Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
Apparently lots of roadies appreciate having tools for installing tough tires. Because there were some great comments with tips, alternative tool recommendations and questions about last week’s review of the EZ-Clincher tool: EZ-Clincher Pocket Tire Tool Review.
Downsize the Kool Stop!
Let’s start with “Merlin” who has carried the Kool Stop Tire Jack “for years and still does.” Here it is: https://amzn.to/3bwtota. I had mentioned that tool but said it was a little big to be carried in a pocket or small pack.
Merlin’s tip is that “you can easily cut the handle length down so that it fits in your jersey pocket with little or no loss of functionality.” Good one, Merlin. Thanks! I had assumed cutting the tool down would mean a loss of leverage. It’s good to hear it still works fine.
Safe for carbon rims?
Then John Birazzi had a question about the EZ-Clincher tool. He asked, “Will this work on carbon rims as well? And not damage them?”
I told John, yes it will work and not damage carbon rims. But with carbon you do want to work carefully. For example, if the tire wasn’t started correctly on a wheel you could find the tire so tight that it almost won’t go on. In that situation you could push or pull the tool so hard that you could risk damaging a rim.
If you were using this tool and it seemed like it was taking excessive force, you’d want to stop with the tool and go back and check to see what might be making the tire so tight.
Usually you’ll find that the tire bead is not in the middle of the rim somewhere and by pushing it down there you will create a little more slack that lets you get the tire on. In that way you don’t put the carbon rim at risk by putting too much force on the carbon rim with the tool.
This is the same advice I give anyone who installs tires with regular tire levers. Whether the rim is made of aluminum or carbon, you have to be sure not to put too much force on the rim. Keep trying to manipulate the tire to make it possible to gently lever the tire into place.
Especially be sure that no sharp edge of the tool is against the rim. That will concentrate most of the force in one small spot, which can overpower and damage the rim.
Is the Var Tire Jack still available?
Several of you mentioned the Var Tire Jack. I remember this tool and reader “Rekmeyata” said they’ve had theirs for 30 years, so it goes back some time. Here’s a photo from Var’s Amazon listing: https://amzn.to/3bwvdq0.
The problem is that it’s listed as currently unavailable. I searched for it on eBay.com, too, but only found a knock-off that appears to be a different design – similar but not the same.
So, a question for you dear readers: if you have purchased one of these recently, where did you find it?
Lastly, a couple of columns ago I covered the new super light and tiny tubes from Schwalbe, their Aerothans. If you missed it, you can catch up here Schwalbe Aerothan Super Tubes Review.
In my review I pointed out two limitation of the tubes: 1) They come with 40mm length valves, which means if you have taller rims you’ll need to use valve extenders; and 2) That the Schwalbe valves have cores that tend to unscrew when removing screw-on type pumps. That usually results in losing all the air you just pumped in.
So, I was happy this week to see a press release from Pirelli about their new SMARTubes, which appear to be similar in design to the Aerothans. Plus they addressed the valve issues by gluing the cores in and by using 60mm length valves. They’re more expensive, though, at $36.90 per. Learn more here: PIRELLI PRESENTS THE SMARTUBE INNER TUBES.
Ride total: 10,004
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s cycling streak ended in February 2022 with a total of 10,269 consecutive daily rides (28 years, 1 month and 11 days of never missing a ride). Click to read Jim’s full bio.
Congratulations on your riding streak going over 10,000 consecutive days!! That is an awesome accomplishment!
Jim Langley says
Thanks very much, SlowEddy – appreciate it!
Tony M says
The VAR tool may not be available, but Crankbrothers makes something similar – https://www.amazon.com/CRANKBROTHERs-Crank-Brothers-Speedier-Lever/dp/B008UY1MXW/ref=sr_1_3?crid=3VLIDN9TL565C&dchild=1&keywords=speed+lever+tire+tool&qid=1621512990&sprefix=speed+lever%2Caps%2C169&sr=8-3. I used to use their old Speed lever (the one the hooked on the rim and then extended down to the axle), which worked great. When mine recently broke, I found it wasn’t available anymore, but this option was. Just used it to put new tires on my bike, and it worked great for both removal and installation!
Jim Langley says
Thanks for that tip, Tony. It’s too bad CrankBrothers doesn’t have a video showing best practices for using this tool. There are good reviews and bad reviews, too, making it hard to know if it’ll work well for you. Since you like it so much, I think I’ll buy one and try it. Thanks!
Greg Conderacci says
Use the “Speedier” lever at your own risk! At first, I thought it was great – I even bought 3 of them. Later, though, I noticed a bulge in my tire sidewall. So, I used my Speedier to remove the tire…only to realize that the bulge came from the fact the lever had torn the rubber at the bead. I booted the bulge and re-installed the tire – only to find another bulge where the lever tore the bead again! Not only did this ruin a Schwalbe Marathon Plus (one of the most indestructible tires on the planet), but it could easily have resulted in a sidewall blowout and a serious crash. Fortunately, I was running with a tube; had the wheel been tubeless, the tire would not have held any air. If you’ve been using this lever, I recommend removing your tires and checking the bead – but don’t use this lever to do it!
Jim Langley says
Thanks for sharing your experience with the CrankBrothers Speedier lever, Greg. As I replied to Tony above, I’m going to go ahead and get one and try it. Now I know what to look for. Thank you.
BRUCE TANNER says
I’ve seen another tool that’s very similar sold by a British company called CyclePal. I’ve not purchased one so can’t say how well it works. Kind of resembles a pair of pliers. It’s 9 inches long, weighs 4 oz. and is claimed to fit tires up to 45 mm. So it sounds like it work for the wider tires many are using especially for gravel bikes. Priced at $21.09.
The Var Tyre Lever is part # RP-42500. Var company is a British owned company and thus most sold in the UK, but they have been sold here in the states which is where I got mine. But knowing they are a British tool I found a place in the UK that sells them: https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/tools/var-tyre-levers/?geoc=US SJS Cycles has carried the Var tool ever since I can remember when I got internet service for the first time.
I know some bicycle shops here in the US bought quite a few of these and may still have them stock?
If you use it according to the directions it’s all but impossible to break, and the way it’s designed you can’t pinch the tube, and since it’s made of some sort of polymer it won’t damage carbon fiber rims either.
I don’t use the tool much because most tire go on with nothing but my hands, and then others take a regular tire lever to pop on the last inch or two of a bead, but I’ve had tires that made me swear and when that happens the Var Tire Jack keeps me cool.
Jim Langley says
Thanks very much for providing a source and link, Rekmeyata – and for the tool tips. Much appreciated!
The only time I use levers is on rims with very large dia beds e.g. Stans MTB rims. Never come across a road tyre or rim I couldn’t fit or remove without levers . If you need levers to fit or remove a road tyre you are doing it wrong.
Ian, you’ve never mounted a Conti 5000 tubeless road tires without levers!
Mitchell Guzik says
I carry this find it very useful