Tire Repairs, Pressures,
Studding, Vibration/Thrumming, ETC!!
© Copyright, 2013, R. Fleischer
Article # 54....section12
The items shown in this article are things that some folks carry along with them on their rides; or, use at home. NOT shown are items specifically for tubeless tire repairs (I DO discuss tubeless repairs), nor many of the other
available types of tire
tools and accessories. This article is to give you ideas, a lot of hints.....and to make you
I will provide hints throughout this article, and MORE hints near the end of this article... to make tire changes or flat repairs easier for you.
How MOST tire punctures/flats occur (maybe!!):
I am not sure of the commonly held belief that the front tire
"sets up" road debris for rear tire punctures. I think
it is quite possible, and one of several ways the rear tire always gets
more punctures than the front. I have seen arguments that the use of
a mudflap on the front will reduce punctures. A few think that a mudflap
on the FRONT OF THE REAR FENDER also helps, if it sticks down very close to the
road. I think both flaps MAY WELL HELP.
I have found nothing but anecdotes; no definitive testing on how/why/details,
punctures occur. If there is such testing, I'd be interested in looking at it. I
suspect that more than one tire company has done testing in this area; but have
not looked in some years for it. I once tried to find out, from two tire
manufacturer's, and did not get much really useable information back from them.
It may be a combination of things, and that is what I believe. Various discussions and various arguments put forth (some by me!) have included weight; the high pressure-point contact of the rear tire when the motorcycle is accelerating; the fact that the rear tire slips a lot, even in cruise, even when not accelerating; etc. My own belief is it is a combination of the front tire sometimes 'picking up' debris, but probably the phenomena is PRIMARILY the driving and also when accelerating forces at the point barely ahead of the major contact area, that is responsible for flat tires. As you ride, power on just to maintain speed, and worse when accelerating, causes the rear tire tread to deform, and these help to strongly pick up the debris and force it into the tire. A factor with that particular idea is that low tire pressures probably increase the likelihood of flats, and many do not check tire pressures regularly. Perhaps secondary reasons are the rear tire slippage; with any other factors much less.
Until I get some sort of definitive answers/replies from motorcycle tire manufacturer's, the above will have to do. Meanwhile, don't ride in the middle of the lane, don't ride on shoulders of the lane, and keep your tires inflated...and INSPECT THEM regularly. A fair amount of flats occur from nails, etc., that have been in the tire for some time. Install mud flaps.
Tire Tools, etc.:
Many BMW airhead motorcycle riders have never repaired a flat tire, nor have they ever changed a
tire. Many have never seriously considered the consequences of having a flat while
on the road; especially if out of cell-phone coverage.
However...many do their own tire repairs, changes, balancing, and wheel bearing service. A LOT of $$ can be saved by doing your own servicing. Knowing it was done correctly is a big added plus.
In the middle area of the photo below is my own modified C-clamp tire
bead-breaker, note the welded-on shaped plates on the jaws/anvils.
The welded-on plates are shaped on one edge of each to match the circular portion of
the wheel rim, so as to have good wide contact with the tire bead at the rim
area. This particular C-clamp has been lightened a bit by drilling holes
in it. This
type of modified C-clamp could be taken along with you on your rides.
Those with TUBELESS tires NOT containing tubes normally do NOT take any type of bead-breaker on rides....but you may want to take along some sort of strap or rope that fits around the circumference of the tire, in case of bead seating problems during trying to re-inflate, if the bead became unseated.
The lower right area
has a weighty and
heavy duty tire bead
breaker, a bead breaker of some method is needed to do a proper repair on a
tube-containing tire. You'd likely NOT take this one on the bike due to its weight,
which is MUCH higher than it looks... but
it is OK for the home shop. Just in front of it is a modified
wrench to operate the nut of this bead-breaker, although any common
open-end wrench would do. There are many versions of bead-breakers
for motorcyclists; the one shown here is very heavy.
There are some plastic types that are much lighter, and
NOTE that some folks use one side of the center-stand to break the bead area, but I have never liked that method. If it works for YOU, then you need NO tire bead breaker. Please keep in mind that putting pressure on a brake disc and disc carrier is a VERY BAD thing to do, you could, and are LIKELY-TO, warp the disc carrier permanently. If you plan to use the centerstand, keep that in mind, and perhaps carry a piece of wood to keep the disc off the ground.
Fix-A-Flat (or similar brand of goo) is NOT overly practical, and perhaps should NOT NORMALLY be used. These SELDOM work on tube tires, but may work on tubeLESS tires. Fix-A-Flat and similar stuff makes a mess inside the tube/tire/wheel, OFTEN does NOT work (particularly tubed tires), often prevents a patch from sticking if you are forced to try that later.....and if the stuff does work, it often fails shortly thereafter. One should NEVER let a dealership repair your tire later on without first telling them that you installed that stuff. You will NOT like using solvents and rags to clean out your wheel. Most dealerships will NOT be happy finding out that your tire/tube/wheel has that messy stuff in it. Cleaning it out takes time. Time is money...out of YOUR pocket. SOME do carry these cans of pressurized goo and have had decent results. It DOES give added protection if you are doing a tubeless repair. There is also a product called SLIME, with some other brands in use too, it is installed often in bicycle tubes, as protection against flats. It does work, perhaps not so well with motorcycles.
At the lower front is a common patch kit for a TUBE-type tire. The patch kit contains patches AND A SMALL TUBE OF GLUE. BE SURE you check your glue tube now and then....even if has never been punctured for use, they have been known to dry out. Some folks replace those tubes yearly. Others, LIKE ME, purchase a larger container, usually a small metal can with a brush inside the screw top, and check it every year.
I have not shown a kit for tube-LESS tires....see information later in this article.
At the top middle area is a package containing a new spare
inner-tube. For most bikes with not hugely different front-rear sized
tires you can use a front or rear tube at front or rear in an emergency.
It is usually OK to carry just a spare rear tube, rather than a front tube or
both. Also in this photo is an old pill bottle that contains real tire talc (REAL
tire talc contains no
oils that rot tubes); needed for tube type repairs. To its right
is a plastic squeeze bottle with flip lid; one can use any sort of these
flip lid plastic bottles, such as from hair styling products, and this
particular bottle is partially filled with REAL tire lubricant liquid, made
from properly water-thinned concentrate. Some use thinned soap,
I vastly prefer
REAL tire lubricant, which actually is 'flaxsoap', which is not a soap as you
would normally think of soap. Autoparts stores carry real tire
lubricant in tubs (thin per the tub-printed information) ...one tub will last
several lifetimes for you and several friends; so share your 5 pound tub with your buddies.
Note the electric air pump with hose and electrical cord (I removed and tossed the original large plastic case before taking this photo). These are available very cheaply, often much less than $20, from such as Wal-Mart, etc. The large outer plastic case is removed, and the small fan removed by cutting the shaft with a Dremel or similar tool, and either alligator clips as shown or perhaps a BMW accessory plug attached at the other end. The current drain from the battery is fairly low for this item. Some of these pumps have air pressure gauges which can be utilized, or not. These electric pumps are now available in a SMALL package; previously they were not....so see further down this article.
The engine-driven type of pump is at the lower left in the above photo;...these come in kits with various sizes of spark plug hole adapters. Only the 14 mm spark plug adapter is shown in the photo. NOTICE above it are two coiled-up Sash Rod springs, available from any hardware store. Those two springs, when you need to use them, are wrapped around the engine cylinder and spark plug metal body, so that the removed spark plug, with its electrical cap attached! can be held to the cylinder fins, to avoid injuring the ignition system during the one-cylinder operation of the Airhead engine. If the spark plug was just laid on the engine, it could fall off, and produce an open circuit, causing a lot of $ damage to the coil(s), that might not show-up immediately. On the 1981+ models you can additionally damage the Hall device in the ignition canister, and even the ignition module under the fuel tank. Damage may not show up right away!
This next photo is another type of bead-breaker....very practical for the home user, and can easily be modified to work well with motorcycle-size wheels by removing the small vertical tab; and, perhaps extending its tail a bit, and using it with two pieces of 2 x 4 allows it to be used with single or dual disc brake wheels, without putting pressure onto the discs. This type of bead-breaker, shown here in its automobile usage style, not yet modified;....is very practical for home use, and not very expensive, and often available from such as JC Whitney; or other stores. There are motorcycle specific versions of these type of tools. If you have the room, and want a tool somewhat more suited to changing tires rather often, this is a good buy.
***There is a
bead-breaker combined with tire irons, a clever, if complicated
looking unit, that is called the TireIron BeadBrakR, sold by
I have not tried this unit myself, but have heard favorable reports from those that have purchased and used this item. It completely folds-up and is a small package, totally carry-able on your bike.
Frankly, I do almost all of my tire changes, and there have been hundreds (really!) with three old-fashioned tire spoons.
A small compressor, basically a small plastic cased version of the one in the first photo at the top of this page. This one, in its blue package (the carton it came in is in the photo), comes with a standard American cigarette lighter plug, which I changed to alligator clips. It was $9.99 at Wal-Mart. It is a bargain at that price. Those willing to have an electric compressor 'package' slightly larger than the stripped one in the first photo on this page, may well want to consider this one. I carry, on my bikes, the stripped-down one at the top of this page as it is smaller.
I do NOT recommend CO2 cartridges for repairs. Best is a cylinder pump or an electric pump as shown in the above photos. It can take way too many of the small CO2 cartridges to fill a tire adequately, typically even a handful will only fill the tire partially. Even the larger CO2 cartridges are not adequate many times. Also, if you have to refill the tire if the repair worked only partially in such as seating the bead, you'll likely have no more cartridges. More on cartridges a few paragraphs below!
For TUBELESS TIRES (no tubes inside) repairs when on the road,
you should carry on the bike some sort of tire plugging devices and tools for
them. One common brand is Stop&Go, either the standard model 1075 gun type, or the
compact hand unit model 1000. NOTE that the Stop & Go tire plugs are
also useable for steel belted tires, but
with steel belted tires the injury hole MUST be reamed
really well, with the tool included, before installing
the plug. Failure to do that will likely result in the plug being sheared
and permitting a leak very soon. In general, I
recommend the StopnGo smaller
plugger kit, and ALSO recommend you carry BOTH their plugs PLUS some sticky-strings ...and
cement. Even in quite egregious instances, having a plugger kit, sticky
strings, and extra cement, can be very worthwhile. I personally have had a VERY bad and large tire puncture,
not a round hole either, and had to use BOTH sticky strings AND
mushroom plugs. Here is a photo and some text about what went into that tire:
When this nasty bit of metal went into the tire, it did not go straight in, but went in on an angle before it straightened out. Thus, the somewhat rectangular and truly nasty hole in the tire it made. Was the devil to get the tire to hold enough air so we could get home. We were maybe 70 miles away, and in the mountains. Towing service asked for $800. NO WAY! I managed to fix the tire enough with sticky tire repair inserts and two mushroom inserts. I carry a tiny electric pump which did fine....and it had to be used to inflate the tire 3 times from flat, and topped off once, and this is not a small motorcycle tire, but a car tire on my sidecar rig rear wheel. Of course I replaced the tire when home.
NOTE that plugs, installed from the outside, are a temporary repair for tubeless tires. You are not supposed to travel far and fast using an externally plugged tubeless tire. Many have done it, but I do not think it advisable and I DO NOT recommend it. Many who have bikes with tubeless tires will carry a tube, for emergency repairs, not trusting external plugs. Many have temporarily repaired tubeless tires with a 'string' or other type of external
plug. Many have gotten away with this
for the life of the tire. My suggestion is that you do NOT do this, but
have your road-side temporary plug repair properly fixed at the next available
dealership.....or, do it at home. So, what I am saying is that tubeless tires should
eventually be properly repaired with an inside patch-plug....or replaced.
Please also keep in mind that if you install a tube in a tubeless tire, you
should reduce the tire speed rating by one step, as the combination causes more
heat to be developed.
WHY I do not recommend CO2 cartridges; & some hints when NOT using cartridges:
I do not use CO2 cartridges. Besides their cost, and bulk,
they will not really do the job much of the time. I prefer the tiny electric compressors
shown above, even
though they have lower instantaneous air available. CO2
cartridges ARE "somewhat" adequate to inflate a TUBED tire after
a flat repair or a new tube is installed on the road someplace.
It takes WAY too many of of them to actually inflate to the
proper pressure....a nasty
little drawback, hardly ever mentioned. They are adequate
for tubeless tires, BUT ONLY IF THE TUBELESS TIRE IS INTACT AND
SEALED TO THE RIM, ALL AROUND, OR CAN BE MADE TO BE SO.
They STILL will NOT inflate the tire more than enough to travel
at low speeds to a place you can do a proper inflation. If the tire
is not properly inflated, it WILL get hot, perhaps TOO HOT. Steel-belted tires with have more flexure at the plug repair, possibly shearing it off.
It is NOT unusual for a tire to move to inside the rim when it goes flat. When that happens to a tubeless tire, not containing a tube, you MUST find a way to bring the tire sidewall fully in contact with the inside of the rim, in order to inflate the tire. One has a lot of leeway on this in a SHOP situation, because in a shop you have the ability to remove the valve CORE, and use a tire chuck, or modified tire chuck, on your compressor with the tire chuck center removed, and you have strap tools. That type of modified tire chuck, and a tank of high pressure air driving it, gives a LARGE flow of air, just what is needed in marginal situations for trying to seat the tire sidewall to the rim. That is NOT available in the field. CO2 cartridges do NOT have proper inrush.
BTW...that 'fast in-rush' is one of the
BIG SECRETS to getting
ANY (tube or tubeless) tire to fully seal around the rim....when
a tire, even properly lubed, is 'being difficult'. I will have lots
more to say about this, later in this article.
For some years now, various types of the Chinese-made small electric piston compressors that are shown in this article have been available, at less than $20 from many sources, such as Wal-Mart. Some are in very small packages, some need to have all the plastic crap removed, and proper wires and clips or plug installed. There is NO problem in running one of these compressors on a bike battery for several tire inflations to proper pressure....and still be able to start the bike. These are MUCH better, in MY opinion, than CO2 cartridges. Motorcycle batteries ARE capable of running these small electric compressors to fill quite a few tires....and still start the engine. These cheap little Chinese compressors also hold up better than you may think. Some folks are packaging these tiny piston compressors in their own metal box, and selling the boxed compressor for $$$.
For those with tubeless tires, NOT running tubes, I recommend your favorite plugs, patches or string or whatever style of repair kit you wish to use (with reasonably fresh rubber cement!). I DO recommend you carry BOTH sticky-strings and some sort of mushroom plugs, and have a piece of rope or long strap that goes around the outside circumference of the tire, which you can use with one of your tool-kit items, like a tourniquet, in case your tire no longer is sealed to the rim. I also suggest tire lubricant (the REAL stuff).
Tire plugs of the Stop-'n''go type are useful, but if you have steel belted tires, be SURE to ream the tires quite well, and be prepared to re-inflate if the plug fails.
Hints, methods, advice, ideas to consider, ETC:
If your fuel tank is approximately half full (or more), I "suggest" you REMOVE the fuel tank before repairs, IF...IF...you have to lean the bike over on the ground.
One very popular method of repairing the rear tire on ALL twin-shock airheads (some do it for Mono and Paralever bikes too) is put the bike on the center-stand and then to SECURELY! tie the center stand to the front exhaust crossover pipe. Remove the front wheel, tilt the bike forward onto the fork lowers, onto something like your gloves, etc., to protect the fork bottoms. Be sure to bungee any disc brake calipers so their hoses DO NOT have sharp bends, especially at the fittings ends. NEVER hang disc brake calipers by the hoses!!!! This crossover-pipe method is what I personally do. I HAVE, in the boonies, simply removed the fuel tank, and laid the bike over on whatever the surface is.
Below is another method of strapping the center-stand ...here it is to the front forks. Note that the owner is not using any strapping of the front exhaust crossover pipe to the center-stand. Photos courtesy of Dann Rudd (which I cropped). You really want to be sure that the strapping can NOT come off suddenly.
NOTE that if you modify your bike so there ISN'T any front crossover exhaust pipe, you will have to figure out a way to tilt the bike forward, somehow securing the center-stand, to remove the rear wheel.
NOTE: in the photos below, Dann has the strap around the very bottom below the axle fitment projections of the fork lowers. Be very careful that the strap can NOT come off the lowers.
What follows in
this article is a lot of information on how
deal with a tube puncture, and how to patch that inner-tube; how to R/R tires
and tubes, ETC. If you do it my way, you will not likely have patch
failures, and you will not likely have tire mounting problems. There
is a LOT of information here. SOME will definitely apply to YOUR bike.
The best on-road fix is to discard the old tube and install a new one with tire talc put on by your hands. It is also MUCH faster than removing, patching, and reinstalling the original tube. Purchase another brand-new tube for your on-bike repair kit items soon. Don't forget to remove the offending nail, screw, etc., from the tire...many have forgotten to do so!! Unless your front and rear tires are the same size, or close to the same size, it is really best to have both sizes of tubes. Many do not, and carry just a rear, which can be put into a front in many instances (such as 18 rear into 19 front, but not recommended for 18 rear, 21 front, obviously).
The next best choice is to repair the tube and continue on.
NOTE: Some do not carry tire repair items, or have limited items, or install some sort of sealant product into their tires or tubes. YOU have to decide what YOU are going to do.
NO TUBE that has extremely long splits, tears, etc., should be
patched, and usually the patch is not successful if huge, on a
motorcycle-sized (or bicycle-sized) tube.
Butyl AND natural rubber tubes, with punctures or small tears/slits, etc., are certainly patchable, contrary to some beliefs.
Most people fail to first roughen the tube and clean it properly. Most also slather on WAY too much tube glue (DO check now and then that YOUR glue is in good condition!). They also fail to dry the applications of glue the correct amount of time. They additionally fail to allow a long-enough final cure. All these things can lead to patching failures.
In April 2013, I changed this entire article extensively, so that it INCLUDES lots of additional hints, etc....on what you might do for removing and installing or just repairing a new tire (or tube) IN YOUR SHOP/GARAGE and when on-the-road. Because of these changes, use what portions of what follows, for your specific situation. Because of many variables, the rest of this article is not necessarily in any specific order of events.
start working with an existing tire on the wheel, deflate it by REMOVING the
Schrader valve core. "Break" the
tire bead on BOTH SIDES of the wheel. PUSH the valve stem (on tubes) to the inside. REMOVE the
tube. Remove the tire. When you replace a tire, inflate the tube a small amount, just to shape it
a bit, and install into the tire. Put the wheel rim on an angle, and insert the
tube's valve into the rim hole. Feeding the
tube stem into the rim hole can be fun. Later in this article I will have
some specific advice on that. Once the stem is inserted
through the rim, put on the nut a few threads. START spooning the tire at a point totally away from
the valve...the opposite side of the rim. Repeat on other side.
Many install the tire on one side, then install the tube, then install the second bead. Be very
careful, no matter how you do yours, that you do NOT pinch the tube with your tools!!! It is even
possible to put a hole in the tube in the VALVE STEM area, if the tire bead is trapped and moved
about at that point. Take your time to watch what you are doing.
a. Any puncture or tear needs to be cleaned up, sanded/abraded with a inner-tube metal abrader, and
best to do it VERY thoroughly; don't use sandpaper, unless you have a way of solvent cleaning the
area afterwards. Next clean the area with alcohol or other solvent; gasoline is NOT good here, it
MAY have ingredients that MIGHT prevent solid patch adhesion. Gasoline is better than nothing.
b. Using one of the repair kit patches, peel off the protective layer, KEEP FINGERS OFF THE ACTIVE
STICKY SIDE, & using a CLEANED fingertip, spread the smallest amount, thinnest layer, of the
cement goo on the tube, and the patch's active adhesive side. Yes, BOTH of them. BE SURE the
patch is covered to its own edge. BE SURE the tube is properly prepared and you kept your dirty
fingers off of the repair area and patch active surface.
c. Allow each application of the tube's goo, in tiny amounts remember!... to dry. How long depends on
humidity and temperature. I suggest several minutes.
d. Repeat the fingertip application of glue THREE TIMES. Use the TINIEST amount of goo!!! On the
last application, before it is totally dry, press/clamp the tube and patch together, and leave clamped
for a day or so if at home. If doing this on the road, try to clamp with some sort of flat wood or ?, as
flat as you can; and try to have the patch lay quite flat, particularly at its edges! Allow as much time
as your patience allows.
e. When installing the tube, use your hands with TIRE talc all over the tube, and inside the tire. I like to
wait a bit after inflating, perhaps 15 minutes or more, before riding on a patch job. My personal
method of on-road repairs, AND in my garage, is to R/R tubes with one side of the tire still inside
If your tire is marked on either sidewall that it is to be installed in one
direction, pay attention to that.
On BMW twin-disc wheels, the carrier NUTS are normally on the LEFT; which, thusly, identifies the
wheel direction of installation. Many wheels and some discs, are marked for direction. Whatever
your wheel is, keep it that way, or you will need to re-break-in your disc brake pads.
g. Install one sidewall of the tire onto the WELL-CLEANED inside rim surface first, using tire spoons
and REAL tire lubricant. Cleaning the rim bead surface is important, do the best you can if on the
road. I've carried sandpaper for this purpose. At the least, use gasoline and a rag.
(careful! flammable!!). It makes for easier bead seating.
h. Note: Sidecarists sometimes use rear tires at the front, and front tires at the rear. Sidecarists may
mount those tires with the arrows in opposite direction from the tire markings. Do NOT generally do
this on a 2-wheel bike. Sidecarists and some 2-wheel riders also do strange things, such as using
rubber pieces under the rim where the valve stem sticks through, and rubber on the outside, then
have the stem nut and cup washer against that. The idea is that the tire, whether a tubeless type or
not, will hold some air, for awhile at least, if the tire/tube is punctured. Normally, the proper
installation is no rubber things, and the nut that comes with tubes is threaded UP to the TOP of the
valve stem, meeting the stem air cap. The idea being that if a flat occurs, the tube (you DID install it
with tire TALC all over it surface, and tire insides too?) can move a slight amount, with tire
movement on the rim... avoiding having the tube stem rip out, making for a very sudden flat. BMW
even had a bulletin about that....more on this below.
i. Use TIRE talc on your hands to get the tube surface & inside tire surface slippery, before installing
a tube. Install the nut onto the tube valve stem, a few turns. If the tube came with TWO nuts,
and/or any cup washer you can use the cup or not and can leave the inner nut, or not, depending on
YOUR rim & tube. If you discard one nut, keep any cup washer the tube came with, onto the tube,
only IF appropriate to YOUR TUBE AND RIM. Put it INSIDE the tire, if it fits the stem and rim
properly. YOU WILL want a nut for the outside, for the specific purpose of assisting you with
keeping the valve into the rim hole.
HINTS: Feeding the tube stem into the rim hole after the tube is otherwise fully inserted into the tire
may be difficult; especially if the sidewall is quite stiff. The sidewall may need considerable finger
pressure, & some may use a small block of wood to keep the sidewall a bit more open. If you go
too far with that idea, the other side of the tire will move & block the valve access. Some have
used forceps gripped onto the stem threads to help guide the valve into the rim hole. I recommend
you do NOT using any tool that can injure the threads. There is a thin braided steel flex cable tool
available, it is specifically for doing this job. It screws INTO the valve stem. Tusk Valve Stem
Puller part number 1188500001. Get one of these; try your autoparts store, if necessary an
Below is the type for tubeless rims for pulling the valve stem into place. If you modify it, it will
work on tube types. The Knurled end of this tool, see photo note, as purchased will NOT fit
through the smaller diameter TUBE-type rim holes; it WILL, if you carefully thin the outside diameter,
by grinding the knurled cap end a bit thinner. Grind the O.D. just enough so it EASILY goes through
the rim hole, and NOT MORE, as the walls will be too thin. Haltec TL-645-24, or Grainger 33510,
or similar on Ebay. Get ONLY the flexible cable type as shown here. One of the dual-barrel
ends of this tool is to R/R the valve core, and the other is to depress the center pin of the valve
core on an already inflated tire, and there is a small side hole; this allows the air to come out
slowly, avoiding you unscrewing the valve core and have it flying into 'never-find-land'.
Once the tube valve stem is in the hole, using one of these two tools, then put the nut on the stem,
only a few threads!
You also want to line up the painted dot or other
painted marking, if you have such on the tire, with
the valve, when installing the tire onto the rim, before spooning the second sidewall onto the
rim....this is a good time for more tire lube...note that tire lube is used on the bead seating area of
rim/tire...and, on the EDGE of the tire bead area.
Although this is best avoided; if you have to, move
the OUTSIDE nut down fully to the rim, & move
the tire slightly one way or the other (NEITHER bead has snapped to the rim yet, because you have
NOT inflated the tube/tire) so the stem is centered and at 90°, in the rim hole. DO NOT spoon over
the final bead NOR inflate until this is so. It is best to avoid doing tire movement on the rim. Do
try to avoid this....by lining up the tube stem and tire to the stem (if it has a paint mark), all at the
same time, BEFORE spooning the final bead onto the rim; is that the ease. You really do not want
to have to try moving the tire in relationship to tube/wheel....as such movement depends on the
inside surface of the tire, and if the tire talc you applied is going to ease the friction enough. You
also would need to have the outside nut hold the valve pretty tightly to the rim. That's not the
greatest idea either. You don't want to put excessive force on the tube!
Assuming you have the tire and rim and tube valve in proper alignment, have the nut upwards a
number of turns. It is best NOT to have the nut down to the rim and tightened just before inflation.
The purpose of the outside nut is ONLY to keep the valve from going back inside the rim during your
work. This outside nut that is used as a tool can be tossed after installation, or, moved up to the
stem cap. I recommend you move it up to the stem cap, as sometimes new tubes do not come with
a nut and I like to have one, in case I do not have the fishing tool, and, it makes things easier even
with the tool. DO NOT leave this outer nut tightened to the rim! Even BMW had a bulletin on
The stem should be free to move about in the rim hole, stick straight out at 90°, and not on
an angle, when you have the tire/tube/wheel properly assembled and inflated. You cannot!!
determine if there is any side forces on the tube, unless you have the nut loose, during and
after inflation. When done, THEN you can put the nut against the cap. DO NOT fail to use
a cap that SEALS well.
Obviously if you have a tubeless
tire, used as tubeless, you have NO inner-tube, and you
have NO inner-tube type of valve stem to worry about.
j. On a rare occasion a tire will not balance properly without a large amount of tire weights added. It
is OK to have the tire painted mark at 45 or even 90 degrees to the stem, if doing so reduces the
amount of weight needed. VERY FEW motorcyclists do this, as they hate bead breaking after
mounting a tire, and you must be careful with a tube.
k. Many modern motorcycle tires have VERY stiff sidewalls and are NOT
very easy to put onto a rim.
In addition, you MIGHT have a problem getting the tire bead to seat all around on both sides of the
wheel. Copious quantities of tire lubricant WILL help. Often the tire beads snap into place over a
few minutes. A big help is to have the tire, wheel, tube, etc., all in the hot sun for
quite some time, before and during ANY tire work.
Use of too high pressures are dangerous. I will give you some hints/advice that will work for
you....but some of these are only for the shop/garage situation.
Occasionally there are problems
and even with repeated inflation, deflation, inflation, a clean rim and
lubricated bead, the tire may not seat all-around. This usually happens on just one side of the wheel
and on a smallish part of the circumference of that particular bead. While it is true that....in VERY
rare instances, a tire is faultily made...or a rim unequal on each side (usually due to straightening of
the rim at some time), those are VERY rare instances.
l. To avoid problems, I recommend that you follow ALL my suggestions FIRST, ahead of
time...as best you can with your equipment, ESPECIALLY when doing a tire where your
compressor and tank are available, and, frankly, here I mostly mean your own garage/shop,
although some of my suggestions can be done anyplace:
CLEAN the rim inside bead area wall, so it is clean & very SMOOTH...this allows the tire bead to
slide up the bead area easier during inflation. Use liquid solvents first, finishing with fine sandpaper,
then clean off any sand from the sandpaper, then WASH with soap & water to remove any remnants
of prior tire lubricants, etc. I cannot over-emphasize the need for a clean & smooth rim where the
tire bead seats. This is VERY helpful for both tube & tubeless tires in both spooning-on, AND in
later having the tire set fully concentrically to the rim. Doing it properly will reduce your swearing
& labor CONSIDERABLY. A rather minor-appearing irregularity on the rim bead surface will be
a point of substantial friction, which you do NOT want, once the tire bead is in contact with it.
Do NOT leave the Schrader valve core inside the valve stem when trying to seat the beads from
your compressor's tank. That valve, together with perhaps your air source being of too low a
pressure, or too small a tank or no tank, too restrictive a hose (or chuck!!)....may not allow a
fast-enough inflation. FAST inflation is one of the super-secrets....otherwise, the lubricated bead
STARTS to move & seal, & then hangs-up. Many have very considerably overinflated a tire (to
quite dangerous pressures) & still could not get the bead to seat.
m. For tires withOUT tubes, there is another possible problem, & that is to get the tire to even start to
seal to the rim, let alone fully seat/seal. This is ESPECIALLY a problem if you have a very output
compressor (12 volt, on the road??) or limited large CO2 bottles. The answer is almost always a
big belt or rope used as a tourniquet, around the entire circumference of the tire. Use a large tool of
some sort, even a piece of wood, to tighten the tourniquet.
n. So, heed my hints!
I cannot overemphasize the need to do what is in this section!
HAVE THE TIRE & WHEEL HOT! Remove the valve core & use a compressor hose, &
associated parts including fittings & airchuck, that flow fast in volume. DO USE a modified
airchuck that will fill the tire FAST (with well-lubricated tire bead too, of course). A several
gallon size (OR MORE) TANK at the compressor, high pressure (at least 80 psi, but 125+ is
nicer) is very helpful to supply the huge amount of air FLOW really needed. Check that the
air HOSE is of the 3/8" MARKED type, NOT smaller; or flow will be slow (low flow volume is
is BAD). Do NOT purchase an air hose that has a small hole inside at either end fitting,
17/64" or 9/32" is needed. The hose length is NOT very critical, but the shorter the hose the
better. The entire air supply system needs substantial INside diameter parts.
I have found that SOME quick-release hose fittings are quite restrictive.
It is best to avoid
them. Modifying quick-release fittings is iffy...best to avoid doing that.
OBTAIN AND MODIFY AN AIRCHUCK specifically for filling tires/tubes: REMOVE the center
pin. LEAVE the rubber washer in the chuck (after you modify the chuck). DRILL the part of
the airchuck that attaches to the air hose, for a larger size hole...all the ones I have seen are
too small in diameter. 15/64" or 1/4" will be OK.
USE REAL TIRE LUBRICANT, properly thinned. USE A 2" wide cheap paintbrush
to apply it
quickly, and so both rim & tire bead are well-coated. If it starts to dry, re-apply or use a
water spray from a cheap plastic bottle sprayer.
o. I can't tell you a specific maximum pressure to try to seat tire beads; frankly I do not know what is
truly safe for your particular wheel...let alone any particular tire. Motorcycle tire manufacturer's use
to say not to exceed the maximum sidewall printed pressure by more than 50%. Some said 150%
...which they meant as 50% over the maximum sidewall printed figure, but that could be
miss-interpreted as sidewall printed maximum pressure PLUS 150%. I CAN say that THAT would
be SUPER DANGEROUS. Recently, perhaps lawyers got involved with the litigious American's, as
many tire makers are saying not to use higher than 40 psi when inflating. Some of these same
manufacturer's have deleted their prior higher recommended pressures for RIDING too! This all may
fly in the face of ~ 42 psi being a maximum on many sidewalls. I like the old recommendations
myself; & to restate them: DO NOT use over 1.5 times the printed sidewall maximum. Speaking as
my lawyer might advise me (besides not to say ANYthing), I am not advising you DO use 1.5 times.
My information, which you are reading, is of how I PERSONALLY DO MY OWN REPAIRS.
I would NOT want to inflate a tire so high that a rim exploded, let alone the
tire be injured. There is
always the chance that a rim has been weakened, making things even worse! I never ever go over
I use a compressor that fills its tank to 125 psi, & I use all my previously noted hints about hose size,
air-chuck modifications, no Schrader valve core, etc. I usually use a gauge in the hose fitments, to
tell me the PSI that the tire is being filled to.
Please keep in mind that while a pressure change from, say, 50 to 60 psi seems hardly much, the
truth is that the pressure is POUNDS PER SQUARE INCH...and there is a lot of inside VOLUME
AREA for those pounds. Thus, the pressure on the wheel can be MANY THOUSANDS OF
POUNDS; and an increase of just 5 psi is a LOT, considered as on the total surface area.
In my own shop/garage, I have a pressure regulator on the output of the compressor tank. I set it
for 85 psi when doing tire work. That has been high enough to get enough air flowing quickly
enough. You might want to eliminate any pressure regulator, and thereby obtain a faster FLOW
rate....on some regulator types, it is of no help to set them higher. Do NOT take the tire to any sort
of too high pressure, however. If you are the very anal type, you might want to fashion some sort of
pressure gauge that is "T'd" into where the modified airchuck is is fed from the hose. I have NOT
had to do this. I inflate the tire to a good guesstimate, check the inflation pressure with my stick or
bourdon gauge, then inflate again, etc., until I get my maximum, IF I NEED THAT MUCH.
I WANT TO EMPHASIZE THAT THE BIG SECRETS ARE THE RIM PREPARATION AND THE
SPEED OF INFLATION (the FLOW RATE) AND having a HOT TIRE & WHEEL. Once the
WELL-lubricated beads snap into place on both sides of the tire, & not exceeding a safe pressure, I
check the RIDGE that is molded on the tire near the bead, to be EQUAL all around, on BOTH sides
of the tire, concentrically, all-around. IF NOT, I deflate, break the bead, lubricate, repeat the
process. If you do this procedure the way I have outlined, you will almost always have 100%
good results THE FIRST TIME, AND NOT HAVE TO DEFLATE & TRY AGAIN.
p. As noted earlier, I use REAL tire lubricant with a paintbrush. Tire lubricant comes concentrated &
looks like very thick jelly. I thin it with water per the can. If it dries out, add water from a
hand-sprayer, or more tire lubricant. DO NOT use lubricants that contain oils. I am well-aware
that some of you will use saddle-soap, dish detergent, soap, etc. You have MY recommendations.
A tire from any one given manufacturer is intended to be used with some other tire from the same manufacturer.
In a fairly large majority of instances, tires can be mixed by model and manufacturer with no or few problems.
In some instances they do not work well with each other.
Every tire has its own type of vibrations set up in the tire & transmitted to the suspension, frame & you. Even if the tires are perfect, & balance of wheel and tire is perfect, these vibrations still occur, & if the front & rear tire were not designed to work with each other, strange effects can come about.
ONE of those effects is a rhythmic vibration and/or noise, something like a regular interval thrumming that rises & falls in amplitude as speed decreases & increases, from any one speed.
In some instances, even the proper mating tires can do this, depending on wear patterns, & a LOT of other things. Some of these things, and/or causes, are not well-known or thought about. On Airheads, insufficiently tight motor mounts, for instance. Shock absorbers can have a dead place that is exceptionally narrow in stroke amount, & can cause vibration. If you change the loading on the bike, thrumming may mysteriously appear or disappear. Balancing tires & wheels might only help somewhat, if at all....since often it is not the basic problem. Just about anything that changes the characteristics of the bike in some way, will allow new or different vibration modes.
Other items that are often at fault are twisted forks, forks with stiction, looseness almost anyplace, & sometimes 'things' added to the bike that change vibration modes from the stock situation. A flattened center-section of the rear tire from normal wear can cause thrumming, noises, and be VERY dangerous at speed, as it promotes high speed INstability, of the type known as a Tank-Slapper.
In some instances vibration and thrumming begin after the front tire is worn, this happened now & then with the Metzeler Laser, which is very compatible, due to tread design, with almost any rear tire. The Metzeler Laser is hardly the only tire to have these problems now and then.
Braking/sliding that causes a worn place over one area of the tread, and not another, is a VERY prime cause. This often comes about from either very strong braking & sliding on an abrasive surface, that flattens, ever so slightly, part of the tire. The type of thrumming this causes can be exceptionally pronounced.
My point is that before blaming tires & balancing, DO check your nuts & bolts, feel the front
end for the steering head tightness or looseness & rear suspension too. Check the rear wheel fasteners; particularly on the single-sided models....they do have a torque setting, & those threads are never to be lubricated, & that includes not ever using antiseize compound on them. If you cannot find the problem, remove the rear shock absorber(s), remove the springs from them, & test them over VERY SHORT movement conditions, in the SAME vertical/horizontal alignment as if on the bike.
There ARE mechanical things with the driveline that can cause rhythmic vibrations. Usually an
experience wrench can determine, from speed and modest riding tests where the vibrations are coming from. One of the high frequency vibrations that is difficult to figure out is a driveshaft of the type with two U-joints, that was installed with out-of-phase U-joints. See my phasing article.
SOME vibration/thrumming can be serious, such as a loosening nut at the nose of the rear drive; an internally failing cardan bearing, a transmission failing, etc. Phasing problems are usually more constant, same for internal problems.
(1) Modifying the rear fender, rear sides & rear bottom on
Airheads, can make for MUCH easier
tire/wheel removals. This is easy to do, can be done so no one notices, and can be very helpful. The
rear fender, a composite material, is relatively easy to cut with a hacksaw blade in a single blade
holder, & easy to smooth that cut edge with a common file. Using a piece of chalk (or?), mark the
fender from the side opening, downward/rearward, smoothly, to the bottom of the license plate.
Do on both sides of the fender. Cut and smooth. When done, the fender should end approximately at
the lower edge of the license plate. You can, not necessary, install a rubber mudguard, such as one
from JC Whitney...or the ones I prefer, the BMW ones:
Black: 46-62-1-230-766 or 46-62-1-238-996
White: 46-62-1-239-259 or -273.
Check the dealerships' ETK's for number & fit/model; those numbers may be superseded or obsolete.
If you do this smoothly & neatly, it will probably never be noticed by anyone as not being
stock. It makes removal of the rear tire easier on the twin shock machines.
This is a photo of my 1984 R100RT that
has the modification, including a mudflap.
as the front tire is typically on the ground at the same time the rear tire is, making for difficulties when
trying to remove the front wheel for a rear tire flat; that is, for tilting the bike forward as described
earlier. Parking the bike so the front wheel is over a curb, with the bike on the center-stand, is one
idea...DO tie the center-stand to front exhaust pipe. At home, you can jack the bike in some fashion
that works well. I typically use a 2 x 6 under the center-stand for tire work on Reynolds Ride-Off
Stand equipped bikes. See notes much earlier, about half-way down in this article.
(3) The Chitech folks have a booklet on doing tire changes. Good information, but rather obsolete in
SOME ways now.
(4) Tire Pressures:
BMW owner's booklets, and books like Haynes and Clymers, show BMW's recommended tire
pressures for the recommended and standard tires at the time of manufacture. At times, BMW
issued Service Information Bulletins (SI's) on tire recommendations. BMW sent SI's on tires to
dealerships for some years during Airhead production. BMW quit recommending tires for Airheads
a long time ago. It is IMPORTANT to realize that BMW's tire pressures were always a compromise.
It is also IMPORTANT to realize that most of the early types of soft sidewall tires are NO LONGER
MADE. BMW's compromise was between comfort, handling, and tire life. BMW continued this
practice, more or less; up through the ~1985 model year. After that time, pressures are more
realistic for better handling, although some advice & experience will help. Typically improvements
are still made for handling, by some increase in pressure.
Because of these things, IN GENERAL, BMW's tire pressure recommendations in their owners
booklets (duplicated by such as Clymers and Haynes), before 1986, are OFTEN MUCH TOO LOW.
All this is in MY opinion; but substantiated by others. PARTICULARLY with modern tires. I
suggest you be VERY cautious even trying BMW's old pressures, which were in the high twenties for
front tires, & low thirties for rear tires.....depending on load and speed.
You can do your own testing, starting at low, or high, pressures. I think you will find that FRONT
tire pressures of about 33-36 will be correct; REAR of 38-42. The highest of those pressures
would be for high speeds and/or high loads, or very aggressive riders in twisties. Pressures are
always measured with a KNOWN ACCURATE gauge, tires cool (that is, UNridden, & NOT
sitting in hot sunlight).
More information on tire pressures and a lot more are in section5.htm
(5) Here is a photo of not just simple
studs, but extreme studding, used
for ice-racing, etc. This particular
photo is of a front wheel. I will
eventually add more information here,
on all sorts of studding, chains, ropes, etc.
for front and rear. Some photos of snow
weather with various tire straps, etc., is
likely in my photo galleries on this site already.
(6) Not many of us ride on the original ribbed front tires any more. They do tend to follow rain
grooves, contrary to what is said in some Clymer's publications. Still, you MAY want to try a
SET, as they DO deliver the classic ride & handling that the bike was designed-for. These
tires generally work best at the originally recommended by BMW tire pressures (label
was under the seat, see your owners manual too), or slightly higher (by 2 psi front, 3 psi rear) Also note that these tires DO give decent mileage before they wear out. If you have a
modified suspension, the classic ride & handling will be modified.
MANY, if not nearly all, 'modern' tires require
considerably higher pressures
than stated on the tag under the seat or in the owner's manual or in some tire
manufacturer's literature. Failure to increase the pressures on MODERN tires
will cause very sloppy handling.
THE TIRE PRESSURE LISTED ON A TIRE SIDEWALL IS NOT....NOT!!!!.....THE
RECOMMENDED TIRE PRESSURE. IT IS A MAXIMUM TIRE PRESSURE, BASED
ON WHATEVER STANDARDS THE MANUFACTURER USES.
07/26/2008: All prior updates incorporated, and article revised extensively this date
12/28/2008: Edit for clarity. NO substantial changes.
11/01/2010: Expand on #5
02/19/2011: Revise numbering, add section on exactly how to repair inner-tubes
04/11/2011: expand on why I dislike CO2 cartridges
08/29/2011: Add info on bestrestproducts TireIron BeadBrakR, inadvertently left out of this
article several years ago!
03/16/2012: update slightly for clarity
05/03/2012: Add photos for second method of tilting motorcycle forward. Clean up the article
in various places.
10/15/2012: Add QR code, add language button, update Google Ad-Sense code, modify
photo, other minor stuff.
12/15/2012: Add photo of studded front wheel at item (10)
03/11/2013: Minor improvements to the article. Add entire section on how/why flats occur.
04/22/2013: Add more on tire pressures.
04/24/2013: Add more information on difficult-to-mount tires. Revise whole article for better clarity.
04/25/2013: Additional tests proved that some couplers & excessive hose lengths DO detract. Added
the information & did extensive final editing on all parts of this article.
05/26/2013: Add Tusk inner core valve stem tool description and photo, and revise section i.
07/02/2013: Add section on vibration/thrumming
09/26/2014: Clean up article.
© Copyright, 2013, R. Fleischer
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