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  1. #1
    Yen
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    Tire changing tools for a semi-crippled hand

    I have a few problems with my left hand that make it painfully difficult to change a tire. My hand looks perfectly normal in every respect (except for a couple of thin surgical scars) but is weaker than normal due to a few pre-existing conditions (lunate spacer in the wrist, severed tendon injury in the thumb, arthritis in the middle finger). My doctor said that my grip is pretty strong, all things considered.... in fact, one doctor was amazed at my grip strength. I can do 99.999% of everything I want to..... everything, it seems, but change a tire.

    I've tried by myself but my husband always has to pitch in to finish the job. I don't mind the help, but I don't like the helpless feeling I'd have if I'm out alone with a flat. I know the steps, but pushing the tire into the rim is almost impossible and painfully difficult for my left hand to complete even with the traditional tire-changing levers.

    Are there any new or special tools or techniques I can learn or use to improve my ability to change a tire by myself?
    Specialized Roubaix Expert
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  2. #2
    Senior Member ehilge's Avatar
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    I'm not sure if this would work right but park tool makes something called a tire seater that might help: http://www.parktool.com/products/det...7&item=PTS%2D1 I think its more for getting the tire seated once its on the rim but it could help you get the tire on. Theres another tool that ksets on the side of the rim that the tire is already on and then hooks around the other side. It essentially pulls the other side of the tire up over the rim. Again, I'm not sure if this would help and I don't know what its actually called or where to get one. Anyone else know?
    Hope that helps!
    Hope that helps!

  3. #3
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    The single most important technique is to keep centering the part of the bead already seated so it sits in the deepest part of the tire channel. I can't emphasise that simple fact enough. Use your good hand on the tire lever and figure out how to use your other hand the best way to keep sweeping your fingers around the tire to keep centering that tire bead. That and a handy knee on the tire crossover point opposite where you're using the lever will avoid it creeping back off.

    That and some practice to figure out the best ways to work around the weak or painful motions but still get the job done.

    With repeated and constant bead centering you may even find that a lot of your changes can be done with the weak hand sweeping that sidewall in while you creep the bead over with your good hand and no tire lever is needed. It just depends on the tire in question.

    If the tire you're using is something wider and stiffer then it may be worth looking at going to another tire brand. For example my one experience with Schawlbe Marathons found me comparing the sidewall and over all carcase stiffness to a motorcycle tire more than to a bicycle tire. But the harder the tire is the more important it is to keep centering the portion already seated.

    Many use the two hands to work the bead on even before it gets tight. If even that bothers you then figure out how to work it around with the one hand and use that handy knee or some other trick to hold the one side from creeping back off. Maybe some sort of small woodworking spring clamp or other handy tool.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

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    I know some rim and tire combinations are looser than others. I'm not sure which ones and I'm sure others will chime in. Also, folding tires seem to fit looser than wire bead ones (after the initial stretch)

    You can also get a tool called the Bead Jack. It really only works on road tires unless they have made a new bigger version.

    Just don't get campy or zipp rims and conti tires.
    Last edited by nitropowered; 10-13-08 at 05:02 AM.

  5. #5
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    A tool should help you. Such as this:
    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...at%3A%20Wheels

    I have found that 1.37x20" tires are VERY difficult to put on a 20"/406 rim. The tool helps a lot. Also, the same tires in a 1.5x20" size are much easier. As mentioned previously, some tires are much easier to mount on some rims.

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    I have taken old tablespoons, [ must be smooth on handle end ] bend the spoons to the side , [ not up & down ] at about a 45 angle. This helps with leverage & the spoon end can hook behind a spoke to free up one hand. A very light coat of dishwashing soap on the tire edges or inner rim edges, helps, too.

  7. #7
    Senior Member sumguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JanMM View Post
    A tool should help you. Such as this:
    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...at%3A%20Wheels

    I have found that 1.37x20" tires are VERY difficult to put on a 20"/406 rim. The tool helps a lot. Also, the same tires in a 1.5x20" size are much easier. As mentioned previously, some tires are much easier to mount on some rims.
    +1 The tires on my new bike were flatting often and I was spending too much time fighting the tires. The Crank Bros speed lever linked above worked great installing the tire. My new tire only flatted once which is the only time I used it. I'm still going to try and perfect BCRider listed technique but will use the lever if in a hurry.

  8. #8
    another cat...FAB! stevesurf's Avatar
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    Jen, here's a link for the previously mentioned bead jack and another:

    http://harriscyclery.net/itemdetails.cfm?ID=2338

    Kool Stop
    Original Tire Bead Jack



    AC Quick Stik Tire Lever

  9. #9
    Senior Member bikeman715's Avatar
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    you could also try the TL-10 from parktool . which you can buy at any bikeshops.

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    Good question. If I understand, it is putting the tire on, not taking it off that is the problem.
    Some use talcum powder, I do not like the dust, and so I sometimes have used soapy water with good results.

    If the tire was really hard to get off, chances are, it will be really hard to get back on. Switch tires/brands. Bicycling in March 08 had an article that recommended using fold-ups rather than wire beads for people with less hand strength. Chances are, once on and ridden, your tire will be easier to get on and off, with any tire, but especially folders according to this article.

    As a kid, decades ago, I used to put a tire in the sun, or on a not-to-hot heater vent when it was tough. Once, as an adult, I needed a heat gun, but only because I insisted on a certain tire on a certain rim!

    I try to avoid using tools to put tires back on, I like a plastic lever for this because it is smaller and less likely to pinch the tube. If if feels like it will break, or I need more leverage, I use a metal lever like Park's (tl-5) with great results.

    I have only used Park's bead seater a couple times. Honestly, I am not sure I am using it right or effectively. I will try again, and I will be looking for a bead jack.

    For taking tires off, I like one plastic lever hooked to a spoke and a metal lever to go around the tire. Park's shop lever (tl-10) is generally good and I like it for use by the kids in the shop. I use a tool for motorcycle wheels made by Hazet. (Available through Samstag Sales). It is big (I believe I use the 20 inch lever!), crazy strong, expensive, and a bit silly perhaps, except when nothing else works. I need this about every two to three weeks in the shop. Now, I would not go to work in a bicycle shop without one! One can brace it against the axle and pull like mad. No matter what your hand strength is, you will get the tire off!

    All that said, again, hard off, check for damage, consider another tire.

  11. #11
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    When I mount a tire, I put a tiny dab of GB Wire Aide on the reluctant portion of the bead and everything goes together much easier. GB Wire Aide is a lubricant for pulling electrical wires through electrical conduit; I bought it at Home Depot. I made the assumption that it is safe to use on tires because it is harmless to rubber and vinyl wire insulation and dries with little residue. I keep a pea size dab of it in a tiny plastic bag in my saddle bag for on-the-road repairs. This lubricant might just be enough to help you become self-reliant for your tire repairs.

  12. #12
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    Nice tip, I will try it too, thanks!

  13. #13
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    The wire lube is a good tip. There's some we've used at work called Polywater and it dries with no detectable residue at all. I've never needed lube for my bicycle tires but the motorcycle tires on the dirtbike is a whole other topic. The polywater would be nice for that case.

    I see that a lot of the replies are jumping on the heavy duty prying tool bandwagon. I suppose it depends on which tires you're using. I had to do a little bit of grunting when I recently mounted up a Specialized Armadillo tire. But generally the softer and more supple thin wall road tires and most mountain bike tires come off and mount up easily as long as you can work the bead to the center of the rim's channel as I mentioned before.

    As you can see from my answers along with a few others I feel it's more about technique than brute force. If the small levers don't do the job for you then by all means go for bigger or higher tech solutions but work on using the technique and adapting the right technique to your own unique sitiation to work around your hand's limitations.

    And as with any technique practice makes perfect. You'll want to practice and adapt the usual technique and tools to suit your own needs but mostly you want to practice doing this at home in comfort before trying to do it in the rain on a muddy trail at some point. Practice and correct technique is easily worth 10 bead jacks or oversize levers. I'm not saying that you may not need these tools of torture and destruction but that they should be used WITH the best technique aimed at working the bead on and off the rim with the least force possible. And the least required force comes with keeping the mounted portion of the bead centered in the rim.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  14. #14
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    This is not a cheap solution.. Any of the Campagnolo wheels that don't require rim tape (Zonda,Eurus,Shamal ETC.)are scary easy to mount tires. No tools needed. They almost seem like the tires will fall off. Like they are too big for the rim.

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    Agreed, yes, while I sometimes need the big "tools of torture" or instuments of destruction, I would say that the vast majority of tires we see on a daily basis go on with hands only. You will note I was talking about taking tires off for most of the tools. You have to remember also, that the hands of many of the kids in our shop are quite small, they often need more leverage.

    Tools for putting a tire on, are generally a last resort.

  16. #16
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flanso View Post
    When I mount a tire, I put a tiny dab of GB Wire Aide on the reluctant portion of the bead and everything goes together much easier. GB Wire Aide is a lubricant for pulling electrical wires through electrical conduit; I bought it at Home Depot. I made the assumption that it is safe to use on tires because it is harmless to rubber and vinyl wire insulation and dries with little residue. I keep a pea size dab of it in a tiny plastic bag in my saddle bag for on-the-road repairs. This lubricant might just be enough to help you become self-reliant for your tire repairs.
    I'm gonna get some of that stuff on my next trip to a home center. Sounds helpful.

  17. #17
    Yen
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    Thank you all so much! I'll look into every one of these suggestions and devices and use the best combination of them to help me. I really want to conquer this and not let my otherwise good hand be a handicap if I'm out alone on the road with a flat..
    Specialized Roubaix Expert
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  18. #18
    Senior Member cman's Avatar
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    The KoolStop Beadjack above is a lifesaver. I have used this on older Schwinn S7's w/Kenda tires, and a skinny tire on a 26" MTB rim. On tight rim/tire combos it is very easy to pinch the tube using levers and the bead jack eliminates this. I have used them on wider tires also.

    What tires and rims do you have. Maybe somebody could reccomend a better tire.

  19. #19
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    I think it is difficult to acquire the skills which aid tyre-changing in that it only happens irregularly. For people with small hands/weak hands, there can be no better tool than the "VAR" tyre levers. This because they use the "lever" principle to haul over the remaining section of tyre rather than struggle to push this with the thumbs. In the link you will see that one lever is designed to fit on the opposite side of the rim from the section of tyre needing pulled up. The idea is that you hook the curved part of the lever over the last remaining section, position the slotted portion of the lever onto the opposite rim, and pull up and over. I've used them for over twenty years and never have they failed.

    http://www.cyclebasket.com/products....d=m5b93s281p92

  20. #20
    Good Mechanic. Bad Racer. mattcatt85's Avatar
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    Crank brothers makes an amazing lever with the typical tire removal side and a different tire application side.

    http://www.kk.org/cooltools/archives/001005.php

    I like them a bit, anyway.

  21. #21
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattcatt85 View Post
    Crank brothers makes an amazing lever with the typical tire removal side and a different tire application side.

    http://www.kk.org/cooltools/archives/001005.php

    I like them a bit, anyway.
    I have this but it doesn't compare with the VAR levers.

  22. #22
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattcatt85 View Post
    Crank brothers makes an amazing lever with the typical tire removal side and a different tire application side.

    http://www.kk.org/cooltools/archives/001005.php

    I like them a bit, anyway.
    I have these but they don't compare with the VAR levers.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Jed19's Avatar
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    Does anyone know where to buy the VAR Tire Levers in the USA? I have been looking for one for a long time, but no luck yet. The beautiful part of the VAR design is that it is extremely portable, when compared to the Koolstop Beadjack and the Crank Brothers tool.

    The VAR would be nice.

    Regards,
    Regards,

    Jed

  24. #24
    Senior Member Jed19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flanso View Post
    When I mount a tire, I put a tiny dab of GB Wire Aide on the reluctant portion of the bead and everything goes together much easier. GB Wire Aide is a lubricant for pulling electrical wires through electrical conduit; I bought it at Home Depot. I made the assumption that it is safe to use on tires because it is harmless to rubber and vinyl wire insulation and dries with little residue. I keep a pea size dab of it in a tiny plastic bag in my saddle bag for on-the-road repairs. This lubricant might just be enough to help you become self-reliant for your tire repairs.
    How is the GB Wire Aide on rim braking surfaces? Is it dangerous? Does your brake squeal for a while after because of the moisture?

    Regards,
    Regards,

    Jed

  25. #25
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    Luc,
    I use the Gardner-Bender Wire Aide very sparingly and vigorously wipe it off the wheel's braking surface, in the event that any gets on there, before the wheel is reinstalled.
    Frank

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