Tyre Glider – A new tool in the battle of fitting a tyre
If you’ve ever struggled getting a very tight-fitting tyre on, or off a rim, then you will know it can indeed be a battle! Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres are probably the tyre most people complain about, though on the plus side, they also rarely puncture.
Tyre levers have mostly been the same, with probably the biggest change when they switched from being made out of steel, to being made out of plastic. Plastic tyre levers became necessary when rims were no longer made of steel, and steel tyre levers would damage far softer aluminium rims. Mostly, plastic tyre levers are OK. Until they snap, that is. And if you ever tried to fit a 700c x 25 Marathon Plus back on to the rim, you will probably have snapped a few tyre levers. Last time I did that I was forced to resort to using cable ties to help!
On my main bike I ride with Marathon plus tyres, on Alex Rims wheels, and the 700c x 38 tyres are not overly difficult get on, or off the rim. My road bike, however, has Michelin Power Endurance tyres (700c x 25) on Maddux R3.0 rims, and getting those tyres on, or off the rims is a big struggle. And yes, I’ve snapped a few tyre levers in the process. But tyre levers are evolving, and I was supplied two Tyre Gliders. Full disclosure: I didn’t pay for these products, but what follows is my honest review of them. My opinion is not for sale.
The Tyre Glider design is quite unusual. The tyre lever has a wide “spoon” to hook under the tyre and it, then you’re supposed to use the rather sturdy lever to slide it along the rim, popping the tyre off as you go along. Putting the tyre back on is quite interesting: the Tyre Glider has a “hook” that clips onto the rim wall, then the wide “spoon” previously used to get the tyre off becomes a large, flat area against which to push, popping the tyre back onto the rim as the Tyre Glider is slid along.
Testing the Tyre Glider on different bikes
On my main bike – Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres on Alex Rims wheels, remember – that works really well, and a single Tyre Glider pops the tyre back on the rim within seconds. That said, with those tyres on those wheels, I can get the tyre off the rim, using just two single tyre levers, and I can get the tyre back on using just a single tyre lever. However, the Tyre Glider does make it far easier, and quicker. On my Dutch sit-up-and-beg bike I also have Marathon Plus tyres, and those rims are far less forgiving. So much so that – if using only normal tyre levers – it’s quite a struggle to get the tyres onto the rims. However, the Tyre Glider makes that a very simple and easy process.
On my road bike, however, the picture is very different: I was given two Tyre Gliders, and I needed both to get the tyre off the rim. Even then, it was a struggle. That was the good bit. When trying to get the tyre back on, I followed the instructions, and clipped the Tyre Glider onto the rim, then started sliding it around. At first, it worked fine, but soon I encountered the last bit of the tyre to fully go onto the rim, and the Tyre Glider simply stopped. I’m not exactly Mr Strongman, but I’m certainly far from feeble, and try as I might I simply could not get the tyre back on the rim by sliding the Tyre Glider along. And believe me, I tried. I was forced to leave the Tyre Glider in place, holding the tyre tightly, and use normal tyre levers. And yes, I snapped one of them! This was not a failure of the Tyre Glider!
Does this mean I think the Tyre Glider doesn’t work? Not at all – I think it’s an ingenious product that’s very well designed, and as I said, it works really well on the Marathon Plus tyres I have on my tourer. Just don’t expect it to work miracles on all tyre & rim combinations. To put this in perspective, when I originally fitted the Michelin tyres to the Maddux rims on my road bike, I snapped 5 – yes, five – normal tyre levers! Given that I went from snapping 5 tyre levers, to using the Tyre Glider and only snapping one tyre lever, I would call that a huge improvement. I’m convinced that the issue is with the rims, not the tyres, as the same tyres were simple and easy to take off my previous set of wheels.
As a result, I feel I need to defend the Tyre Glider here: I bought those rims, virtually brand-new, for a ridiculously low price. When I enquired about the reason for that, the seller mumbled something about the rims “being a bit hard to get tyres on to”. He wasn’t wrong! In fact, that bike lives on the turbo trainer, as I fear I won’t be able to get the tyres off, or back on, should I be unlucky enough to suffer a puncture.
Provided you stay away from Maddux R3.0 rims, I think you will find the Tyre Glider is a great product that will make getting a tyre back on the rim a bunch easier. That said, the “hook” part that’s used to lift the tyre off the rim can be a tad tricky to get underneath tight tyres, but that really was the only negative about it. Just be aware that the Tyre Glider is not adjustable, and while it should be able to clip on most rims, I expect there may well be some rims where the rim wall is too think for the Tyre Glider to clip onto. My Tyre Glider certainly has found a permanent place in my bike’s toolkit, as it makes getting tyres back on such an easy thing to do.
My advice? Buy one! You won’t regret it. I give the Tyre Glider full marks for ingenuity, and very high marks for usefulness.