Have you ever been worried about what you would do if you ever got a flat tire? Maybe you’ve imagined the price you would have to pay for a professional to replace it for you and how you’d rather spend it somewhere else when it finally hit you; you could learn to do it yourself! Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this article you’ve encountered, you will learn how to easily remove and install a bike tire with nothing but a pair of handy tire levers. But first, let’s talk about what exactly tire levers are and how they work.
What Is a Tire Lever for a Bicycle?
A tire lever for your bicycle is one of the most important tools you need as a cyclist. This little mechanism is used to remove the wheels off your bike for whatever reason you need to; replace them with better ones, install a working tire because you got a flat tire, etc. It’s simple enough to use them, so you don’t need to pay for a professional to help you. Let us take you through the few steps that will teach you to use tire levers like a pro.
How to Use Bike Tire Levers?
Tire levers can come in both plastic and metal. If you purchase the plastic ones, you’ll most likely get them in sets of three. The metal tire levers, on the other hand, are used to remove more tight-fitting wheels like the ones in road bikes.
Tire levers have two ends; one is used to get under the wheel and remove it; it’s usually sharper and more curved, whereas the other end comes with a rounded hook that you can use to secure it to a rod for leverage. But, keep in mind that this might not be the case for all tire levers.
There are two easy steps to using bike tire levers: removing the tire and installing the new one. In addition to this, we’ve rounded up a few tips for stubborn tires that just won’t budge.
Remove the tire
The first step you need to take is picking a spot on the edge of the rim that lines up with a spoke. Then, pull the wheel back from the rim of the bike and fit the sharp end of the lever under the edge of the wheel. With the sharp tip of the lever under the wheel’s edge, push down on the lever using the rim as leverage which will secure the rounded end onto the spoke. The tire lever then should lift the edge of the wheel up and over the outside of the rim and hold it in place.
After that, you should take a second tire lever and fit the sharp end under the wheel’s edge in the space created by the first lever. Slide the second lever along the edge of the wheel and then under it until it comes free of the rim on one side. This step can be especially challenging to do with tight-fitting wheels, so try to push the second lever with both thumbs.
If the wheel doesn’t dislodge using the second lever, don’t force it; read below our tips for wheels that won’t easily budge. You don’t want to harm yourself or the bike by using too much force on the lever and risk it slipping off. Remember, you don’t always need two tire levers; sometimes, the wheel can easily come off with just one tire lever. Just slide the sharp end under the wheel, and if it’s loose-fitting, it will come off the rim.
Installing the tire
This next step will be simpler since installing a tire onto the rim is typically less complicated than removing one. However, you will still need tire levers for this step. First, fit just one side of the tire onto the rim. Then, continue with the other side. You will probably notice this becomes more difficult to do because the last section of the tire is too tight, which will leave a small section outside the rim. If possible, leave the last section of the tire to be mounted on the rim by the bike’s valve.
This next step is where you’ll need your tire levers. Place the sharp end of the tire lever under the last section of the tire with the curve facing down, attaching to the inside of the rim. Lift the opposite end of the lever and have the other end placed on the inside of the rim; this will pull the last section entirely in the bike’s rim.
A few tips for stubborn tires
As mentioned before, some stubborn tires are relatively harder to remove or install onto a bike. So, here are a few tricks that might help you in these cases.
- If the tire is difficult to install, use soap water on it, so it makes it easier to slip into the rim of the bike.
- When installing a tire, you need to make sure to perfectly position the tire bead, which is the edge of the tire in contact with the rim of the bike. This part should be placed deep on the rim, leaving no spaces between that could cause damage. This not only will protect your tires but also will make the diameter of the rim larger so you can perfectly place the whole tire onto the rim.
What Can You Use Instead of a Tire Lever for Bicycles?
A tire lever is not only reasonably affordable but its weight and shape make it the perfect portable tool. This, however, means that you sometimes might misplace it somewhere and can’t seem to find it. Not to worry, you can use your hands instead. Just use the same techniques as you would with a tire lever; use your palms and thumbs since they’re stronger to work the tire off the rim. This trick can work really well, especially with tires that are loose-fitting.
Be careful because you could easily injure yourself if your hands slip up while removing or installing the tire. To avoid using this technique, and getting your hands dirty, make sure to always put your tire levers in your toolbox after you use them, so you know exactly where to find them.
We hope that with these quick, easy steps that we’ve given you, you’ll be ready to replace your tire should it ever get flat. And if you’ve been pondering on whether or not to purchase a tire lever, hopefully, you’ve been convinced that you need this affordable and portable tool to add to your toolbox if you don’t want to be the rider that gets caught out.