I had my rims powder coated. After going to the trouble of removing the tire covers and front wheel bearings there was no way I was going to trust my pristine rims to a cowboy fitter so I did some research.
I did this after I tried to get one of my tires re-mounted, I'd always used the same shop and at the time they couldn't do it so I went somewhere else. The second shop showed me the tire bead and said the first shop had trashed my tire removing it and refused on safety grounds to re-mount it.
So I started learning some things about the kit that UK tire changers use. Small shops tend to have simple machines, some designed for removing car tires which are totally unsuited to motorcycle ali rims. Unfortunately these shops are often cheapest. Then there's the slightly better models designed for motorcycle rims, but they should keep a stock of 'Rim guards'. These are plastic use once covers that protect the rim, often they run out of stock or don't keep them because they can make more profut per tire change without. Then there's the tool that breaks the tire bead - the chisel thingys that slip between the rim anf the tire wall. These should have plastic push on covers which again they should stock. The way they work can be different too. The worst type have a single chisel and the wheel is pulled around. The best motorcycle models have 4 chisels fitted with plastic protectors which are pulled down without the wheel rim rotating. The machine itself if designed for motorcycle wheels will have far less force and more controllable effort from the hydraulics or compressed air.
What did I conclude?
1.You are more likely to get damaged rims and think that's normal when it isn't.
2. If a shop has the latest tire change machine designed specifically for motorcycles and the rim protectors, you are in with a chance.
3. Main dealers whilst more expensive on their labor rate, are more likely to have invested in the correct equipment.
4. Cheapest price often means old unsuitable equipment.
5. If they have the right kit and the changer is a biker, you might get a better result.
6. Clean and polish your rims before taking them in. That way you spot the damage more easily, or they may take more pride in avoiding damage.
7. Ask to see their machine and let them tell you how they avoid rim damage, before leaving your wheels.
DON'T be complacent, ask questions first, Caveat emptor!
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