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In attempting to mount a motorcycle tire, I was unable to properly seat the beads. While the tire inflated and held air pressure, it failed to easily seat across identical points on both sidewalls. When I did eventually get the first, the second side continued to be troublesome. Before the first bead set, that area of the tire was hard to compress together. It seemed that the beads stayed close together there. Rotating the tire on the rim showed that it was the same spot on the tire that was always affected rather than a spot on the rim. The following were tried:

  • Various inflation and deflation attempts.
  • Lots of Windex.
  • Moderate amounts of dish-soap-like tire lube.
  • Spooning the tire completely off the rim, then back on it.
  • Hitting the inflated tire with a hammer.
  • Bouncing the tire off the ground when inflated and when deflated.
  • Leaving it sitting overnight with up to 70psi in the tire.

One bead finally popped on at 80psi after the first 2 hours of effort -- and the shockwave made me temporarily deaf. Since then, I kept it to 70psi or lower. I worked on it for a total of five hours. I finally gave up and brought it to a friend's shop. I believe he pumped it up to the full pressure of the shop compressor: over 130 psi. He also tried the hammer trick and some spray-on tire lube. We finally seated the second bead with 60psi and bearing grease on about half the rim.

Are there better approaches to this madness? A certain kind of tire lubricant that will works best? I know the catch with the grease is that it won't dry and will remain in a lubricating state until I clean the rim for mounting the next time -- though I really doubt that damn thing will actually spin on the rim.

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Ear and eye protection is always a good idea when working with higher air pressures like that. –  Brian Knoblauch Oct 11 '11 at 20:02
    
@BrianKnoblauch Agreed. I wore ear plugs for the remainder of my attempts. I'll remind myself to use glasses or a shield next time I seat a bead. Thanks! –  Jeff Ferland Oct 11 '11 at 20:05

3 Answers 3

Be careful when using high PSI to set beads. Generally the high pressure recommended for this is instantaneous and not sustained. Having the bead seat under extreme high pressure can actually damage the rim due to the forces involved.

The reason Windex is generally recommended is that it is water soluble. This means that it will eventually dissipate. If you use a heavy grease it can stay on the bead and cause the tire to spin under acceleration, which you already identified.

If you plan to do this process on more tires I would recommend getting a seating tool which allows you to get rapid pressure changes.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Well, after some further experience with tire changing, I've come to find that using a proper lubricant was the way to solve things. While bearing grease worked to seat the tire, there are some reasons that it isn't ideal. Ruglyde has since worked very well for me, and being a proper tire lubricant will dry, thus not leaving the same risk of spinning the rim that a regular grease could pose.

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It is possible that the bead may have been damaged.The wire in the bead may have been kinked in shipping,storage or manufacture.Back in the day we used to take tire that weren't damaged but may have a deformity from storage and let it sit around for a couple of days with an overinflated inner tube in it.The tube would reshape the tire.Then the tire could be installed normally.

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