I hear from lots of women whose hands just aren’t strong enough to cope with tight fitting tires. It’s scary to think you might get stuck with a flat tire and not be able to get it off the rim. So much for a great pump or CO2 cartridges! When it comes to bicycle tire tools, it’s all about the leverage.
Leverage! If ever there was a woman’s best friend, leverage is it! The dictionary defines leverage as a way to gain mechanical advantage. It’s also defined as the “power to influence a situation to achieve a particular outcome.” I think that says it all. The goal is to influence the tire to respond to your wishes. Leverage is best achieved through the use of proper tools.
When replacing a tube, the first hurdle is coaxing the tire off the rim. Tire levers are the best way to do this. But not all tire levers are created equal. In order to pry the tire off the rim, the lever needs to be thin enough to squeeze between the tire and the rim. The business end of plastic levers tends to be too thick to be effective on a tightly fitting tire. My recommendation is to use the aluminum Minoura levers. Three will do the trick.
Once the tube is back in place, there are two tools that can get the tire back on to the rim. The Kool-Stop® Tire Bead Jack tool is industrial, but gets the job done easily and quickly.
If you’re looking for something a little more svelte, consider the Crank Brothers Speedier Lever. Rather than jacking the tire onto the rim, it “slides” it into place. (This video demonstrates how to use the tool). The drawback with this method is friction — if there is a lot of friction between the tire casing and the tool, dragging the tool along can be difficult, if not downright frustrating.
Only you can decide what the tradeoff is between carrying these tools and keeping things simple. Whichever you go with, try a practice run at home so you’ll be prepared when you need to use them. Enjoy the peace of mind that comes from using leverage!