Mounting a new tire

I set a record the other night.  It took me a full hour to get a tire mounted on a wheel.

I bought a new tire to replace one that had some severe cuts on the  tread. Since I had a 52-mile ride coming up Saturday, I didn’t want to risk anything — even though the cut tire had seen a good 200 miles on area roads since getting cut in two places by broken glass three weeks ago.

New tires are not as elastic as they get to be with some riding. This one was right out of the mail order box. I put one foot inside the tire, and tried to pull up on it like a rubber band. No give at all.  I turned the tire several times, and pulled each time, to try to add a little bit of stretch to it.

Then, on the wheel. Getting one side into the wheel wasn’t too much of a problem, although even here, I had to patiently work the remaining three inches over the rim. I got the deflated tube inside the tire, then started stretching the other side over the rim.

It was fine for about half the tire’s circumference. Then, it didn’t want to cooperate. Again very patiently (a rarity for me) I worked the bead over the rim bit by bit, and popped it into place. Finally, I had five inches to go. It wouldn’t go. It was as though the tire had reached the limit of any stretch built into it. Whenever I managed to get a small section of bead to pop over the rim, the bead at the other end popped out. It seemed I would be unable to get the tire seated properly.

I know you’re not supposed to use tire levers to mount a tire. There’s some danger they might puncture the tube. I yielded to temptation. The levers worked — sort of. I now had only a three-inch section that refused to mount.

I worked it, and worked it, and worked it. And finally, it happened. The remaining part of the bead popped into the rim. I carefully checked to make sure the tire was seated properly all around, inflated the tire and put it on the bike. Elapsed time: one hour.

I change tires when they flat from time to time, but I haven’t had a lot of experience putting new tires on. They’re very different from changing flats, when the same tire that has miles on it is put back on the wheel. I’ve never had a lot of trouble with those, because use has stretched them out. It’s the brand new tire that was the troublemaker.

These are kevlar tires — I don’t know if that would make any difference or not. But I do remember that the only other time I mounted a brand new tire — one that was not kevlar — I didn’t have anywhere near the trouble.

Any suggestions for making the mounting of a new tire any easier?

P.S.: I was glad today that I did get the tire mounted. I did a hilly 52-mile route from Dripping Springs to Johnson City, Texas, and back again. It was a training ride organized by the Hill Country Ride for AIDS, but I used it as my last hurrah before the MS 150 next weekend.

A lone rider approaches the rest stop in Johnson City.
A lone rider approaches the rest stop in Johnson City.


My bike with its new rear tire in Johnson City.  Still with torn bar tape, and with one silver and one white bar plug.
My bike with its new rear tire in Johnson City. Still with torn bar tape, and with one silver and one white bar plug.

I just hope the weather next weekend is better than we had today. It was forecast to get to 80F, but never got above 60, with a chilly northeast wind blowing all morning.


  1. scshop says

    I know exactly what you mean about the tires rainy. I bought some new tires for my road bike about two weeks ago, and they were next to impossible to get on! It took me probably three hours over the course of two days to get them both on, and it did require the use of tire levers.

    One product I found that helps and you might want to check into yourself is called the QuikStik. I forget who makes it, but the one I got is essentially an extra thick and long tire lever that is supposedly made to use for putting the tire on and taking it off without puncturing the tube. The manufacturer claims you only need to carry one of them with you as opposed to the usual two or three regular levers. Having tried it out, I think that claim just might be accurate. The only problem is that my under-saddle bag is too small to hold it (DOH!). Oh well, I guess that gives me an excuse to buy a bigger bag, eh?

  2. says

    I’ve been fortunate to not have to wrestle a tire like that. I would probably lose patience pretty quickly if I did. I replaced both my tires last summer and they went on easy. They still don’t have many miles on them though because of how little riding I’ve done over the last six months. Good luck in the MS150 and nice bike.

  3. scshop says

    Yeah, I’ve heard of that tool as well. I think Crank Brothers also makes an extra-strong tire lever that telescopes to fit in small bags. You may want to look into that too.

  4. says

    It depends on the make/model of the tire. Some tires go on easy, others fit too tightly and are a real pain. I had a hell of a time with a Rivendell Rolly Poly on my old road bike. They did not stretch over time — any time I got a flat and had to patch the tube or put in a new one, I had the same trouble. I’d buy a different kind of tire next time.

  5. says

    Mounting a tire. I read a tip about this a few months ago…hopefully I’ve got this right. When you’re working on that final section of the tire, if you squeeze the side walls of the tire on the opposite side of the wheel it should push the tire up along the rim just enough to easily get the final section to pop in. However, I haven’t had the opportunity to try it. I just cursed myself didn’t I? lol!

  6. Shawn says

    I’m a noob myself, but some of the information I’ve gathered:
    1.) Some tire/rim combos are just more difficult than others
    2.) Similar to what Glen_in_MA says – make sure the bead opposite the final section is seated in the deep part in the center of the rim as opposed to the edge of the rim. That should give you just a little extra slack to make it easier.

  7. says

    Wow! I’m glad to read your post. I’ve changed one bike tire before after a puncture on my mountain bike. I had no trouble with it at all. So when the bike shop wanted $55 for a new tire for my road bike, I decided to get the same tire for $30 online and mount it myself. I thought, “No problem! I’ve done this before.” But it looks like a new tire might be more of a hassle. I guess we’ll find out when I get the new tire in the mail!

  8. Bossdog says

    I just flipped out majorly and threw my new tire at the wall, I need to get it on my bike by tomorrow, and I am feeling totally skitz, I feel like cutting it up with a knife for revenge for making me so mad.

  9. says

    I found that if your rim tape is to thick, it adds to the dia.
    just for fun, try removing the tape and see how much easier it is to mount. now with that smile on your face go to Velo Plugs. com and get there sweet invention


  10. Adam says

    LOL, I was googling for some help too, I’m glad I’m not the only one. My problem is that my new road tires came folded flat and I’m having hell of a time putting them on. Not only are they tight but they insist of staying flat. It took me close to an hour to put one on. I used some string to tie around the tire and rim to keep it in place as I was working it in around the rim. Mountain bike tires are easy. Road tires on deep V-rims are the worst:(



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