by Allen Moore
When you live a hundred miles from your friendly BMW Motorrad dealer, your outlook is a little different than when you lived, say 10 miles away. When Diane I moved from the metro Tucson area to Bisbee, a lot of thing changed- including my outlook on motorcycle tires. Thatís not to say I changed how I feel about how often to change them; rather, I changed WHO I thought should change them. Working for a living Monday through Friday your weekends become precious. When servicing your bike at the dealer suddenly includes four hours of roundtrip riding, most of which is on the super-slab, you start to seriously consider doing the seemingly simple things yourself; besides, DIY tire changes seemed to save around $100 per pair. Combine that with the fact that nobody will be as careful with my pretty rims as I will, and I am sold on this as being a good idea.
Being a tech-savvy kind of guy, I searched online for instruction on how to change your own motorcycle tires. A major online retailer of motorcycle tires had this YouTube video showing just how simple it is! Right.
I ordered up tires, as well as a bead breaker, some tire irons and these magic ceramic beads that are supposed to balance your tires without the need for fancy tools or external weights. Cool!
Then all the stuff arrives. My first goal is to change the well-worn Tourance on the rear of my Adventure. Anyone who has ever changed his or her own motorcycle tire will likely recognize that this is not an ideal first choice for a novice tire technician. Itís a pretty big tire with a really stiff sidewall. The front, in theory, will be easier; but, I plod on. Once I get the wheel off I use my new bead breaker to make quick work of breaking the bead all the way around the old tire. Then I begin to pry the first edge of the tire off the rim, being careful to make good use of those rim protectors I fashioned to keep my rims oh-so-pretty! Actually the first bead came off OK. It took a lot more time than I thought; but, hey, Iím learning a new skill, right? Back in the house now to have a quick second cup of coffee while reviewing my YouTube tutor to make sure Iím still doing this right. Confident I am doing this all correctly; I go back out to the shop full of caffeine and confidence. Getting the other sidewall off the rim was more difficult. It all looked so easy on-line. Rim protectors became forgotten as they fell inside the tire. My hands were wet from all the lubricant I was using trying to coax this evil beast of a tire carcass off of my precious rim. I honestly thought about buying a Sawzall to just cut the old tire off the rim. Finally, the old tire came off- and with only two minor new nicks in the rim.
And it only took two hours- so far. Where does the time go? Time to get the new tire on! First sidewall over the rim was relatively easy. Getting the second sidewall started wasnít too bad either. Clearly, there was an end in sight. I COULD DO IT. Sadly I could not. Try as I might, I never could get past levering more than just over half of the second sidewall over the rim. Cursing didnít help. Neither it seemed did any amount of lubricant. The damn rim protectors could just stay IN the new tire as far as I was concerned, as long as I could just get the tire on the rim. I gave up. What now? I did what any self respecting BMW owner would in this situation. I threw the wheel with the half mounted tire stuck on it into my trunk and drove over to Bisbeeís local ďchopper shop.Ē These guys mostly work on Triumphs; but they know motorcycles and have certainly changed their share of tires. Being Bisbee, they donít have a fancy automated tire machine. They donít have rim protectors either. It took three of us to finish prying the new Tourance onto the rim. The scratches add character- I mean, it IS a GS after all. Thankful just to finally get the tire on the rim, I mounted the wheel back on the bike without the fancy balancing beads. A lot of folks donít balance dual-sport tires, right? Anyway, with only five or six hours invested, I am happy to report the new rear tire is serving nicely. Anybody want to come over and help me with the front? Or, maybe make me an offer on a few basic tire-changing toolsÖ ;-)