Modern day dirt bike athletes are constantly looking for the latest and greatest technologies to help with their riding. This is especially true when it comes to puncture resistance in tires. Nobody, not an average rider or serious racer, wants to get a flat. To help with this multiple concepts have been brought to life throughout the years. There is the nearly timeless bib mousse, new systems such as Tubliss, and the focus of this article, tire balls. To learn all about dirt bike tire balls and how they could benefit your ride, read on!
What are tire balls for dirt bikes?
Tire balls for dirt bikes are very appropriately named. They are individually filled spheres that are placed inside a dirt bike tire in the place of a regular tube or other similar systems. The tire balls are much more puncture resistant than a regular or heavy duty motocross tube. Since there are multiple used in one wheel (easily 30 or more in each tire), popping one or two tire balls in a race or on a ride will not be a problem. This virtually eliminates the flat tire issue that many off-road racers face.
How do tire balls work?
Think of a regular air tube. It is one shape and takes up the entire inside space of the tire. There is no surprise that something with that large of a surface area can be easily pinched or punctured when riding the insanely rough ground that we rip our dirt bikes across! Tire balls on the other hand are small. Since there are usually over 30 in a regular motocross wheel, it is not such an issue if one pops.
This is because there would still be countless others to help hold the shape of the tire. Tire balls work the same way as a tube in terms of air pressure. You individually fill each tire ball to the PSI that you would like to ride. Just like with a regular air tube, PSI settings will affect your ride performance. Tire balls are capable of being set at a lower PSI than an air tube because of their resistance to punctures. This gives the user complete control over their air pressure preferences. Remember that each tire ball should be inflated to the same PSI to achieve balance in the tire.
Tire balls vs. Tubliss
Tubliss offers another very unique system that allows you to run low tire pressures and have superior puncture resistance compared to a regular tube. I won’t get into too much detail on the product as that would throw off the main concern of this article (dirt bike tire balls). However, I will briefly explain it for the sake of a good comparison.
Tubliss is basically a high pressure insert that sits right against the rim similar to a tube, however, it does not entirely fill the tire. The Tubliss insert stays filled at 100 PSI, a rider can then fill the free space in the tire to a much lower PSI without concern of flatting. So is this system better than tire balls? I can’t answer that because to be honest it is up to the rider.
Both have downfalls and pluses like with everything else. With Tubliss it is possible to get a hole in the tire which drains your low pressure zone from air. This is an easy fix as it can be plugged. With tire balls this is not a concern, but you can pop individual balls which will need to be replaced when possible. Both options allow you to run a lower tire pressure than a regular air filled tube. Both options also include high flat tire resistance which is perfect for enduro and cross-country racing.
How to change a tire with tire balls
Changing a tire with tire balls can be a pain in the neck if you don’t know what you are doing, and if you don’t make use of the appropriate tools. If you have a Rabaconda and follow these steps, changing a tire with tire balls should be no problem for you.
We are going to skip the uninstalling the old tire part because there are already of plenty explanations for that.
Installing a tire with tire balls
- First you should clean up the inside of your rim. Remove the rim tape and make sure there are no burrs around the inside surface of the rim.
- Once the rim is cleaned up you will want to install an adhesive based rim tape. Just make sure the seating area of the rim is not covered when you do it. Some riders use duct tape which seems to work okay.
- Next you will want to put a loose valve stem inside the valve stem hole in the rim.
- Inflate the tire balls to the PSI that you intend to ride with.
- Lubricate the inside of the tire along with each tire ball that you will be using.
To help keep the dirt bike tire balls in place in place during installation, place a clamp on the tire so that part of the clamp is inside the tire for the tire balls to rest against.
Now insert as many tire balls inside the tire carcass as it will fit. You will want to make sure that the inflation inserts are all facing towards where the hub will be for easy access. Remove the clamp when you get back around to it so that you can fully will the carcass with tire balls.
Now the tire should be full of tire balls and ready to be mounted onto a wheel.
Follow the standard tire mounting process with your Rabaconda dirt bike tire changer and that’s it!
Why should you use tire balls?
Now you’ve learned a little bit about tire balls and the basic method to install them, its time I tell you why you’ll want to try them for yourself. Firstly, as I mentioned before, you pretty much don’t have to worry about flats anymore. This means that you can race and ride as hard as you like without the thought of pushing your bike home lingering in the back of your mind.
The next benefit is an overall smoother ride. With a standard air tube, impacts tend to push the air around causing disturbance on the bike. Tire balls are all completely individual so the forces placed on a couple of tire balls will not spread, minimizing harsh feelings. Lastly, you can run low air pressure which results in more traction, and more stability when riding on pretty much any terrain. This is especially helpful on hard packed, rocky surfaces as it allows the tires to sit flatter and find more grip.
Tire balls are another great invention that have been used by countless riders in just about every riding condition. Will they work for you? Well that is for you to decide. Some people don’t like them, where others swear by them. Just as some people love bib mousse inserts and others dislike them. The great thing about riding dirt bikes today is that there is plenty of choice out there for all of us. We get to try out what we are interested in, and then tell our friends all about it. I for one love tire balls and think they are a great option for a lot of people!