In 2017’s last Tech Talk, Tips for Taming Tough Tires, we were talking about the secret to installing even the toughest clincher road tires. The trick is being sure to get and keep the tire beads (the edges of the tire), down into the “rim well,” (the center and deepest part of the rim). When the beads are down there, there’s enough slack created in the tire for you to be able to pop it on without too much difficulty.
Whenever we discuss ways to deal with difficult tires, you provide great feedback. This week I’m sharing several of your excellent suggestions and tips. That way, in case your New Year’s resolution is to conquer your fear of flat tires, you’ll be all set.
The Kool Stop Tire Bead Jack
Readers “Grandbob” and Robert Wilks posted the first comments, reminding me of a special tool for tight tires.
Said Grandbob, “The Kool Stop Tire Bead Jack is a hard to find but extremely useful tool for installing tough tires. It’s small enough to carry in my handlebar bag. Once I saw how easy it is to use I’ve never been without it, and many times on the road I’ve stopped to help other cyclists who were panicking because they couldn’t get their tires back on. It works so well. I don’t understand why it’s not better known.”
Richard Wilks agreed and added, “The Kool Stop Tire Bead Jack is available on Amazon and works flawlessly. I recommend it to all my friends with hard-to-install tires.”
And then “Merlin” added a tip for carrying the tool: “After I started using one of these, I noticed I never really grabbed the long part of the handle. I cut the handle down as much as possible which made it fit in my pocket or bag much better with no loss of functionality.”
“Merlin” also mentioned that he “previously used a Var Tyre Lever, which worked on the same principle, but they are hard to find AND they will break if you aren’t careful.”
I try to buy every new tire lever and installation tool that comes along, and I’ve amassed quite the collection. Like “Merlin” said, the Vars were fragile. The Kool Stop tool is built to last of heavy-duty plastic. As Richard said, it’s available on Amazon and currently priced at less than $10.
What makes the Bead Jack so effective is the way one of its legs rests and pivots on one side of the rim, allowing the “jaw” of the tool to pull even the most stubborn tire beads up, over and onto the rim.
One of the difficulties of installing clincher tires is keeping the tire beads down inside the deepest portion of the rim. With practice, you learn how to push or pull on the tire with your hands as you mount it to keep the beads down where they need to be. But, until you’ve mastered this skill, the tire beads can resist and not stay down there.
But, with the Tire Bead Jack, you have plenty of leverage. As you use the jack at the top of the wheel, if you go around the wheel and pinch and wiggle the tire, the pulling pressure from the Bead Jack will cause the beads to go into the rim well and the tire will go on nice and easy.
Two cool tire tips and a good point
Reader Jim Kangas wrote, “I usually don’t have too much of a problem, but the one thing I do after getting one side of the tire on is to slightly inflate the tube and put it fully on the rim, leaving only the second bead. Once you do that, you are way less likely to pinch the tube, and I can often use just my hands to work the second bead on. If you do need to use a lever, then the tube is out of the way.”
Great advice, Jim. Yes, if you inflate the tube just enough to get the wrinkles out and then take your time and stuff it up fully inside the tire and onto the rim all the way around, it makes mounting the second bead much easier.
“BryanH” shared his clever way to make tires easier to install. “If you are replacing a tire at home, try to leave the new tire out in the sun or in a warm room. A warm tire is much more pliable and goes on/off all the easier.”
That’s brilliant, Bryan. Thanks!
Finally, a roadie going by “al0” commented “Not all rims have wells.”
That’s a good point. Some rims have almost no deeper center “well” for you to get the beads down into for ease of tire installation and removal. However, if the rim engineers did their math correctly, the center of the rim (rim well or not) will still be the correct diameter for struggle-free tire mounting and removal.
So, while there might not be a true rim well, the key points for tire installation still hold true: Get the beads centered and get anything out of the way of the beads, and the tire will go on.
Thanks for the awesome feedback! And feel free to add more in the Comments section.
Bill K says
When changing a tire at home after mounting the first bead and to help get the last bit of the second bead over the rim I use 3 or 4 small spring clamps to pinch the tire sides together on the side opposite of where I’m trying to pop on the last bit of the bead. This helps to keep the bead in the low part of the rim.
I like the Kool Stop Tire Bead Jack but it’s too large to put in a saddle bag at 9 1/4 inches long, so I found a smaller solution that works just like the Kool Stop called the VAR Tire Lever (not the VAR Pro Tire Lever, that one is not the same), known in England as the VAR RP42500, google it since I’m not sure if I’m allowed to post picts and websites on this site, but I can pack this thing in my saddle bag at about 5 1/4 inches long so 4 inches shorter than the Kool Stop, but it works identically to the Kool Stop, there is a groove on one side that hooks onto the top of the rim that is on your side and the other side there is a lip that grabs the tire bead than you simply pull the VAR towards you pivoting on the rim and the tire snaps on. It works great for difficult tires and rims or people with weak hand strength and you can take it wherever you go.
While it’s nice to have the VAR for those rare occasions I can’t get a tire on, I mostly use the Soma Steel Core Tire Levers, these things are impossible to break like other levers I’ve had, nothing worse then getting a flat and you can’t get the last part on so you pull your handy dandy lever out and it snaps on you! I’ve had this happen on cold days but it won’t with the Soma levers.
Jim Langley says
Thanks for the great tips, Fred. I searched to find the Var RP42500 tire lever and it is on Amazon, too, here: http://amzn.to/2lWsUlR
If there’s no sun to warm up the tire (and you’re at home), put it in a clothes dryer on high heat for about 10 minutes.
Sandy Y says
When I change a new tire at home, I always use a hair dryer to soften and coax the rascals into place.
While I can see the utility of the Bead Jack for specific situations of a really tight fit that cannot be installed by hand (which are not that common), I’m concerned that this will become a crutch for people who simply won’t take the time to learn correct tire installation technique. This device generates enough leverage to damage tires and should only be used as a last resort. It should not be the “go-to too”l for installing all tires.
John Klever says
If I can’t get the tire off and on the rim by hand, I don’t buy either. That said, I like the Quick Stick.
Jim Langley says
Thanks, John. Here’s a link to the Quik Stik Bicycle Tire Changer Tool on Amazon http://amzn.to/2DcoO12
laying some bicycle tyres out in the sun is one old method of tyre fitting,lubing under the tyre bead makes the job so much easier,ky jelly is a good lube,does not hurt rubber and drys fast,with these newer tyres you have to pull out all your bag of tricks sometimes,boy i have even tied cable ties all over some tires to just hold them in place,those tyre bead jacks and lube are a must have for most of these new tyres,i have never seen such bad fitting tyres before,another trick is to sit one bead in the centre of rim as some rims are deeper there and that gives you more room for the last bead,good luck to anyone trying to fit these new tires by hand,not only are the tubeless ones difficult to fit the tube only type tyres are just as tough i have even come across tube tyres that i had to actually cut a few off the rim.