No Mar, No Scratch
DDepending on where you live and your current situation, getting motorcycle tires changed can be an ordeal or a very expensive ordeal. Shops nowadays are charging upwards of $30 a tire change with the wheels off the motorcycle, so a simple procedure such as swapping track-day tires between road/touring tires gets to be expensive enough to consider a second set of wheels. If you are one of those who lives in a more rural area, just getting to a shop can be a challenge, not to mention, trusting you very expensive and delicate wheels to the shop monkey who spends his days banging on dirt-bike and ATV wheels. We can tell you stories about decimated motorcycle wheels that will make your blood run cold.
However, changing tires was one of those things where the equipment costs were so high that we just gave in to the pain of it all. Sure, you can get a motorcycle tire changer from Harbor Freight for less than $100 but what would your rims look like afterwords? We shudder to think. Fortunately, a new kid on the block, No-Mar, has come out with a motorcycle tire changing system that is affordable enough to bring tire changing into the garages of moto-addicts across the country. And as the name implies, it promises to leave your wheels unscathed.
What makes the No-Mar system unique is that it uses some very cleverly designed and machined "Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene" (think: really dense plastic) to hold the wheel in place and slip the tire on and off the wheel. When done correctly, no metal ever touches the wheel - so nothing can scratch them. Plus, the shape and design means that no force is ever used to mount/dismount the tire so nothing will bend your rim either.
For less than the cost of full-exhaust system anybody can get a tire changing package that comes with everything you need to break the bead, remove the tire, remount the tire and even balance it when you are done. Three basic tire changer versions are available. The Classic Model ($595), the Jr. Pro Model ($795) and full-fledged Pro Model ($1195). Each one becomes increasingly more robust to handle heavier duty workloads. The "pro" models are also capable of doing uber-wide chopper tires and car and light-truck tires - something we were less interested in as all we really wanted was something that could handle traditional sport-bike wheels, so we chose the Classic Model Ultimate Package II ($895).
The Ultimate Package II comes with the full tire changer, including floor mount and floor mounting hardware, the bead-breaker, the patented Mount-Demount Bar (M/D Bar), and a static tire balancer. Also included are all the lubricants needed, extra "HandClamps", valve stem wrench and wheel weights. We opted for one of their ancillary packages where you trade one of four "SpoonBars" (tire spoon) for what they call the "YellowThing" (Clever name, we know). Pretty much, it came with absolutely everything we would need to change our tires as well as balance them.
When the fateful day arrived (and the enormous box the No-Mar tire changer was shipped in) we found a suitable location for it in our garage. Before we got too excited we took everything out of the very carefully packed box and assembled the tire changer. It bolted together very quickly requiring no more than 20 minutes to get everything fully assembled. With a clear idea as exactly how large the changer was and how much space it was going to take up, we marked out the bolt pattern on the garage floor and used a hammer-drill to bore four holes, into which the mounting kit was assembled and the tire changer securely bolted down. The floor mounting kit (provided) attached the tire changer to the ground with absolute stability. (a hitch-mount is also available that allows you to attach you tire changer to the bumper of your truck - so you can take it with you when you go to the track).
Once secured to the ground we were able to change our first tire - but first we watched the provided DVD to make sure we were doing everything correctly. If you have changed motorcycle tires before, using the No-Mar tire changer will impress you with its sheer brilliance and you'll be rocking and rolling changing tires in less time than it takes you to take the wheel off your bike. If you have never changed motorcycle tires before, then watching the video's is a requirement - otherwise you will quickly destroy the Polyethylene parts of the changer and probably bend a wheel or a rotor.
How it works is this; With the tire off the bike, you move the "Dog Blocks" so that the back one sits beneath the rim of the wheel. You use the attached bead breaker, with polyethylene tips, to break the bead of the tire. Because of the shape of the tips and the placement of the bead breaker, we've been able to break even the most tenacious beads with very little effort. When we first watched the video's and then the demonstration, we thought they were using old, super-soft tires to exagerate how easy it us to use the product, but after using the thing for real we can attest that it really is just as easy as it looks in their video's. (Video's are also available on their website).
Once you break the beads on both sides of the tires, you slip on their "HandClamps" that hold the bead of the tire away from the rim of the wheel. Relocate the Dog Blocks to the appropriate position for you wheel size, the DogBlocks hold onto the rim. Remove the HandClamps and pick up the Mount-Demount bar (M/D Bar). Using the single tip side - slide it sideways between the tire and the wheel. Once the nobby tip goes beneath the bead, rotate the bar 90-degrees so the tip will grab the bead and do NOT pry, but simply lift the bar almost straight up while allowing the M/D Bar to tip down towards the center of the wheel. Again, virtually no muscle is required for this.
Lower the center-post of the tire changer into the center of the wheel, and brace the M/D Bar against the center post while you rotate the bar around the tire, pulling the entire bead off the wheel! Again, no muscles required. When done correctly it slides right off! Do the same basic thing for the other bead - pulling it off the top of the wheel as well. We were able to pull off our very first tire in about five minutes. After we changed a few tires we can now completely remove a tire in less than a minute. That's less time than those fancy power systems most professional shops use. To put the tire back onto the rim, you use the double-tipped side of the M/D Bar, bracing against the center-post, simply pull straight back on the hand-grip while the bar rotates around the rim, working the bead back into the wheel. (Watch their video's and read their Tips and Techniques to get a better idea).
As soon as we got used to having the tire changer so close at hand and so readily available we have started using it a couple times a week. The biggest flaw to the whole design however is how easy it looks. Within the first week, one of the CanyonChasers (who shall remain nameless) who had never changed a motorcycle tire before tried changing a tire without having watched the videos and while nobody else was around to help out. Frustrated by not getting the quick and easy results they though they would get, they started to force the tire off and quickly decimated the polyethylene tip and bent a brake rotor, putting significant scratches the M/D Bar. Again, it needs to be stressed, the No-Mar tire changer works so well, that virtually no force is needed to remove and replace a tire!!
This has to be one of the most inspired moto-specific tools we've ever come across. The design is simple, and works exactly as it is advertised! Our biggest complaint about the No-Mar tire changer is that it took us so long to get one. Just thinking about all the brutal tire changes with tire spoons and rim savers, all miles driving to local shops then waiting hours for them to change our tires, all the scratches our wheels have endured at the hands of pre-pubescent shop monkeys manning tire machines - all that stress, agony and expense could have been avoided if we'd only found out about this sooner. They even have everything needed for single-sided-swingarm wheels such as Honda VFR's, Hawk GT's, Triumph's and Ducati's.
We give the No-Mar tire system the highest possible praise. This is an outstanding product, and after having used it, the price now seems like an amazing value. For more information on No-Mar and their tire changing kits and tire changing accessories, be sure to click on over to www.nomartirechanger.com/. Also, be sure to check out their Video's section to see just how easy chaning your own tires can be.