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Blood and Sweat - Changing Tires and Tubes

The Do's and Don'ts of Tire Changing in the Garage and on the Trail

· Tech Tips

We could start out this article by talking through the Pros and Cons of Tube or Tubeliss Rims and which is better for ADV riding etc. They both have their merits and I have ridden ADV bikes with both configurations. Regardless, it seems more and more ADV riders coming on to the see either want to change their tires in the comfort of their garage (Saving 20-60 dollars per tire to have a shop do it) or they want to be prepared for a trail side repair. Either way, let's talk about what it takes.

The right tools for the job

Having all the right tools is critical for both shop and trail side. Failure to start here, in my opinion, is going to result in lots of bloody knuckles, swearing and probably a few pinched tubes.

Essentials for changing tires/tubes in the Garage

  • Tire Irons - Good sturdy tire irons like the Motion Pro forged steel ones are an excellent choice
  • Bead Breaker - There are lots of options here, both trail size and shop size and sure you can use a C-Clamp and many other common tools but if you have never done it before, spend a few dollars on a bead breaker.   It will save you a lot of frustration
  • Tire Lube - Another "optional" item.  Simple Green or Dish Soap are great alternatives.  However, since I started using Tire Lube a few years ago, I have never looked back.  It makes not only makes putting tires on easier, it also helps with pulling them off the rim.  
  • Valve stem puller - There are two styles, both very helpful.   A simple valve stem tool that looks like a minauture screw driver and then there is one that works really well for pulling the tube valve stem back IN the rim.  
  • Gloves - Save your knuckles now.  
  • Rim protectors.  Some of us like to keep our rims as nice as possible.  Rim protectors can help with that.  However, I caution you. If you need your rims to look pristine, stop now, forget about changing your own tires and take your bike to a shop.  You will almost always scratch your rims during tire changes.  Both in the Garage and on the Trail.
  • Baby Powder - For the tubes.  More explained later but the Baby Powder does exactly what it is supposed to do, it makes the surfaces it attaches to a little smoother.   
  • Sockets and wrenches for loosening Axle nuts, clamp nuts, chain adjusters and brake calipers.   A good starting selection is a set of 10mm-17mm open ended wrenches.  10mm-27mm 1/2" sockets and wrench.  For the sockets, you can get the essentials for your bike which would not be the whole range listed above. I like tools, so I have the full set myself.
Essentials for the Trail side Tire/Tube repair
  • Tire Spoons and wrenches.  I threw these two together because I highly suggest the Motion Pro combo box wrench/ tire spoon.  You can get a front and rear size (22mm and 27mm very common for big ADV bikes but check your model).  Now you are saving space and have a functional combo
  • Wrenches for chain and clamp bolt access.  Some bikes might even need to remove a caliper so check your manual 
  • Some type of trail side bead breaker.   This is the toughest, especially if you are riding alone.  I suggest one that you have practiced with in the garage and have at least 50% success at.   Riding with someone?  The easiest is the kick stand method.  That makes bead breaking a sinch.
  • Valve stem puller and cable
  • tube patch kit include glue.  Carry a few different sizes