Mounting Tough Tires
by John Neugent
John Neugent probably knows more about bicycle wheels than anyone else alive. Maybe more about bikes as well. He's spent his life in the bike business, at every level. He now owns Neugent Cycling, a firm devoted to delivering world-class equipment at the lowest possible price. If you are in the market for a set of wheels, please, check out John's site. He really knows his stuff. —Chairman Bill
John has another technique for mounting tough tires. Click here for that method
If you have a tire that is difficult to mount, there is one option that is head and shoulders better than any other. Regular tire levers work, but it’s really difficult to get the tube inside the rim to avoid pinching the tube with the levers.
There is a popular myth that started back when all tires had wire beads that you should never to use tire levers to mount a tire. When tires had wire beads, it was relatively easy for tire manufacturers to hold the bead tolerance because the metal beads don’t stretch so mounting them without tools was relatively easy.
With the introduction of folding aramid beads, tire makers started making tires that were more difficult to mount because the bead stretches into place. Apparently it’s more difficult to hold the tolerances in aramid fibers. So at some point, no matter how good you are at mounting tires, chances are you will need to use tools.
The Kool Stop Bead Jack [widely available in stores and on-line] makes mounting even the most difficult tires relatively easy. It’s impossible to pinch the tube because it jacks up the bead without touching the tube. There is still a high probability that just using this tool will still result in a bead that pinches the tube but there is a trick around that too.
Kool Stop Bead Jack
Always lube both the tire and tube first – that will make installation easier no matter how easy or difficult the tire is. I like Windex but water will do in a pinch, or the old standard talcum powder will also work.
When mounting a tire start opposite the valve stem (in the old days with wire beads you always started at the valve stem). The stem holds the beads apart and if you end up there it gives you more bead length to work with. But the trick is to be sure the tube is in the rim channel by the time you are getting the last part of the bead into the rim. You can try to push it up there with a tire lever, or you can work the last section of hard-to-mount tire around the rim 90 degrees – by the time you have worked that section around, the tube should be in the rim.
Andrew Fenn is going to have a pro mechanic give him a new wheel after flatting in the 2015 Paris-Roubaix. If you're like the rest of us, you won't have that kind of service and will have to fix it yourself.
If the bead is still on the tube use a standard tire lever to leverage it above the tube and work the bead back and forth until the tube is in the tire. You will need regular tire levers to remove the tire but the good news is that after a tire has been mounted for awhile, it’s easier to remount.
John Neugent was was one of the first to establish quality hand building in Taiwan around the turn of the century. He now owns Neugent Cycling, a firm devoted to delivering world-class equipment at the lowest possible price.