At $75, the Raceline 14–20-inch bead breaker has already saved us time and money. Boss can now do all of our tire chores here in the shop. The leverage the tool gives makes separating even the most stubborn tire bead from any wheel easy.
One of the most common tasks we give Boss McKannick down in the shop is to mount up new tires for us to test. Sometimes the new rubber gets mounted on a new wheel, and that job only requires a pair of tire spoons and an air compressor. However, if he needs to dismount an old tire to replace it, things get a bit tricky.
The tolerances that some tire and wheel manufacturers go by make separating a tire’s bead from a wheel incredibly difficult. OEM tires, especially Honda’s, tend to be even more difficult than aftermarket meats. In any case, to get the job started, you need a tool known as a bead breaker or a pneumatic tire machine, like what they use in an automotive tire shop.
For years we relied on the $75 bead breaker from James Lucky (www.jlatvproducts.com). We have one around the shop that must have helped change 1000 tires over the years and is still holding up great. The one problem with the James Lucky product is that it only works on wheels ranging from 8–12 inches in size.
RACELINE = FINISH LINE
The tool is made out of 1/4-inch-thick, high-grade steel, and it stores very compact. We added wing nuts on the adjustment bolts to make sizing the tool even quicker.
Well, today, many aftermarket and some OEM utility ATV and UTV wheels measure 14 or even 15 inches. So for the past couple years, Boss has been paying our local automotive tire shop to bust the beads on the larger tires he has been working on.
Raceline, a top UTV wheel manufacturer, saw this problem early on and came up with their own solution. Their bead breaker is nearly identical in design to the James Lucky product, but on a slightly larger scale. However, the price is not larger, as it sells for $75 too.
The Raceline tool works on larger wheel sizes, from 14–20 inches. The tool itself weighs about 15 pounds and is just under 2 feet long, so it will store easily on a shelf or in a garage cabinet. It’s constructed of high-grade steel and looks like it is built to last. That’s a good thing, because Boss is not easy on the equipment.
The day after we delivered the new Raceline bead breaker to Boss, he bought us all lunch. He hasn’t done that since we gave him a new Snap-On tool set one Christmas. Boss claims his work days will be improved from now on.
To use the breaker, you first lay the subject tire/wheel on its side. Next, you lower the 1/4-inch-thick, steel hook bar across the wheel and hook it under the wheel lip. The other main push pad now gets slipped under the lip on the opposite side of the wheel. Now you simply push down on the 1-inch-round tubing and operation lever, which forces the main steel pad to force the tire away from the edge and separate it from the wheel. You have to do this in several spots around the wheel to get it completely separated. Then, flip the tire/wheel over and repeat the process. A set of large tire spoons will help peel the tire off of the rim. We use Motion Pro’s largest tire spoons ($29,  594-9600, www.motionpro.com). The bead breaker tool is not needed to install new tires. The Raceline product works great. It takes very little effort to force the operation lever down and break away the tire bead. There are no available Honda wheels that the tool can be used on yet, but we are confident it is up to the task.
To use the tool on different-sized wheels, just remove two bolts from the spanning hook bar, then slide the hook to the desired width and reinstall the bolts. One thing that is lacking on the Raceline product versus the James Lucky one is that there are no markings to tell you what size your spanning hook bar is set at. We also wish the adjustment bolts were equipped with wing nuts. We bought a pair of 50-cent wing nuts from the hardware store and made our own markings on the tool with a Sharpie marker.
Even without those little upgrades, the Raceline bead breaker is the perfect addition to our workshop. It should get many years of use. It saves us both time and money, allowing more days on the trails, making the purchase priceless.
Look for a tire comparison featuring 27-inch utility tires mounted on 14-inch wheels in the near future. Get to work, Boss, and thanks again for lunch. If you want to make your time in the shop a little easier, give Raceline a call at (800) 52-WHEEL. Or, you can see their complete selection of ATV, UTV and truck wheels at www.racelinewheels.com.