The best cycling tyre levers are a humble but essential part of any cyclist's toolkit. Here's what to look for and a list of some of the best tyre levers available
They're not a big investment but it's worth making sure you choose the best tyre levers so when your ride is interrupted by a puncture you can get back underway quickly and easily.
Most tyre levers nowadays are plastic, and you might never need anything tougher - but steel or alloy options do still exist
Starting from around £2, there's no excuse not to have some tyre levers stashed on your bike or person whenever you head out of the door. Forget them and the rest of your puncture repair kit, and unless you have fingers of steel you could find yourself walking home if you get a flat
Surprisingly, tyre levers can be a pretty hot and divisive topic amongst cyclists. Fat or thin? Plastic or metal? Straight-ish or a very pronounced hook? Watch or read on to find out more.
With plenty of leverage and tough nylon construction, Lezyne's Power Lever XL tyre levers are well worth adding to your toolbox if you have a tight tyre and rim combination. They're about 3cm longer than regular tyre levers and that adds up to a lot of extra oomph for persuading reluctant tyres off rims. You can get longer metal levers, but the size and weight makes them workshop items. At just 57g, the Power Lever XLs are light enough to carry around.
Silca has a well-earned reputation for sublimely-functional tools and accessories engineered to perfection, with price tags to match. These tyre levers set out to solve a specific problem - the damage-free removal of b*stard-tight tubeless tyres from expensive carbon rims, that is. To achieve this, Silca has used a forged alloy blade and wrapped a 'reinforced nylon rim shield' around it. The alloy bit extends to the hook you insert under the bead, while the surface touching the rim is nylon-coated. Completing the feature list are the 'wings' that tuck in behind a spoke to hold the first portion of bead off while you deliver the denouement with the second lever.
Due to the high strength full-metal blade, Tire Levers Premio are 25-30% narrower than other lever designs, making them ideal for very tight tyres and tubeless setups where access to the tyre bead is very tight.
Available in numerous colours, the secret to these Tacx levers is good, ergonomic design. There's no gimmicks, and no clever marketing: just reliable and inexpensive performance. Supplied in sets of three, their banana profile might raise eyebrows but is surprisingly effective compared with traditional models and makes short work of stubborn rubber.
Birzman Wedge Tyre Levers work well and come in searing green so they're easy to find in your tool bag. These radioactive green nylon levers are rigid, and their 110mm length offers enough leverage to get all but the most stubborn wire beaded tyre off without bending or snapping. The nylon composite is kind on carbon and on painted or anodized rims, and don't scratch the surface when running the lever along the beading of the tyre. Hooks on each lever help it cling to a spoke while you prise off the next section of tyre away from the wheel.
The set of three neatly stack together to take up less space in your tool kit. The moulding also has a bit to help you deflate Shraeder valves, which is handy.
Upgraded to be stronger, smoother and more versatile according to Park Tool, the TL-1.2 features a new material and redesigned tip for easier entry - Park Tool also says these will work on stubborn tubeless rim/tyre combos, and the design should lift the tyre away from the rim hassle-free. There's also a spoke hook for when multiple levers are needed.
A firm favourite of many cyclists for roadside tyre fitment and removal, Pedro's Tyre Levers appear to be compatible with most tyre/rim combinations and will last you for years (a lifetime warranty adds further peace of mind in case longevity is a worry though)
They're available in several fairly lurid colours such as these pink ones, so you won't have any problems locating them in a grassy verge. There's nothing particularly exotic about their composition – we're talking beefy, reinforced plastics – but good engineering separates them from otherwise capable competition.
The Muc-Off Rim Stix, while a little bulky, are very strong tyre levers that can help get even the most stubborn tyres off the rim. Key to the design is a very slim hooked profile on a fairly wide overall shape. It's easy to fit this under the tyre bead and make that initial pull off the rim.
The Rim Stix are longer than most tyre levers and the extra leverage is useful. They also have a moulded shape on the inside that helps keep the lever in shape, almost matching the shape of the rim.
The Crankbrothers Speedier Tyre Lever makes the fitting and removal of tyres quicker and easier for not a lot of outlay, according to reviewer Stu Kerton. It works on the majority of tyre and wheel combinations while also removing the risk of pinching the inner tube.
How it works is simple. At one end you have a standard looking curved hook, like any other tyre lever on the market, for removing the tyre. Tuck it in under the bead of the tyre and whizz it around the rim, popping the tyre over the outside edge of the wheel. The lever is designed so that you wrap your fingers around the bottom flat section and the D-shaped section protects you from scraping the bark off your knuckles should the lever slip.
Tyres are of course designed to fit tightly with the rims they're meant to work with... the trouble is that the bike industry has so far been unable to definitively make tyres or rims to a dimensional standard and tolerance so that every 25mm, 700c tyre will fit a 19mm wide, 700c rim in a uniform way, to give one example.
Every now and then it's possible to find a tyre/rim combo where the fit is either so sloppy that the tyre simply falls into place, or one that is so tight that it takes an army of burly tool-wielding mechanics to get the last few inches of bead over the rim edge. It's a good idea to have a combo that can be fitted entirely by hand - most tyres can be fitted to most rims with good technique and some decent hand strength. So why bother with a tyre lever?
Well, that one time you get a flat and you have to fix it in the middle of nowhere and you don't have a tyre lever to hand, you're going to look pretty silly if you can't do it when it's wet and cold and your fingers are going numb. Tyre levers weigh practically nothing, and rather than being the thing you have to rely on to fit your tyres, it's something you should have to hand to get that last few inches of tyre bead on easily.
If you're really bending and forcing your levers to do the job, it's probably time to look again at the tyres you're running. Your tyre-mounting technique could also be a root cause of the problem, so it's worth going over your technique to make sure you're doing it right.
Assuming you're happy with your tyre/rim combo, the next thing to consider is the material of your rims. Carbon rims need to be treated with a bit of extra care compared to alloy wheels, so it's definitely not a good idea to scratch or gouge them. To avoid this, we'd recommend avoiding the use of metal tyre levers if you can, on carbon rims especially. Metal tyre levers are largely a thing of the past, although thermonuclear like the Park Tool TL-5s are still sometimes the only way to remove really, really tight tyres. But nowadays, there are lots of tough plastic options that should remove all but the most stubborn tyres.
Of your plastic options, some are harder and less flexible and occasionally brittle. It is possible to snap them, but you have to try pretty hard to do that.
On the other end of the spectrum are bendy and flexible levers. Sometimes they can be so flexy that they fail to offer enough leverage. Some are made flexible by the poor plastic production, others start out stiff but soften after repeated use.
So, the styles to choose from are pretty limited; sort of like pencils, the design is tried and tested and hasn't really changed much over the years. Because they're cheap and won't break the bank, most seasoned cyclists tend to build up a solid collection of levers to cover all bases and any tyre/rim combination.
You'll notice that some (but not all) tyre levers have a hook on the opposite side to the tongue. This feature allows you to use multiple levers on the same tyre without running out of hands. To achieve this, work a lever under the tyre bead and cantilever the lever over the edge of the rim to lift the bead. Then, carefully place the hooked end around the nearest spoke and allow the tension to hold it in position.
You can now take a second lever, place it under the lifted bead to the side of the first lever and work it a few inches along, before repeating the cantilever procedure. With both levers lifting the bead, you should be able to grasp the lifted section of the deflated tyre carcass between the levers with a firm jolting motion, and roll it off with your hands.
This is just one method, and not all tyre levers have hooks on them. Some mechanics swear by putting both levers under the bead before using them to lift the bead, and the hook method sometimes isn't possible if the tyre is too tight. More often than not you'll probably find that one lever does the job, and as we've already reiterated, it's worth doing some trial and error to find your ideal tyre/rim combo that's neither too tight nor too slippy - and tyre levers themselves are usually cheap, so take a look at our recommendations and find the perfect set for you.
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Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.