ADVrider (
-   GS Boxers (
-   -   Tire change and wheel balance, wire spoke GS wheels (

manfromthestix 06-29-2006 10:17 AM

Tire change and wheel balance, wire spoke GS wheels
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!

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 I can buy a set from 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.

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

manfromthestix 06-29-2006 10:19 AM


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

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.


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:

Next chunk, balance the wheel without the tire!


manfromthestix 06-29-2006 10:21 AM

...and more!
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.).

Balance the wheel according to the instructions.

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?

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

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).

manfromthestix 06-29-2006 10:24 AM

The End, now go ride!
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.

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!

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!

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

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:

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

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

Or not! I like to get right out and start wearing the nubbies off!

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!


impi 06-29-2006 10:35 AM


Great post manfromthestix

MikeO 06-29-2006 10:46 AM

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...


Oops409 06-29-2006 11:05 AM

Great post. Where did you get the curvy tire irons from?

manfromthestix 06-29-2006 11:38 AM

Curvy tire irons from, faboolious tools. I take two with me when travelling plus some plug-patches for little adventures like this:

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!

RockemRdr 06-29-2006 11:49 AM


Originally Posted by Oops409
Great post. Where did you get the curvy tire irons from?

I believe he said Bob's BMW.

Slope'r 06-29-2006 12:05 PM

:clap Great tutorial !!!

Monkey_Boy 06-29-2006 12:17 PM

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

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

bison 06-29-2006 05:33 PM

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

HowlingMad 06-29-2006 08:45 PM

Thanks much. I've been wondering about this very thing for a while. I now have the courage to go get myself into trouble.

harlie75 12-30-2008 02:49 PM

tire change and wheel balance
That's the first time I have seen a 3/4 ton (2500) pickup with 1/2 ton wheels (6 bolt).

longtallsally 12-30-2008 10:50 PM

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.

Times are GMT -7.   It's 01:55 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2015