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Tools You Need to Change a Motorcycle Tire

Tools You Need to Change a Motorcycle Tire

Nothing is more satisfying for motorcycle enthusiasts than hitting the open road atop a motorcycle. But part of being a rider is knowing the importance of motorcycle tires in safety and performance. To change your motorcycle’s tires, you must have the necessary tools. This article covers the steps on how to change your motorcycle’s tires.

1. Importance of Proper Tire Maintenance

1.1 Types of Motorcycle Tires

There are three basic types of motorcycle tires:

  • Bias-Belted
  • Diagonal Cross-Ply
  • Radial-Ply

Feature Bias-Belted Diagonal Cross-Ply Radial-Ply
Construction - Features a combination of bias-ply and radial-ply construction.
- Have a bias-ply base layer that offers stiffness and stability - Have one or two layers of steel belts.
- Made up of layers of material that crisscross at an angle of 30 to 45 degrees.
- Cords of fabric made up of polyester/nylon
Made up of multiple layers of steel belts Belts run perpendicular to the tire’s direction of travel with layers of rubber and fabric between them.
Ride to Comfort Steel belts absorb shock and vibrations that let to ride with comfort. It provides a little harsher ride compared to others, as they can less absorb shock or vibrations. Flexible sidewalls and construction help absorb vibrations and shock, offering a too comfortable ride.
Tread Life Steel belts help to distribute the load evenly to the tires that prevent uneven wear and increased tread life. Have shorter tread life compared to bias-belted or radial-ply as cords in the fabric can become frayed or worn over time. Have longer tread life compared to other tires as steel belts help to distribute the load evenly across the tire and prevent uneven wear.
Cost Bias-belted tires are expensive compared to radial-ply but less expensive compared to radial-ply Less expensive than the radial ply but more expensive than the bias-belted tires. Most expensive type of motorcycle tire due to advanced obstruction and high-performance characteristics.
Handling Steel belts help maintain the tire’s shape that prevents it from squirming or flexing and helps in better handling. Provides good handling and stability at low speeds or on rough terrain but can be less stable at high speeds or in wet conditions. Provide excellent stability and handling, even at high speed. Offer precise and responsive steering and maintain shape well under heavy loads.
Durability Steel belts help to reinforce the tire, and protect against the damage mainly punctures. More resistant to cuts or punctures so more durable compared to radial-ply. But less durable than bias-belted tires. Highly durable because steel belts help to reinforce tires and protect against damage and punctures.

Taking proper care of the tires is essential to safe and efficient motorcycle operation. The tires are the only parts in contact with the road, making them essential for your protection and comfort. Regularly checking and maintaining the tire pressure, tread depth, and overall condition can prevent accidents and extend the lifespan of the tires.

Overinflated and underinflated tires can lead to uneven wear and tear, decreased handling, and increased risk of blowouts. In addition, incorrectly inflated tires can reduce fuel efficiency and increase tire noise.

Checking the depth of the motorcycle tire treads will also help better ensure your safety. Worn-out tires have less traction, especially on wet or slippery surfaces. According to manufacturers, the minimum tread depth for motorcycle tires should be 2/32 of an inch. You must also inspect the motorcycle tires for signs of wear and tear.

Here is a list of things you need to look for when checking motorcycle tires:

  • Check the tread depth regularly to ensure it meets legal requirements and provides adequate traction.
  • Inspect the sidewalls for any cracks, cuts, or bulges.
  • Check the bead for any damage that could cause the tire to detach from the rim.
  • Look for any exposed cords or belts.
  • Inspect the inner liner for any punctures or leaks.

2. The Anatomy of a Motorcycle Tire

Knowing the anatomy of a motorcycle tire will help make tire maintenance easier. Motorcycle tires are complex parts with various components that help provide traction, stability, and durability.

Here's a detailed guide on the anatomy of a motorcycle tire:


The tread is the area of the tire that makes contact with the road. It has various patterns and shapes that provide traction and stability on different surfaces. The tread depth and design can vary depending on the type of tire.


The sidewall is the vertical side of the tire that connects the tread and bead. It is usually made of rubber and lists information about the tire, including size, load capacity, and speed rating.


The bead is the area of the tire that fits securely onto the wheel rim. It is made of strong steel wires and is responsible for maintaining the tire’s shape and stability.


The carcass is the foundation of the tire and comprises several layers of rubber-coated fabric cords, usually nylon or polyester. The carcass provides the tire’s strength, flexibility, and shape.


The belt is a layer of steel or other materials that sits on the top of the carcass and provides extra strength and stability for the tire. It helps prevent punctures, blowouts, and uneven wear.

Inner Liner

The inner liner is an impermeable material between the carcass and the tube or wheel. It is responsible for maintaining air pressure and preventing leaks.

The Anatomy of a Motorcycle Tire
Photo Credit: @cyclesoup

3. Common Causes of Motorcycle Tire Wear

Here is a list of common causes of motorcycle tire wear:

Overinflation or Underinflation Improperly inflated tires can reduce the lifespan of the tires and increase the risk of a blowout.
Aggressive Riding Style Examples of aggressive riding include hard braking, accelerating quickly, and turning sharply.
Excessive Weight Carrying too much weight or exceeding the maximum load capacity of the tires can cause them to wear out faster.
Riding on Rough Roads Riding on rough or uneven roads can cause the tire to wear out unevenly.
Incorrect Tire Size or Type Using incorrectly-sized tires can reduce handling and increase the risk of accidents.
Lack of Tire Maintenance Failure to regularly check and maintain your tires, such as neglecting to check the air pressure and tread depth.
Poor Road Conditions Riding on roads with potholes, debris, and other hazards can cause tears, punctures, and other damage to the tires.
Incorrect Parking Parking your motorcycle on a hard surface for an extended period can put pressure on the tires, cause flat spots, and reduce the lifespan of the tires.
Old or Expired Tires Old tires that are past their expiration date or have been in use for a long time can become brittle and have less traction.
Incorrect Alignment Unaligned wheels can cause uneven tire wear, reduce the lifespan of the tires,s and affect handling.
Incorrect Installation Tires that are installed incorrectly due to being unaligned with the valve stem or not being fully tightened around the lug nuts.
Imbalance Unbalanced tires can cause excessive vibrations or uneven wear and tear.
Using Tire Sealant Using tire sealant can damage the inner liner, causing tires to lose air pressure.
Exposure to Extreme Temperatures Exposure to high or low temperatures can cause tire rubber to become brittle and lose its elasticity.
Exposure to Extreme Chemicals Exposure to chemicals from oil, gasoline, etc. can cause the rubber to break down and reduce the lifespan of the tires.

4. Signs that Motorcycle Tires Need to be Changed

Riding with worn-out or damaged tires can be dangerous since it can increase the risk of accidents. Here are signs to look for:

  1. Worn-Out Treads
    Replace the tires if the treads have become worn down to the bars or have less than 2 mm thickness.
  2. Cracks or Bulges
    Inspect your tires regularly for any cracks or bulges on the sidewalls or treads since they may indicate signs of internal damage or a weakened structure.
  3. Uneven Wear
    Uneven wear can indicate improper tire maintenance, incorrect alignment, or suspension issues. If you notice uneven wear, have your tires checked and replaced by a professional if necessary.
  4. Tire Age
    Even if your tires look like they still have plenty of treads, they can still be worn out due to age. Tires over five years old should be replaced even if they have not seen much use.
  5. Punctures
    If a tire has a large puncture that cannot be repaired, it must be replaced. Riding with a punctured tire can cause further damage and increase the risk of a blowout.
  6. Vibrations or Wobbling
    If you notice excessive vibrations or wobbling while riding, it may indicate a damaged tire, a bent rim, or faulty suspensions.
  7. Loss of Air Pressure
    If a tire is losing air pressure frequently or you have to refill often, it can be a sign of a leak or puncture.
  8. Reduced Handling
    If you have difficulty handling your motorcycle, such as it constantly pulling to one side, it can be a sign of a damaged tire.
  9. Excessive Noise
    If you hear excessive noise while riding, it may be a sign of worn-out tires or faulty wheel bearings.

5. List of All Necessary Tools to Change Motorcycle Tires

Here is the list of all the necessary tools to change motorcycle tires:

Tool Purpose
Tire Irons To remove and install tires; they come in various lengths and shapes to fit different types of tires.
Bead Breaker To break the bead on older tires and make it easier to remove the rims.
Wheel Balancer Ensures newly installed tires are balanced, reducing the risk of vibrations and increasing stability while riding.
Valve Stem Tool To remove and install the valve stem, making it easier to inflate the tires.
Tire Gauge Checks the tire pressure.
Rubber Mallet Helps secure the tires onto the rims and adjust the position of the beads.
Lubricant Helps reduce friction and prevent damage to the tires and rims.
Pliers Remove and install the tire’s valve core, making it easier to add or release air from the tire.
Rim Protectors To keep the rims from being damaged during tire removal and installation.
Air Compressor Add air to the tires once installed and ensure proper tire pressure.
Socket Wrench To loosen and tighten the bolts on the rims.
Torque Wrench Ensure that the bolts are tightened with the correct torque.
Cleaning Supplies To clean the rims and tires to prevent dirt or debris buildup.
Work Gloves Protect your hands from injury during tire removal and installation.
Jack or Stand Provides a stable platform to safely remove and install tires while reducing the risk of injury.

6. How to Prepare Your Motorcycle for a Tire Change

Here are the steps for how you can prepare your motorcycle for a tire change:

  1. Gather the Necessary Tools and Equipment
    Make sure you have all the tools and equipment needed to change a tire. This includes a jack or stand, tire irons, a bead breaker, a wheel balancer, a valve stem tool, a tire gauge, lubricant, pliers, a socket wrench, a torque wrench, cleaning supplies, and work gloves.
  2. Choose a Suitable Workspace
    Find a clean, flat area to work on your bike. This could be your garage or driveway, but ensure there is enough space to maneuver the bike and lay out your tools.
  3. Secure the Motorcycle
    Use a motorcycle stand or jack to lift your vehicle off the ground and secure it in place. Ensure the bike is stable and won't tip over during the tire change.
  4. Remove Any Obstructions
    Clear the workspace of any obstructions that could make it difficult to move around or work on the tire change.
  5. Remove the Old Tire
    Use the bead breaker and tire irons to remove the old tire from the rim. Be careful not to damage the rim or tire in the process.
  6. Clean the Rim
    Use cleaning supplies to thoroughly clean the rim before installing the new tire. This will ensure a secure fit and get rid of debris that could interfere with installation.
  7. Inspect the Rim and Wheel
    Check the rim and wheel for any damage or defects. Replace or repair any faulty parts if necessary.
  8. Install the New Tire
    Use the tire irons and lubricant to install the new tire onto the rim. Ensure the tire is positioned correctly and the bead is properly in place.
  9. Balance the Tire
    Use the wheel balancer to ensure the tire is balanced correctly to help reduce vibrations while riding.
  10. Adjust the Tire Pressure
    Use the tire gauge to ensure the new tire has the correct pressure.

7. Tips for Using a Motorcycle Tire Changing Machine

A motorcycle tire changing machine can make replacing a tire faster and easier, but it is important to know how to use it to avoid damaging your motorcycle or the new tire.

Listed below are basic tips on how to use a tire changer:

  1. Read the Instructions
    Read the manufacturer’s instructions before using the tire changing machine to understand how to operate it safely.
  2. Wear Protective Gear
    Wear appropriate protective gear when operating this machine. Wear safety glasses, gloves, etc. to protect yourself.
  3. Check the Condition of the Machine
    Carefully check the machine to make sure it is in good condition and working properly before using it. Make sure to check the bead breakers, tire changers, air compressors, etc.
  4. Clean the Wheel and Tire
    Thoroughly clean the wheel and tire to remove any dirt or debris before installing the wheel on the machine.
  5. Secure the Wheel
    You can use the clamps on the machine to hold the wheel securely in place when changing the tire. This will prevent the wheel from moving or slipping during the process.
  6. Use the Proper Tools
    Don’t forget to use the appropriate tools for each specific step to prevent damage to the wheel or tire.
  7. Be Careful with the Bead Breaker
    Handle the bead breaker with care to avoid causing any damage. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  8. Check the Tire Position
    Make sure that tire is positioned correctly after mounting it onto the wheel. Check whether the bead is resting on the rim or not to prevent air leaks.
  9. Balance the Tire
    To reduce vibrations while riding the motorcycle, use a wheel balancer to make sure that the tire is properly aligned.

Watch the video to learn how to change motorcycle tires using a machine:

8. Complete Guide to Changing Your Motorcycle Tire

Here is the complete guide on how to change your motorcycle tire with ease:

Process How to Do
Elevate Your Motorcycle Use a motorcycle stand or jack to elevate your ride and keep the wheel off the ground.
Remove the Wheel Loosen the axle nut and remove the axle from the wheel. Then, carefully remove the wheel from the motorcycle.
Remove Old Tire Deflate the tire completely and use a tire iron to break the bead on both sides of the tire. Then, remove the tire from the wheel using the tire iron.
Install the New Tire Apply lubricant to the bead of the new tire to make it easier to install. Carefully place the tire onto the wheel and use the tire iron to work the bead onto the rim while being careful not to damage the wheel.
Inflate the New Tire Using a tire pressure gauge, inflate the new motorcycle tire to the right pressure.
Install the Wheel Carefully reinstall the wheel onto the motorcycle and tighten the axle nut to the recommended torque specified in the owner’s manual.
Check the Tire Pressure Check the tire pressure to ensure it is at the recommended level.
Test the New Tire Test the new tire by slowly riding around a safe area to ensure it is installed properly.

9. What to Do After Changing Motorcycle Tires

Here is the list of things you need to do after changing the motorcycle tires:

  1. Double-Check the Tire Pressure
    After replacing the motorcycle tire, double-check the tire pressure to ensure it is at the recommended level.
  2. Inspect the Tire for Damage
    Before taking your motorcycle out for a ride, inspect the new tire for any damage or defects. This includes checking for punctures, cuts, or other signs of wear and tear that may have occurred during installation.
  3. Test Your Motorcycle
    Take your motorcycle for a short test ride to ensure everything is working properly. Start by riding slowly around a safe area with little traffic.
  4. Check for Any Unusual Sounds or Vibrations
    While doing a test ride, listen for any unusual vibrations or sounds coming from your motorcycle. If you notice any unusual sounds, stop riding and inspect your motorcycle to determine the exact cause.
  5. Schedule an Appointment
    If you don’t know how to install or notice any issues after changing a motorcycle tire, it is best to schedule an appointment with a mechanic or dealership.

10. How To Prevent Motorcycle Tire Wear and Tear

  1. Check Tire Pressure Regularly
    Check the tire pressure at least once per week or before every ride to ensure they are at the recommended level.
  2. Inspect Tires for Damage
    Inspect your motorcycle tires regularly for damage. Look for punctures, cuts, bulges, or other signs of wear and tear.
  3. Avoid Overloading
    Avoid carrying too much weight on your motorcycle to avoid putting stress on the tires.
  4. Avoid Sudden Braking or Acceleration
    Avoid suddenly braking or accelerating. Instead, try to maintain a consistent speed while riding.
  5. Avoid Riding on Rough Terrain
    Avoid riding on rocky or unpaved roads whenever possible.
  6. Check Alignment
    Make sure to check the tires often to ensure they are aligned.
  7. Rotate the Tires
    Rotating the tires can help you better evaluate and inspect their overall conditions. Make sure to rotate the tires based on the manufacturer's recommendations.
  8. Replace with Appropriate Tires 
    Choose tires that are compatible with your model and riding style and can handle all types of road conditions without quickly wearing out.

11. Popular FAQs

11.1 When Should You Check Your Motorcycle Tire Pressure?

Experts recommend checking the tire pressure at least once a week or before leaving for longer trips.

11.2 Can You Change a Motorcycle Tire Without a Tire Machine?

Yes, changing a motorcycle tire without a tire machine is possible, but it can be a little difficult and time-consuming.

11.3 What are Signs that a Motorcycle Tire Needs to Be Changed?

Basic signs indicating a motorcycle tire needs to be changed include:

  • Worn Tread
  • Cracks
  • Bulges in Sidewalls
  • Frequently Flat
  • Blowouts

11.4 What Tools Do You Need to Change a Motorcycle Tire?

Essentials tools you need to change a motorcycle tire include:

  • Tire Iron
  • Tire Changing Machine
  • Bead Breaker
  • Valve Stem Tool
  • Torque Wrench

11.5 How Much Time Does it Take to Change a Motorcycle Tire?

The time required to change a motorcycle tire varies depending on individual skill level. But with the help of a tire changer, it usually takes up to 30 minutes to an hour. When changing the tire by hand, it will take between one to two hours.

11.6 What is the Proper Way to Store Motorcycle Tires?

Store the motorcycle tires in a dry yet cool place away from direct sunlight. Make sure the weight of the tires is distributed evenly.

11.7 How Can You Prevent Wear and Tear on Your Motorcycle Tires?

You can prevent wear and tear on your tires by maintaining the tire pressure, cleaning the tires, avoiding adding too much weight, and lubricating the moving parts.

11.8 Is it Safe to Ride a Motorcycle with a Repaired Tire?

Whether riding with a repaired motorcycle tire is safe depends on several conditions. If the repaired tire is not too worn or carefully adjusted on the motorcycle, it is usually safe to ride.

12. Conclusion

Changing a motorcycle tire will help maintain your motorcycle’s performance and improve safety on the road. By following this guide, you can learn how to change motorcycle tires and which tools to use. Be mindful of wear and tear since it could be dangerous if riding at high speeds. Also, knowing how to change motorcycle tires can help improve the riding experience. Inspect your motorcycle tires often to ensure that your motorcycle will run smoothly the next time you hit the road. If you want to improve your motorcycle’s look, you can install saddlebags, sissy bar bags, tank bags, tool bags, crash bars, luggage racks, sissy bars, fairings, and handlebars.

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