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.
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 streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim's full bio.