Out of hibernation

Well spring is officially here and what a gorgeous week it’s been. Whilst out patrolling on the “job” bike this week I’ve noticed the increase of bikes coming out of hibernation and foraging for a descent road to devour. It’s great to see so many riders out enjoying the sun but it made me think how many machines had been checked over properly before the rider jumped on and rode off of their driveways. Remember if you’re planning to go out and ride for the first time since last summer, complete a full P.O.W.D.E.R check before slipping your helmet and gloves on! My previous post explains exactly what to check.

I’ve received quite a few enquiries from readers this month relating to bike maintenance, I have replied to all of them personally with a Saferrider ‘goodie bag’ posted to say thanks. Two of the enquiries are detailed below.

Andrew has asked:

At my last MOT I was advised to change my bike’s front tyre. I have brought a new tyre online and need to fit it. Is it just like fitting a bicycle tyre, or is it too difficult to do by hand? I ride a Bandit 1200”.

Ah! Your question mate takes me back to my youth (not that long ago!) when I used to turn my Chopper (oh err!) upside down in the back yard, have a selection of my Dad’s tools scattered across the grass and attack the rear wheel with an adjustable bike spanner because I’d picked up my second puncture of the day. I can still smell the aroma of Corona fizzy cherryade and Bubblicious gum as I type this update!

Anyway now for your answer Andrew. Replacing motorcycle tyres is a very similar task to changing car tyres, it’s not just a case of removing the tyres from the rims with a set of tyre levers, inflating and away you go! Nope motorcycle tyres are precisely designed, their construction is very complex and correct fitting of the new “hoops” to your rims is paramount to rider and machine safety. I’ll now run through the procedure of changing motorcycle tyres but trust me, take my advice and ride your machine to a dedicated bike tyre fitter or dealership.


  • Use a paddock stand and raise the front wheel off the ground.
  • Displace the front brake callipers and remove the wheel axle spindle.
  • Catch the front wheel as it drops from between the forks and remember to retrieve the wheel spacers whilst identifying which side they locate on the wheel.
  • Now the wheel is off, remove the inner valve from the tyre valve with a valve removal tool, this will deflate the tyre.
  • Once deflated, the tyre bead needs to be broken away from the wheel rim with a bead breaker.
  • Now tyre leavers are needed along with some “elbow grease” to physically separate the tyre off of the rim.
  • Once the old tyre has been removed it is paramount to replace the rubber tyre valve (see my previous post regarding the dangers of not replacing them). If you have metal valves then just replace the inner valve core.
  • The new tyre now needs to be fitted to the rim, remembering most tyres are directional and have direction arrows marked on the tyre wall. To make life easier, the wall of the tyre should be coated with a lubricant to help slip the tyre onto the rim. Swarfega hand cleaner is the stuff to use.
  • Now the tyre is fitted, it’s just a case of inflating it to the correct pressure ensuring it seals totally against both rims.
  • We’re not finished yet! The next job is to balance the wheel so you don’t get any vibrations or wobbles whilst riding. Precise electric wheel balancers are very expensive but you can by a manual balancer for a reasonable amount.
  • Once balanced the wheel can now be fitted back onto the bike, remembering to grease the wheel spacers and torque all bolts up to the manufactures specifications.
  • Both front and back wheel removal procedures are exactly the same apart from of course slackening, removal and adjustment of the drive chain.


As you can see from the above lengthy procedure Andrew, it’s much better to let the professionals handle such a task. Including a new tyre valve and wheel balancing, a tyre fitting service would normally charge around £15 a wheel.

Steve has the following issue:

“After riding my R6 for the first time this year I noticed a strange squealing nose coming from the front of my bike. It happens every time I apply the front brake and it seems to be coming from the wheel/brake area. What is it, it is dangerous and can I fix it myself?”

That’s an easy one Steve; it’ll be the brake pad back plates. What happens is the rear of the pads are made of metal and the noise you hear is the metal rubbing against the calliper pistons every time you apply the brakes. It isn’t dangerous and the fault can be remedied quickly. All you have to do is carry out the following procedure.


  • Remove the front a rear brake pads one side at a time. One of my previous posts describes how to do this.
  • Check the pads for wear, if they are more than half worn then replace them.
  • Purchase a tin of brake cleaner and spray into the calliper, focusing the jet into the calliper pistons area then wipe clean with a cloth.
  • Purchase a tube of “Copperease” and apply a small amount to the back and edges of each brake pad.

Refit the pads and remember to apply the brake lever and pedal to take up the slack. That’s it, job done.

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