4Strokes.com Technical: Rim Lock / Bead Lock / Bead Stopper Installation
Although intended for Suzuki Dual Sport motorcycles, this tech article can be used for other makes and models as well.
If the bulk of your Suzuki Dual Sport riding takes place in the dirt, then it's very likely that you've made the switch from the stock "semi-knob" tires to genuine, full knobbies (DOT-approved, of course, if you still ride on the pavement at all).
But did you also install a rim lock? A rim lock will help keep that more aggressive tire from slipping on the rim under hard acceleration or braking, saving your inner tube's valve stem from being damaged. Plus, you'll be able to utilize lower tire inflation pressures, greatly enhancing off-road traction.
Installing rim locks is really quite simple on most Suzuki Dual Sport models. If you can change a tire, you can do it. If you aren't up to it, your favorite Suzuki dealer will be happy to help, as well as provide advice and information on recommended tire pressures, local riding areas and conditions, and much more.
First, you'll need the rim locks, also known as "bead stoppers" in official Suzuki parts catalog lingo: Front: 65270-14300; Rear: 65270-28E00. These part numbers will cover all years of the Suzuki DR250S/SE, DR350S/SE, DR-Z400S and DR650S/SE. You can also obtain quality rim locks from most any motorcycle parts and accessory retailer.
Start by removing the wheel. With the wheel off, break the bead from the rim on both sides (your foot will do nicely). Now thoroughly soak the beads with either a commercial tire lube or a mixture of one part liquid soap and three parts water in a spray bottle. Don't use something like WD-40, which will be so slippery after re-mounting the tire that it defeats the purpose of a rim lock.
Stock Rimlock PlugIf you're only installing the rim lock, you won't need to completely remove the tire. One bead will do. If you're replacing the tire, however, after the tire, tube and rubber rim strip are off, clean up the wheel, check for problems and make any necessary repairs. Now, look for the small rubber plug in the "well" of the rim (shown in photo to the right) and remove it from the outside with a screwdriver. That's where the rim lock's threaded stem will go. Never use the wheel with this hole unplugged. Save the plug in case you want to sell your bike later without the rim locks.
If the rim does not already have a hole for the rim lock you will need to drill one 5/16" (8mm) hole, typically across from the valve stem. Make sure to deburr the hole and clean all metal shavings after drilling the new rim lock hole.
With one tire bead back on the wheel as the first step of tire installation, slip the rim lock into the tire and push the stem through the hole. (When finished, the rim lock will squeeze the tire beads against the inside of the rim, holding it in place.) Inside tip: Many tires have a yellow circle or dot on the sidewall, where the tire manufacturer marked the lightest area of the tire; position the tire so that this mark aligns with the rim lock (which will now be the heaviest part of the rim). This will help balance the wheel. If you're planning on a significant amount of pavement riding, you can even have your dealer fully balance the wheel for a more comfortable ride.
Next comes the rim band. This goes over the top of the rim lock, basically holding it in place. Be sure to align the rim band's hole with the hole in the rim for the inner tube's valve stem. Now install the completely deflated tube into the tire, over the top of the rim lock and rim band, as flat and unwrinkled/untwisted as possible. Align the valve stem so it points straight at the wheel axle. Spin on the nuts for both the rim lock and valve stem, but just a little bit -- only a few threads.
Lube the tire bead and you're ready to lever the bead back into the rim. Position the rim protectors so you can start the levering process at the rim lock. (When removing a bead, start at the opposite side of the wheel from the rim lock.) As you're working around you'll need to push both the rim lock and valve stem into the wheel to provide as much clearance for the bead as possible.
Pinching the tube at this point is your biggest concern. As you place the lever to take another "bite," move it side to side slightly and, if possible, feel inside the rim to see if the tube is in danger of getting pinched when you force the lever and bead over the edge. Tip: keep the bead that's already inside in the deepest part of the rim, as far as you can to minimize the force required at the tire lever. Again, pushing the rim lock and valve stem in will help.
Screw the valve stem nut all the way in so you can get your tire inflation coupler/chuck onto the stem and air it up. (The valve stem nut will later be backed off up to the valve stem cap.) Inflate the tube. Both beads should seat firmly (lube helps here, too). Now let the air completely out again, and repeat two or three times. This helps "seat" the tube and eliminate wrinkles, which create areas where holes can be rubbed. Tip: Coat the inside of the tire and the tube with baby powder to further reduce friction, rubbing and binding of the tube against the inside of the tire.
Adjust the pressure to your liking, typically 14-18 psi -- depending on your riding conditions. Tighten down the rim lock so it's fully snug but not too tight. Check its tightness again after the first ride, after the rim lock has seated. Do not tighten down the valve stem nut, however; remove it or back it up against the stem cap. Allowing the stem to "float" will increase the tube's life and also indicate if the tire is slipping on the rim. Install the wheel back onto the bike, and remember to pull in or press down on the brake levers to pump up the brakes again before you ride.
Credits: Article by American Suzuki. Photos by Tom Kennedy. Edited and published by 4Strokes.com.
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