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I can't change tires for the life of me and I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I go through the standard procedure:

  • Slightly inflate the tube
  • Put the tire halfway on the rim
  • Stuff the tube into the tire, being as careful as I can to make sure it's even
  • Put the other half of the tire on
  • Inflate

However, I'm obviously doing something wrong because every time I try this, on every bike I try it on, the tire is never round, and the ride is always bumpy. I've tried inflating to beyond the recommended pressure to pop it into place, but have never had luck with that technique. Also, since it happens more or less every time I do it, it's obviously something I'm doing wrong.

What should I be looking for here? What can I do to prevent it?

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    Yes. Rims are 700c, tire is 700cx38 (it's what came with the bike, from the bike shop), tubes are 700cx38 (well, they handle a range, but 38 is in that range) – Michael Stachowsky Apr 12 '17 at 12:41
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    Normally you'd use something like 50-60 PSI in a tyre of that width. To what pressure are you inflating? Can you try going a bit higher to see if it helps seat the bead then drop again to riding pressures? Also, I'm a fan of dishwash water to short term lubricants - a spray bottle of warm water and some dishwash liquid, sprayed around the bead will help it settle better. Remember to clean off brake surfaces if rim brakes, or cover a disk rotor with a showercap or bag. – Criggie Apr 13 '17 at 1:00
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    Do you have a Bike Cooperative in your city? They may be able to advise you what you're doing different, if you demonstrate. – Criggie Apr 13 '17 at 3:23
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    That's a good idea. I finally got it to seat correctly, I hope, but it took a very long time, more than an hour of inflating and deflating, and a lot of soap. I'm assuming it's not normally this hard? – Michael Stachowsky Apr 13 '17 at 11:09
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    No its not normally that hard. However leave the tyres on the bike until your next puncture, and I bet they seat a lot easier in the future, because they'll settle and "take a set" – Criggie Apr 13 '17 at 22:11
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It depends on your rims. Some rims are much worse than others, and the effect is exaggerated with some tyres. Some things I've found that sometimes work:

  • Inflate hard, let the air almost all out, then try to seat by pushing/pulling the tyre into the bead seat by hand. Pump back up. You may need to do this a couple of times.
  • After it doesn't pop into the seat properly by inflating hard, release quite a bit of the air (though not as much as in the previous suggestion) and bounce/roll the wheel (while leaning on it if you're rolling it). Add the air back gently, rolling every now and then.

    • Taking this to extremes: ride (gently) with the tyre almost as soft as you can without risking the rims. Just for a few tens of meters and slowly. Pump back up.
  • Sometimes wetting the tyre bead to reduce friction helps. I would use plain water for this, as it doesn't damage anything and once it evaporates it leaves nothing behind.

  • Interesting. From what you've said, there are still two possibilities: first, my rims might just suck (They are Ambrosio rims, and I've heard bad things), and second, I might still be doing something wrong. Is there any common thing I can be doing wrong and not noticing – Michael Stachowsky Apr 11 '17 at 14:04
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    Your method seems sound. Some rims come in at the big end of reasonable, some tyres at the small end. Bad seating can also be the opposite problem but from your question it doesn't sound like it. Some rims seem to grip the rubber more than others, maybe only in certain places. You could try to keep track of whether there are particular spots that are an issue, but that's probably more trouble than it's worth given that its unlikely to show anything. – Chris H Apr 11 '17 at 14:19
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    I once had to clamp a tire in a vise and pull on the wheel to get the bead to finally seat. Not recommended for the faint of heart. – Rider_X Apr 11 '17 at 22:15
  • Some tires are just terrible too. Continental TourRIDE were a nightmare on my road bike's rims. Schwalbe Marathons were trivial though. Surprisingly. – Batman Apr 14 '17 at 0:38
  • @Batman I heard marathon plus were supposed to be hard work to get on but never had any trouble myself. I think the hardest I've had to deal with were continental comfort contact. Maybe contis come up a bit tight or have more friction around the bead. Or maybe it's coincidence. – Chris H Apr 14 '17 at 6:17

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