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what makes a good tire lever?

Old 04-09-10, 09:36 PM
  #1  
jeanluc
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what makes a good tire lever?

I have a set of hard plastic levers (similar to PT's) and was just wondering: what makes a good set of levers? On one hand this is such a simple tool that it's hard to make a bad one, after all.

Yet in various places I read recommendations for this lever or that lever. Is that really that much of a difference?
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Old 04-09-10, 09:39 PM
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Relatively cheap, don't scratch your rim or tear your tire bead, and don't break.
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Old 04-09-10, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Torchy McFlux View Post
and don't break.
+1,000,000
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Old 04-10-10, 06:21 AM
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The best levers I've ever used are the now-discontinued "Pry Babies" sold by Specialized for about $4 for a set of three. They were thin, ergonomically shaped and would get under the beads of even the tightest tires. The only problem is that they eventually broke, as will most plastic levers. The current Park TL-4 or TL-1 plastic levers work well but not quite as well as the Pry Babies.

I've also used the "Quick Stick" single lever. It works well for stripping a tire that's partially off the rim but it's too thick to do the initial removal on tight tires. Finally, I've used the Var "Tire Jack" with mixed results. It helps install a really tight tire but isn't much good at removing them.

Last edited by HillRider; 04-10-10 at 07:59 AM. Reason: TYPO
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Old 04-10-10, 06:46 AM
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I've bent a few park tool tire levers when trying to install marathon plus tires.

motorcycle tire levers are really good


you can actually cut the bead on the tire in more than one location without it affecting the integrity of the tire itself. The only problem you might have is that when you flat, it's more likely to roll off the rim.
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Old 04-10-10, 07:56 AM
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I've found the VAR #425 levers particularly good, especially with tight, high-pressure tires.
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Old 04-10-10, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
I've found the VAR #425 levers particularly good, especially with tight, high-pressure tires.
That's the tool I was referring to. It will install very tight tires but isn't much for removing them.
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Old 04-10-10, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by AEO View Post
I've bent a few park tool tire levers when trying to install marathon plus tires.

motorcycle tire levers are really good


you can actually cut the bead on the tire in more than one location without it affecting the integrity of the tire itself. The only problem you might have is that when you flat, it's more likely to roll off the rim.
You have got to be kidding !!!!!! This is NEVER a good idea.....
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Old 04-10-10, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by AEO View Post
I've bent a few park tool tire levers when trying to install marathon plus tires.

motorcycle tire levers are really good
Park actually sells a set of steel tire levers (TL-5) and I've got an older set of three small steel levers intended for bicycle use but I wouldn't trust any of them on aluminum rims.

Originally Posted by AEO View Post
....you can actually cut the bead on the tire in more than one location without it affecting the integrity of the tire itself. The only problem you might have is that when you flat, it's more likely to roll off the rim.
Yeah, I've read that too but I'd let you try it first.
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Old 04-10-10, 08:40 AM
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I do have some worn out P2R tires sitting here and some wheels I've built up. Sure, I'll try it.
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Old 04-10-10, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by jeanluc View Post
On one hand this is such a simple tool that it's hard to make a bad one, after all.
I have a set of ancient wide levers made by "Pedro" that are, as far as I can tell, completely useless!
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Old 04-10-10, 10:15 PM
  #12  
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https://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...1_10000_200500
these work well and are tough
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Old 04-11-10, 12:11 AM
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Originally Posted by roberth33tiger View Post
I bought the Nashbar levers--at $10 I was expecting alloy--they're just plastic--broke both of them trying to work with Marathon Plus tires. I then bought thisactually made of alloy, $8 from treefortbikes.com. Also thisKoolstop $10 also from tfb.

The alloy levers are 6.5 inches long and sufficient to subdue the most recalcitrant tire. The tricky little Koolstop deal doesn't really do anything that the levers can't do (if you have decent hand strength), but it does it easier. Also you need to be aware that devices that work like the Koolstop require the tire to be jammed up above the 2 gripper/brace ends. This means it will not work with wide tires--I'd guess about 28mm is widest.

EDIT note: I discovered belatedly that the "alloy" levers above are actually steel. Use with caution or avoid altogether!!
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Old 04-11-10, 01:30 AM
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Most plastic ones are cool when used in pairs. I stay away from aluminum ones. I feel they're not very slick and create too much friction on wheel surfaces.
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Old 04-11-10, 05:32 AM
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Although I carry tire irons on all my bike and have a set in my toolbox.......I have never used them.
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Old 04-11-10, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by mike047 View Post
Although I carry tire irons on all my bike and have a set in my toolbox.......I have never used them.
Depending on what rim and tire width and make combination you use, I'd say you've been lucky. I've come across tires so tight I needed tire levers to get the FIRST bead seated. And, yes. there have been combinations that fit loose enough to remove and install with hand pressure only.
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Old 04-11-10, 07:38 AM
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I've used LOTS of different levers over the last 4 decades.
These are what I prefer for carrying on the bike

Topeak Shuttle


I like the Park TL-5 levers in the shop.
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Old 04-11-10, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by AEO View Post
you can actually cut the bead on the tire in more than one location without it affecting the integrity of the tire itself. The only problem you might have is that when you flat, it's more likely to roll off the rim.
I can't imagine how cutting the bead would not affect the integrity of the tire
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Old 04-11-10, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
You have got to be kidding !!!!!! This is NEVER a good idea.....
it works, really easy to mount the tire after cutting the bead in a few spots.


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Old 04-11-10, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Zap Hassellhoff View Post
Most plastic ones are cool when used in pairs. I stay away from aluminum ones. I feel they're not very slick and create too much friction on wheel surfaces.
You are right--I had that feeling while I was using them--not slick at all. But I said to myself "but they're aluminum, it doesn't matter if there's friction because they're soft enough that they're not going to hurt the rim."

A few minutes ago, when I was reading the newer posts, I got top thinking about it again and took a closer look at the alloy levers I recommended. They felt awfully heavy for aluminum alloy, so I ran them by my cyclocomputer magnet--oops, they're magnetic.

I've been robbed! Went back to the freefortbikes site and sure enough it says they are alloy (which I took to mean they are aluminum alloy). I looked up the meaning of alloy and it's just a blend of more than one metallic ingredient--steel, in fact, is an alloy in itself (iron and carbon).

So these levers are actually steel and I take back my recommendation. Maybe they're ok for initially getting a bead over a rim, but I surely would not slide them around an alloy rim (like I did yesterday--OUCH!)

The good news is they did in fact defeat the Marathon Plus without breaking . . .
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Old 04-11-10, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by AEO View Post
it works, really easy to mount the tire after cutting the bead in a few spots.
That's crazy. It would definitely make it easier to install a tire; not sure about longevity. Here's an article on this from Sheldon Brown's website https://www.sheldonbrown.com/rinard/tirebead.htm
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Old 04-11-10, 10:46 AM
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I inflated it to 120psi and only cut it in 4 spots around one side
after all, it's only really hard to mount the second bead.
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Old 04-11-10, 10:58 AM
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Origin8 and Soma both make steel cored plastic coated tire levers. I have a set of the Soma ones that have not bent or busted yet. The plastic overmould does prevent rim scratching. Lezyne offers aluminum levers.

IMO the difficulty of mounting Marathon Plus tires is VERY rim dependent. I just mounted a pair of 50-559 Marathon Plus Tour tires on the Salsa Gordo rims on my Surly Big Dummy wihout any need for tire levers at all. Mounting a narrower set of Marathon Plus tires on the Alex rims on my Swobo Dixon on the other hand was a real fight. I ended up using the Kool Stop Tire Jack.
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Old 04-11-10, 12:06 PM
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I have a pair of SOMA levers which I carry on the bike due to their reliability and a set of steel tire levers in my garage.

When I get stuck with putting a really tight bead back onto the rim, I just attack as one would if you were mounting a tubular. It works out.
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Old 04-11-10, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by mike047 View Post
Although I carry tire irons on all my bike and have a set in my toolbox.......I have never used them.
Where were you when i needed you????
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