Five things motorcyclists should know about tyre fitting

Expert motorcycle tyre fitting advice_01

If you change this many tyres each day, your advice is worth listening to


Motorcycle tyre fitting is a skilled job

Can you fit motorcycle tyres yourself? Yes, probably. In the same way that you can rebuild an engine or change fork seals yourself. You’ll need a workshop, a bead breaker, tyre balancing equipment, balance weights, a compressor plus the tools and skills to remove and refit wheels. Oh, and don’t forget the ABS sensors and tyre-pressure monitoring systems. And a note from your mum because you’ll be needing at least a day off school and some time for your knuckles to recover.

Getting your rubber fitted by experienced tyre fitters who’ve seen hundreds of different motorcycles, know the quirks of refitting a Moto Guzzi cush drive and can make it look so easy that you’d even consider doing it yourself is almost certainly a better idea.

BikeSocial spoke to the guys at Two Tyres in Greenwich , fit dozens of tyres every day and have around 50 years combined experience between them.


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Modern radial tyres are strong, stiff and expensive. easy to damage if you don’t know what you’re doing


Motorcycle wheels and tyres have evolved

Most modern bikes use radial tyres which have stiff construction. Getting one on or off a lightweight motorcycle wheel without breaking either the tyre, the wheel, your knuckles or all three is a skill that takes practice. Modern bikes have much wider tyres than older ones. The rear tyre on a 2023 Yamaha MT-125 (14bhp, 70mph top speed) is wider than any motorbike at all before 1984 including 120bhp, 1100cc superbikes that went twice as fast. Your local tyre fitter will have changed the tyres on most types of bikes of most ages, will be familiar with spoked (tubed and tubeless), cast, lightweight racing and wheels with TPS sensors fitted. They will also know how to sort out the mess from that get-you-home foam you sprayed inside and how to fit a tube without pinching it against the rim.

They will know how to remove the back wheel from a Honda Gold Wing or full-dress Harley or scooter in the shortest time while doing no damage. They will know the difference between how manufacturers mount and calibrate their ABS sensors and they’ll know to catch the cush-drive rubbers as they tumble from your rear wheel and in what order they need to be refitted.


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Having an expert look over your bike is always worth doing


Changing tyres is a health check for your bike

Removing wheels tells an awful lot about how a bike is maintained. A good tyre fitter will instinctively look at the state of your fasteners and brake calipers. They will check the pads, look at the chain and sprockets and notice a weeping fork seal or damaged rim. Having an expert look over your bike from time to time away from the pressure of an MoT test is clearly a good thing. Good tyre fitters refit the wheels with greased bolts and a squirt of chain lube too.


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Some things are worth saving a few quid on, but tyres and fitting are about as fundamental as safe and enjoyable biking gets. Find a fitter you trust and enjoy their expertise.


Find a motorcycle tyre fitter you trust and support them

Buying tyres online can save you money especially if you’re after a particular brand in an unusual size. By the time you’ve paid postage, waited for delivery, removed your wheels, got the new tyres to the shop and paid for fitting, you might still have saved some money. Or not.

Buying from your local specialist motorcycle tyre fitter probably isn’t that much more expensive overall and the ease of a ride-in, ride-out service is more important to many of us than saving a few quid with a lot more hassle. Even more so when you consider the peace of mind of an experienced mechanic removing and refitting your wheels, balancing and giving some of your bike a quick once-over.

Be aware that a seller with a ‘’ website isn’t necessarily based in the UK. There are businesses based abroad who dress their site up to look like a UK business. Anything over £135 attracts additional charges.

The guys at Two Tyres have seen a lot of this and produced a helpful guide to identify some of the overseas traders with UK web addresses: Buying motorcycle tyres from the EU - Two Tyres - Discount motorcycle tyres



If your bike has tubed tyres, get some breakdown cover too

Adventure tyres with tubes need extra care when fitting. It’s all too easy to nip the tube while fitting and every tyre fitter has heard the excuse, "It was damaged by Hermes and it had a hole in it when I went to fit it" at least once a week.

Also, when changing a tubed tyre, it makes sense to change the tube at the same time. The old one has been in action for several thousand miles, are you really happy to trust it for twice as long as the tyre it was inflating?

Part of the adventure culture is a spirit of independence. We admire that, but when luck goes against you and it’s your turn to ride over the nail are you sure you can change a tyre at the roadside?

When a tube fails you have a flat tyre that, no plug or get-you-home slime will fix. At the very least make sure you have breakdown cover with recovery and, if you are planning on a trip of a lifetime, make sure you can change a tyre/tube at the roadside. Having seen the experts at Two Tyres work on a small, tubed rim - with all the right kit in a calm workshop environment, I'd hate to be in Timbuktu (or Tunbridge Wells) with a punctured tube.


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Snapped the tyre bead and dented the rim. That’s about £1000 worth of damage to save a tenner (what Two Tyres charge for fitting to a loose wheel)


Most common tyre fitting mistakes we make when changing our own tyres

  • Damage to wheel rims (or paint) from inexperience or not protecting them properly during removal and fitting
  • Damage to brake discs
  • Damage to ABS sensors during wheel removal/replacement
  • Not making a note of how the wheel spacers sit
  • Not balancing the wheels properly
  • Forgetting to grease the wheel spindles and brake caliper fasteners on re-assembly
  • Damaging the TPS tyre-pressure sensors
  • Failing to understand how tricky it is to remove a scooter rear wheel
  • Fitting their tyres the wrong way round (most tyres need to go in a specific direction and have an arrow on the sidewall)
  • Not checking the rear wheel and chain alignment afterwards (which will wear your chain and sprockets faster and possibly even damage the gearbox)
  • Snapping the bead on the tyre by forcing it

Thanks to Two Tyres for their help, advice. They are on 0207 205 2205. BikeSocial members can get £30 off any pair of tyres supplied and fitted in their workshop.