This is your guide on how to change the rear tire on your
Harley-Davidson motorcycle. This includes baggers in addition to
other models. Note: ’07 and later models sport a cam-type rear axle
adjuster, which differs in adjustment and setup after you have replaced
the tire and wheel.
Have your service manual available for specific torque values and
other information. Caution: Changing the rear tire on your
Harley-Davidson is a challenging task that requires specialized
equipment and upper body strength.
- Place the vehicle on a motorcycle lift. Jack it up only enough to
- Loosen the adjusters on both sides three or four turns only, in
order to retain alignment.
- To get the axle out, dismantle the right muffler. Alternatively,
disconnect the shocks; the swing arm will drop down so you can remove
- Break loose the castellated nut and remove the cotter pin. Next,
slide out the axle. This may take a little effort, so be careful to
avoid damaging the threads. After the axle is out, jack up the lift a
little. After removing the belt from the rear pulley, guide the wheel
Items Required to Change the Tire
- tire irons
- air compressor
- bead breaker
- tire changing stand
- inflation strap
- wheel weights
- scrubber pads
- tire mounting fluid
- tire valve core tool
- wheel weights
- balancing equipment
Note: A wooden box with a hole in the middle can serve as a
tire-changing station. You can also use a 20-gallon drum with garden
hose slit lengthwise and attached around the rim.
Change the Tire
- Deflate the tire with your valve core tool. Remove the valve core.
- Mount the wheel/tire on the tire changing stand. Pull the tire to
one side as far as possible. Push the two tire beads on the opposite
side together, forcing them into the narrowest portion of the rim.
- On the loose part of the tire, place one of the tire irons between
the bead and the rim. Insert another tire iron three or four inches away
from the first tire iron. Work the bead up and over rim. Add more tire
irons until one side of the tire is completely off the rim. Use your
tire irons in the same way to remove the other side of the tire from the
- If your tire has a tube, remove it from the tire. If the tire is
tubeless, remove the valve stem. Clean the bead and valve stem areas.
Remove any extraneous rubber pieces and any rust from the rim.
- If you have a tubeless tire, you must install the new valve stem.
(If your tire has a tube, you will install this after you have partially
mounted the tire – see below.) A yellow dot on the tire indicates where
the valve stem should go. Also, when you mount the tire, make sure you
mount it in the correct rotation direction. Arrows on the tire itself
indicate the proper direction.
- To mount the tire, first install the valve stem, then push the
bottom bead over the rim with your hands. Use the tire irons to
carefully install the rest of the tire over the rim. If your tire
requires a tube, install it now. Pump some air into the tube to insure
it is not twisted.
- Repeat the above for the other bead. Begin on the opposite side of
the valve stem. If your tire has a tube, make sure it does not get
- Wrap the bead strap around the tire, tightening it so it spreads the
bead. Add air to the tire while you release the bead strap, making sure
the beads seat totally. Also make sure the tire/rim is even all around.
To check for a complete seal, use soapy water.
- After the tire is mounted on the rim, follow instructions on the
wheel balancer to balance the wheel.
- After replacing the tire, re-install tire/wheel in the reverse order
of removal. Guide the wheel carefully between the brake pads. Note that
it is a relatively close fit; try to maintain the wheel as straight as
you can. It’s OK to pry the brake pads apart a little.
- Hang the drive belt over the pulley. Lower the lift slowly; this
will align the swing arm adjusters with the wheel so you can slide the
axle through. Guide the wheel into place. (This will require two
- Apply some “Never Seeze” anti-seize lubricant to the axle and slide
it back in. Replace the nut and re-adjust the belt tensioners to the
same amount you loosened them. Torque down the nut according to spec.
Check belt tension with a tension gauge, then lock it down. Install a
new cotter key; reinstall shock bolts or muffler, depending on what you
- Slide the axle back in after applying some Never Seeze to it and
replace the nut and torque it down after you readjust the
belt tensioners the same amount that you loosened them up in the
beginning. Check the tension out with a gauge now before locking things
Install new cotter key and reinstall the muffler/shock bolts
depending on which one you removed.