Product Type: Crank Brothers Bike Accessories
Crank it up
Crank Brothers Speed Lever
Member Name: yackers1
Crank Brothers Speed Lever
Advantages: Makes tyre removal/installation easy, ideal for all tyre types, the best tool for the job
Disadvantages: Requires a bit of practice at first
Cycle tyre removal can be a tricky process, especially when dealing with exceptionally tight racing tyres with full wire beading, and usually requires the need for two (and usually a three) separate tyre levers. The speed lever is totally unique in both design and use, and all tyres can be removed with just the speed lever.
Using the tool is simple and the tyre removal process simply involves;
i) Hooking the plastic hook under the tyre bead
ii) Extending the telescopic arm and clamping to the skewer
iii) Turning the wheel so you are looking at it face on; and
iv) Applying pressure and pulling the tool towards you using the skewer as a pivot point
As well as removing the tyre the speed lever will help get the tyre back on once the inner tube has been patched or replaced. Installing the tyre involves;
v) Putting a bit of air in the inner tube to give it a bit of shape
vi) Inserting the inner tube in to the tyre
vii) Putting the tyre back on the rim, by hand and then the tool
As most of you are probably aware as the tyre goes on it gets tighter and tighter and you will get to the point where it is impossible to get the tyre any further without using some type of lever, and this is where the speed lever comes in.
Simply turn the tool over and place the narrow hook over the tyre rim and use as detailed above.
Whilst normal tyre levers can be used for this the Speed lever actually pushes the tyre back on the wheel without rubbing against the inner tube which could damage or hole it. It also stops the tyre sitting on the inner tube which is likely to lead to a 'pinch' puncture - a common occurrence when using normal tyre levers to reseat the tyre.
Using the tool requires a certain technique, which feels odd at first but after a couple of attempts it becomes natural. There are loads of 'tutorials' on YouTube should you need it (some are quite good whereas others are totally useless but this tends to be the case with YouTube), although if you step back and think about it logically video demonstration should not be required. Some users will read about how good the speed lever is, buy one and dismiss it after the first use when they don't use the right technique and end up breaking it.
Crank Brothers claim the speed lever is durable and robust and it is, to an extent. It should be noted that it is still made out of plastic and if you give it too much hard whilst using the wrong technique you will break it, without a doubt. This tool requires a bit of practice since it is not something you can simply stick under the tyre beading and give it the big heave ho because it will break. A weak point is the telescopic arm and pressure shouldn't be applied here, which to me is common sense but it appears many users still tug on this section and then wonder why the tool breaks. If you use the tool properly it is strong, robust and a lot of pressure can be exerted safe in the knowledge the tool will perform. I have never managed to break a speed lever (although I always use them properly) and I have had some very tight fitting 23mm racing tyres in the past.
I have read some reviews stating the plastic hook is fragile and easy to break, although I have never managed to break one. The plastic hooks do wear out over time with use, which is to be expected, and lose their effectiveness (ultimately leading to replacement) but I have never actually managed to break a hook during use.
Crank Brothers are so confident their speed lever is durable that they offer a lifetime warranty on the product and will replace it if you break one. I can't comment on the hoops you have to jump through to get a replacement because I have never broken one. Whether Crank Brothers will replace the speed lever when the hook wears out is something I have never tried and something I never will.
At £5.99 the speed lever appears expensive but considering only one is needed, whereas multiple tyre levers are needed at a couple of pounds per time, I think it is actually very good value for money. Besides, the additional is worth paying since being stranded on the side of the road with a puncture, and being unable to remove your tyre because your levers are useless (and bent) is not much fun believe me. It was also an expensive (not to mention embarrassing) taxi ride home.
The speed lever is widely available from all specialist bike shops (both online and offline), as well as Halfords so getting hold of one shouldn't create any problems.
The speed lever is, without a doubt, the best tyre removal and re-seating tool I have ever used and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It does require a specific technique and a bit of practice to use it effectively, but it won't take too long to learn and it is so worth it. Just don't use one and dismiss it after the first attempt because you will regret it.
Summary: The best tool for tyre removal/installation