim, working your way around. Once you have one side off, the other side should come off easily with enough lubrication and a single tyre lever.
  3. With the tyre off, now clean up your wheel, inspecting it for damage. If your valve is in poor condition, replace it with a new one. Now your new tyre is ready to go on. When your’e fitting the tyres, check the direction of the wheel and tyre match. Also, the two red dots should match up with the valve. If the wheel has brake discs present, place the rim on two planks of wood to protect them, keeping discs off the floor during the tyre change.
  4. Getting the tyre on the rim requires just a bit of lubrication and your body weight. Spray up the rim and the tyre edge generously, and push the tyre onto the rim, making sure the dots align with the valve. It should pop straight on. Now push the outer lip of the tyre over the rim nearest you, and kneel on the tyre to get the bead into the centre portion of the wheel, as stated before. This makes the process easier (read: possible).
  5. Work your way around with protectors and tyre levers. Don’t try to take too big bites of the apple, just gradually work around a little at a time, using your protectors and levers until you have the tyre on the wheel.
  6. Spray the bead liberally, reinstall your valve core, and inflate your tyre. You are listening out for two loud pops which is the indication you have seated both beads. If you are leaking air, or your pressure rises above the recommended pressure for the tyre, stop inflating, spray the beads, and if necessary deflate the tyres, and try again. If the pressure is rising, there is no leaks, so it will just need a bit of lubrication to seat the bead properly. Keep your fingers away from seating beads, unless you want to lose them!
  7. If you have a wheel balancer, this is the time to test your wheel. I usually find with the same tyre brand that little additional balancing is required. I bought a tyre balancer from the US from Marc Parnes, but you can get them in the UK too from eBay and Amazon, likewise the weights. You’re aiming for a wheel which you can stop at any point in its rotation, and it stays stopped, if it wants to turn, it is not balanced.
  8. Repeat with other tyre. I don’t normally change both tyres at once, but the VFR is a big bike, and pretty heavy on front tyres, so I did both. By doing it myself, I reckon I saved myself at least £50. That’s a week’s shopping bill. By the way, if you’re interested, I bought my tyres online from Demon Tweeks, the company website is Demon Tweeks, and two Angel GT’s (120/70 and 180/55) cost me £224 including delivery

Photos to follow….