Before we start this article, let us be absolutely clear that we advise that you are far better off to get tubeless tyres fitted to scooter wheels – particularly aftermarket Vespa and Lambretta ones – by a professional tyre fitter using a tyre machine. In many cases they only charge around £7 per wheel for this service.
If you doubt your skills in any way, entrust this job to a pro.
If you have your tyres fitted by professional:
- There is less chance of the rim or tyre being damaged.
- You have some come-back if there is a problem.
- They may also be able to balance your wheels.
On the other hand, many tyre shops refuse to fit tyres to certain scooter wheels because:
- Their machines often don’t adjust down to 10” sizes.
- They aren’t prepared to do it by hand.
- They have had bad experiences with certain brands of scooter wheel and tyre and aren’t willing to risk it again.
If you don’t have a helpful tyre garage in your area, or you are determined to do it yourself, then read on…
Tubeless wheel rims for Vespa and Lambretta
Various companies have produced tubeless wheels for Vespa and Lambretta. Designing a wheel to work in the space provided by the hub layout is not easy because the stud positions do not allow for a deep central ‘well’. The well is an important feature for ease of tyre fitting.
The wheel featured in our video is produced by SIP Scootershop. They have the deepest ‘well’ of the aluminium wheels currently in production, but making the wheel so deep requires the use of longer studs (supplied) in a Lambretta hub.
Phil ‘Slacker’ is the resident tyre fitter (by hand) at MB Scooters. He will only fit tyres to SIP rims due to problems he has encountered in the past with other brands which have a shallower well.
Before you start
You will need:
- A method of holding the rim firmly (MB Scooters make a holding tool)
- Tyre soap and brush
- Short tyre levers
- A valve core tool
- Access to a powerful compressor
- When changing the tyre on a wheel with rubber-type valves it is good practice to renew the valve at the same time.
- On scooters over 250cc it is good practice to balance the wheels after fitting a new tyre.
One of the main comments received from those people we consulted for this article is that the difficulty of this job ranges massively depending on the make and model of tyre chosen.
Slacker explained that Reinforced high-load-rating tyres with stiffer sidewalls can be much harder to fit than certain other types. The ease of fitting varies more from tyre model to model than brand to brand.
TOP TIP: Cold tyres are much less pliable and are harder to fit. For this reason Slacker tends to warm the tyres in front of a room heater prior to fitting; particularly in the winter. In the summer it is sufficient to lay tyres in the sun to soften them up.
ONE TO WATCH: Before starting, make absolutely sure that you are fitting a direction-marked tyre in the correct orientation.
Scooter tyres may be unidirectional (unmarked for direction) or directional (the tyre wall will have an arrow pointing in the direction of travel). Occasionally, some tyres (e.g. Continental Twist) will have arrows pointing in different directions depending on which wheel they are intended to be fitted to. The fitting direction is dictated by the alignment of the plies in the tyre carcass. These are designed to resist forces under load; however the load is greater under acceleration on the rear wheel, but under heavy braking for the front tyre, so it is important to fit as indicated. Ignore the tread pattern; such tyres are designed with ‘sipes’ (tread pattern) which works to evacuate water either way around.
The process is shown in the video below, however the stand-out tips are:
- Wear goggles and gloves.
- Use short tyre levers.
- Do not be ‘greedy’ by trying to lever large sections of tyre over the rim at once.
- Always ensure that the far side of the tyre is seated in the well of the wheel.
- Ensure that the wheels are cleaned where the tyre fits to minimise the chances of leakage.
- Lube both the inside and outside of the tyre bead to help it ease over the rim.
- When using a ratchet strap to seat the tyre, deflate the tyre before attempting to remove the strap.
- While the inflated wheel is laid flat, check for leaks using water around the circumference of the rim.
If all this looks like too much of a pain in the butt (and it isn’t easy) then there are tyre shops and scooter shops with the correct machine to change tyres even on difficult 10” wheels. Readspeed offer just such a service. You can see how much easier and less liable to scratch the rims it is in the following video from StickytyresUK (no relation).
For the companion article on easy tubeless tyre removal, click here.
Words & images: Sticky
Thanks to: Slacker @ MB Scooters, Dan @ Vesbrettas, Readspeed, Paul Casey, Julian Pike, Jim Cook and Stickytyres.UK