Some bits of kit are glamorous, others are definitely less so. The best tyre levers are rarely going to be the conversation starter at a party, but with the best road bike tyres and the best gravel tyres now becoming harder to install and remove thanks to being tubeless ready, having a reliable set is more important now than it ever has been.
In days gone by this list could effectively be condensed into a very short sentence to the tune of “literally any of them will be fine”. I’ve got some vintage rims which don’t even require levers to get the tyre on and off, but more recently, I’ve snapped countless basic levers trying to install or remove stubborn tubeless tyres on tubeless ready rims.
A strong tyre lever is one thing, but if strength was everything we’d all just use giant flathead screwdrivers. The best tyre levers are designed in such a way as to be ergonomic so as to avoid damaging your hands, and also protect your rims and tyres from damage too.
If you need to know how to change a bike tyre we’ve got you covered, as well as a load of options to get you rolling again with the best CO2 inflators and the best bike pumps too. Plus, we’ve put together a handy guide at the bottom to answer a few questions you may have.
All the levers in this list have been tested by installing and removing what I think is a benchmark tricky tyre, the Challenge Strada. The tyre itself is pretty difficult to get on and off the rim, but also being cotton cased it’s a little more fragile too so is a good test of the protective qualities of the lever.
The best tyre levers available today
Pedros tyre levers are probably the closest thing to the Gold Standard in tyre levers. They aren’t the strongest in this list, nor are they the smallest or lightest, but they are cheap, durable and strong.
The rounded lever tips can struggle to get the tyre bead off on some stubborn tyres, unlike the Unior levers, but they are a little stronger with less flex. When unseating, the plastic, which is the smoothest finish of all the levers here, slides along rims and tyre beads easily.
These are what I carry on my rides except in certain cases, and as a bonus, I’ve also found they make a great emergency puppy chew toy, though this fell outside the remit of the grouptest.
Changing tyres, especially if it’s cold, can be murder on your hands sometimes. These Unior tyre levers feature a lovely ridged depression for your thumb that genuinely helps with grip and comfort.
They are lighter than the Pedros, the other sturdy plastic offering on this list, but the narrower head is a little more flexible. On the flip side, the narrower head also makes getting under the tyre bead easier, so if your wheel/tyre combo isn’t overly tricky then these may well be a better option for you.
At £19, these are truly expensive tyre levers, around four times the price of the Pedros. Are they four times better? In some situations, yes.
The Silca Premio levers are constructed from an alloy core wrapped in Nylon, meaning they’re significantly stronger than the all-plastic options. They’re small too, and light, and while they don’t stack they do come with an imitation leather sleeve to hold them together.
If you’ve got a really tricky tyre/wheel combo (the Continental GP5000 springs to mind) then these are a better bet for your saddlebag than anything else. You’ll not snap them, and they’ll last long enough to outlive four sets of cheaper levers.
When you’re out on the road you want a tyre lever that’s light, compact and strong enough to get the job done even if it’s a little bit of a struggle, maybe with some extra features built in.
When you’re in the workshop however you don’t need to worry about the weight, or where to store things on the bike. This is where the Park Tool TL6.2 tyre levers shine; they’re strong as an ox thanks to the steel core, and the extra length means getting even the hardest tyre off the rim is a breeze.
There are no adornments, no hooks or valve cores, and they weigh about double the next heaviest here, but for use at home they make life a lot easier.
On their own these SKS tyre levers wouldn’t necessarily have made the cut. They’re too flexible for modern tubeless wheels and tyres, but they offer something no other lever in this list does: a valve core removal tool. If you don’t already have one of these in your saddlebag in some form then they make an excellent auxiliary option to bring along in addition to one of the other sets here.
I usually throw in a single one of these alongside my Pedros. Rarely is there a time when I need three tyre levers, but the valve core tool has saved me twice in the last two months.
If you aren’t running tubeless ready rims and tyres then these are probably the best option too, as they pack the most features into a lightweight package.
While not technically a tyre lever, the Lifeline Tyre Seating Tool is a handy workshop companion, particularly for stubborn tubeless setups. One arm hooks onto the rim edge, while the hook on the other arm can either help lift a tyre bead up and onto a rim or pull the tyre back to encourage a stubborn bead to pop up into place.
It’s too big and cumbersome to consider bringing on rides, but in combination with the Park TL6.2 levers it represents a system that can handle just about anything.
It’s visually exactly the same as the Cycle Pal Tyre Seating Tool that we’ve reviewed, so head there to get a bit more information.
How to choose the best tyre levers for you
Do you need tyre levers?
Yes. They’re one of the cheapest tools you can buy as a home mechanic, and without them you could be left stranded by the roadside unable to fix a puncture.
They should come with you on every ride, along with a pump or CO2 inflator, and some way to fix a flat tyre (either a tubeless repair kit, spare tube or patches).
What can I use instead of tyre levers?
In a pinch a large flathead screwdriver will do the job, but you risk damaging your rims, tyres, and innertubes by using one. Tyre levers are designed with round edges, and are either made entirely of plastic, or are metal surrounded in plastic to avoid damaging anything during their use.
Can you use tyre levers on carbon wheels?
Unless the tyre lever specifically says not to, you can use them on carbon wheels. None of the levers on this list are forbidden from use with carbon, but with the metal cored models some extra caution is advised to avoid scratching your rims.
Should you use metal tyre levers?
Provided they’re covered in a protective coating, as the Silca and Park options are, there is nothing to suggest you shouldn’t use metal tyre levers. Park Tool even make a heavy duty, all-metal set (the TL-5) for super stubborn tyres, so if its a tool designed for a job then you needn’t worry.
What are the hooks on tyre levers for?
Most tyres need two levers to get them on and off, and sometimes you need two hands for a single lever. The hooks on tyre levers allow the lever to hook behind and onto the spokes of the wheel, holding them in place and freeing up a hand.
How do we test tyre levers?
Here at Cyclingnews, we’ve been through countless sets of tyre levers. We’ve bent and snapped them, cursed at the bad ones in the cold and felt the satisfying glow of getting a tyre onto or off a rim without them.
For this test specifically, we used the same tyre and rim combo in the same weather conditions so expansion and contraction of the bead and rim didn’t affect our testing. In short, it meant an afternoon taking the same tyre on and off and on and off and seeing how each lever performed in terms of its ability to remove and replace a tyre, but also how well it protects the components, and how well it protects the hands too.