By Jeffrey the Barak.
The new Zero tire is much better than the stock Hota tire, but installation on the rear wheel is very difficult.
Now if you want to take the above, and leave, no problem, but here is the full article!
eWheels introduced an upgraded tire and inner tube set that is more puncture resistant, and since I had developed a slow leak in my Turbowheel Dart’s back tire, it seemed like the perfect time to give them a try. Not only do eWheels have all the spares you need, but the support is second to none, even if you are too far away to actually go to the Arizona store.
As with everything, I first turned to YouTube for tutorials. Falcon PEV had uploaded two videos, one for removal and replacement of the rear wheel/motor assembly, and another for the process of removing the old tire and tube and then reinstalling the same Hota tire, which they do with bare hands and no struggle.
But then eWheels support sent me two videos for the rear-wheel procedure using the better, but stiffer Zero tire, and there were some significant differences.
Front: Difficulty level 1 out of 10.
Rev Rides had uploaded a video of the entire process for the front wheel. Changing the tire and tube on the front wheel is much easier than changing them on the rear wheel. No strength needed, because the wheel simply unbolts and comes apart in the center and the tire and tube can be gently lifted away or placed back down. Not a tire lever in sight. It is a very hand and finger friendly procedure for the front. You basically just place the tire and tube between the two sides and then re-join the two halves of the wheel. The front tire was changed and the wheel reinstalled in ten minutes.
Rear: Difficulty level 10 out of 10.
Before starting I gathered everything I would need and watched the videos several times, and typed out the instructions in order to keep beside the work area. I am a very reluctant engineer/mechanic but was determined to get through it.
The process is easier if you find a way to make the rear tire warm, so it is more pliable, and if you have on hand, two or three long metal tire levers/spoons. I initially had very small plastic tire spoons, and one of these broke during the removal of the original tires.
Prior to getting this air leak, I was pleased enough with the stock Hota tires on my Turbowheel Dart (same as a Zero 9) but I always felt that the rear was out of balance. In fact I had been running a lower pressure to help with that, and this may have contributed to the pinhole that I found I had in the inner tube sidewall area. There was no Slime in the tubes. Had I known that, I would have tried Slime first.
The idea of not having to do all of this too often, via a more puncture-resistant tire and tube set, seemed well worth the inconvenience of going through it and eWheels had preemptively told me about this new option.
The new tire, called a Zero Tire, (possibly because it was intended for Zero scooters?) is very much stiffer and it is necessary to have a set of strong and long tire levers to get it onto the rear rim. I had struggled to remove my original rear Hota tire due to my old plastic tire levers being really small. My hands and fingers were sore and tired for a day after that. Those plastic levers did not stand a chance of mounting the new Zero tire, so I waited for the arrival of my long metal spoons from Amazon.
The bead of a new tire needs to be well lubricated so you can slip it onto the rim with your levers. It is hard enough without also fighting the grip of the rubber. Assuming you don’t want to buy a large tub of actual tire mounting lubricant that will last you for a lifetime, you can use rubber dressing such as Armor All Tire Foam, or similar. Most people use very soapy water but some of that excess water can remain liquid, sealed inside your airtight tire for a long time. Protectant will eventually just absorb into the rubber.
Also note that a wheel rim has a deep valley in the center called a drop center, and the bead of the tire must get all the way into that space so the opposite side is far enough away to be forced over the rim. The rim is of course bigger than the hole in the tire, and so this deep part of the wheel must be used. On the Turbowheel Dart the wheel flange has a 15cm diameter (6”) and the hole in the tire is 13cm (approximately).
Even with lubricant and using the wheel’s drop center, it is still hard to force a good stiff tire onto a tiny wheel. In case you wonder why we don’t just take the rear wheel and tire to a tire store for mounting, those tire changing machines need to put their spindles through a center hole, and we have our hub motors in the way. So we are left with levers and spoons.
Finally on, for about a minute.
After waiting five more days for my long spoons to arrive, I was finally able to foam up the rear tire and set about mounting it. So, with a firm work surface, long spoons, warm tire, plenty of tire foam, rested hands, videos memorized, all ready.
How it went.
My first attempt at mounting the rear tire was unsuccessful. At one point I even asked eWheels if I could send the whole rear wheel, motor, half-on tire, and inner tube to Arizona from Hawai’i for a rescue.
First though, I enlisted my wife’s help with keeping the first lever in place and keeping the wheel still. Together we got the Zero tire on! However the new tube got pinched and punctured in the process and would not take any air. So back to square one, tire removal. I got one side off, removed the tube which certainly was punctured, and shoved in what was previously my front tube inside the Hota tire. With my wife by my side and three levers, we tried again. This time the tire went on a little easier and it held air. I’ll be adding Slime anyway so the old tube is probably okay.
Test ride, tire impressions.
Again, the original tires were not bad, but I was eager to experience the new ones that had been so difficult to change over to. Both the old Hota and new Zero tires are 50 psi rated, and I had been deliberately running the Hota rear at around 40 to help with the rear wheel imbalance. On my first test ride with the Zeros, I was running about 55 psi.
When you have 100 miles on an electric scooter, your instincts tell you how it should feel, and any major change is felt immediately. I deliberately took my first test ride in a quiet place, which happens to be around my own block. The sound was different, the road felt different and the scooter steered differently. The steering through corners feels more precise.
Perhaps the best thing was no more vibration from the back due to an out of balance wheel. That original Hota tire must have been quite uneven in terms of weight.
On the downside, the stiffer sidewalls do allow more vibration to intrude upon the smoothness of the ride. Rough patches that the Hota tires helped smooth out feel a little bit more jarring with the Zero tires. The kickstand even chimes in with a rattle over the bumps, and that rarely occurred with the original tires.
I am starting to think that these tires are in a different class altogether. The original tires are more like the widely available baby stroller tires that happen to be the same size, and the Zeros are more like motor vehicle tires, and better suited to the street and high speed.
The Zero tires definitely provide a more controlled ride than the original Hota tires, though those Hotas are themselves much better than many other small tires out there on various electric scooters. The never-used Yida tires in the photos that accompany this article are similar to kick-scooter or stroller tires.
My sore hands, high stress and general sweat experienced during this tire upgrade has been worth it. I have some inside information that eWheels are looking into selling future Turbowheel Darts with split rim rear wheels to make all this misery go away. I mentioned above that in one video the second bead of a Hota tire can be seen getting installed without levers, just bare hands. This illustrates how different the Hota and the Zero tires are.
For those who really hate punctures, and that is everyone, there is another even more foolproof option. Airless rubber tires are available in the right size for the Dart / Z9. If you find your regular routes take you through minefields of nails and glass and you get frequent flats, this could be an idea for you. The downside is the Dart’s beautifully smooth ride quality would be seriously compromised, and grip on wet roads would not be nearly as reliable, so the chance of a fall increases. Testers and reviewers of these solid tires have often been displeased with the ride they provide, but again, if you get lots of flats, and it is ruining your scooting life, you might just have to go solid.
Jeffrey the Barak has owned five electric scooters and at least sixteen human-powered scooters