don't pedal backwards...
Join Date: Jul 2005
Bikes: Surly Long Haul Trucker set up for commuting and loaded touring, old Sekine road frame converted to fixed-gear, various beaters and weird bikes, waiting on the frame for my Surly Big Dummy build
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Road tires tend to be tougher to get onto rims than 26" stuff is. If you think 27x1-1/4 is tough, just wait until you try to mount certain 700x23 tires.
I used to have this problem as well, but I learned ways to make it a lot easier. First of all, it sounds like you are doing the first part of the process right. If you can get one side of the tire mounted and most of the other side, then you have won half of the battle.
Make sure you have all of the air out of the tube. If you are like me and put a snort of air into the tube before mounting it to help it hold shape, then you will need to get as much of this air back out as possible before mounting the last part of the tire. I like to press the wheel against the ground, squeeze with my knees, one hand, and my chin while holding the valve open with the free hand. This gets plenty of air out of the tire so that when you release the squeezed areas, the tube pulls away from the tire and is no longer a factor in the mounting problem.
Next make sure that the bead opposite the last part to be mounted is not caught on the rim wall. 26" rims and tires are more forgiving in this regard, but road tires generally need some coaxing to get to the correct place. The rim has a deeper notch in the middle that you need to get the tire to drop down into in order to get the last part of the bead over the rim wall. I like to force the bead over the wall until there is some built-up tension, and then go around the other side of the wheel with my fingers to pop the bead down into the groove in the rim. You'll probably be able to feel some of the tension ease as the tire gets worked into the correct position.
The last major trick is to make sure you are rolling the tire into the rim. The last bit of tire can be tricky, but it is pretty easy if you use this technique: Sit or kneel with the unmounted portion of the tire up and facing you. Grasp the wheel and tire like a steering wheel. Using your thumbs, press the bead of the ture up towards where it needs to be, starting from one edge and slowly working your way towards the middle. You should be able to use one thumb to lift the edge of the tire and the other to press it over the edge of the rim. If it gets difficult, pause and work around the tire again to make sure it is in the rim groove.
Hope this helps.