Archive for May, 2014

ToolTime #2 Tire Levers & Jacks (with video ☺)

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014


Here we go! Today we get to talk about tires, Tire Levers and the Tire Jack – what on earth is that? (Find out below!)

Tire Levers (Tire Jack Below)

Tire levers look like fairly unremarkable pieces of plastic, but they are an absolutely vital tool! If you have ever had a flat, chances are that you – or the mechanic who repaired your bike – made use of tire levers. With modern pneumatic tires, levers are required to get to the inner tube that rests under the tire.

The tool usually has one end that is tapered and slightly curved.

Sets of three for particularly tough tyres!

The Ubiquitous Park Tool Lever

Usually the other end has a hook so that it can be hooked around a spoke. A common feature is a lack of sharp edges because the slightest pinch of an inner tube can puncture it. (Ironic getting a flat while changing a flat!)

For this reason it is best to use levers that are plastic, but should you have metal levers – an older style – be sure to inspect them for sharp edges and file them until they are round and smooth.


Tire Levers are the common name for the tool today but they were formerly often known as Tire Irons, so called because they were made of metal. They are now called Tire Levers because they are usually made of plastic (whoa! :D). Tire Irons were also used for automobile tires but fell out of use in the 1950s when tubeless tires for cars became popular. But the tool is still very common for bicycle repair.

Clincher cross section schematic with 1: rim, 2: rim strip, 3: rim braking surface, 4: bead core, 5: inner tube, 6: casing, 7: tread

The Tire Lever became inevitable with the invention of the pneumatic tire with a separate inner tube and tire. Here is a quick look at the timeline for the development of the bicycle tire:

  • 1790 the first bicycle ran on wheels made entirely of wood.
  •  1870 penny-farthings made use of solid rubber tires
  • 1887 John Boyd Dunlop created the first practical pneumatic tire for his son’s tricycle
  • 1889 Dunlop founds the Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Co. Racers quickly adopted the pneumatic tire for the increase in speed it provided.
  • 1891 the detachable tire was introduced by Edouard Michelin. It was held onto the rim with clamps instead of glue and could be removed to patch the separate inner tube.
  • 1893 August Schrader and his son George Schrader invent an improved valve to hold air in the tire.
  • 1911 Philip Strauss invents the combination tire of air-filled inner rubber tube and outer rubber tire.

Modern tires are usually either tubular or clincher. Tubular tires are a made of a single tube attached to the rim with an adhesive, usually glue that is required to set. They do not require the use of tire levers – but watch out if you get a flat tire!

Clincher tires are far more common and have a wire or kevlar bead that interlocks with flanges on the rim. A separate airtight inner tube is enclosed inside the tire. This is the common modern tire that most people are familiar with. When you get a flat tire, you (usually) just have to change the inner tube.

Fun fact: Tubeless tires are making an emergence in the off-road world. These tires are essentially a clincher without a tube, and the air is sealed just like a car tire. What if you get a flat? Stick a tube in and roll on! (but the odds of flatting with tubeless tires are much less!)

The neat thing about tire levers is the shapes and types you can get:

We have a fair number of these around the Bike Kitchen so find out which is your favourite!


Tire levers are used to fix a flat tire. Fixing a flat tire is a good skill for any cyclist to know. It requires tires levers, as well as a patch kit or a new inner tube that fits your bicycle.

First, release your brakes and remove your wheel from your bicycle so you can get started!

a) Check for Damage:

  1. Deflate the inner tube of the wheel completely by pressing down on the inner part of the valve.
  2. Using the scoop side of a tire lever, pry the edge of the tire over the wheel rim. Hook the other side of the tire lever to a spoke to secure it in place.
  3. Take another tire lever and continue along the rim under the tire, until the tire is completely off the rim on one side – Check out this Swapping Levers video, from this guy who kind of looks like Ray Romano, that illustrates the process.
  4. Remove the tire and tube completely, being aware of the valve.  Note where the tire, tube and wheel line up – this information will be useful when looking flat tire culprit in a couple steps.
  5. Inflate the tube to find where the air is leaking from. Submerging the tube in water or using your lips or ear close along the tube can help find small holes.
  6. Check the rim and the inside and outside of the tire for sharp objects, especially examining the area of the tire and rim that lined up with the hole in the inner tube, if a hole was found.

b) Repair or replace the tube using a patch kit or a new tube

c) Put the wheel back onto the bike. Make sure it is centered and tightened. Ride on!

Tire Jack

Here is a cool tool for fitting  loose tires back onto the wheel – the technical lingo is “seating the tire on the rim”.


This is our first weird and wonderful tool. How do you use this?

  1. You attempt to seat the tire on the rim using your thumbs and levers
  2. If this fails, and the bead (edge of your tire) goes too far into the rim, well, then we can use the tire jack!

Here is an instructional video by our mechanic Lucas:

Whoa! Cool stuff! And that’s it

Hopefully you found this useful and learned about a new tool. Stop by and check it out sometime!

Kevin & Étienne

Back to Tool Time #1 – the list of articles!





Open House – June 11

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Ever wondered about cycling, the Bike Co-op, or the Bike Kitchen?

On June 11th drop by the Bike Kitchen between 6 and 8pm for our very first Open House! Come by for 10 minutes or for the full two hours. We will familiarize you with our services and programs, show you our tools, and introduce you to our staff and volunteers. We also promise to have complimentary light refreshments and snacks.
  • Do you have a bike related question that you have always wanted to ask?
  • Have you always wanted to see the Bike Kitchen but never had a reason to visit?
  • Are you a committed cycle commuter who wants to meet others?
  • Do you have a friend who you would like to introduce to cycling on campus or in Metro Vancouver?
Any or all of these are great reasons for you to attend on June 11th. Whether you are a student, staff, faculty, or community member we would be more than happy to have you join us. 

Expect to:

  • Take a tour of the space
  • Chat with our shop mechanics, programs staff, board members, and other guests
  • Enjoy light refreshments throughout the evening
  • Use a repair stand and tools to fix your bike with expert instruction
  • Hear about other programs and services

The Details:

  • Where: The Bike Kitchen
  • When: Wednesday, June 11, 6-8 pm
  • Who: Absolutely everyone! (Especially those new to cycling or those who don’t cycle at all)
  • What: A free Open House where you can learn more about the AMS Bike Co-op and Bike Kitchen, fix your bike, ask questions, meet cool people, and more

 Learn about the AMS Bike Co-op and Bike Kitchen:



Bike Co-op Group Rides – Keats Island Camping Trip Report

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

After cancelling the trip a couple times due to rain, this weekend the Bike Co-op finally made the adventure to Keats Island for one night to camp. We met at Café Musette after 8am on Sunday and had a surprisingly dry and sunny ride through West Vancouver to the ferry at Horseshoe Bay. Unfortunately missed the ferry by the smallest of margins, so hung out in the village for a couple hours until the next ferry (caffeination and snack time!).  A blustery, picturesque ferry ride to Langdale, a short wait in the rain and another smaller ferry later, we arrived on sunny Keats Island.

The trek to the campsite involved biking along the island’s gravel roads and then biking and walking our bikes along a hiking trail.  A hiking trail with road bikes was as ridiculous as it sounds. Eventually, it became too steep and rocky, so we locked up our bikes together in the middle of the woods and continued to the campsite on foot. Must’ve been an amusing sight for anyone passing by!

The campsite, Plumper Cove Marine Provincial Park, was complete with teenagers with a megaphone, an outhouse with toilet paper provided, and $8 bundles of firewood that served as fuel for our campfire conversations about bikes and gender. Island activities included climbing a couple epic trees, exploring the shoreline, climbing to the highest point and sitting on some bouncy moss, watching a beautiful sunset to JF’s homebrewed mead, and eating delicious food (vege stew with couscous for dinner and oatmeal with chocolate for breakfast. Mmmmm…).

Overall, it was a fun, laidback trip, testing the tents and Eva’s camping hammock well. We do recommend though that Keats in the future be considered a hike-camping or mountain-biking destination; road bikes were not ideal!

When: May 18-19, 2014
What: Bike camping to Keats Island!
Who: Jean-Francois, Sherry, Jordan, Tamara, Eva
Distance: 48km round trip from Café Musette to Horseshoe Bay, plus some on island biking



Recycling Party – May 28

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

On the last Wednesday of every month, the Bike Co-op has a Recycling Party in our shop, the Bike Kitchen! Here are three reasons why you should come:

1. Stripping bikes is a great introduction to mechanics for people of all levels

Recycling Parties are a great opportunity for people of all mechanical abilities. For those with less experience, stripping bikes is a low-stakes introduction and will teach you how parts fit together and how bikes work. For those with more experience you will be able to share your knowledge with others, and hey, you might even come across an interesting part that you haven’t seen before, assuming you get excited about that sort of thing.

2. Interesting environment, volunteer hours, and complimentary dinner!

Come to learn, meet interesting people, see where the Bike Kitchen gets many of its used parts, and best of all receive a free pizza dinner for your efforts! It also doesn’t hurt that you will receive 3 volunteer hours towards your membership or other rewards.

3. We love helping people take care of their bikes, but when bikes are at the end of their usable life we make sure they are reused or recycled

Riding a bicycle is a really sustainable form of transportation but it still creates waste, especially in its production and eventual disposal. This is one of the reasons we make sure that even when a bicycle is at the end of its usable life, we still try to save as many parts as possible. Those parts and frames that cannot be saved are sometimes turned into art but otherwise we make sure that they are separated and recycled to the fullest extent possible ensuring that no bike donated to us will end up in the landfill.

This rad event is taking place on Wednesday, May 28th 6-9pm

The Bike Kitchen

6138 Student Union Boulevard

Vancouver BC, Canada   V6T 1Z1



ToolTime #1 Introduction!

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014


Hey everyone! Welcome to Tool Time!

Over the next 15 weeks, we’re going to explore one interesting tool or tool group each week, exploring fun facts through an informative and hopefully super-interesting series of articles on some of the more intriguing tools we have down at the Bike Kitchen out at UBC. Some of these tools you might have at home, hopefully many of them are a little more unique and you get to learn something about them. The series was inspired by last year’s  Tool of the Week Series so go read that if you cannot wait for more!!

If you already know what a tool does, and how to use it STOP RIGHT NOW, because this will be MORE than a how-to. You can find that anywhere on the internet. This will be our attempt at truly exciting you to your core!!

These articles will try to captivate and inspire you to come out and try these tools. There will be history and cool facts and other interesting things we dig up as we research how the tools we chose came to be!

Our primary authors are the ever dynamic duo of Kevin and Étienne who will tidy, image hunt and enjoy the process of all these articles.


Kevin and Étienne

However, we will solicit guest authors to write about a tool that excites them, so look for articles from the past AMS Bike Co-op president, the vice-pres, the Programs Manager and many, many more!

Check out the links below for the latest articles of Tool Time!!!

TOOLTIME #1 Introduction

TOOLTIME #2 Tire Irons/Levers & Tire Jacks

TOOLTIME #3 Chain Breakers

TOOLTIME #4 Chain Checkers

TOOLTIME #5 Allen/Hex Key Sets

TOOLTIME #6 Chain Whips

TOOLTIME #7 Fourth Hand

TOOLTIME #8 Spoke Tensiometers

TOOLTIME #9 Torque Wrenches

TOOLTIME #10 Cone Wrenches

TOOLTIME #11 Double-Sided Bottom Bracket Hook Spanner



The Ride of Silence – May 21st

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

ros_logoJoin us for the annual Ride of Silence: an international bicycle ride that commemorates cyclists who are killed or injured while riding on public roads.

The ride will gather at Queen Elizabeth Park (33rd and Ontario) on Wednesday May 21st 2014 at 6:45. We will then ride in silence to Stanley Park in time for sunset. We ask that everyone share the road with respect for the law and each other.

Formal wear is encouraged.

For more information about the global movement visit