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FRI, 01/11/2013 - 4:20PM

Changing Segway tires is something that most owners will have to do if they ride their PT more than a few times a year.  Segway tires are notorious for turning into slicks and the tubes will many times dry rot after about five years.  There are two options for repairing a bad tire: Replace the wheel, tire, and tube all together (“wheel kit”) or simply replace the tire and tube with aftermarket parts.  First we’ll discuss which may be right for your and then go through a “how too” on actually changing the tire.

The Segway factory tire is many times the only option for PT owners, particularly businesses.  The very reason that it wears out so quickly (soft rubber) is also sometimes the only thing that makes it “safe” enough for some businesses.  Although the aftermarket tire grips just fine on slick surfaces the fact that Segway’s formulation of their rubber specifically addresses the issue of safety may be of concern to some.  In our sue happy world a good lawyer with a handpicked jury may make a case of negligence in using an aftermarket tire.  If you are extremely concerned about this the only option is to buy a factory wheel kit as Segway currently does not sell just the tire.  The only other instance in which this may be a good idea is if you have a damaged rim* as it too is not an item you can buy individually.

    For those out there that want to save money and get a tire that will literally last 4 times as long aftermarket parts are the way to go.  These are particularly better for outdoor/asphalt applications as the factory Segway tire does not hold up more than about 500 miles on these surfaces.  The downside to this is that you have to change the tire yourself and the aforementioned lawyer trying to make a case out of them.  I have used these tires on polished concrete and only had minor slipping when I was deliberately trying to make them do so, however, still think it is worth a mention.  One other downside to these is they do not advertise as “non marking” as the Segway tires do.  In a local sale to a mall security outfit this past month I received feedback from them stating the marking (and slipping) on their surface was not an issue.  Their floors were white ceramic tile so I would venture to say that for most cases the marking issue is irrelevant.

    Now on to the fun part, changing the tire.  You can see the video at the bottom of the page which shows someone who has clearly mastered changing Segway tires.  It is a little misleading as there are some steps that are missing and he obviously has done this a few times before!  Here are the steps and some tips to successfully change a tire that will save you hours of frustration and heartache.

•    Remove the tire by popping off the center cap and taking the three center bolts off (easiest step)

•    Remove valve stem and let the air out

•    Break the bead.  Yes, Segway put a bead sealer on their tire, for whatever reason is anyone’s guess.  This stuff can be very, very stubborn.  You do not want to use a screw driver, hammer, chisel, or anything of the sort to get the initial break.  I nearly destroyed a rim doing all of these and got nowhere.  The best way to break the bead is to buy a bead breaker.  Harbor freight sells this one pictured for about $15 and it is well worth the time it will save.  I have done it using a hydraulic press which was very frustrating but eventually worked.  Or you could use the “good ol boy” method.  Have one of your friends stand on one side of the wheel and then have another person (wearing a boot/something with stiff heal) stand ONLY ON THE TIRE and bounce on it. Eventually it gives just be careful not to damage the rim.  I don’t weigh enough to make this work but have seen 200lbs plus people successfully do it.  It seems to work better for some reason if they are wearing wranglers and a cowboy hat too….

•    Remove the tire.  The hardest and worst part of the whole process.  All removal/installation of the tire should be done from the inside of the rim.  Trying take the tire off/put it on from the outside wall will not work as it is larger. Anyway,  to do this cleanly you will need special “motorcycle tire” tools as they are commonly referred to as.  The silver ones they sell at harbor freight  won’t do the job and will probably damage your rim if you get impatient.  You’ll need to get three of the black styled pry bars like in this video to get the job done.  Simply pry them up like in the video.  Don’t have the prybars and don’t want to buy them? Grab a sharp knife, cut the middle of the tire all the way around.  With a pair of wire cutters go to town on the radial and avoid scratching the plastic rim.  Once you cut through one of these beads the wheel will come right off.  This part is probably the most frustrating if you don’t have the right tools but can be done with some patience.  I’ve done several and tend to always break my tire tools. Honestly I suggest just cutting it off!

•    Put the new tire on.  I always sprinkle mine with baby powder on the inside.  Not only does this make it smell good but it slides on the rim and the tube goes back in much easier.  On the tires we sell the best way to do this is to get the tire halfway on the rim where it is straddling the edge of the inside portion of the rim.  

•    Put the tube in. Again I use baby powder.  Find the valve hole and put that part in first and screw in the nut to lock the valve in place. Simply go around shoving the tube in as evenly as you can and as far to the center of the rim as you can.  This prevents pinching when you go to put the tire all the way on the rim. 

•    Put the tire all the way on the rim.  Again do this in a circular fashion.  BE CAREFUL AS YOU ARE DOING THIS THAT THE TUBE IS NOT BEING PINCHED! It’s easy enough to avoid but if you’re not paying attention you may ruin your tube.  •    Air up the tire. I normally air the tube up to about 20 psi, let as much air out that will come out, and then air back up to 13-14 psi.  This allows for the tube to seat the tire properly and prevents it from being stuck in a position that may damage it.

•    Put the wheel back on.  When you do this you want it to be tight but you don’t have to get a breaker bar to tighten these things on.  I saw someone with an impact gun rip a bolt head right off which isn’t good as these cannot be replaced without buying a new transmission ($435).

     So there you have it. Simple enough as long as have pay attention to what you are doing and have a little patience.  When doing this repair it is suggested to replace the tubes at the same time.  They are cheap, especially if you buy them in pairs with the tires ($10 extra), and you might as well do it while you’re in there.  As for the tools many may balk at buying them however even with purchasing these you will still be saving about $150.  If you don’t want to change your own tires many customers have paid local bike shops, atv shops, even rental stores to change out their wheels.  All in all an easy enough repair that hopefully will keep you gliding on your Segway PT for many miles to come!

*  Damaged rims may include one that is cracked (check before ordering) or the common “wobbly wheel” problem.  Having a wobbly wheel will not damage the transmission or cause other problems however if it is bad enough to where it rubs the fender or causes noticeable variations in ride it needs to be replaced for safety reasons.

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