Whether you're mounting a new set of dual-sport tires or balancing a pair of utility wheels, being able to install OEM ATV parts and maintain your bike on your own can be immensely satisfying. It can also be tricky. Here are five tips to keep in mind as you mount and balance your motorcycle tires.
1. Before You Do Anything, Warm Up the Tires
Tires are softer when they're warm. That means they're easier to maneuver and manipulate, too. Leaving your tires in a sunny spot for 30 minutes — that's 15 minutes per side — ought to do the trick for most models. If it's cold outside, bring the tires inside until they hit room temperature.
2. Don't Forget To Degrease the Wheel
Odds are, you're going to get dirty during the mounting and balancing process. That's no big deal. Still, it's important to degrease the rim of your wheel, and here's why.
First, accumulated grease could affect the weight of the wheel and throw off your balance testing. Second, if you're working with stick-on weights, grease might prevent them from actually sticking. It would be a shame to do all that careful balancing only to have your weights slip like a clown on a banana peel.
3. Make Sure the Wheel Can Spin Freely Before Balancing
Drag is a natural enemy of even the best motorcycle tires. To eliminate it from the front tire, unbolting the calipers should do the trick. You may have to unhook the speedometer cable as well.
For the rear tire, remove the chain belt. If that's not doable thanks to a shaft, you'll need to enlist the help of a balance stand to prop up the back wheel.
To verify that there's no drag, give the wheel a gentle spin. It should rotate a few times before settling with its heaviest section — usually where the valve stem is — at the 6 o'clock position.
4. Remember That a Balanced Tire Will Stay Still
In the simplest terms, balancing your tire is a matter of adding weight opposite that heavy section and testing your tire by giving it a spin. If any spot is heavier than the rest, it'll sink to the bottom, so to speak.
Once your tire no longer has a heavy spot, your tire should stay still after a spin. If it keeps moving — even if that movement is slow — the tire isn't really balanced.
5. Tape Is Your Friend
Balancing a tire involves testing the rotation, adding or removing weights, and testing again. It's trial and error. If you're using self-adhesive weights, don't stick them on just yet. Rather than committing to that weight, use masking tape or some other temporary adhesive to attach them to your tire while you balance it. Once you've nailed the right amount of weight, then you can remove the tape and stick on the weights for real.
Street motorcycle tires need careful mounting and balancing to perform at their peak. Keep these tips in mind the next time you install a new tire or two, and you'll be ready to ride in no time.