Hands up all those that have never suffered the dubious delight, not, of a puncture whilst out on a club run or, heaven forbid, a sportive? Not many I bet.
How many of you can remember getting a thick ear for bending mum's spoons or other cutlery whilst levering the tyre off a wheel to effect a repair on a damaged tube? A few more hands this time I guess.
Nowadays we are relatively lucky because of the innovation known as tyre levers. By using two or three of these tools, accessing the damaged tube became a little more straightforward.
As with all things technology moves on, and some bright folk up in Yorkshire have made the process even easier with the development of a canny little device called the TyreKey: a tool that the designers claim makes changing an inner tube, or tyre for that matter, simple.
We've all been there on the side of the road, sometimes wet, cold, or both, struggling to get the tyre off, tube out, tube in and then, after putting it all back together, discover that we've managed to pinch the tube and have to start the whole process again.
Well maybe not any more, as the designers of the TyreKey also claim it allows you to refit a tyre without the lever touching the inner tube.
Removing and fitting a tyre with TyreKey
TyreKey is a small, simple-looking device that does away with the need to be working numerous tyre levers. It has obviously been very cleverly designed, resembling an over-fed question mark.
The narrow, "bottom" end of the key has a double groove; this fits easily under the rim of the tyre once squeezed away from the wheel rim, and is just pushed around the wheel to release the tyre. Easy.
Once the inner tube has been replaced and you're ready to refit your tyre, it's just a case of squeezing the tyre back onto the rim, as far as your thumbs/wrists allow you to do.
Then, using the claw at the top of the TyreKey, clip one side of the claw under the tyre rim and use the other side of the tool against the opposite side wheel rim to lever the rest of the tyre into place. Again, easy peasy.
A much better description of how to use the TyreKey is available on the packaging and on a YouTube video, but I hope my words give you an insight into the process.
Testing the TyreKey
The above is a sort of precis of the company's instructions, but how does the TyreKey work in reality?
I purchased mine direct from TyreKey's website, and was initially surprised at how small the device is. At 148mm long by 48mm wide and weighing 20g, it will fit very easily into a jersey pocket or saddle bag etc.
As with most things we use on our rides, it's useful to try things out at leisure as opposed to waiting until disaster strikes.
With that in mind I grabbed a few spare wheels out of my garage and set about trying out the TyreKey myself. At first it seemed to be a slow process, but after a couple of tries it became straightforward; quicker than using tyre levers and, dare I say, easy peasy?
Removal of the tyre was straightforward and resembled the running around of a tyre lever, once the tyre had been released from the rim, but with just the TyreKey.
Replacement of the tyre was, in effect, similar to the normal procedure but when one would be normally be reaching for a couple of tyre levers, to prise the tyre back onto the wheel, it was just a case of using the claw to finish off the job and getting the tyre back in place, quickly and using just that one tool.
I even went to the lengths of pumping up each practice tyre and there were no tyre pinches: success, every time.
The TyreKey is designed to be used with road tyres from 18-35mm in width. The designers claim it's suitable for use with carbon rims, and being made of plastic it seems unlikely to mark any surfaces it contacts.
It works with tubeless tyres too, which can be difficult to seat by hand.
I'm certainly happy with the TyreKey. The weight saving offered isn't going to increase anyone's chances of smashing out a new Strava KOM or get up the hills any quicker, but it will certainly reduce the time you are stranded at the side of the road with your bike upside down, ignoring the Velominati rules, and get you back in the saddle and on your way.