Breaking Bead.

No names , no pack drill but one or two of my trail biking buddies have confided they’ve never actually changed a bike tyre or mended a puncture out in the field or even in the workshop for that matter. I suspect they’re not alone so, if you’re harbouring a similar guilty secret fear not, here’s an easy step by step guide to changing a tyre or fitting a new tube without tears.

For the purposes of this tutorial I’m assuming you can take a wheel off a bike and have a spare tube or know how to locate a puncture in a tube and apply a puncture patch. I’m also assuming you’ve got tyres with tubes fitted as opposed to tubeless. I should point out that my tyre changing method features one slightly unorthodox  step which is peculiar to me, it’s not rocket science and in fact it potentially adds a couple of minutes to the process but I reckon it makes the job easier. Once you’ve removed the wheel from the bike you’ll need some decent tyre levers, some soapy water and a valve removal tool. Read on…

Support the wheel between two blocks of wood thick enough to keep the disc/sprocket off the floor. Remove the valve using a suitable tool, I fit all my bikes with  valve caps which have an integral valve remover, they cost 50p from www.zenoverland.com. Tip; It's easier to break the bead if you weigh 90kg plus and have some shoes with hard soles such as hiking boots. A pair of knackered old Doc's isn't actually the best footwear for this job.

Support the wheel between two blocks of wood thick enough to keep the disc/sprocket off the floor. Remove the valve using a suitable tool, I fit all my bikes with valve caps which have an integral valve remover, they cost 50p from http://www.zenoverland.com. Tip; It’s easier to break the bead if you weigh 90kg plus and have some shoes with hard soles such as hiking boots. A pair of knackered old Doc’s isn’t actually the best footwear for this job.

After making sure the bead is broken liberally coat the side of the tyre with soapy water and, starting at the valve start teasing the tyre over the rim with the tyre levers. Tip. Everytime you move the tyre lever to the next location keep going around the tyre with your fingers pushing the sidewall down off the rim into the rim well. This is the secret of easy tyre removal.

After making sure the bead is broken liberally coat the side of the tyre with soapy water and, starting at the valve tease the tyre over the rim with the tyre levers. Tip; Every time you move the tyre lever to the next location keep going around the tyre with your fingers pushing the sidewall down off the rim into the rim well. This is the secret of easy tyre removal.

At this point one of the sides of the tyre is now free and you could remove the tube and replace it. This is where my method differs from convention. I now flip the wheel over and repeat the process of lifting the tyre bead over the rim.

At this point one of the sides of the tyre is now free and you could remove the tube and replace it. This is where my method differs from convention. I now flip the wheel over and repeat the process of lifting the tyre bead over the rim.

Once both sides of the tyre are free from the rim the rim and tyre will drop down into the tyre.

Once both sides of the tyre are free from the rim the rim and tyre will drop down into the tyre. At this stage it’s dead easy to remove the tube and fit another one. On this occasion I’m actually replacing the tyre , not the tube and so there are a couple of extra steps in the process.

With a bit of a tug you can now withdraw the rim and tube from the tyre. Even if you're not replacing a tyre this is worth doing because it will enable you to have a proper shufty at the inside of the tyre and check for foreign objects.

With a bit of a tug you can now withdraw the rim and tube from the tyre. Even if you’re not replacing a tyre this is worth doing because it will enable you to have a proper shufty at the inside of the tyre and check for foreign objects.

Give the new tyre a liberal coating of soapy water and drop it on top of the rim and tease the tyre over one side. Tip; If you've never done this before it can be like trying to herd a shoal of eels.  Once you've got a section of the tyre over the rim kneel on it whilst you work your way round with the levers. When you're halfway round you can take your knee off.

Give the new tyre a liberal coating of soapy water and drop it on top of the rim and tease the tyre over one side. Tip; If you’ve never done this before it can be like trying to herd a shoal of eels because one end of the tyre bead is slipping back over the rim as fast as you’re fitting the other . Tip; Once you’ve got a small section of the tyre over the rim kneel on it whilst you work your way round with the levers. When you’re halfway round you can take your knee off. Best not to try this if you’re wearing shorts.

Now here's a thing. Once you've got one side onto the rim you could , if you gynecologist's fingers insert the tube and then tease the second bead on the rim. Once again I'm going to break with convention, mainly because I've got fat little fingers. See below.

Now here’s a thing. Once you’ve got one side onto the rim you could ,[ if you’ve got gynecologist’s fingers] insert the tube and then tease the second bead on the rim. Once again I’m going to break with convention, mainly because I’ve got fat little fingers. See below.

Flip the wheel over and ease the bead you've just fitted back over the other side of the rim.  I concede this is adding another step into the operation but believe me, it makes the job or inserting the tube very easy and is much easier on the knuckles.

Flip the wheel over and ease the bead you’ve just fitted back over the other side of the rim. I concede this is adding another step into the operation but believe me, it makes the job or inserting the tube very easy and is much easier on the knuckles.

Can you see where this is going? The rim will now drop down into the tyre giving bags of room to insert the tube.

Can you see where this is going? The rim will now drop down into the tyre giving bags of room to insert the tube.

Like so...

Like so…

...and like so. Tip; As you feed the tube in rotate the wheel anbd tyre about 20 degrees and gently drop the wheel vertically down onto the floor. The rim and tube will drop down easily into the tyre exposing the next section into which you can insert the tube. Lots of soapy water helps this process.

…and like so. Tip; As you feed the tube in rotate the wheel and tyre about 20 degrees and gently drop the wheel vertically down onto the floor. The rim and tube will drop down easily into the tyre exposing the next section into which you can insert the tube. Lots of soapy water helps this process.

Refit one side and remember to keep pushing the bead down into the central well of the rim as you work your way around with the levers. If you need excessive force to get the bead over the rim this is a sure sign you're not pushing the bead into the well . Always remember that sometimes it only takes a tiny push opposite where you are trying to lever the tyre to persuade what looks to be an impossibly tight tyre over a rim.

Starting at the valve refit one side and remember to keep pushing the bead down into the central well of the rim as you work your way around with the levers. If you need excessive force to get the bead over the rim this is a sure sign you’re not pushing the bead into the well . Always remember that sometimes it takes only a tiny push opposite where you are trying to lever the tyre to persuade what appears to be an impossibly tight tyre over a rim.

Flip over and repeat the process on the other side. Remember to KEEP PUSHING THE BEAD DOWN INTO THE WELL. If it's a struggle flip the wheel over and push the the other side down into the before reflipping and starting again Flippin 'eck is reflipping even a word?

Flip over and repeat the process on the other side. Remember to KEEP PUSHING THE BEAD DOWN INTO THE WELL. If it’s a struggle flip the wheel over and push the the other side down into the before reflipping and starting again
Flippin ‘eck is reflipping even a word?

Optional Step. Fill with suitable volume of OKO tyre sealant or similar. I've found that OKO used in conjunction with 15psi has significantly reduced the amount of punctures we get at AdventureRide.

Optional Step. Fill with suitable volume of OKO tyre sealant or similar. I’ve found that OKO used in conjunction with 15psi has significantly reduced the amount of punctures we get at AdventureRide.

Now here's great tip I picked up from my good chum Pip Higham. Some off road tyres can be a bugger to seat on the rim, Pirelli MT43 rears spring to mind... sometimes these would take over 80psi and lots of soapy to seat and water. 80psi in a trails tyre used to make me wince in anticipation of it letting go full in my face. The consewquences don't bear thinking about, which is why tyre fitting companies use inflation cages. Using Pip's advice of a quick squirt of WD around the seat means they pop on easily with about 40 psi. Much safer...

Now here’s great tip I picked up from my good chum Pip Higham. Some off road tyres can be a bugger to seat on the rim, Pirelli MT43 rears spring to mind… sometimes these would take over 80psi and lots of soapy to seat and water. 80psi in a trails tyre used to make me wince in anticipation of it letting go full in my face. The consequences don’t bear thinking about, which is why tyre fitting companies use inflation cages. Using Pip’s advice of a quick squirt of WD around the seat means they pop on easily with about 40 psi. Much safer…

Job Done. Even with taking the pics this tyre change only took about ten minutes start to finish. Tip; When you've set the pressure wipe a bit of spit over the valve to check for an air bubble. You'd be amazed at how often you can trace a slow 'puncture' to a leaky valve.

Job Done. Even with taking the pics this tyre change only took about ten minutes start to finish. Tip; When you’ve set the pressure wipe a bit of spit over the valve to check for an air bubble. You’d be amazed at how often you can trace a slow ‘puncture’ to a leaky valve.

5 thoughts on “Breaking Bead.

  1. Really good blog, especially as I have just suffered a puncture in my trail bike. I decided not to attempt the repair myself due to inexperience. But I am now in the process of getting a “trail kit” together so if it happens when I’m out I can attempt the repair. On a different forum, I have been advised that a manual cycle style pump would be ok, but your blog suggests that up to 80psi may be required to pop the bead. Do you think a manual hand pump would be ok ?

    • Hi Steve, I’m a big fan of bicycle pumps for trail riding and I carry one all the time in preference to Co2 canisters, my theory being that you can always get some air out of a pump whereas once a canister goes down…
      Don’t worry about not being able to re seat the bead, even if the tyre won’t seat it will still get you back to civilisation where you can usually find an airline. In my experience once a tyre has been initially seated when you fit it in the workshop it will usually reseat itself even when using a hand pump.

  2. Had to change both tyres on my Guzzi ntx. Found a tip on web which works really well. Put a little air in tube and put in tyre. Now zip tie tyre closed, soap up bead and set rim in so valve can be located and held with nut by a few threads. Now push / lever rest of tyre on and remove zips. Work rest of valve through. Even the rear with security bolt was easily installed , just make sure bolt is in the appropriate position.

  3. Maybe I’m getting a bit paranoid here, but….having had the misfortune to suffer a recent puncture I’ll do as much as possible to reduce the risk of another (especially on the trails). I’ve ordered some Oko sealant and would like to know your advice on quantities for a DRZ front 80/100-21 and rear 120/90-18. Thanks.

  4. Hi Steve,
    OKO recommend 200ml front and 225ml rear and I use these quantities. Whenever I inflate or deflate the tyre to a set psi [I use 15psi for trail riding] I wipe a bit of spit over the top of the valve to check for air leaks. It’s quite surprising how often leaks are discovered when doing this. I find OKO occasionally clogs the valve. If this occurs remove the valve and give the rubber seal a wipe off.

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