Changing a tire

If you have any doubt that the cycling industry is full of myths, look no further than this one – Never use tire levers when installing a tire because you will pinch the tube. There is no doubt that most people are not very good installing tires because it can be very difficult. Bead diameters vary widely even within the same brand and model. This myth was formed during the old days before folding tires when all tires had steel beads that didn’t stretch so could be made looser.

This problem is so common that one major tire brand requires their tire maker to install every tire on a wheel by hand to eliminate the tight ones. This may sound like a great idea, but remember that the guys putting tires on all day probably have forearms larger than their legs.

There are lots of things you can do that almost no one does to ease tire installation. The most obvious is to lube both the tire and tube so they slip. Rubber snags and any snag at all will make installation more difficult. The natural lubricant for rubber is water (think about that the next time you ride in the rain). Spray the tire and tube with Windex or if you are on a ride just plain water. The traditional method was talc on the tube – which is also good. Also make sure you wear gloves or you could rip off some skin.

But finally, if you get a tire that is difficult to get on, use tire levers. The old cycling industry myth of - If you use tire levers you will pinch the tube – doesn’t have to be true. Tubes get pinched when they are installed under the tire bead with or without tire levers. It is not easy but it is possible to keep the tube inside the bead and as long as you do this, using levers is fine.

So, how do you do that? You can Google tire installation and get all of the common tricks but none include this one. The key point to remember is that the tube has to be inside the beads. As you get to that last bit where the tire is really difficult to put on, push the tube inside and as far out of the way as possible with your tire lever and use tire levers to get the final part on. Then, finally, check the tire by pulling it away from the sides of the rim making sure the bead isn’t pinching the tube. If you see part of the tube under the bead pull the bead up with a tire lever and let the tube get inside the beads