An unfortunate fact of life for those of us with small-wheeled bikes is that their tires can be very stubborn to remove from, and remount to, their wheels. Some cyclists can remove and reinstall tires using their bare hands on a typical 700C road bike wheel; they’d struggle to do the same on a 20″ BMX or folding bike tire.
Moving the tire off the rim of a 20″ folding bike tire is a fairly straightforward job involving at least two tire levers, one preferably hooked over a spoke. Remounting is a different story, though. Sure, you could use tire levers and reverse their action, effectively hiking the bead from outside into the rim bed…but that also introduces the risk of pinching the inner tube. That’s why many people recommend not using levers at all for tire remounting. It doesn’t help that almost all folding bicycle tires have wire beads, too.
There has to be a better way…
…And here it is.
This scissors-like tool is called a tire bead jack, or a bead jack for short. This one in particular is made by Bike Hand, the same tool company that makes torque wrenches re-sold under different brands. I bought mine while on vacation in Shinjuku back in 2014.
The bead jack is a specialized tool, meant only for yanking stubborn tire beads up and over wheel rims. Because I’m sure most people have zero idea of what this is, I decided to write an entire post about it.
You remount one of the tire’s beads onto the rim as normal, with the partially inflated inner tube inside. Then you try to push the other bead into the rim.
You’ll naturally come to a point where that last part of tire bead starts to fight off your attempts and basically become uncooperative.
This is when you press the bead jack into service.
You’ll notice that the two arms of the bead jack have different ends. One is shaped like a “U” or half a cylinder; the other is hooked. Rest the U-shaped end on the side of the rim which has the bead inside it. This will act as your fulcrum point.
While continuing to rest the U-shaped end on the rim, make the hook-shaped end grab the remaining tire bead that you want to hoist over and into the rim. Once it catches, close your hand around the handles – much like how you would a pair of scissors.
Now for the bead jack’s party trick: Maintain downward pressure on the U-shaped end while pulling the hooked bead into the rim bed. In effect, the bead jack acts the same way a tire lever does, but in reverse. Because the bead jack’s lever action never intrudes into the inner tube, it will never puncture it.
Work the bead over into the rim in small sections until you have all of it inside the rim bed – and you’re done!
This is a supremely useful tool for stubborn tires. It’s just a minor shame I haven’t seen it sold anywhere in Metro Manila, so I guess it has the rarity card going for it too.