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. A pro mechanic & cycling writer for more than 40 years, he’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Tune in to Jim’s popular YouTube channel for wheel building & bike repair how-to’s. Jim’s also known for his cycling streak that 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.