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ADV NewsRabaconda Street Bike Tire Changer: Quick Scratch-Free Tire Swaps

Rabaconda Street Bike Tire Changer: Quick Scratch-Free Tire Swaps

Make quick work of tire changes at home while keeping your rims looking fresh.

Published on 09.26.2023

Changing tires is an essential part of motorcycle ownership that we often dread but can’t avoid. If you put a lot of miles on your bike and change tires frequently the cost of professional tire changes can add up quickly, not to mention the inconvenience of scheduling drop off and pickup. Doing tire changes at home with traditional methods can often lead to frustration and costly rim damage if you’re not an expert at it. But there are solutions for this dilemma and they continue to grow. 

In recent years, Rabaconda has been helping make the whole process of changing tires at home fast, painless and more affordable with their 3-Minute Tire Changer (a.k.a. Dirt Bike tire changer). However, due to the reliance on tire irons to spoon on the tire, there was a risk of scratching rims. For a lot of off-road riders, that was no big deal and the risk of damage could be minimized with special rim guards and a delicate touch. But for those looking to keep their rims scratch free and retain as much resale value as possible, a new solution was in order. Now the company has released a new version called the Rabaconda Street Bike Tire Changer and despite the name, it works great for Dual Sport motorcycles and inner tubes too. Read on for more details on how it performed.

The System

Rabaconda Street Bike Tire Changer tested

Like the original Dirt Bike Tire Changer, the new Street Bike version breaks down into packable parts and fits into a handy duffel bag that makes it easy to transport to a friend’s house or store away in the garage. Moreover, the new device has fewer parts and is more compact than the original Rabaconda, and can be easily assembled or disassembled in a minute or less.

Rabaconda Street Bike Tire Changer review
The Rabaconda Street Tire Changer can be quickly dismantled and stored away into its easy-to-carry duffel bag.

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At first glance it looks similar with a similar leveraging arm attachment at the top that makes it easy to break the bead of even the most stubborn tires. The big difference between the two Rabacondas is the method in which they push the tire on or pull it off. The original Rabaconda uses tire irons to leverage and push the tire over the rim edge, which can often lead to multiple scratches or chips on your anodized wheels. The Street Bike Tire Changer uses a mechanism called a ‘Duckhead’ to perform the same task. The Duckhead has a unique shape that actually resembles a duck with a tapered bill and protruding tail. There’s a groove running through the middle that surrounds the rim edge, allowing it to rotate around the wheel like one of those duck shooting gallery games.

Rabaconda Street Bike Tire Changer review
The patented Duckhead device is used to either push the bead on or off the rim with a ratcheting leverage arm mechanism.

A single tire iron is also included that is used to get the bead set up on the Duckhead. Placing the tire bead diagonally over the Duckhead one direction or the other determines whether it pushes the bead on or off. It works just like those fancy pneumatic tire changing machines at the dealer but it’s manually operated with muscle power rather than air pressure, and it costs a whole lot less. 

As far as construction, everything is solidly built with durable paint or a chrome finish for easy cleaning. Out of the box, it comes with everything you’ll need for most standard mid-to-large adventure bikes. But for certain bikes there are accessories required, like those that use cross-spoke tubeless wheels, shaft-drive BMWs, or small-displacement bikes with smaller axles.

How It Works

Rabaconda Street Bike Tire Changer review
All parts that come in contact with the rim are plastic covered to prevent damage.

After several months of testing, we’ve successfully changed tires with the Street Bike Tire Changer on everything from a Royal Enfield Himalayan, KTM 990 Adventure R, Suzuki V-Strom 1050DE, Honda XR600R, and more. This gave us a range of different tire and wheel sizes, as well as tires with and without tubes, and even bead locks. We’ll go through the process here of how to use the Street Bike Tire Changer, incorporating some tips we’ve picked up during our evaluation. In the beginning, it might feel like there are a lot of steps to remember but like anything you practice, it soon becomes second nature and doesn’t take a lot of time once you get it.

Initial Setup

Rabaconda Street Bike Tire Changer review
Tap the two big spacer magnets into place so they line up with the sides of the wheel.

Setting up the device after assembly, you simply adjust the positions of the two big magnets so they line up with the wheel sides, then adjust the height of the bead breaker so it lines up with the tire at the edge of the rim. Start by removing the valve stem base nut and core, then use the bead breaking arm to break the tire bead all around on both sides. Lube up the tire bead on both sides, as well as the Duckhead mechanism using bead grease or other lube of choice. 

Rabaconda Street Bike Tire Changer review
Use the leveraging arm to break the bead on both sides of the tire.
Rabaconda Street Bike Tire Changer review
A generous amount of Bead Grease helps keep the Duckhead moving smoothly during the beading or unbeading processes.

Next, place the wheel spacer in the center of the wheel to stabilize it and rotate the wheel so that the valve stem is in the 2 to 3-o’clock position. This will make installing the tire easier when you are working with inner tubes. For cast wheels, there’s a pin you can install that holds the wheel in place. With spoked wheels, it’s better to use the included strap to avoid damaging the spokes. Loop the strap around one of the right tilted spokes on the down side of the rim (not over the tire), wrapping it around the nipple for a safe secure attachment. Loop the other end of the strap around the base of the a-frame and tighten down the slack so that it holds the wheel in place and prevents it from rotating.

Rabaconda Street Bike Tire Changer review
Lock the wheel in place by looping the strap around one of the right tilted back spokes, wrapping it around the nipple for a safe and secure attachment.
Place the Duckhead in the 12-o’clock position with it hooked onto the edge of the rim, and ensure that it can rotate freely around the wheel.

Now that the wheel is set up, slide the Duckhead arm attachment over the spindle with the Duckhead in the 12-o’clock position. Get the Duckhead positioned over the rim edge and tightened down so that it can rotate freely around the rim while locked on the edge, then rotate it to 6 o’clock to get it in the starting position. (Tip: We found giving it a few taps with a rubber mallet and a final tighten helps ensure the Duckhead stays firmly secured to the rim and doesn’t jump off track during rotation).

Tire Removal

Start by pushing the top tire bead down into the low spot (drop center) of the rim, which will give you more freeplay to work with on the opposite side. Stick the tire iron in between the tire bead and the duck’s bill, then pull the tire bead over the head of the duck and place the tire iron into the special holder hook to lock it in place. Even though you are using a tire iron, there’s little chance of gouging your wheels because the Duckhead envelops the rim edge. If you feel it fighting you when you try to pull the tire iron into place, use the bead breaker arm to push the top bead down in the drop center.

Use the tire iron to pull the bead over the head of the duck.

Once the bead is set up so that it lays diagonally over the Duckhead (tail exposed), you can remove the leverage arm from the bead breaker position and insert it into the Duckhead ratcheting arm. Start ratcheting the Duckhead around the rim counter clockwise while standing to the left of the device. Its motion is a little sticky at first but should glide freely after it gets started. You can pull the tire iron out after it rotates a few degrees and continue ratcheting until the first bead pops off completely.

Once the tire bead is setup on the Duckhead, you can use the ratcheting arm to unbead the tire.

To remove the second bead you just repeat the process. Position the Duckhead back at the 6-o’clock position. Use the tire iron again to pull the back bead over the head of the duck, being extra careful if you are using an inner tube, that you don’t spear it with the tire iron. You can check the backside of the wheel to confirm the tire iron is clear of the tube, then leverage the tire iron until the head of the duck pops out the back. 

Rabaconda Street Bike Tire Changer review
Check the backside of the wheel to confirm the tire iron is clear of the innertube.

On a few occasions, we did have to adjust the inner tube position in the tire to avoid it getting caught between the tire bead and the rim, jamming up the device as it began rotating but with practice this seemed to be less of an issue. It’s also a good idea to push the inner tube’s valve stem through the hole in the rim before ratcheting as an extra precaution to ensure it doesn’t get caught and torn. With obstructions cleared, start ratcheting and the tire will pop off the second bead about halfway around.

Tire Installation

For tube type tires, install your inner tube into the tire with a few pounds of air pressure to give it some shape. Pre-lube your tire bead front and back, and also give the Duckhead some fresh grease. As always, be sure you are mounting the tire in the direction of wheel rotation and line up the valve stem with the painted dot on the tire to give yourself a headstart with the balancing.

Rabaconda Street Bike Tire Changer review

Rotate the Duckhead to the 12-o’clock position and place the tire over the rim while sticking the valve stem through the hole. Secure the valve stem with the base nut lightly screwed on so that it doesn’t fall out, then position the first (rear) bead diagonally over the Duckhead with the tail sticking out the back and the head of the duck inside the tire. Push the first bead onto the tire as much as you can with your hands, then use the ratcheting mechanism to get it on the rest of the way.

Rabaconda Street Bike Tire Changer review
To install the first bead, set the tire diagonally over the Duckhead device with the tail sticking out of the back and the head inside the tire.

Next repeat the process with the second bead, getting it placed over the Duckhead diagonally using the tire iron. This time the head should be sticking out the front and the tail should be inside the tire. Push the second bead on using the Duckhead until you rotate it to about the 7-o’clock position. Pause for a moment to check and make sure the opposite side of the tire’s bead is down in the drop center area to provide as much freeplay as possible getting the tire on. Continue ratcheting the tire on until you return to the 12-o’clock position and use the bead breaking arm to push the final section of bead over the Duckhead. And you’re done! 

Ensure the tail of the duck is on the backside of the bead and the head is in front to install the bead on the rim.

After getting in some practice runs, our tire change times were around the 8 minute range starting with the wheel off the bike and tire changer fully assembled.

Quick Tips

  • Use a liberal amount of grease and re-apply as necessary to make things easier.
  • If you feel like you are applying too much force, check that the bead at the opposite end of the tire is down in the drop center area. 
  • Tap the Duckhead a few times and re-tighten once it’s installed on the rim to help keep it from jumping off track.
  • A couple of times the innertube got stuck between the bead and the rim, so check before you start ratcheting and re-adjust the tube if it gets caught.
  • Avoid damaging a spoke by looping the strap around the base (nipple) and choose a spoke that leans to the right so it keeps it held in position at the base.
  • You’ll need to take extra care when working with a Beadlock to ensure it’s pushed up into the tire and doesn’t interfere with the Duckhead’s operation.
  • Watch some videos on how to operate the device first before jumping in.
  • Be patient. It takes a few tire changes before you figure it out.
  • Really stiff sidewall tires can be difficult. Start with a softer sidewall tire to learn on if you can.
  • Check with Rabaconda before you buy, to make sure you don’t need to add any special accessories for your particular bike.
Rabaconda Street Bike Tire Changer review
The Rabaconda Street Tire Changer on the left and Dirt Bike Tire Changer on the right.

Who’s It For?

Those who swap rubber often and want to avoid incurring ugly scratches on their rims will appreciate the Street Bike Tire changer, but also anyone looking to save some time, money and headaches when changing tires. While it works well for a variety of different motorcycles, it’s tuned more towards larger adventure bikes. Those looking to change tires primarily on off-road bikes with bead locks, mousses or ultra-stiff sidewalls may want to consider the original Rabaconda instead. Also, be aware that the Street Tire changer’s Duckhead mounting system is not compatible with bib mousses.

Our Verdict

The Rabaconda Street Tire Changer not only helps prevent unsightly rim scratches but allows you to change tires with less physical effort compared to the original Rabaconda. While there is a bit of a learning curve, it pays dividends in ease of use once you get through a few tire changes. If you’re just learning how to change tires, keep in mind there’s going to be a learning curve with tire irons too.   

For those looking for the fastest tire changes on primarily off-road bikes and already familiar with using tire irons the original Rabaconda fits the bill. Riding street and adventure bikes with nice rims and only occasionally do tire changes on dirtbikes? Go with the Street Bike Tire Changer.

What We Liked

  • Less effort exerted than using tire irons.
  • Prevents rims scratches.
  • Helps avoid the dreaded tire iron pinch flat.
  • Portable and easily packed away when not in use.
  • Makes tire changes kinda fun.

What Could Be Improved

  • Somewhat complicated to learn and remember all the steps.
  • May require add-on accessories for compatibility with your bike.
  • On occasion, the Duckhead would loosen and pop off track.

Rabaconda Street Tire Changer Specs

  • Wheel Diameters: 12” – 21”.
  • Wheel axle diameters: 20-32mm. (15-20mm spindle adapter sold separately)
  • Compatible with cast and spoke wheels.
  • Weight: 28.6 lbs (13kg).
  • Carry-bag dimensions: 27.5 x 11 x 9.8 inches  (70 x 28 x 25 cm).
  • Cross-spoke wheels and shaft drive bikes require special adapters (sold separately).
  • Price: $649

Shopping Options

Rabaconda USARabaconda International

Author: Rob Dabney

Rob Dabney started a lifelong obsession with motorcycles at the age of 15 when he purchased his first bike – a 1982 Honda MB5. Through his 20’s and 30’s he competed in off-road desert races, including the Baja 250, 500 and 1000. Eventually, his proclivity for exploration led him to dual sport and adventure riding. Rob’s never-ending quest to discover what’s around the next bend has taken him on Adventures in Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and throughout the American West. As a moto journalist, he enjoys inspiring others to seek adventure across horizons both near and far.

Author: Rob Dabney
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4 Comments
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Eric Altman
Eric Altman
September 28, 2023 4:33 pm

This would save me so much time and money.

Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
October 2, 2023 10:54 am

I’ve been researching these, considering picking one up. This article helped! It’ll save me a lot of time traveling to the local shop!

RobertSix52
RobertSix52
October 16, 2023 1:01 pm

I just do it on the patio with some tire irons and bucket of cuss words.

Hang FireD
Hang Fire
November 1, 2023 1:51 pm

Had it, sold it, bought a No Mar. If you have a stiff tire on a rim with a shallow drop center, forget about using that one tire iron. Not only will you fail to get the bead over the rim, you will pop off the duck head ever time. If it takes 2 or 3 irons to get the bead over, you’ll bend the center post and maybe drag the machine across the floor. For big floppy performance tires on rims with deep center grooves, it might be fine.

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