tyre glider

tyre glider

i very much doubt i'm the only one who has serious concerns over modern-day bicycle tyres. nothing to do with the quality, longevity or even price, but very much with how flipping difficult most of them are to fit to a pair of wheels. i'm insufficiently well informed to know whether this is due to a change in wheel parameters, tyre sizing, or a bit of both. every now and again, i come across rubber that poses no serious problem, fitting both tyre beads with ease and leaving my thumbs ready for turning the pages of a book or newspaper. but nowadays, that seems more the exception than the rule.

tyre glider

the last pair of tyres i fitted with the assistance of only a pair of tyre levers, i could barely use either thumb for a matter of days, so hard had been the task of getting those last few centimetres over the wheel rim without nipping the inner tube. acting on advice from a correspondent, i purchased a tyre-jack, a device that sits on one rim edge, while hooking under the opposing tyre bead, offering sufficient leverage to pull the bead over the rim. and not only that, it's portable enough to carry next to my mini-pump in a jersey pocket.

however, though changing tyres or tubes in what passes for my outdoor workshop is one thing; attempting to do the same several kilometres from home in a freezing wind while sheltering from the rain, is another matter altogether. the rim edges of every wheelset i've ever owned become so afflicted with crud that, even if i can fit a tyre lever under the bead to begin removal, it refuses to slide round the rim due to too much friction. for that very reason, i carry an offcut of soap from bowmore's spirited soaps in order to lubricate the rim edge and ease the tyre removal process. at home, i just skoosh a dollop of wd40 for the same reason.

i tend to think that in this, i am not alone, for every now and again, a widget of some description or other arises, promising to cure the problem once and for all, the most recent of which is kevin baker's tyre-glider, an eccentric looking red plastic device that promises to not only ease the problem of tyre removal, but similarly, the more painful refitting process. kevin kindly sent two of the widgets, one of which i passed onto a fellow member of the velo club peloton who was awaiting new tyres for his colnago road bike.

tyre glider

as mentioned to the point of boredom, i intended to fit a pair of rene herse 700x28mm tyres to a pair of wheelsmith race 24 wheels as replacements for the campagnolo bora wto wheelset that were beginning to prove a tad restrictive in perennial galeforce winds.

i had little difficulty easing the tyre-lever section of the tyre-glider under the bead and pulling it over the wheel rim, but unfortunately it suffered the same friction problem as that of my tyre levers, once again requiring the intervention of wd40 to complete the first half of the removal process. every pair of rene herse tyres i own has proved unbelievably difficult to fit, and regularly requires even a tyre lever to ease the second side of the tyre over the wheel rim to complete the tyre removal. in my case, i'd to revert to a park tool tyre lever for this process, as it proved impossible to fit the tyre-glider under that second tyre bead. park tool levers feature a very thin end, while the tyre-glider proved just a tad on the thick side.

to widen the scope of the review, i attempted to remove a goodyear 700x30c tyre from a ritchey zeta rim, but failed completely to fit the tyre-glider edge under the bead. in fact, even the thin edge of a park tool tyre lever was a hard ask. it might have been possible if the removal edge of the tyre-glider was a bit thinner.

tyre glider

my colleague, working on two sets of tyres, was completely unable to fit the tyre-glider under the bead on one pair and resorted to a tyre lever instead. the second pair, however, proved more compliant.

but the real reason i believe most cyclists will be interested in the tyre-glider, is the promise to ease the refitting process, and that, quite frankly, is where the problems began. fitting the first side of the tyre was easy peasy, after which it was a simple case of inserting the inner tube, but in using the tyre-glider to persuade the bead over the rim, that inner tube continually got in the way, leading me to carry out the majority of the process with fingers and thumbs. however, as with all tyres, i eventually got to those last few centimetres where it proved impossible to keep the inner tube out of the way, and impossible to tuck it in inside the tyre because the opposing bead was being pulled towards the very rim edge over which i was trying to fit the tyre.

i even inflated the tube slightly in the hope that it would behave a bit better, but to no avail. no matter what i tried, i could not get the tube out of the way when trying to get those last few centimetres over the rim, ultimately resorting to the tyre jack. in case this was the result of incompetence on my part, or simply a recalcitrant tyre/tube pairing, i tried once again with the second wheel, tyre and tube, but with no more success, i'm afraid.

returning to the goodyear tyre mentioned above, having managed to wrestle the tyre bead over the rim with the park tool lever, i attempted to refit the bead using the tyre-glider. it worked; perhaps not seamlessly, but it did work. however, this was a tyre and tube combination previously fitted, and not an attempt to start from scratch.

tyre glider

so, figuring it might just be the rene herse tyres (which have proved difficult on every occasion), i contacted my colleague to ask how he had faired with continental tyres. like me, he had reasonable success with tyre removal, but hit problems similar to my own during the refitting process, predominantly due to the mavic rims in question. one proved too wide on which to seat the tyre-glider, while the other featured a serated edge that prevented the tyre-glider being moved around the rim.

most of the videos i have seen, where refitting the tyres looks to be simplicity itself, appear to be the same tyre/tube combination, where the inner tube has been in the tyre before the tyre glider came on the scene. none i've seen have attempted to fit a new inner tube, or even a new tyre. however, if suffering a puncture in the middle of nowhere, few of us nowadays attempt to repair an inner tube at the roadside, being a tad more pragmatic and inserting a new tube, which is where both of us found it well-nigh impossible to refit the tyre in the advised manner.

i contacted kevin to discuss the problems experienced. he pragmatically admitted that until the tyre-glider was 'out there', there was no way of telling what problems might be encountered. "it was never going to be the perfect solution for everyone", agreeing that my colleague and i would appear to inhabit the section of the venn diagram where forces of tyre, tube and nature prevented a perfect result. as i've already pointed out, it seemed to work on one make of tyre, yet was defeated by another. that said, kevin told me that he had sold a great many tyre-gliders already to pretty much all four corners of the earth and with commendable approbation from the majority of those customers.

believe me, both of us really, really wanted this to work and tried everything we could think of, even, in my case, attempting to hold the new inner tube in place under the tyre with the blunt edge of a tyre-lever, while using the tyre-glider to fit the bead in place, but all to no avail. i could find no specific advice on the tyre glider website concerning the inner tube, but found no scenes in which the inner tube flailed about in the manner the two of us experienced. i tried inflating the inner tube more than usual in the hope that it would fit itself inside the tyre, but once again, when it came to the last few centimetres, the tube sat well over the outer edge of the rim and retarded the tyre-glider from completing the process.

in theory, this device ought to work just fine, and it certainly does if you remove the inner tube from the process altogether. and according to the reviews posted on the tyre-glider website, others have succeeded where we failed miserably. i should imagine it works a treat if using tubeless tyres, and maybe that's just where it scores best, but for the two of us, we'll stick to our tyre jacks for now. that said, it's an alternative well worth pursuing if tyre-fitting or removal is your least favoured part of the velocipedinal life

the tyre-glider costs a very reasonable £9.99 each plus postage. tyre glider

tuesday 1 march 2022

twmp ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................