Choose to know what to do with tyre levers…
Let’s gain some knowledge that will help when you are reaching for this particular bike tool under a little bit of time pressure and you need it to work the first time. All you want is for everything to go smoothly so you can get on your way, how hard could that be?
To ‘get ready’ you need to invest a little bit of time to understand your bike tools. Choose to know what to do then you can goRide with a SMILE.
What are tyre levers?
A small plastic tool design to help you get your tyre off of your wheel. There are several different styles on the market and you may need more than one depending on how you need to use it (see How do you use it? below). I use the black tyre lever with knuckle guard, in the photo below, at home. It has a great knuckle protection feature which saves your skin when you are forcing that little bit too hard and the whole thing slips, leaving you punching the wheel spokes. I carry the blue set on my bike, in my bike tool kit. The three levers are designed to slide together making them compact for carrying. A tyre lever is an essential part of even the most basic bike tool kit – if you get a puncture it’s impossible to fix without getting your tyre off and thats what tyre levers do.
Why do you use it?
To remove your tyre from the wheel rim or get the last little stubborn bit of your tyre back on the rim. Examples of when you need to do this are
- when you have a flat tyre (puncture in your tube) to get access to the tube so you can replace it or patch it
- changing your tyre because the tread has worn out
- changing your tyre to improve grip e.g. in winter you may want a bigger tread on your tyre to deal with mud or wet tracks/roads.
How do you use it?
For this part of the story I am expecting you to learn there are different ways to use a tyre lever. Next week I’ll take you through the process of how to apply this in a story about changing a tyre.
#1. Popping and sliding. You will need one tyre lever.
Now you need to get the curved end of the lever under the edge of your tyre then sit the lever on the wheel rim to get leverage to push it down and “pop” the tyre over the edge. Have a quick look at the curved end of this tool – it curves up and away from you. Below the curve it has a step where it gets thicker – this part should sit on your rim. Have a look at the photo of the blue set of tyre levers stacked together to help you understand what I’m talking about here (above).
Now depending on the fit of your tyre – how tight it is – you may or may not be able to run the lever around the edge of the wheel rim, “sliding” the tyre edge out as you go, removing that whole side of the tyre from the wheel. If the answer to that scenario was, no I can’t move the lever without it being pushed completely out or off the wheel rim, then you have need for more than one tyre lever as you have a tight fit to deal with.
#2. Fixing then sliding. You will need a set of tyre levers with a hook end.
OK, get that first tyre lever under the tyre, pushing it down to pop the edge over the rim. Now keep pushing all the way down until you can use the hook on the opposite end to securly “fix” the tyre lever to a spoke on your wheel. With that job done, pick up your next lever. Again we are working with the curved end which needs to be pushed under the tyre edge right next to your first lever. Get that lovely step sitting on the wheel rim now attempt to “slide” that lever along the rim pushing the tyre out and over as you go…. If your tyre is tight this will not be smooth or easy. When you can slide it no more fix it, then reach for your next lever. You may need to use all the levers in your set to get your tyre off the wheel rim.
#3. Push back on. You will need one tyre lever.
When putting your tyre back onto the wheel rim it can get tricky making the last little bit pop over the rim. This is when you can choose to use a tyre lever. Insert a tyre lever and push it up flicking the tyre over the rim. Opposite action to taking it off.
Remember next weeks story will take you through the process of changing your tyre – the bike lever is an essential tool for this job and these techniques are shown in the story.
That’s the basics of a tyre lever covered. I hope it helped you gain a little more understanding of the mechanics of your bike.
get Ready and goRide – Bike Tools, the Tyre Lever
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