How to Change Tires on My Harley
Changing tires on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle is a basic skill with which every garage mechanic should be comfortable. Replacing worn tires, upgrading custom rims, lubricating the bearings and axle all require similar skill sets. Proper maintenance on a tire can also help keep a rider safe. Doing it yourself has the added benefit of keeping extra money in your pocket. The length of time to change a tire depends greatly upon your skill level, but will generally take one to two hours per tire.
- Moderately Challenging
- Motorcycle lift or lever lift
- Allen wrench set
- SAE socket set
- Valve stem tool
- Ratchet-style bumper jack
- Tire spoons
- Soapy water
- Tire pressure gauge
Pull the Front Wheel
Block the motorcycle so that the front wheel is elevated off of the ground. Use a hydraulic motorcycle lift or a lever lift. Ensure that the bike is stable before proceeding.
Loosen and remove the front brake caliper with an Allen wrench. Allow the caliper to hang to the side of the bike from the brake line. There is no need to disconnect the brake line.
Remove the front axle nut with an SAE socket wrench. Pull out the front axle and place it in a clean location.
Drop the front wheel out from between the front forks.
Pull the Rear Wheel
Block the motorcycle so that the rear wheel is elevated off of the ground. Unbend and remove the axle cotter pin with pliers. Loosen and remove the rear axle nut with an SAE socket wrench.
Drop the tire slightly so that it comes free from the rear brake caliper. Roll the tire forward toward the front of the motorcycle so that the belt drive becomes loose. Slip the belt off of the rear pulley.
Pull the wheel back and out from under the rear fender.
Remove the Tires
Unscrew the valve stem cores from the tires with a valve stem tool. Allow all of the air to bleed out.
Move one motorcycle tire to behind a car or truck near the bumper. Lay the tire on its side. Place the base plate of a ratchet-style bumper jack onto the sidewall of the motorcycle tire. Jack up the bumper jack under the vehicle bumper so that the sidewall of the motorcycle tire becomes compressed. Repeat this process for the opposite side of the tire.
Move the tire to a work area. Place the tire on its side. Pry the side of the tire free from the rim moving in a circular motion around the wheel using tire spoons. Flip the tire over and repeat this process on the opposite side until the tire is completely removed.
Place New Tires on the Rims
Place soapy water around the new rims and tire beads.
Use tire spoons to work the new tire onto the existing rims. Work in a circular motion around the wheel.Repeat this process for the opposite side of the tire.
Reinstall the valve stem core into the valve stem using a valve stem core remover. Inflate the tire with a compressor. It is necessary to allow each side or "bead" of the tire to set into place. This will generally occur with a popping sound as you inflate the tire. It may be necessary to exceed normal riding pressure on the tire in order to allow this to occur. When the beads are set, inflate the tire to the recommended pressure written on the side of the tire. Use a pressure gauge for measurement.
Repeat this process for the other motorcycle tire.
Reinstall each tire in reverse order.