How to Install Split Rim Tires

Written by tom lutzenberger
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How to Install Split Rim Tires
Split-rim wheels were common on motorcycles and scooters before 1975. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Split-rim wheels appear frequently on vintage motorcycles and scooters since many of the wheel designs used inner tubes at the time. This allowed the tire to be installed and inflated without the need for a tire removal machine. Installation can be done on the side of the road in a breakdown if necessary.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • New inner tube
  • Shim gap measuring tool
  • Air pump
  • Socket wrench and sockets
  • Washers
  • Lock washers
  • Nuts with rubber inserts (loctite nuts)

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  1. 1

    Take the rim side that has the hole for the air valve and place the tire on that rim half first. Remove the cap on the inner tube valve and place it aside for a moment. Insert the new inner tube in the tire and guide the air valve through the rim hole so it sticks out correctly. Put the air cap back on the valve.

  2. 2

    Line up the second half of the wheel rim with the first one so that the securing studs on the first half of the wheel rim go through the holes of the opposite half correctly. Make sure the air valve lines up with the small gap in the second rim half if the valve is a bent type and needs to fold over the rim edge.

  3. 3

    Use the shim gap measuring tool to gently push the inner tube material between the two rims downward into the tire so it doesn't get pinched when the rims are tightened together (this would cause an air leak). Push the second rim half inward toward the first so both seat gently into the tire beads.

  4. 4

    Use an air pump to inflate the inner tube just enough that it becomes circular and no material is left between the rim halves. Push the two rim halves together and secure them with washer, lock washers and then nuts with rubber inserts for retaining tightness (loctite nuts). Use a socket wrench and the appropriate socket to tighten down each nut in a star pattern around the wheel rim.

  5. 5

    Attach the air pump again and pump up the tire to the full pressure advised on the side of the tire. Bounce the wheel a few times to distribute the air inside. Install the tire on your motorcycle or scooter. Repeat the process for the second wheel.

Tips and warnings

  • You can use regular nuts but the benefit of using loctite nuts is that the rubber insert makes it harder for the nut to come loose over time. This combined with a lock washer makes it hard for the wheel rim to fall apart.
  • Do not inflate the tire to full pressure before you have tightened all the rim nuts properly. Doing otherwise could cause the rim halves to burst apart under pressure and you could get hurt by flying hardware coming off the rim studs.

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