At SuperATV we like to hit the trail prepared with a nice assortment of tools, a spare tire and wheel, some spare axles, and plenty of friends around to lend a hand when something goes south.
But we’re not always so well stocked. Sometimes we hit the trail with just ourselves, a buddy, and a toolbox. When we leave the jack at home, how do we take care of a tire when it blows? Or worse, what if the tire bead comes off the wheel?
Here’s how to get the job done.
There are a few ways to get the weight off your wheels without the use of a jack. These techniques utilizes your surroundings and simple physics to get that blown tire off the ground. We’re confident that one of these approaches will come in handy in a sticky situation, no matter where you ride.
The easiest way to do it is to find a rock, log, or mound and park one front tire on it. If you’re at the right angle, you’ll be able to rock your machine back and forth to take weight off one front wheel or one rear wheel.
Say you want to change your rear passenger tire. You’d want to get your front passenger tire onto a high point so you can use your front passenger and rear driver tire as the pivot point. Rock your UTV to the left and your rear passenger tire will lift off the ground.
Our favorite way, and the way you’ve probably seen most often on your rides, requires a buddy with a winch. The method to get your tires off the ground is simple enough.
That’s it. Two steps and you’re done. Easy peasy.
If you don’t have a good boulder to roll up on and you don’t have a friend with you, there are other ways to get your tires off the ground. On method is to take your winch line and hook it up to a tree above you somewhere. We will note that this method is a little sketchy, so make sure to only attempt this with a good, strong tree that you trust.
Pull the winch in and you can raise your front end off the ground to whatever height you want. This method has some obvious limitations, though:
If you get past all those hurdles, you can get away with some impressive lifting action. Check out the video below to witness this technique in action! (As you can see, we had to use a ten-foot ladder to find a good anchor point.)
A slightly more consistent way to get weight off your wheels is to build your own ramp. This technique is easier than it sounds. All you need are two logs, or a log and a rock.
Lay one log on top of the other in a “T” shape, then drive up the ramp so that your skid plate—not your suspension—rests on the inclined log. Throw your brakes on, chock your wheels, and you’re ready to get to changing.
This technique is best suited for changing your front tires. You could back onto a ramp like this, but shifting your weight forward while relying only on your front wheels to push your machine can be pretty hard on your front axles.
When you need to lift your front end and all else fails, you can use a single length of timber to make a bumper jack. This tip comes straight out of the US Army handbook for Recovery and Battle Damage Assessment and Repair. We do like to be Built for Battle, after all.
Here’s how to make a bumper jack:
To use this military method, you need a bumper that’s Built for Battle—otherwise you might end up doing more harm than good to your ride.
I’m going to assume you know how to plug a tire and skip right to the worst-case scenario: your tire comes off the bead and you don’t have a spare. How do you reseat a tire bead without a special compressed air bead seater tool? There are two main methods: ratchet straps (smart) and fire (not smart).
Make sure you’re prepared with a Spare Tire Carrier.
Reseating a bead using ratchet straps is safe and easy. Plus, ratchet straps are a standard tool in just about every rider’s toolbox. The only other tool you need is an air compressor.
Here’s what you do:
Once you remove the ratchet strap and fill your tire to the right PSI, you’re ready to roll.
The fire method involves spraying ether starting fluid on your wheel then lighting it. The small explosion generates enough heat and pressure to seat the bead instantly. Here’s why this easy method is also a bad method:
There you have it. Changing tires on the trail and reseating beads is no big deal, as long as you have the right techniques under your belt. It’s amazing how far a few tools and a little ingenuity will get you. Be sure to check out our Spare Tire Carriers to make sure you’re prepared for the worst.