What is a Tire Lever?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Among the tools necessary to keep on hand for bike repair, the tire lever is one of the basics. Designed to allow for a quick removal of a tire from a bike rim, the tire lever possesses qualities that make the job easy to handle. Here are some facts about the tire lever, as well as how to use the device.

Tire levers can be used to change bike inner tubes.
Tire levers can be used to change bike inner tubes.

The typical tire lever is a flat utensil with one tapered end that is slightly curved. On the opposite end of the lever features a small hook. While the tire lever does have a hook on one end, it is important to note there are no sharp edges anywhere on the device. The reason for that is that any small puncture in the tube of the bicycle tire would result in ruining the tube and requiring a replacement or at least an additional patch to the bike tire. The body of the tire lever is usually made of plastic, although there are still some models of tire levers that are made of stainless steel. More people are choosing to include the plastic models in their case of bike tools, since they are less likely to cause a puncture than the metal versions.

Using a tire lever while working on bicycle tires is relatively easy. The tapered end of the tire lever is inserted between the rim and the bicycle tire. Once in place, the lever is used to lift the rubber of the tire off the rim, popping it over the edge. The hook end of the tire lever can then be hooked through the spokes to hold the lever in position. Using a second tire lever, inert the tapered end near the uplifted edge and begin to work around the rim, loosening the tire as you go.

While it is possible to remove bicycle tires using only one tire lever, the application of one lever to hold the tire off the rim while moving around the perimeter ensures that the tire cannot slip back into place during the activity. This one simple fact helps to explain why many avid bikers make sure to carry several tire levers in their kit of bicycle repair tools.

A good quality tire lever can be purchased at any bicycle shop. Tool kits for bikes often include at least one tire lever, but they can be purchased separately as well. Some sporting goods stores will also carry a selection of both plastic and metal tire levers. While a very simple tool, the tire lever can make the process of removing and repairing a flat bicycle tire a lot simpler and much quicker.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


If I'm planning on a long trek on my mountain bike, I always carry a tire lever set and at least a rubber patch kit. I've been known to carry an entire inner tube if I'm going to ride off-road trails. I've replaced tires using only one tire lever, but having two makes the job much easier, especially when the tires fit very tightly on the rims.

The best bike tire levers do have a way to clip onto the spokes while the other lever works its way around the rim. It's hard to keep the tension with one hand while prying out the tire with the other.


An actual tire lever set is a lot better than what I used to use when I was a kid. If I had to take off the tire to repair the inner tube, I'd use a flat blade screwdriver or two. With all of those sharp edges, it's a miracle I didn't damage the tire or the inner tube even more. Using tire levers is a much safer process.

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