Tyre levers & tyre repair kits

Contents


2016-3-14: Modifying a broken Specialized tyre lever

Today happened what I expected would happen some day: The end of one of the Specialized tyre levers broke when I was trying to get a Marathon 35mm tyre from a LX17 rim. Instead of throwing it away, I decided to try to modify it by filing it into shape. It seems to work, it grips the tyre bead well. I will put up some pictures soon and I will see if it holds up in use the coming months.

2016-2-5: Maxxis orange tyre levers and Crankbrothers Speedier lever vs. Specialized (from ca. 1993)

Speedier and Maxxis tyre levers Speedier tyre lever Maxxis tyre lever

I did the test of removing and putting back on a Schwalbe Marathon 37-622 on a LX-17 rim multiple times with all tyre levers. This rim/tyre combination is a very tight fit, hard to get off and hard to put the tyre back on at the final stage.

Updated 2016-2-18 after my test of the Speedier lever on more loose fitting Continental tyre on a small wheeled bicycle.

Updated 2016-3-6 after my test of the Speedier lever on a more loose fitting Schwalbe cruiser 37-635 on stainless steel rim on a Dutch style city bike.

Maxxis orange tyre levers vs. Specialized

The orange Maxxis levers are strong, slightly more blunt than the Specialized tyre levers and thus slightly harder to insert between tyre and rim. 2 tyre levers is NOT enough! Also the reason for the warning on the back of the packaging, which says that you need to wear eye protection, becomes clear when using them: They tend to spring away because they often don't properly stay behind the spoke! ;-) So this is a design flaw, I never had any such issues with the Specialized levers nor any other tyre levers (but some are hard to get behind a spoke, which is a another type of problem, e.g. this happens with the Simson tyre levers from 1993).

Conclusion: (1) You need 3 tyre levers. (2) The old Specialized levers are better.

Crankbrothers Speedier lever vs. Specialized

The Speedier lever actually does something that we likely all do (at least I always do it, and it seems natural) when removing a tyre: After the first bit of getting the tyre over the rim with 3 tyre levers, just go around the tyre with 1 finger behind the bead and this puts the entire bead over the rim. Putting the tyre back on again in a similar fashion by sliding doesn't work well by hand, only with this tyre lever. But I wouldn't say it's useful. The time you gain, you lose at the start by putting the tyre lever onto the rim... Further: Removing the Schwalbe Marathon tyre from the LX17 rim was actually impossible because the tyre lever was squeezed so hard between tyre and rim, that I could not move it. After I had used the Maxxis or Specialized to get the tyre across the rim for enough length, I tested the further removal of the tyre by sliding the tyre lever along the rim. This was nice, but as I said, not new, it's what I've always done by hand. This tyre lever could be useful for more loose fitting tyres, usually MTB that are intended to be run at lower pressure, but for touring or road bike tyres, it is absolutely useless. I later tried it on a more loose fitting Conti tyre on a small wheeled bike, and there the lever worked to remove the tyre, but, I had to keep the tyre from returning to the other side of the rim at the start. So what happened at first was that the place where the bead was over the rim just changed position, not that the entire bead was pulled across the rim... Putting the tyre back on with the tyre lever I couldn't be bothered to be honest, it was easier/quicker to do it by hand.

Later I tried the Speedier lever with a city bike with stainless steel rims, and it was easy to get the 37-635 tyre off, but getting it back on with the method as described above doesn't work, as the rim's edge is too wide so you can't put the lever around it.

Conclusion: Interesting in that it does what is natural for tyre removal, and extends the practice by applying it to tyre fitting (but it's not a new idea, I've seen this method before, especially for cars where it's the standard way to put tyres on a rim). For (tight fitting) touring/road bike tyre NOT suitable. The only real pluspoint for looser fitting tyres is that you only need 1 tyre lever instead of 3. But couldn't you just slide a single standard tyre lever across the rim for the same effect? Well, yes, you just need to keep it at the right position, but the Speedier lever has an indentation which makes it slide along the rim at the right position...

The 'lever rotation point' that I mentioned is actually such an indent in the Simson tyre lever from 1993 (and the later one, and the steel Simson also has this indent). It makes lifting tyres over the bead easier/better (the lever rotates around the rim's edge at this indentation) and could be used to slide the lever along the rim, similar to the Speedier lever... But, in reality the lever needs to be a bit bigger (such as the Speedier lever, which is quite big) so that you have a better grip for the sideways motion.

All in all the Speedier lever's benefit is very limited and only works if you have just 1 type of bike where it is usable, otherwise you need to think about which tyre lever works for which bike. The knuckle protection is only useful for the tyre removal/installation when sliding the lever along the rim, and then, is it really needed? I don't know why they make a point of it.


Tyre levers

Tyre levers
Tyre lever Comment Material Mass Standard tyre Tight tyre Very tight tyre Rating
Lezyne aluminium (dd 2008)
You can't put the lever behind a spoke so you have to keep pressing it with your hands Aluminium
Mainly good for stainless steel rims, watch out with aluminium rims, they can get damaged.
14 g each
(28 g for 2 levers)
ok ok Can't get it under the tyre bead 4 / 10
Specialized ('pry babies'?) (dd. 1993, still available in 2010)
They don't bend and can be inserted between tyre and rim with most tyre/rim combinations, and can be put behind a spoke so you don't need to keep it pressed while inserting the other tyre levers. Plastic 15 g each
(44 g for 3 levers)
Very good good impossible 7 / 10
Simson, steel ca. 2008
-- Steel
Mainly good for stainless steel rims, watch out with aluminium rims, they can get damaged.
25 g each
(74 g for 3 levers)
Very good Very good Very good 8 / 10
(Simson?) steel, old version, ca. 1960s or earlier.
-- Steel
Mainly good for stainless steel rims, watch out with aluminium rims, they can get damaged.
22 g each
(65 g for 3 levers)
Very good Very good Very good 8 / 10
Simson, plastic (sport version, i.e. for road bikes/mountain bikes, from ca. 1993)
-- Plastic 6 g each
(18 g for 3 levers)
Very good Reasonable. Useless. Very tight fitting tyres such as old Conti Top touring are impossible to get off. There is too much force required which bends the lever instead of getting the tyre off. 6 / 10
Simson, plastic (super sport version, i.e. for road bikes/mountain bikes, dd 2010)
The old Simson sport version was slightly better because of its shape which defines a lever rotation point... (more on this later) Plastic 5 g each
(10 g for 2 levers)
Good Reasonable. Useless. Very tight fitting tyres such as old Conti Top touring are impossible to get off. There is too much force required which bends the lever instead of getting the tyre off. 5 / 10
Park tool TL-1 (dd 2007)
-- Plastic 13 g each
(40 g for 3 levers)
Poor
(very hard to get between tyre and rim, never mind under the tyre bead!)
Useless
(impossible to get between tyre and rim)
Useless
(impossible to get between tyre and rim)
0 / 10 (throw away!)

In general it's not a good idea to use metal tyre levers with aluminium rims, they will be damaged! If you're careful that won't be much, just some small marks, that you won't really notice on rims used with rim brakes. They can get noticed though when used on black anodized rims for disc brakes. Metal tyre levers are mostly of use with stainless steel rims.

Other tyre levers that might be of interest


Tyre repair

Other tyre repair kits that might be of interest

I've got a tyre repair kit from Rema (Tip top, well known German brand), but, I've not had any flat tyres the last few years... So perhaps I should do some testing by taking an old inner tube and make a hole in it :)

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