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Old 01-27-2013, 06:19 PM   #438
Beastly Adventurer
Joined: Feb 2006
Oddometer: 1,588
Changing motorcycle tires is nothing like car tires.
I used to teach a collage level automotive class to do quick services. I can do an oil change, full inspection (brake pad thickness, every hose checked, battery tested and checked, etc) and tire rotation in 12 minutes. And I can teach any motivated high school kid to do the same.

Street bikes are a PITA.

Step 1) Figure out how to get the tire in the air. When you work on every make and model of bike, this is always different. Bodywork under most street bikes will prevent you from getting any kind of lift or jack under it. Big cruisers will often have an oil pan or exhaust hanging below the frame. So then you have to use the overhead hoist, lifting from the handle bars, passenger foot pegs, etc all while not scratching the paint or chrome.

Step 2) Remove the stuff to get the tire off. Be it bags, brake calipers or entire exhaust systems. Then if it's shaft drive, you may have to remove the tire from the final drive, or remove the entire final drive with the tire still attached And be mindful of all the spacers that will need to go back in the right order. They may not have come out in the right order.

Step 3) Removing the tire from the rim and mounting the new one. Sometimes easy, sometimes not. If it's a painted rim, then you have to be very careful not to leave a single mark on the rim. Many of the Harley rims have a weak layer of chrome with a clear coat of paint over it. The chrome will often let loose before the paint will and take off a 2" strip of chrome. Then you have to buy them an entire new rim/hub/spokes. Some cruiser tires have absurdly thick sidewalls, along with spokes, a tube, and poorly painted rims. We once had 3 techs working on getting 1 tire on the rim because it was being such a pain.

Step 4) Balance. The Harley worth 20k will run the cheapest tires. The balance machine will show that it needs 5 ounces and that is really too much weight to put in one spot. So you will have to pop the tire off the bead, rotate the tire on the rim, air it up again, and try again.

Step 5) Installing it back on the bike. Making sure to get all the spacers and brake caliper bracket in line as you slide the axle in. Then adjust the chain, check the brakes, clean the blood off, whip the chrome/paint down, and return to the customer who is wondering why it takes so long.

Sure. We could cut corners and do it cheaper, but that's not us and we will not work that way. When something with chrome rolls in the shop, the best techs take care of it because the risk of a junior tech scratching the paint is too high.
The shop down the street charges less then we do, so we still have to complete with them. The cost in labor it takes to mount one difficult tire seems to balance out the money we make from doing several easy tires. But I am not in charge of the books, so I don't know for sure.

Dirt bike ties are mostly easy. Your going to be in a fight when someone brings in a 10 year old Maxxis tire on a rim with 2 rim locks, with a tube that is too large for the tire so it wants to pinch, but at least you can man handle it on. Most of the tires do go on and off relatively quick and easy tho, so we make money on them.
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