How do you put on tough tyres?

Okay, how do people put on really tough tyres (e.g. Schwalbe Marathons) on the rim without getting blisters on their thumbs? 


My tips for grappling, with rheumatic fingers, are to:-

lubricate tyre bead and rim, using a little washing-up fluid in water, and a pastry brush;

ensure that the first bit of tyre bead is dropped over and down to the very bottom of rim well, and try and keep it there by using a tyre lever  to tension the bead, or spare hands!

very carefully use heavy, long and wide steel tyre-levers, protecting the rim from damage by crushing - use some ancient ones from old motor cars/cycles.

protect the inner-tube, too!

some plastic tyre levers are worse than useless...

the plastic extending tyre lever  that also clip one end over the axle are brilliant for removal and fitting tyres, even on 16" rims, because they get the angle just right. They are designed so as to reduce risk of rim damage.

once the tyre is fitted and removed once, it is a lot easier next time. 

And using strong spring clips to pinch the tyre-beads together, and help them into the rim wells while working around the rest of the cover, the Marathon plus tyres went on. Not a roadside repair I'd take on lighty. And still the valve tube came through wonky, and - the tyre tread is very deliberately put on with the wrong tread rotation. Grrr.

This post was edited by Charles Barraball at 6:23pm 13 September 2011.

  • By cfrench at 10:15am 31 August 2011

I always use Var tyre levers.

I use these on my Brompton, my mountain bike and on various bikes with small wheels where tyre replacement can be very difficult.

Re Help with Tyre Hands


I read with interest that some of you are having problems regarding the fitting of tyres e.g. Schwalbe Marathons on Brompton wheels etc.


I have been described by some to have hands of a gorilla and even I have had difficultly in the past performing this task.  But I have note recently when I purchase one of the above tyre and place on a new Brompton rim I had very little trouble it went on first time with no need to perform any tricks listed below, I either must be getting stronger of the tyres are getting larger?


If you are still having problems using metal tyre levers place a tyre on to a rim without an inner tube and even better without a rim tape and do this operation on very tight tyre say 4 to 6 times you will find that the stretching of the bead of the tyre is sufficient so that it can be put on normally with ease.


Do ensure the valve is free moving and is pointing to the centre of the hub, if the valve is stuck tight grip with pliers and push the valve up so that the inner tube is not trap.


Some tips





Park Tools Tyre Seating Tool


This tool is designed to quickly and easily "seat" stubborn tyres


I have not used this product it looks like it is suitable for large section tyres





I have used this product it does work but still s degree of hand strength for it work it is not be suitable for large section tyres


Kool Stop Tire Bead Jack


I have used this product find it works well but can not be used on large section mountain bike tyres





Lezyne Sabre Cro-mo Tyre Lever/Pedal Wrench



I have used this product I found them work on the tightest tyres.






If you have loses fitting tyres do not forget to put talcum power between the inner tube and the tyre. It lubricates the moment of the tyre over the inner tube and prevents the inner tube from lifting the tyre of if it sticks together.


Try John Baby Power, it the cheapest.



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  • By cfrench at 9:08am 26 November 2011

After recommending Var tyre levers, I found that they were no longer available.

St Johns Cycles has them in stock today (26 Nov) at £7.50. They are so good I have ordered two more. I now have one in the saddlebag for each of my bikes and a spare. I use them for fitting road bike, mountain bike, Brompton and other tyres, inc my Airnimal with its 24 inch tyres. Highly recommeded.

There is a great You tube video that I found very useful


Spa Cycling. It starts off - "its not the easiest thing in the world to fit....."!

  • By tbl at 11:22am 26 April 2012

I think the fitting of tyres purely comes down to practice and finding a way that works for you.

Given that an average cyclist who doesn't have workshop experience would do this very often, it'll take sometime to find out what works for you.

I notice that the Scwalbe Maraton tyres are metioned several times in thie thread. I had no problem at all fitting my Schwalbe Marathons, however I've had problems (and blisters!!) in the past fitting other brands and sizes of tyre.

I'm afraid it comes down to persistence and practice :-(

  • By MJG at 9:47pm 21 June 2012

Start at the valve, work away on both sides and then walk the rim till it pops over... never fails.

  • By Don at 1:43pm 22 April 2013

Once you've got as much of the tyre on as you can, anchor one side with a cable tie zipped up tight to stop the tyre slipping out again. You then have two hands free to lever the other side on. 

  • By sk5 at 3:20pm 29 November 2013

 If you have lightweight   rims, don't use metal tyre levers. Just get as much bead on to the rim as possible with your hands and then use a plastic lever to hook under the bead and pull upwards while holding part of the open bead on the otherside with your hand. 

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