I have mounted hundreds of tires on BMWs, but they were all the
older models with spokes. I only remember doing one of the cast wheels and it
was a bear. This page will eventually show how to remove and install a BMW
motorcycle tire and tube from a spoke wheel. So far I only have one wheel to
show for removal. I am way too lazy to remount this tire on the rim just to take
photos. This wheel is off of a R90/6 parts bike of unknown history. It will be
for sale soon on ebay and it is ugly, but a very good wheel and hub.
I like to find a clean place to work and a piece of carpet for a soft working
surface. This helps protect the rim. I cleaned up the rim to make the job a bit
less unpleasant. It was really dirty and that is my "first"
Inspection shows that this tire was ridden way too far. It is nearly down to
cords. "Second" alarm signal.
Some examples of tire irons. The top one was made in the USA and is longer,
but fatter and thicker. I don't like them. The middle is a Dowidat model 38-8
and I love them. They are thin and strong. The lower one is out of the BMW tool
kit. They will work, but are short and not really as thin as the Dowidat. Besides being shorter, the BMW tire iron has rounded sides that will eat up your
rim. They will make large dents in an alloy rim and even slightly dent and
"break" the chrome on a steel rim. Find better irons.
Do not use a screwdriver unless there is no other way. The square edges will
eat up the rim, chew up the bead and punch a hole in the tube. Plan ahead and have decent tire irons in your tool kit.
I am not showing the use of rim protectors, as this rim is already too far
gone to worry about. The irons will slightly mar the edge of the rim, but not
nearly like the damage that is already there. I will show them for
installing a tire.
My favorite tire irons don't match, as I have had them "walk away" more than once and I just
reorder. I hope that they are still available. If someone has good info on tire
irons, please submit it and I will do some slight research and add it in here.
You will get credit/blame.
This photo shows the valve stem to be crooked. This tells me that the tire and tube
may have been mounted up incorrectly, or that the raging power of the R90/6 spun
the tire on the rim. Not likely. This is the "third"
The wheel weights are all mounted on one side. They should be split up with
as close to equal weight on each side. It is possible that it needed this much
weight to balance, but not likely. More likely that the installer didn't know
what he was doing. See my page on balancing a wheel. This is the "fourth" alarm
signal. They are adding up fast.
Time to remove the valve core to get the air out. This shows some of the
various valve stem caps. The purpose of the cap is to seal the air. If the valve
core seals the air, that is great, but don't expect it. The cap is your
first line of defense.
From L. to R; Original cap from a Metzler tube. This one has the special
wrench and is very good. Next is some aftermarket cap that also has the wrench
for the core. Next is some fancy chromed cap that may look great, but isn't
practical because it has no wrench. You now have to carry one in your tool kit. The one on the right is off of some "other brand" of tube and is plastic. I have
had them strip threads and fail to seal. Avoid junk like this. This tube had no
cap. This is the "fifth" alarm signal.
The air is out and it is time to break the bead. Some are very easy and some
are impossible to do this way. I just use my feet to break it off. I have had to
have help and tilt the bike over a bit and slide the tire under the center
stand. Then use the weight of the bike, with mine, to put a lot of pressure in
one small place to break the bead. Once it starts, just walk it around and
the rest is fairly easy.
Another NO NO, the tire is oversize. This would be about a 4.50 X 18 and BMW
recommends a 4.00 X 18. I highly recommend using the 4.00 tire.
(Most /2 use a 3.50 on the front and rear) You will keep
neutral steering. It will fit in place easily. Your speedo isn't accurate
anyway, so don't worry about that aspect. The /6 isn't nearly as far off as the
/5 speedo. This is just one more item that makes me highly suspicious about the
previous owner and mechanic. Alarm signal six.
I use a paint brush to goop up the sidewall that I want to come over the rim. I am
currently out of the really good stuff, so I use a mixture (50/50) of hand soap and
water. Better stuff is available and for the beginner I strongly suggest
buying real tire lube. It can be purchased at any auto store cheaply.
The more of a beginner you are, the longer it will take to get this job done. Just make sure that you keep the bead
slippery wet. It is easy to have it dry out and give
you trouble. In an emergency, I have had to pull a fuel line and use gas.
This photo is taken looking straight down. Now comes the balancing act. I
have removed the nut that was on the valve stem and shoved it down and into the
tire as much as possible. If it really doesn't want to go in, that means that
the tire was mounted with the "valve stem patch" under the bead. Each
manufacturer uses a valve stem mounted on a thick piece of rubber. That is cast
into the tube and you can feel that it is thicker there. The tire would be
crooked on the rim. That isn't uncommon to find. In this case the stem shoved
into the tire cavity easily. I use my weight on each side of the valve stem. This is very important. See my page on the
5 dents. The bead is now in the
center space of the rim. This allows the tire to shift over a bit to give
maximum slack to get the tire off of the other side. It is very important to
always start the bead coming off directly opposite the valve stem. This small
advantage of less than 1/4" is the difference between being able to do it and
failing. I actually had one customer not know this part and he had to use a
cheater bar on the tire iron and he broke the bead on a brand new tire. He
claimed the tire was defective......nada.
The tire irons are stuck under the bead and levered backwards and over the
rim. This first "bite" is the hardest one. There is a very small risk of
pinching the tube while doing this. One will usually be replacing the tube
anyway, so it matters none. I like to reuse a good tube. I judge by its feel and
stretching ability. I can only do that because I have removed hundreds of
them and know when they "feel good" or "wimpy." Yes, yes, I know that the
manufacturers suggest that you always install a new tube, but is it really
necessary? That is up to you, but I never found a downside to reusing a good
tube. Maybe they want to sell new tubes.
I have removed the right iron and moved it over about 2" and slid it back in. If you try to move it too far to the right, you won't be able to get the tire
iron in. There is a "sweet place" to stick the iron in again. You may need to
experiment to find it. One can sort of see where the empty space is for
the iron to go in.
At this point, I have levered the right one over and moved the left one over
a bit, same as above. I like to alternate so as to keep working directly
opposite the stem.
The stem is still crooked, even after the bead is off on one side. I
really want to check the tube for a wrinkle.
I lift up the free side of the tire and sneak my hands in to grab the tube
and pull it out.
The tube is partially out. Keep working it around the rim and it will
This is more proof of poor workmanship. The tube is too small for the correct
sized tire. Alarm signal seven. It is way too small for this oversized
tire. The brand is Cheng Shin, a cheap tube with more plastic than rubber. This
is alarm signal eight, but a minor one.
Besides economy, the advantage of this tube is availability and it holds air
well. The main disadvantage is that they can rip open easily and allow a
sudden loss of air. We call that a blow out. The natural rubber
inner tubes are more likely to not rip and allow the air to escape slowly.
They cost more, are harder to find and lose 1-2 lbs of air weekly.
If you just once have this sudden loss of air while on a crowded freeway, you
may well elect to find and pay for the natural rubber tubes. Both Metzler
and Continental are natural rubber.
In the case of an emergency on the road, it is better to use a tube that is
too small rather than one that is too large. I imagine that this tube was in
there since the tire was installed. When I find this many errors, I know
that an idiot was involved somewhere.
I had to use a tube that was too large once and it got me home, but was
folded up in the tire. The fold will weaken the tube and eventually fail. I was
stuck in the hills of Arkansas and more than 100 miles from any motorcycle shop. It was out of a Ford tractor front wheel.
Do what you have to do, but fix it as soon as possible.
Now it is time to get the last bead off. Again, work on the opposite side of
the valve stem, as this gives you the most slack. Stick a tire iron in and
lever it over.
Whoa, not as easy as I thought it should be.
I had to slide a pipe over the tire iron to get the leverage needed to lever
it over. Either the tire is much stronger than what I was used to, or I am that
much weaker in my old age. Probably a bit of each. I have no idea what to
suggest you use when on the road and you have to replace a tire. Oh yes,
pay somebody else to do it.
Stick the other iron in as far away as possible and lever it
Keep working the irons farther apart. This one is about
to come off.
BMW motorcycle wheel with a disc, or double disc brake.
Laying the wheel down on the disc will cause it to warp. You will then need
to get another disc. Best is to remove the disc during the work. One can
lay the wheel on an old tire to hold up the rim. This will allow the disc to be on
the bottom but in the air when working on that side of the wheel. If you have
two discs, then it is nearly required to remove the discs as they are in the way
of the tire irons. It is an easy job to do. Be sure to properly
tighten up the bolts and nuts.
More tire mounting errors
Yesterday I had occasion to dismount two tires from rims. One had been
perfectly mounted and all was found OK. The other was a disaster waiting
to happen. This is to show you more alarm signs.
One should consider taking anything apart as an "autopsy" and use the
information as a teaching experience. This will tell you how well the
previous tire installer did. It may have been you. Best to learn
from mistakes or you'll keep repeating them.
Once the valve stem nut was backed off a bit, it allowed the
stem to show the alignment. It is bad. This tells me that something
is wrong with the mounting of the tube. This is why one never tightens up
the nut. Keep the nut loose as an indicator of conditions.
This shows the wrinkle at the stem and another on the right.
This is a failure waiting to happen.
Another fold in the center of the picture.
I have never seen this one before. The tube did not take
on the shape of a donut. See the very curved part? It was folded up
in the tire in that fashion. This is really asking for trouble.
This is a front tire and the size is shown just as an example.
While the size is about correct, it is still a cheap off brand tire. This
is not the way to save money.
This is the tube size. First off, it is for an 18" tire,
not a 19" as the tire actually is. Next, see the size will fit up to a
4.50? The tube is way too large for the tire, even though the diameter is
too small. This is about as stupid as it gets. This would be fine as
a temporary measure to "get home" but not to ride on for years. The tube
seems to be fair quality and still pliable. A cheap Chinese tube may not
have survived this long. This owner was quite lucky.
How to remove dings in an alloy rim
This applies to allow rims as far back as they were used.
I have had less success with steel rims. They tend to ding less and
instead get a big "wow" in the rim over a larger area. The chrome easily
gets damaged too. The /2 Weinmann alloy rims are
very easy to take out dings. They "push" around much easier than
the /5 and later rims.
The camera sort of distorts the rim a bit, but this is to show
two "dings" in the rim. Each ding is marked in blue. They are
staggered a bit, showing that they happened at different times. Someone tried to fix
the upper one it by hammering on the rim. Duh.
Aluminum does not respond to hammering, at least not as one would like.
Questions about how to repair a ding are common, so here is how to do it.
The ding can be fixed by slowly pressing on the rim in the right
place. This is a small ding and it needs to be pressed in a small area.
The ding is over a 3" part of the rim. I want to press on the center with
a 1/2" piece of wood. I like to use a piece of hard wood to protect the
rim. I tape the wood in place
just because I am working by myself. The backside is protected by cloth,
or better yet is to use wood. The wood will spread out the pressure on the
One could use a hydraulic press, but I like to keep up the
pressure for hours and it could leak back. Besides, few owners have one
available to them. A vise is far more common. This is a heavy duty
vise, and it is needed. A small vise probably won't open far enough or
have enough pressure. I like to crank it in just past where I want it to
stay, but not much.
This is the next morning. It came out perfectly
straight........... I was lucky to get it in one try. Now you can still
see the ding on the right side and it is larger than the one was on the left
side. It is now in the vise, but will take a few cranks at hourly
intervals to get this one out.
I have gotten quite a few requests for the same type of article on mounting a
tire. I am too lazy to just go out and mount a tire for the pictures.
I am waiting for a real need to mount a tire.