Tire change and wheel balance, wire spoke GS wheels

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by manfromthestix, Jun 29, 2006.

  1. manfromthestix

    manfromthestix Lost in Space

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,340
    Location:
    Lexington, Virginia
    On a recent group ride my buddies and I were discussing tire changing. I had just swapped tires and balanced the wheels on my GS and photo-documented it, so I thought I'd post ANOTHER do-it-yourself tire mounting and balancing thread just in case folks need a refresher!

    N00bs, listen up, you can do this! [​IMG]

    When I bought my first BMW (a 1997 R1100RT that I still own and love) it needed tires in a bad way. I took it to a dealer and said, "Swap those bad boys for some fresh meat!". They did a fine job, but the labor costs almost equaled the cost of the tires and I nearly had my first BMW sticker-shock coronary right then and there. Over $450 for a set of tires [​IMG]. I can buy a set from SWMotoTires.com for under $225 shipped to my door. I've been riding for 43 years now and have changed a lot of dirt bike tires, but was intimidated by the cast wheels on the RT. So I did some reading, bought a Marc Parnes balancer (what a cool tool!) and three long curvy tire irons from Bob's BMW. So here we go!

    It's always a good idea to tie off the center stand so the bike doesn't fall forward while working in it. It's easy on the GS, just tie off to the crash bars. It's tougher to find something to tie off to on my RT or K75.

    [​IMG]

    Check the crown seal and final drive while you've got the wheel off, and check the brake pads. Good, no sign of oil leaks! Clean it up good before putting it back together. The brake rotor comes off with the GS wheel, but stays on the bike with the RT and K75. You don't even need to pull the brake calipers off to get the GS wheel off.

    [​IMG]
    If it looks like this, you need a new crown seal (Red Line Heavy gear oil seeping from the RT's seal :puke1 ):

    [​IMG]

    Still some meat on that tire, but not enough for a long ride!

    [​IMG]

    This is where the real fun begins, breaking the bead on the old tire. I use a high-tech gizmo of my own fabrication:

    [​IMG]

    Set the wheel rotor-side down on three carpet covered 2X4's and use the truck's frame as a fulcrum. The 2X4 lever has a piece of scrap metal I found along the railroad bolted to it for a bead-breaker. Cheap and effective! Careful not to scratch your rims here.

    [​IMG]

    Flip the wheel over and break the bead on the other side, careful of the brake rotor!

    Now we're ready for the really fun part, taking the old tire off the wheel. I use the same carpet-covered 2X4's, rotor side down, Windex for lubrication, three curvy tire irons and some plastic rim protectors made from a liquid detergent bottle (milk cartons and pop bottles are too thin). The rim protectors sold at motorcycle shops work great on your cast wheels but they don't fit the thicker spoked wheels.

    [​IMG]

    I'm going to post this in chunks so I don't run the risk of losing it to a computer (operator) glitch!
    #1
  2. manfromthestix

    manfromthestix Lost in Space

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,340
    Location:
    Lexington, Virginia
    Continued:

    It's easier to get a good "bite" with three tire irons:

    [​IMG]

    Once the tire is popped off one side, reach under and pull the other side off the same way. Those curvy tire irons are fantastic! Use lots of Windex for lubrication.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Bingo!

    [​IMG]

    Now it's time to clean the old rubber, wheel weights, bugs and other crap off the wheel so you can properly balance it and provide a good seat for the new tire:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Next chunk, balance the wheel without the tire!

    Doug
    #2
  3. manfromthestix

    manfromthestix Lost in Space

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,340
    Location:
    Lexington, Virginia
    Now it's time to balance the wheel without the tire on it. This is done because there's always a heavy spot on a wheel, and tire manufacturers mark the light spot on their tires. Put the light spot of the tire adjacent to the heavy part of the wheel and you decrease the amount of weight needed to balance it.

    This is the Parnes balancer resting on two jack stands. The cardboard under one stand is to level the balancer. I bought the BMW set of cones for the balancer and a "universal" cone so I can balance the wheels on any bike (BMWs, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, etc.). [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Balance the wheel according to the instructions.

    [​IMG]

    Hmmmm.... The heavy spot is really close to the valve stem! See the red dots on the Metzelers showing the lightest part of the tire?

    [​IMG]

    I tap a couple of punch marks into the rim to mark the heavy spot:

    [​IMG]

    Getting the rotation direction correct is easy with the GS wheels since the rim and tire are both marked. On the cast wheels the arrow on the tire goes on the rear wheel opposite the drive side, and the front wheel on the speedo side (left side of the wheels).

    [​IMG]
    #3
  4. manfromthestix

    manfromthestix Lost in Space

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,340
    Location:
    Lexington, Virginia
    Once you've established the heaviest part of the wheel and marked it, you never have to do that step again. Check out the valve stem and replace it if it looks suspicious, you can get them at any car parts dealer for next to nothing.

    Put the new tire on the wheel by reversing the procedures outlined above, making sure you've got the rotation direction arrow on the tire on the correct side of the wheel.

    [​IMG]

    Halfway there! Now is the time to rotate the tire to align the light spot dots with your punch marks on the wheel; once the tire is fully mounted it's almost impossible to turn it on the wheel. Use lots of lubrication!

    Keep the already-mounted part of the tire bead pushed down into the depression in the center of the wheel as you dismount and mount the tires, otherwise you're asking it to stretch a LOT and they don't like doing that!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Now it's time to balance the wheel with the new tire on it. The Marc Parnes balancer comes with great instructions, so I won't reiterate them here. Suffice it to say that you find the heavy spot again, then put weights 180 degrees opposite that spot to balance the wheel. It's a trial and error business to get the proper amount of weight, so I stick them on the wheel using masking tape until I have the proper amount delineated. Make sure you've put the valve stem back in, aired up the tire to proper pressure, and put the valve cap back on since all that affects the weight distribution. (The valve stem and cap should be installed when you balance the wheel without the tire mounted yet.)

    Sometimes the new tire is reluctant to seat properly until it's aired up to proper pressure. Use plenty of lubricant and DO NOT OVERINFLATE THE TIRE to get it to seat! You may have to deflate it and relube, then pump it back up to proper inflation before it seats properly. Don't get impatient, it will eventually pop into place. Don't have your finger stuck in there when it does or it will pinch it off!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Once the wheel is balanced you can gently spin it and it will stop randomly since there is no longer a heavy spot anywhere.

    [​IMG]

    Install the wheel weights with double-sided foam tape. If you have several weights in one spot put them in the center of the wheel or split them evenly on the left and right sides of center.

    Reinstall the wheel, torque to proper tightness:

    [​IMG]

    The front wheel is the same procedure, you just have two brake discs to work around:

    [​IMG]

    Now it's time to clean up your messy garage!

    [​IMG]

    Or not! [​IMG] I like to get right out and start wearing the nubbies off!

    [​IMG]

    Ride cautiously for the first 50 miles or so on your new tires as they get "scrubbed in". Manufacturers use a mold release compound in the tire construction process that takes a while to wear off and the tires won't develop their full grip until they've got a few miles on them.

    I spent about 1.5 hours doing the GS tire swap and balance by myself. It will go quicker next time since I can skip the balance-the-wheel-without-the-tire step. My total investment in tools for changing and balancing is under $150. The dealer charged $230 for labor to remove, replace and balance two tires and the tires were $240. I can get a set of MEZ6's for the RT or Tourances for the GS shipped to my door for under $215, so after only one tire change I'm already saving money. Since I live in Wyoming where there are ZERO dealers and other brand shops won't mess with my wheels, it also saves me a couple of days in time (and the expense) of getting the wheels and new tires to the dealership.

    I hope this helps. Now go wear those tires out! Happy trails!

    Doug

    [​IMG]
    #4
  5. impi

    impi Long timer

    Joined:
    May 31, 2002
    Oddometer:
    1,247
    Location:
    Loxahatchee, FL
    :thumb

    Great post manfromthestix
    #5
  6. MikeO

    MikeO Part-time wage slave...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2002
    Oddometer:
    7,154
    Location:
    Scarning, Norfolk, today...
    Excellent guide :thumb - although I'm gob-smacked by the price quoted by your dealer - :huh my chap here swapped & balanced tyres for me (& disposed of the old ones) for $68 - ride in/ride out...

    Mike
    #6
  7. Oops409

    Oops409 Tom

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2006
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    Lexington, Virginia
    Great post. Where did you get the curvy tire irons from?
    #7
  8. manfromthestix

    manfromthestix Lost in Space

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,340
    Location:
    Lexington, Virginia
    Curvy tire irons from http://www.bmwbobs.com/, faboolious tools. I take two with me when travelling plus some plug-patches for little adventures like this:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The price I stated for swapping tires on my RT was not quoted, it was BILLED and I had to pay it. That was shop labor rates to pull the wheels off the bike, remove and replace the two tires and balance the wheels, and put them back on the bike. I just about pooped my pants and immediately started looking at alternatives. Jeeezuz!

    Doing your own service work is like reloading your own ammunition - you save some money for sure, but really what you end up doing is shooting (riding) a lot more because it's more affordable!
    #8
  9. RockemRdr

    RockemRdr Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    415
    Location:
    Out West
    I believe he said Bob's BMW.
    #9
  10. Slope'r

    Slope'r Turn'n Valves

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2005
    Oddometer:
    494
    Location:
    Joseph, Oregon
    :clap Great tutorial !!!
    #10
  11. Monkey_Boy

    Monkey_Boy Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    7,469
    Dang, nicely done!

    I need to change 8-10 or more sets of tires per season (track riding) and so I purchased this a few years back. Paid for itself in no time.

    Personally, I dont' see any big advantage to pre-balancing the wheel itself, but to each his own. :1drink

    http://www.wikco.com/Coats220.html


    [​IMG]

    ps. motorcycle tires don't need to be balanced as precisely as cage tires. It's the physics. Does not mean to be sloppy, just don't try to balance to 1/4 ounce. :rofl
    #11
  12. bison

    bison lost

    Joined:
    May 22, 2004
    Oddometer:
    174
    Location:
    ATL-GA
    have been impressed by my Harbor Freight Tools tire changer, with a margninal back getting off the ground made it worth the $80 and i now i can fix my front tractor tires as well
    #12
  13. HowlingMad

    HowlingMad drags knuckles

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,360
    Location:
    Cranberry Country, MA
    Thanks much. I've been wondering about this very thing for a while. I now have the courage to go get myself into trouble.
    #13
  14. harlie75

    harlie75 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    81
    That's the first time I have seen a 3/4 ton (2500) pickup with 1/2 ton wheels (6 bolt).
    #14
  15. longtallsally

    longtallsally Yeah I'm a chick

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,530
    Location:
    BACK IN THE STATES!!!
    Guys it really is a joke to mount your own. I've got a Harbor Freight dealio and a nice No Mar bar as well as regular tire irons. Went for a nice cruise on Saturday only after realizing that I had cords showing in the rear. Took 15 minutes to pull the wheel and put on a new tire.

    I don't bother balancing as I've got the TPM system on the bike and the first couple times I tried the weights just went to the same place.
    #15
  16. marchyman

    marchyman Cam Killer

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2005
    Oddometer:
    7,697
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    I've noticed that fewer and fewer of the tires I buy have the balancing marks. I'm going to balance my wheel (moving around the after market TPM sensors to minimize added weight) next time I have the tires off. Like you, I find that I'm almost always adding the same weight to the same place when I change a tire.

    With the wheel balanced I'll leave the weights on and add an extra bit the rare time it is necessary due to a tire that isn't balanced.

    // marc
    #16
  17. Mainuh

    Mainuh Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    197
    Location:
    Southern Maine
    Great job posting this Doug. I Already see 1-2 people who might do their own now after reading it and who knows how many lurkers!

    I finally broke down and bought a machine last year and it really makes short work of it. WIth the prices my local dealer gets for rubber and for changing it... I'll pay for it in 4 sets of tires. My wife was even ok with that math! But doing it as Doug shows here is good to know how to do! Hard to drag your tire machine with you on a trip, so always good to know how to spoon one on. I always carry two kinds or patching/plugging systems with me and one of those mini compressors (have had mixed luck with the little CO2 cartridges).

    I've just started using Dynabeads for balancing. I have the Marc Parnes balancer, but the beads are quicker and I can recover 95% of them when I use my tire machine. The dealer usually has the lowest paid mechanic doing the tire changes and I've seen some pretty poor balancing jobs and scratching from them. And some badly cupped tires 3-4000 miles later. Don't get that doing it myself!

    Thanks for taking the time to post that! Hopefully it'll give more people the confidence to try it themselves. It sure is important to save where we can in this economy!
    #17
  18. dwestly

    dwestly Refuses to Grow Up!

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2008
    Oddometer:
    465
    Location:
    Tampa, FL
    Great how-to and excellent photos. Thanks for taking all the effort to show us tire noobies the way! Good job!
    #18
  19. MoxNix

    MoxNix Stuttgart Germany

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,165
    Location:
    Stuttgart DE
    Thanks for the write-up:clap

    Now when I get my bike and wear out a set of tires, I'll be all set:lol3
    #19
  20. manfromthestix

    manfromthestix Lost in Space

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,340
    Location:
    Lexington, Virginia
    :rofl :D :lol3

    What TRUCK wheels?? Oh yeah.........

    That is a "light duty 3/4 ton" Chevy. I wanted something to pull a horse trailer, bike trailer, haul firewood and other loads, etc. without having to put up with the pogo stick ride of a heavy duty 3/4 ton truck and this was just the ticket. I factory-ordered it with the towing package, cold weather package, 5 speed standard tranny, etc. It's got standard duty 3/4 ton frame, gearbox, axles, rear end, etc. but lighter duty suspension so the ride is very nice. I bought it in 1994 and it still purrs like a kitten with 130,000 hard truck miles on it. In 15 years and 130K miles I've had only three sets of tires on it and the only mechanical things that have gone wrong were a clutch (wear item) at 90K, leaking oil cooler hoses, and leaking intake manifold gaskets. I will drive it until it can't go any farther, but it looks to be one that will live forever.

    So anyway, thanks for the comments. I think it's imperative to know how to fix and maintain your own bike if you plan to do long-distance touring and tires are really easy yet the most critical element of a safe trip. I carry enough stuff with me to fix anything short of a total blowout and it's saved my day several times. I carry new valve stems too, because those damned things have been known to blow out. The plugging kits and CO2 cartridge fillers are almost useless in my experience; I've used them and they worked to get me going again to a better spot to fix the tire, but the can't be trusted like a good plug-patch.

    My last tire change and balance on my RT took about 45 minutes start to finish, all by myself, and the RT takes longer than the GS because of the front fender and different rear wheel attachment. This is really not difficult.

    Happy New Year!

    Doug
    #20