I've been collecting some information about tires, how to change tires,
how to convert tire sizes, what all those numbers on the tires mean,
where to buy tires, etc.
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A Word About Wheel Bearings
On the GS shaft drive bikes, the front bearings are part number 6302, and the
rears are 6303.
You'll need two each as you always replace them as a set. They
are sealed on one side. Install the sealed side towards the outside of
the wheel. If you can, get
"2RS", which means "2 rubber seals" (6302-2RS and 6303-2RS), sealed on both sides. These are
industry-standard designations. If you look up the Suzuki part numbers,
you'll see the standard bearing
number is embedded. Note that the bearings are standard metric
sizes and are available anywhere there are machines. You can also
find them at Z1
Enterprises, All Balls Racing, and other bike vendors (see the info/links page). If there are spacers between the bearings, don't forget to put them back.
(My thanks to Mr. bwringer for providing the above information.)
How old are my tires?
is a code molded into the sidewall of your tires. The codes give
you information such as size, speed and load ratings (see the charts below), manufacturer, the plant where it was
manufactured, etc. The most important code is the date code.
It should be a 4-digit code at the end of all the other
Note: If your tires have a 3-digit code,
the first two digits are the week and the last digit is the year.
That means the latest they could have been manufactured is in
1999!! For example, a code of 109 would be the second week of March 1999 or even 1989!!! Change those tires!!!!
I just bought (Feb. 2009) a new set of Bridgestone Spitfire S11 tires. Here is the code from the front tire.
last 4 digits are "4508". This means the tire was manufactured
the 45th week of 2008. This works out to the first week of
November, 2008. This tire was not quite 4 months old when it was
mounted on my motorcycle.
Here is the code from the rear tire.
last 4 digits are "1908". This means the tire was manufactured
the 19th week of 2008. This works out to be around the 2nd
week of May 2008. This tire was about 10 months old when it was
mounted on my motorcycle. Notice the balance mark
above the date code. This denotes the lightest spot on the tire
and is usually placed next to the valve stem when mounting the tire on
I would caution you to be wary of
tires that have been sitting in a warehouse or on a shelf for too long. If you
buy a two year old tire and ride it for a couple of seasons, the rubber
can start to deteriorate and become unsafe.
Here is an article on the American Motorcyclist website (the official website for the American Motorcycle Association) called "How to read a motorcycle tire". For a listing of the D.O.T. tire plant codes, CLICK HERE.
Here is my pictorial guides to rear wheel removal and front wheel/caliper removal.
Here is Mr. catbed's pictorial guide to changing front and rear tires.
This is a thread in the Adventure Rider forum about using these lash straps from Harbor Freight to mount a tire on the wheel without using tire irons: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=299597.
Basically, you use 8 lashing straps equally spaced around the
tire. Tighten them up until the bead is compressed toward the
middle of the tire on the inside. Then simply push the tire on the wheel with
your hands. Amazing! The author's "tire dismount" procedure
involves hack sawing the old tire off the rim using a piece of wood
moulding near the rim so as not to damage it.
These are some thoughts from Mr.
bwringer, of the GSR Forum,
concerning tire changing and tire vendors.
**********Paraphrased from Mr. bwringer**********
standard text on tire
would add that I simply use two large wooden clamps to break beads,
which is a little slower but a lot safer (for you and your wheels)
than the brute force methods shown here. I would also discourage the
use of corrosive soapy water as lube -- a lifetime supply of real
Ru-Glyde tire mounting lube is maybe $14 at NAPA auto parts. Use the
Bead breaking and tire mounting lube are two
areas which seem to attract an inordinate amount of homemade and
potentially deadly hillbilly substitutes for doing it The Right
Here are my absolute FAVORITE and time-tested sources for
tires. There are a few other good suppliers and a whole bunch of bad
ones out there on th' intarweb:
Excellent service and prices.
Located in Oregon. Ships quickly to the West Coast. Free shipping for orders over $75.
service, cheapest total cost (free shipping on sets of 2 tires).
Slightly limited selection of oddball vintage sizes. They are located
in Arizona, so tires take 3-4 days to get to the Midwest/East. They
actually stock the tires they sell -- not just a middleman like
selection, great service, total cost with shipping very low --
usually still within a few bucks of SW. Located in Ohio, so very fast
shipping to Midwest and East. They also stock what they sell in a
huge warehouse. They have a phone number you can call if you have a
question or want to know if something is in stock. Hideous web site,
but it works well.
stocks what they sell, has a huge selection, they ship the same day
from Minnesota, and their site tells you how many are left in stock.
Their tire pricing used to be completely outrageous, but it's now
much better -- often the same or lower than others. Free shipping when your order
goes over $100. Definitely worth checking, and great when you just
gotta have your tires by a certain
have been mentioned positively before, but keep in mind that they and
most others are simply middlemen -- they do not stock tires. No way
of knowing exactly when you'll get your tires, and in my experience,
their pricing with shipping is not that great.
And here are a couple of pictures of Mr. bwringer's high tech tire balancing apparatus:
Just a couple of old jack stands with some old Rollerblade
bearings used to spin the wheel, find the heavy spot, and clip on
counter weights. Mr. bwringer's pretty clever, isn't he?
These are the standard tire size conversion charts and code explanations for speed and load ratings:
You can download this as a a PDF file by using this link: Motorcycle Rim Width Tire Size Chart
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