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  Installing Wheelchair / Scooter Tires
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Installing Guide - Wheelchair / Scooter Tires

Tire installation on a wheelchair or scooter is not very difficult if you have the right tools. In fact most manual wheelchair tire changeouts are done with the same process as on a bicycle, and many powered wheelchairs and scooters today come with 2 piece rims (split) making the process much easier. If you're not comfortable or cannot perform this task, ask around to your friends and family. Maybe one of them will be able to help. You can also check with local bike shops as they may be able to help. If you need more information about the different types of wheelchair / scooter tires and which ones will work best for you, see our Buying Guide for Wheelchair and Scooter Tires.

Hand operated air pump

Air pressure gauge

Tire lever bars

Foam filled tire installation tool

Solid tire installation tool

Air Pump

Air Pressure

Tire Levers

Foam Filled Tire
Installation Tool
Solid Tire
Installation Tool

Air Pump - For air filled wheelchair and scooter tires, an air pump is necessary to re-inflate the tires once they are installed. Having one is also handy for maintaining the air pressure (air filled wheelchair and scooter tires naturally lose air just from time and must be filled back up periodically). If you are using an electric air pump or a compressor, use caution as the smaller tubes found on wheelchairs and scooters fill up quickly and can easily burst.
Air Pressure Gauge - Used to check air pressure both as part of the installation process and as part of the periodic maintenance of checking the tire pressure. Some bicycle pumps now have the gauge as part of the pump.
Tire Levers - Tire levers are used to help you work the bead of the tire up and over the bead of the rim. Available as plastic lever bars or more heavy duty metal lever bars, they make the job much easier.
Foam Filled Tire Installation Tool - Since foam filled tires have a bead width slightly wider than the bead of the rim, this tool works by compressing the two halves of the rim (with the tire in the middle) allowing the screws or bolts to reach the other side.
Wheelchair Tire Installation Tire Tool - This tire tool makes quick work of installing large solid wheelchair tires. It provides a solid mounting for the wheel itself and works by stretching the solid tire over the rim allowing it to snap into place. More than any other tool, this takes the frustration out of installing large solid tires.
In addition, you may need one or more of the following tools: a properly sized wrench or socket, an
adjustable wrench, a flat head or phillips screwdriver. Each make and model of wheelchair or scooter is different, so check what you have before starting.
  • Remove the wheel from the wheelchair or scooter - never try to change a tire or tube with the wheel on the chair!
  • If using an inner tube, let the air out of the tire. For Schrader valves, press the stem in the middle of the valve. For Presta valves, unscrew the top and press in.
  • Once the air is out, press the sidewall of the tire all around to release the bead of the tire from the rim (tire beads can stick sometimes).
  • If your valve has a nut holding it to the rim, unscrew it.
  • If removing a solid urethane or rubber tire, push on the side wall of the tire while inserting a lever bar. Some urethane tires are quite a bit smaller than the rim they are on so this can be difficult. Once one lever is in, insert a second lever and push the tire over the rim - it should come off.
  • If removing a tire with a tube, use a couple of tire levers and ease the tire off the rim by working the levers under the bead, then moving the lever around the rim until one side of the tire is off the rim. Then do the same for the other bead going in under both tire beads from the same side. If using metal tire levers, use caution so as not to damage the rim.
  • Once the tire is off the rim, inspect the rim for damage. Also look at the tire liner if you have one and make sure it is still properly seated on the rim.
  • If using an inner tube, inflate the tube slightly to give it a little shape and put the tube into the tire and push the valve through the hold in the rim. Be careful to align the valve stem through the hole so it seats properly later when the tube is filled with air. For a urethane insert, just push it into the tire.
  • Slide the first side of the tire bead all the way around the rim until that side is completely on. You may or may not need lever bars for this step.
  • Ease the second bead over the rim and using lever bars work the bead all the way around the rim until the bead is completely on. You'll need a minimum of two lever bars for this step - one for holding your progress and the other for stretching the bead over the rim as you near the end. Some people will find this step challenging as it can be very tough to lift the last part over the rim. Patience really helps. If you are using metal lever bars, use extreme caution so you don't damage the rim.
  • Once the tire is on the rim, push on the sides of the tire all the way around to make sure the tube isn't bunched up or pinched anywhere.
  • Inflate the tire to the recommended pressure by the wheelchair or scooter manufacturer or the number on the sidewall of the tire. Install the valve stem screw (if your valve has one).
  • For a solid urethane tire, start on one spot on the wheel and keep working the tire around the rim with your hands until it becomes difficult, then use a couple of lever bars to force the tire over the rim. Slotted metal lever bars work well with this step, but extreme caution should be used as you don't want to damage the rim. The best tool for a urethane or rubber tire is the solid tire installation tool. It will easily stretch the tire onto the rim (see video below). You may want to leave the urethane tire in the sun for a while to heat it up (urethane tires are sometimes much smaller than the rim so that when they are installed, there will be enough compression to hold the tire onto the rim and won't pose a safety concern). Heating them makes them easier to stretch.
  • Before reattaching the wheel to the chair, visually inspect the tire to make sure the tire seats evenly all the way around the rim - if not, deflate the tube and re-work the tire with your hands to properly align, then re-inflate.
  • Remove the wheel from the wheelchair or scooter - never try to change a tire or tube with the wheel on the chair!
  • If your tire has a tube, let the air out of the tire. For Schrader valves, press the stem in the middle of the valve. For Presta (French) valves, unscrew the top and press in.
  • Using the appropriate tool, take off the screws or bolts and save for later re-installation
  • Lift off the top half of the rim and set aside. If the two halves are stuck together, you can drop the tire and wheel assembly on to your work surface from about a foot up. Be careful to drop the assembly onto the deflated tire only. Both halves should come apart.
  • If your wheel has bearings and a bearing spacer they may fall out. They can be reinstalled later with a rubber mallet once the tire/tube process is finished.
  • If your tire has an inner tube, or a urethane inner tube insert, pull it out of the tire and save for later re-installation (if it is still good).
  • Inspect both halves of the rim for damage and for any debris that may have caused a flat.
  • If using an inner tube, inflate it a little to give it some shape and insert into the tire. If you are using a urethane insert, just push it into the tire.
  • With one half of the rim laying flat on your work surface, place the tire on top of one half of the rim and insert the valve through the hole (for inner tube) or make sure it lines up with the slot provided for the valve stem. If you are installing a urethane tire or foam filled tire, the hole will not be used.
  • Place the top half of the rim onto the assembly and reattach the screws or bolts as before. You want them tight, but do not over-tighten. If you are installing foam filled tires, the bead of the tire will be wider than the bead of the assembled rim, so you need to press the two halves together with some force. For really tough tires, consider a foam filled tire installation tool - see video of this tool in action below. You can also use longer bolts for two or three of the holes to draw the two halves together, allowing you to use the original hardware. Once the original hardware is in, remove the longer bolts and replace with original.
  • For inner tubes, inflate to the pressure as recommended by the wheelchair or scooter manufacturer or the pressure listed on the side wall of the tire (for inner tube).
  • Visually inspect the tire and wheel to make sure everything is straight and aligned. If not, you will have to deflate the tube, reposition the tire/tube and re-inflate.
  • If the bearings came out during the removal process, you can pound them back in using a rubber mallet (only use a rubber mallet, or a block of wood wrapped in a towel. with a hammer - and use as little force as you need). Make sure to insert the bearing spacer first if you have one.
  • Re-attach the wheel assembly back to the chair.
Installing a foam filled tire
Measuring to find proper bead width for on a foam filled tire
Using the heavy duty wheelchair tire installation tool
Using the economy wheelchair tire installation tool
Ready to Purchase?
For more information about the various types of tires, see our Buying Guide for Wheelchair and Scooter Tires . You will find information including:
  • Descriptions of various tire types, including pneumatic, foam filled and urethane wheelchair and scooter tires, and which uses each tire type is appropriate for
  • Helpful tips on how to select the right wheelchair or scooter tire, including how to find information about the right tire size, tire type, tread pattern and wheel or caster type
This information is provided as a courtesy only. There may be other ways to install a wheelchair or scooter tire. EnableYourLife.com (aka Enable Your Life, Inc.), or any of its vendors, assume no liability for any damage to property, injury, loss of equipment use, or any other malady that may befall an individual for attempting to change a wheelchair or scooter tire. If you are not sure of your ability to perform this task, EnableYourLife.com strongly encourages you to seek professional help.


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