My tire-changing technique has long consisted of a mix of swearing, sweating, and frustration. Sure, there was equipment too—but I never got to the point where I was fast and happy changing tires.
I started with a simple tire-changing stand, like the motocross guys use. I changed some tires with it, swore a lot, modified the stand to make it easier to work with, swore some more, and moved on.
Next up was a tire changer from that cheap tool store—you know the one. I’d seen stories on the Internet, claiming that with some simple modifications, the thing was great. Not so. It was better than the tire stand, but I hated this flimsy contraption so much that the online classified ad I posted to get it out of my garage included the line, “I hate this thing. If you’re looking to get pissed off enough to buy something better, I recommend you buy this changer from me and do a few tires with it.” Surprisingly, someone bought it, and I assume is now cursing me for selling it to him and shopping for a real tire changer.
At that point, I did what I always do when I run into problems caused by my own lack of skills and patience—I got better tools in hopes of overcoming my incompetence.
I’d been keeping an eye out for a used No-Mar tire changer, but they rarely pop up and always sell instantly. So I took advantage of a springtime sale at the No-Mar website and got myself a No-Mar Classic tire changer. The videos on their site make changing tires look as easy as pizza pie, so I dialed them up and handed over my credit card number, certain that my days of swearing and scratching wheels would soon be over.
The Classic tire changer is a “commercial grade” tire changer that uses No-Mar’s cam and block system to grip the wheel, and their patented Mount/Demout bar to remove and install tires. It can be mounted on the floor, your trailer hitch, or on a “drive-on” stand. I got the basic package ($645) which includes the changer, bar and accessories like tire lube paste, a Yellow Thing (to prevent bead creep when changing tires), a spare demount tip and an instructional DVD. I also ordered an XtraHand clamp and a tool collar so I could keep lube and tools close at hand on the changer.
Assembly is pretty straightforward—I was ready to change tires in about an hour, and I was taking pictures along the way.
So is it really that easy to change tires with this thing? Pretty much—but there are a few caveats. Most importantly, you have to get the technique right. Once you do, changing tires is so easy you’ll be inviting your pals over to change their tires at your place, just for fun—as long as they’re street tires on modern wheels. Do it wrong, and you’ll be just as red-faced and angry as you were before.
Narrow and deep rims will still require spoons—the mount/demount bar can’t work with these types of rims. Knobbies (or “knobblies” for Redcoat ADV riders) will also require spoons, and are tough to grip with the default cam and block setup of the Classic. No-Mar makes an alternate “Posi-Block” setup for gripping knobbies and big cruiser tires that is available separately. I didn’t buy it when I ordered my changer, but probably will.
I did a bunch of tires to get a feel for the No-Mar:
- Ducati 900SS: typical tubeless sportbike wheels. Super easy.
- BMW R1200R Classic: spoked wheels, originally tubed, now converted to tubeless. Incredibly easy. Seriously—at this point, the skies opened up and a choir of angels sang to me.
- Early seventies Moto Guzzi V7 Sport—deep, narrow, beautiful aluminum wheels that simply could not be scratched. The mount/demount bar wouldn’t work with these wheels, so I used the No-Mar to clamp the wheels and carefully did the tires with spoons and rim guards. Still easier than any previous setup due to the stability of the No-Mar.
- Yamaha TTR125: narrow spoked wheels with tubes. I had a tough time gripping these wheels with the cam and block setup, and of course had to use spoons instead of the mount/demount bar.
- Most importantly, it really is incredibly easy to change tires with the No-Mar Classic, once you get the technique right. The cam and block system grips most wheels very well, and the mount/demount makes quick work of removing and installing street tires.
- The XtraHand clamp is amazing: easy to get in place quickly with one hand, and does a fabulous job of holding the bead below the rim flange.
- Solid, tough construction. Unlike other tire changers I’ve used, this thing is built to last and doesn’t flex. Serious business!
- The tool collar is not as burly as the rest of the equipment. No-Mar says you can hang a mount/demount bar on the collar, and while that’s technically true, the collar bends with that much weight on it. I wouldn’t recommend hanging the bar on the collar for any length of time.
- Additional clamps to clamp knobby tires cost another $150. To be fair, you can order the changer with Posi-Blocks instead, but I wanted the cam and block setup since I mostly do street tires. That isn’t going to stop me from whining about this, though.
…And the Total Marketing B.S.
- This almost never happens, but there’s really no B.S. here. The Classic is a kickass, American-Made tire changer that will make you feel like a pro.
The No-Mar Classic isn’t cheap, but if you ride a lot and therefore go through tires quickly, you’ll break even after a few changes and you’ll get the satisfaction that comes with boasting that you do your own tires. For me, it’s equally important to be able to quickly and easily change my own tires at home at any time, rather than finding a time to get my bike to a shop. This thing rocks: it’s a thoughtful, smart design with first-rate construction, and most importantly, it fulfills the promise of making tire changes easy.