With two road bikes, a cyclocross bike, a mountain bike, and a fleet of kids' bikes in the garage...I change a lot of flats. I am always in search of the perfect tire lever, especially since I often run puncture resistant or tubeless tires, and I appreciate the little bit of help they give me. I admit that I do not have the strongest hands, and I often struggle with certain tires like Gatorskins and Schwalbe One V Guards that I like to run in the winter or on the kids' bikes (on the single speeds especially).
That said, I always try my best not to use a lever if I don't have to, and I appreciate when a tire breaks in after a few hundred miles and pops on the rim with just a wee little struggle. I hate pinch flats with a passion, and when they occur the overuse of levers is often the culprit.
In my tool kit and scattered across three different seat bags are levers by Pedros, Park, and Bontrager. All have their own charm. The Pedros levers are heavy duty and really help when you have a tire that is tough to get off the rim. They do a decent job of grabbing the tire bead and getting it free and clear. They are strong, and I have yet to break one. The Park levers (non-metal insert type) are light and easy to pack. They slip under the tire bead easily, but they are not very heavy duty, and I have run into a few problems with heavier mtb and tubeless tire casings. The Bontrager levers are somewhere in between. I shelved them a long time ago for the others, and I have recently come to realize that they are actually pretty good. I use them now in my main road bike bag.
I came across the Crank Brothers Speedier Lever while searching for a YouTube video on how to seat tough tires. I was putting a wire bead Gatorskin on the rear wheel of my son's single speed. I used a lever to get the last little bit on, pinched the tube, and ended up having to patch the tube and do it all over again! Ugh!
The Speedier Lever has several really nice features. It's black. It has a slim but sturdy edge for removing the tire bead from the rim; it has a knuckle protecting design, and it has a unique hooked application end that allows you to hook the lever onto the bead of the rim and help guide the tire onto it. See the video, it is quite nicely thought out. And did I mention, it's black.
I tried the lever straight away on the old Shimano RS10 wheel I have on the trainer with a Schwalbe Lugano 23. Not the toughest tire to mount or remove, but with the Speedier Lever, I broke new speed records for getting a tire off and on. No pinched tube, no banged up knuckles, no worries.
This summer, I will change countless tires on the home fleet and as a coordinator on the Campus Cycling Collective rides. I am going to take this little black nylon wonder with me, and I will report back on how it works out. I think it is going to be great.
The Crank Brothers Speedier Lever can be bought locally for about $7. Check it out.