By Jon Row
Changing tires is a love hate relationship. We love new rubber but hate the time, effort and expense. Tubeless types typically get dealer installed since they usually require power assisted, shop-grade equipment. Tube type, off road & dual sport skins are easier but still frustrate many owners who attempt them at home. Tackling today’s heavy, six-ply knobs, especially with those black, scratch prone rims and a bead lock or two makes tire time stressful for DIYers.
If you ride off road though you need to be capable of fixing tubes on the trail. Flat risks are higher than road riding and likely to occur where a cell phone and AAA card can’t help out. Bikeland’s dirt dudes carry a patch kit, tube, tire tools, and CO2 or a mini pump on every dirt ride. We install new tires with just our fanny pack tools to make sure we have what we need and stay in practice. Wrestling a flat, even well prepared when it’s really hot, cold or dark can quickly become more than just unpleasant so we’re always interested in anything that makes it easier.
Most off road only tires aren’t that hard to change but many riders still pay dealers to do it for them. You know who you are. The good news is you can change most any tube tire yourself. All you need is a little technique, some good tools and a bit of practice. Amusingly, “You Tube” is an ironically named source for plenty of professional tire changing videos to show you how. Packable tire spoons, rim protectors and bead holder widgets are readily available at most dealers.
The big pitfall for most of us though is just managing those final few steps of bead levering without accidentally pinching the inner tube. As kids, our first experience with bicycle tubes made us gun shy of the process early on. Even as proficient adults we still get “pinch anxiety” just picking up tire irons. Here’s where the Baja No Pinch tool is worth its weight literally. It helps you lever tire beads over rims with almost no risk of pinching a tube. The clever design employs a rack and pinion, gear-levered, push bar with a uniquely shaped tip. The high quality CNC machined four piece assembly drops into wheel hubs in place of the axle as a leverage point. The tool takes a modest amount of set up and practice but isn’t difficult to use. A video is much easier than describing it: www.bajanopinch.com/how-to-use-the-tool/
You do still need spoons for tire removal (a comparatively easier task) and sometimes your foot or a spoon to initially hold the bead in place as you begin working it around the rim. From there, the No Pinch tool takes over and eliminates the need for tire irons to stretch and pry those notorious final sections of bead over the rim. After a couple of tires it becomes almost effortless and is fun to use.
We tested the No Pinch on a fresh Dunlop 606, the gnarliest, heaviest rear tire we had. When new, the 120/90-18 six-ply monster and its DOT legal sidewalls are so stiff one might almost wonder if it even needs the tube. Foregoing our usual trick of preheating in the sun, we tried for maximum misery on a 49-degree morning. Using small fanny pack irons on a tire like this, even on easy bead sections, is always a potential work out. The Baja No Pinch made it easy though and popped the last ninety degrees of bead on almost like a rubber band. It was leverage lust with little effort and no longshoreman language! Softer 21-inch tires were a piece of cake. The Baja No Pinch can handle 16’s to 21’s so it has most sizes covered except for the 23 inchers used on some early 1980’s Hondas.
The Baja No Pinch is a good garage tool for new installs. Rear wheels can easily be done on the floor, a method we actually prefer. A stand or support is helpful though and necessary, when changing fronts. That’s because the tool’s axle shafts are a little long for narrower front hub widths so the wheel must rest on something that allows the tool to drop all the way down. We used a spare trailer wheel for the elevation as seen in the photo. A small rubber rimmed barrel would work too. The length shouldn’t be a problem trailside since you can simply scoop a little hole in the dirt for clearance. Removing some collared nut type dirt bike front axles though may require carrying additional wrenches. For packing, the tool breaks down to three pieces, the longest being 12 inches. Baja says the tool works on the Nuetech Tubliss system too however regular tubeless tires and trials with soft beads should not be changed with it.
- Adds 1.8 pounds to your trail pack.
- Takes a minute or two to set up and break down for packing
- Uses SAE size screws which means two additional allen wrenches to carry and keep track of. Our duct tape improvement idea (pictured) helped us identify and keep them together.
- Can’t be used with tire change stands that use an axle spindle
- One size doesn’t fit all. You have to use the axle sized shaft insert for your bike. The tool comes with a 20mm shaft. A 17 mm shaft and a 25mm sleeve are available separately for $20.95 each. The tool is also available as a package for $149.95 with all three sizes.
Value: At $99.95 (with one shaft) the Baja No Pinch is not inexpensive but saving $20-30 a pop changing your own tires will pay it off relatively soon. Not pinching $20 tubes or scratching anodized rims will sweeten the investment even more. A $49.95 mini version is available for small-wheeled 10-14 inch tires so you can be the hero Dad, or Mom, of your neighborhood’s minibike maintenance group.
As experienced tire changers, we haven’t pinched a tube since the Rolling Stones needed Halloween make up but we’d buy this tool. It definitely has a place in the garage. We’d carry it on some longer rides too, especially in groups where tool sharing lightens the load, when using heavy DOT legal rubber, and, fittingly enough, most anytime in Baja.
The No Pinch is a worthwhile investment which makes moto life easier and pays for itself. Hard to beat that.
More at: www.bajanopinch.com