Change Sportster Tires

Change Sportster Tires

Personifying the original bad-boy attitude, Harley-Davidson’s Sportster motorcycle has been the favored ride for many motorcyclists since the late ’50s. Light and nimble, the Sportster can make quick work of a long stretch of highway. However, spirited riding gives the bike an appetite for fresh rubber, highlighting the need to replace the tires often. While the task is not difficult to accomplish, be sure to have the proper tools and a service manual, which will detail the wheel removal and installation process.


Tire Removal

1. Place your Sportster on a stand and remove the wheel from the motorcycle, following the instructions detailed by your service manual.

2. Deflate the tire by removing the valve stem core then break the bead, or the seal between the tire and wheel, using a bread breaker tool. Place the wheel on its side, using wooden blocks to support it. Spray the outer edge of the tire with soapy water.

3. Press down firmly along the entire side of the tire to loosen it enough to insert your rim protectors between the tire and rim. Place the protectors in the 11 and 12 o’clock positions then slide the curved end of the tire irons past the rim protectors and under the edge of the tire.

4. Press down on the tire irons to stretch the edge of the tire over the lip of the rim. Holding the 11 o’clock tire iron in place, remove the 12 o’clock tire iron from under the tire and place it in the 1 o’clock position. Push down on the 1 o’clock tire iron to stretch the tire over the rim. Remove the tire irons and pull the remaining lip of the tire off of the rim. This will leave the tire attached to the rim by only one side.

5. Pull out the inner tube, if any, and spray the inner lip of the tire with soapy water.

6. Slide a rim protector between the rim and the inner lip of the tire. Insert a tire iron between the tire and rim and stand the wheel upright. Pull the tire iron towards you as you hold the rim. The tire should pop completely off of the rim.

Tire Installation

7. Spray soapy water onto the rim and the inside of the new tire, then slip a portion of the edge of the new tire around the rim. Place your rim protector between the tire and rim and use a tire iron to pull the remaining lip of the tire onto the rim.

8. Inflate your new inner tube partially to prevent it from twisting and slide it into the new tire. Rotate the tire on the rim to align the balance mark, a small mark on the sidewall of the tire, with the valve stem. Push the tire down onto the rim until the other side of the tire almost touches the rim.

9. Insert the inner tube’s valve stem through the mounting hole on the rim and secure with the valve stem’s lock nut.

10. Spray the outer lip of the tire with soapy water and slide your rim protector between the tire and rim. Pull the remaining lip of the tire onto the rim with a tire iron.

11. Inflate the inner tube to 56 psi (pounds per square inch) using an air compressor to set the tire’s bead. Two loud pops will indicate that the beads have been set properly.

12. Deflate the tire slightly and adjust the tire pressure according to the recommended value set by your service or owner’s manual.

13. Balance the wheel and reinstall it on your Sportster.