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To be honest, swapping out motorcycle tires isn’t an easy task for newbies.
No matter how easy it seems when veterans do it in YouTube videos, it involves a lot of sweat and can even draw some accidental blood. (If you manage to damage the shiny rotor in your new bike, tears may come too.)
So either you struggle with the tools or pay a fitter to get the job done.
But there’s a hack that gives you an easy way to get the job done and save some money.
Yes, I am talking about using zip ties to change a motorcycle tire.
Let’s take a closer look.
How to Change a Motorcycle Tire With Zip Ties?
When I heard of the method for the first time, I was skeptical. Admittedly, squeezing the hell out of my new Continental by using zip ties didn’t seem like a good idea at all.
But after trying it out for the first time, I was literally blown away by the simplicity of the whole process. And all for the price of a pack of zip ties – the greatest ever invention by mankind.
If you’re an adventure rider, this is one method that can come in handy while replacing worn-out or squared-off motorcycle tires.
How does it work?
Once the tire is deflated, the zip ties can easily be run through the space between the tire and the rim. Now, you can easily tie them down and apply enough pressure to bring the tire beads closer.
Actually, the bead circumference is bigger at the wheel edges than at the center. That makes it easy to remove the tire from the bead.
But note, you need to beak the bead first. Without popping the bead, there isn’t a sufficient gap between the tire and the rim for inserting the edge of the zip tie.
If you have a bead-breaking tool or a bench vice in your garage, great. Or else, you need to use a portable bead breaker or a good old tire iron.
Inserting the first tie is always the toughest. The good news is, it gets progressively easier.
Once all the ties are inserted and the tire is squeezed up sufficiently, you have to remove it from the rim. Admittedly, that needs some amount of force. Using a tire changing stand for bikes is a good idea.
(Take note, none of your MMA skills will work with the old thing. It’s all about the art of traditional Greco-Roman wrestling. Not as in the gif below, mind you!)
Next, you need to tie up the new tires with zip ties and push them into the wheel. Once you inflate and balance them, you’re good to go.
Time to break down the steps.
Here are the two primary items you will need.
- A pack of zip ties (pick heavy duty ties of the longest length you can find)
- Some dish soap and water for lubrication. You can also use tire lube.
Taking Off Motorcycle Tires Using Zip Ties
A quick tip – you’ll always find it easy to work on warm tires. Cold rubber will always be more difficult to handle.
Start by taking the wheel off and letting the air out of the tire. Then you can break the bead by using any tool you have in your garage.
Insert the first zip tie between the rim and the tire and tighten it up as much as possible. Make sure the tube is securely pressed inside. Now, insert the second one. Trust me, tightening this one will be much easier.
Tie up all the zip ties to squeeze the tire. Usually, 6 zip ties work well for me. You can go up to 8 or 10 if needed. The target is to enlarge the gap between the tire bead and the rim as much as possible.
Give the inner edge of the tire and the beads a generous spray with soap water. This will help in reducing friction and you’ll be able to remove the tire with less force.
It’s time to put some pressure on the tire carcass and slide it off the wheel frame (Grunting and cursing aren’t necessary at this stage, but recommended.) Use tire spoons if needed. But be careful not to damage the wheel.
In case you are not using a stand, I’d suggest placing the tire on a soft surface. This will prevent any damage to the rotors or the wheel when you’re pressing the tire down.
Once the tire is removed, thank the almighty. The first part of the job is done.
Mounting Motorcycle Tires With Zip Ties
Once the old tire is removed, you need to repeat the process with the new tire.
And remember: most tires come with a direction marker. While mounting the new one, make sure that you have the arrow pointing in the right direction.
Start tying zip ties around the tire and pull the two ends of the bead as close as possible. Don’t hesitate to tighten them as much as possible.
Lubricate one side of the tire bead and the wheel with soap water. Spread the lubricant evenly to ensure that it covers the entire surface.
Place the tire on top of the rim and push it down to insert it completely into the rim. Once the tire is set, you can remove the zip ties. The tire beads will now expand and move closer to the edge. (Here’s a secret – mounting is MUCH easier than removing the tire!)
Bring out the air compressor and inflate the tire to the required pressure. Now the beads will sit tightly on the rim. Last but not least, make sure to balance the tire before you hit the roads.
There you have it. Zip tie motorcycle tire change – super safe and super easy!
Did I miss something?
Well, the process works for tubeless tires too. Actually, the rim construction for tubeless tires is different and some of the rims may have more depth. With more gap between the tire and the rim, the process of using zip ties gets even easier.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you put a motorcycle tire on a zip tie?
To put a motorcycle tire on a zip tie, you need to break the bead first. Then you can slip the first tie through the small gap between the tire and the metal and tighten it.
How do you change a dirt bike tire with zip ties?
The process of changing dirt bike tires with zip ties is similar to that of a street bike. Basically, you need to use multiple ties to bring the tire beads closer and then slip it off or on the rim.
Can you replace just one tire on a motorcycle?
Manufacturers test the performance of the bike with both tires working as a pair. So, it’s best not to mix tires of two different brands that go against the manufacturer’s specifications. However, rear tires usually wear out faster than the front ones. So you may replace it first without replacing the front tire.