By Chad de Alva
To fully appreciate the Rabaconda 3-Minute Tire Changer, it helps to have had multiple bad tire changing experiences. You know the experiences I’m talking about. Trailside fix-a-flats, where you don’t have all the tools you need and your buddies are busy heckling you for stopping the ride and getting a flat. Or wrestling matches with a stiff-walled tire on your garage floor where the lack of a stand or a secured wheel results in tire irons getting launched (hopefully not at your face). ADV riders can relate if they’ve used C-Clamps or other creative means to break the beads on their ADV tires. Without the right tools and the proper technique, tire changing can be a suffer fest – and it’s this exact reason why the Rabaconda is so awesome. It’s purpose built to exploit every technique and little secret out there to make tire changing as quick and easy as possible.
When you first get your Rabaconda in the mail, it’s easy to wonder how this collection of a dozen-odd parts is such an effective tool. But don’t judge something until you’ve used it extensively. The fact that the Rabaconda packs up into an included bag that occupies less than a couple of cubic feet of space is actually a really nice feature, especially if you are sick of having to find a home for that giant tire changing stand that’s always in the way in your garage. When it’s not in use, the Rabaconda can be tucked up on a shelf, and its packed size means that it’s easy to take to races, your buddies’ house, or wherever you need to crush a tire change.
Assembling the Rabaconda takes just a couple of minutes, and the first few times you do it, you’ll catch yourself admiring the build quality and design. This is a product that will last a long time and will withstand extensive use. Little details like the well-marked wheel size indicators, the beautifully turned spindle, and the bead breaker that looks like it could also split hardwood all underscore the research and development that went into making this thing work so well. But before you dive into your first tire change, take a few minutes to get up to speed on how to wield this awesome tool most effectively.
Rabaconda has a couple of highly informative how-to videos on their website, so watch them as many times as you need to really understand how to use this tool. Then to get stoked on how you’ll be changing tires before you know it – watch the videos of the pro racers using the Rabaconda.
My first tire change with the Rabaconda was the 18inch rear Sedona MX208SR that we recently tested. I intentionally selected this tire first, because why not start out with the stiffest dirtbike tire carcass I’ve seen? Tire changing is all about technique, and I found it extremely easy to use the Rabaconda to apply proper technique to this tire change after watching the instruction videos a couple of times. Breaking the bead and setting my first iron was the easiest it’s ever been thanks to the Rabaconda’s bead breaking system. Before I knew it, I was all the way around the rim, and using the bead breaking system once again to effortlessly slip the tire over the rim lock, freeing the tire from the rim. My first time using the Rabaconda was hands down the fastest tire removal I’ve ever performed.
With my wheel serviced, I prepped a new tire and new Nitro Mousse, and started the tire install process. The Rabaconda holds the wheel you are working on roughly at knee height, so it’s very easy to use your body weight to hold the tire over the rim lock while you’re getting your first bead on. When you go to mount the second bead, you’ll get to use the tire iron holder, which keeps your first tire iron in place while you start working the second bead over the rim. Speaking of the Rabaconda’s tire irons, the five included irons are high quality, and I couldn’t find a burr or rim-scratching defect in any of mine. If you’re wondering why you get five tire irons with a Rabaconda, the instructional videos teach you to use a couple of these irons as bead buddies to keep the bead in the drop center of the rim while you work through the home stretch of getting that second bead over the rim. The Rabaconda technique works great, and it’s easy to effectively keep a bead in the drop center of a rim – even with a mousse that’s trying it’s best to keep the bead up on its seat.
Before I knew it, I was done with my first Rabaconda tire change and feeling pretty impressed. For the next couple of changes, I uninstalled and re-installed the front 208SR tire on my front wheel, as I wanted to see how the Rabaconda worked with tubes. Just as the video shows, working with tubes is no worries – so if tubes are your jam, the Rabaconda is still a great option for your tire changing kit.
Likewise, the bead breaker system works great with ADV tires, and Rabaconda makes a few specific parts for riders that are going to be changing ADV tires. The ADV kit from Rabaconda includes a couple of full-size tire spoons as well as a couple of sleeves for the spindle in addition to the standard kit that I reviewed here. These items can also be purchased separately so you can add to your kit as needed.
The Rabaconda 3-minute tire changer is a pretty impressive kit. If you are used to changing tires on a stand or by some other means, stepping up to the Rabaconda is going to be a night and day change in speed and ease of tire changes. I know that many riders out there will balk at the price of a Rabaconda kit, as they’re certainly not cheap. But after using one to make more than a dozen tire changes in a couple of days, I can confidently say that the Rabaconda is worth it. I enjoy changing tires, as I see each tire change as a game where you try and change the tire as efficiently as possible, but I will admit that I wouldn’t want to change several tires back-to-back in one day. Yet the Rabaconda is like a cheat code for this game that brings the degree of difficulty way down, so all you’re focusing on is speed by efficiently executing the right technique. With a Rabaconda, changing tires becomes fun.
For the price, you’re getting a quality tool, whose only nit-picking fault I can find are the plastic levers that secure the wheel supports in place. I could see a situation where just the right step from a big boy could potentially break one – but the stars are going to have to align just so for that to happen. Otherwise the tool is awesome, and it works just as advertised.
If you’re a rider who has been paying for tire changes, you’ll pay for the cost of a Rabaconda in just a couple of years if not less, and you’ll save time not having to go to and from wherever you’re getting your tires changed. If you dislike changing tires and you put off installing new tires until you absolutely have to, a Rabaconda will change your opinion of the tire changing process – so you’ll get to enjoy the performance of not having bald tires more often. If you are a garage tire-changer like me, who feels pretty proficient with a tire stand and a few spoons, going to a Rabaconda is still a solid move. You’ll save time and effort changing tires, and the Rabaconda packs up quite nicely when you’re not using it, which is more than I can say for the big annoying tire stand I have that’s always in my way. When you buy a Rabaconda, put up a score board in your shop too – because you’re going to want to see who can set the fastest tire change time. No matter how you’ve been getting the tires changed on your bikes, picking up a Rabaconda is going to make that process about as fast and easy as it can get – and that means more time riding on fresh new tires. www.rabaconda.com