How to Change Dirt Bike Tires – EASY to Follow Steps

How to Change Dirt Bike Tires – EASY to Follow Steps

Dirt bike tires aren’t meant to last forever. After a while, they become worn out and need to be replaced. 

Although you can always change your tire at a motorcycle store, learning to change them yourself will save you money. I’m a dirt bike enthusiast who’s been changing his own tires for the past five years, and in this article, I’ll be listing the steps on how to change a dirt bike tire. 

To change a dirt bike tire, you’ll need to remove the old tire from the rim and replace it with a new one. But before going into the steps, let’s look at the tools you’ll need to change your tires properly. 

Tools Required to Change a Dirt Bike Tire

Dirt bike tires are carefully mounted on rims for optimum performance and safety. Hence, you’ll need special tools to help you remove and replace them with precision. 

How to Change Dirt Bike Tires

Below is a list of tools you’ll need to change a dirt bike tire: 

    • Motorcycle lift

    • Bead buddy

    • Tusk motorcycle tire bead tool

How to Change a Dirt Bike Tire

Follow the steps below to change a dirt bike tire. 

Step 1. Unmount The Wheels

    • The first step to changing your dirt bike tires is to unmount the wheels from your bike by putting your bike on a stand. To do this, place your dirt bike on a motorcycle lift to elevate the front wheel. 

Unmount The Wheels

    • You’ll need to remove the axle nuts and loosen the fork pinch bolts when it’s off the ground. You can use a T-wrench to send the axle through the forks for this step. If you can’t lay your hands on a T-wrench, you can also use a ratchet extension.

    • When you’re done, take off the wheel and set it on a tire stand or any platform above the ground that will allow you to work on it. 

Step 2: Remove Valve Core

    • After setting the tire on a stand, remove the valve core. This step is required to deflate the tire to allow you to remove it from the rims easily. The idea is to remove all the air from the inner tube. If you simply press the valve to deflate the tire, there’ll still be some air left in the inner tube, making removing the tire much harder. 

    • Use your valve core remover to pull the valve core and set it aside. 

Step 3: Loosen the Rim Lock

    • The rim lock ensures the tire’s beads are attached to the rims to prevent tire slip. You’ll need to loosen the rim lock nut as if you’re about to remove it but don’t take it off.

    • After working on the nuts, press the rim lock down to loosen its grip and allow it to move freely. 

Step 4: Break The Beads

    • To break the beads, you can place a tire spoon on the edge of the rim. Slide the spoon under the rim’s edge and apply force to push the bead down.

    • After breaking the bead on one side, proceed to break the one on the other side of the tire. 

    • But with one side free, there’s even more pressure on the other side, making it a little more difficult to break. You’ll need to apply force to press the rim lock against the tire and attach a bead buddy close to the rim lock to hold the loosened bead on the other side in place.     

    • Attach another bead buddy on the side you’re working on. Then place it in your tire spoon and apply force to push down and release the bead. 

Step 5: Remove the Tire from the Rim

    • The next step is the most challenging part of changing your tire.  You’ll need to remove the tire from the rims. This is where you need your tire lubricant to make the process less strenuous.

Remove the Tire from the Rim

    • Ensure you spray both the rim and the tire and insert three tire spoons about 5 inches from each other. Be careful while inserting the spoons so you don’t puncture the tube between the tire and the rim. The idea is to use the spoons to grab the bead of the tire and work it over the edge of the rim.

    • With the spoon irons in place, use the iron placed centrally to apply some pressure. As you do this, place your hand on the other side of the tire to apply pressure. This allows you to push the tire beads into the rim’s center core.

    • Cover all three spoons, remove them, then place one spoon about 6 inches away and start working the bead over the rim. 

    • After working your way around one side of the tire, flip it over to work on the other side. As you did on the first side, apply some tire lubricant and use three spoons to push the beads into the rim and work your way around the tire. 

Step 6: Peel the Tire

    • After working the bead over the rim, stand your tire up, apply pressure to push it down, and peel the tire off the rim. 

Step 7: Inspect Inner Tube 

    • Now that you’re ready to install your new tire, inspect the rim tape and ensure it’s still in top condition and has no dust or dirt. If you’re using a standard tube, you’ll need to replace the rim tape on each tire change. But heavy-duty tubes can last for a few tire changes before they need replacing. 

Step 8: Clean Inner Tube and Tire

    • After inspecting the inner tube, clean it. You should also clean the tire and ensure it doesn’t have dirt or sand.

    • Before placing the inner tube, you can apply some baby powder as a dry lubricant on the tire. 

Step 9: Install Inner Tube in Tire

Fixing Tire  Inner Tube

    • Ensure there’s enough air in the tube to allow it to hold its shape while you install it inside the tire. You’re ready to install the tire on the rim with the tube inside the tire. 

Step 10: Install Tire on the Rim 

    • Apply the lubricant to the sides of the tire to allow you to slip it back into the rim easily.

    • The next step is to look for the hole in the rim that will receive the tube’s valve stem. 

    • Pull the tube up slightly, locate the hole, and carefully slide the valve stem through it. 

    • With the valve stem well placed, tighten the nut to ensure the tube is properly placed. Proceed to re-insert the valve core.  

Step 11: Work the Tire Onto the Rim

    • You’ll need a curved tire iron to work the tire into the rim. Use the tire iron to take small bits of the tire and work your way up to the rim lock. 

    • After working the tire all the way around the rim, set it down from the tire stand to allow you to work the bead up and over the rim lock. 

Step 12: Slip the Tire Bead into the Rim 

    • With your tire in the ground, pick a smaller tire iron and place them on both sides of the rim lock. Use them to lift the tire bead and slip it over the rim lock. 

    • Press up on the rim lock and release your tire irons. 

    • With that done, you should have the bead sitting perfectly on the rim. 

    • With the first side of the tire in place, it’s time to work on the other side. Spray down the bead with lubricant and place two small tire irons as you did before.

    • Ensure the irons are set about 5 or 6 inches apart and use them to work the tire over the rim.

    • Place the tusk motorcycle tire bead tool on the rim, press down on the bead and insert it into the spokes. 

    • The motorcycle tire bead tool will help to keep the bead down into the drop center as you begin to work the bead back onto the rim. It also helps keep the tire bead seated on the rim as you work your way around it. 

    • With that in place, put the tire irons on the rim lock and take small bites as you work your way around. Take extra caution while doing this so you don’t pinch the tube.

    • As you get closer to the rim lock while working your way around the wheel, press the lock towards the tube and use the tire irons to take small bites to get the bead seated correctly under the rim lock. 

Step 13: Inflate the Tire and Set the Bead

    • For this next step, you’ll need to tighten the valve and inflate your inner tube to set the bead. 

    • To set the bead, you’ll need to over-inflate the tire. You can feel the rim edge with a finger to check if your tire is fully seated. 

Step 14: Set Tire Pressure

    • When you’re certain the bead is in place, set your tire pressure to 12-15 psi.

    • Install the valve stem cap and place the valve stem nut on it. 

    • When that’s done, you can take your wheel, insert it back on your bike, and hit the trails! 

When Does Your Dirt Bike Need New Tires?

Several factors determine how quickly your dirt bike tire needs replacement. For example, pavement riding wears your tires down far quicker than riding off-road. Hence, it’s essential to inspect your tires regularly to check if they need replacing.

Below are some of the signs you may notice that suggest your tire needs replacement:

Short Knobs

Tire knobs are one of the best ways to check if your tire needs replacing. When the knob is rounded or shorter than when you installed the tire, your tire is due for replacement. 

Shorter knobs reduce tire grip, which leads to poor handling. Motocross riders usually change their bike tires after each race because any slight reduction in tire grip impacts speed. 

Tire sidewall and Bead

A dirt bike tire’s sidewall and bead are subjected to flexing and regular impact. Hence, it’s only natural that they develop cracks after a while.

Tire sidewall

When a crack begins to form on the tire bead and sidewall, the tire is susceptible to rupture when the correct force is applied. To save yourself the stress and potential injuries, change your dirt bike tires once you notice cracks on the sidewall and beads.

Balding and Ageing

As you use your tires, they age slowly and lose color. If your tire begins to lose color after a year, it indicates aging, and your your dirt bike tire needs replacement. Additionally, one of the clearest signs that your tire needs replacement is when they start balding. Balding is a process where your tire’s lugs begin to deteriorate. 

Lugs round off as you ride your bike. This eliminates the hard wall that your tire would normally cut into the dirt with. The loss of this hard wall directly leads to decreased traction, which causes the tire’s riding surface to become slippery. 

The lugs on a new tire look like square edges. It begins to change shape as you ride. But when it looks like plain circles, you need to change your tire as soon as possible.  

Missing Lugs

While it’s best to change your lugs as they deteriorate, some riders can still get a few more rides out of their tires. But it can get even worse. 

The lugs can deteriorate to a point where it starts to fall off, which could eliminate traction. You need to change the tire quickly when it does get to this point.

You should also inspect and change your tire’s inner components when they wear out. For example, inspecting the tubes when changing your dirt bike tire is always helpful. If the tube is old, you’ll find signs of wear around the seam and valve stem. Changing the inner components can help prolong your tire’s lifespan. 


 How Much Does It Cost To Change A Dirt Bike Tire?

This depends on where you’re changing your tire and whether you’re changing both tires. In the average motorcycle store, a front tire will cost you between $40 and $80 to replace, while a rear tire will cost you between $50 to $130. But if you’re changing the tire yourself, you’ll only pay for a new tire. 

Do Dirt Bike Tires Need To Be Balanced?

This depends on the quality of the tire. A quality dirt bike tire on a good rim does not require balancing, while cheap tires do. Your riding terrain can also affect whether you need balancing or not. If you ride in rugged terrain, your tires don’t require balancing, even if the quality is cheap. 

Do You Need A Rim Lock On A Dirt Bike?

Yes, you need a rim lock on a dirt bike. Without rim locks, the torque of acceleration or braking causes your tire to spin on the rim, which can tear the valve stem and cause a flat tire. 

Final Thoughts

Changing dirt bike tires are more complex than many people think. It’s a lot harder than changing the tire on your car or bicycle.

You need the right tools and patience, especially when breaking the bead. But if you follow the steps above, you should be able to change your dirt bike tire without much hassle. Lastly, you can change both tires at different times. The rear wheel is worn out twice as fast as the front wheel. Unless both tires are old, there’s no real need to change them at the same time!

Jude Odumamwen

Jude became obsessed with motorcycles after his dad got him a 2007 Suzuki SV650 for his 16th birthday. He's since ridden a few more bikes and made a career out of writing about them. Jude also writes about cars, but his first love runs on two wheels. When he's not writing, he likes to watch movies or read mystery novels.