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Park Tool's TL-6.2 is a very strong yet reasonably compact lever set, capable of hauling the toughest bead onto a rim. Unfortunately it's let down by a thick exposed metal tip that is hard to work under a tight bead without risking rim or tape damage.
We aren't fully clear whether Archimedes was a bike mechanic, but his oft-quoted saying 'Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world' has rung out in every bike shop at some stage in either desperation or triumph, possibly bookended by more colourful language.
The advent of tubeless tyres, unyielding Kevlar folding beads and the need for ever-tighter tolerances has spawned any number of tyre-fitting/removing tools, of which the humble lever is the oldest, assuming we discount whatever's in the kitchen drawer.
Park Tool's latest take on the tyre lever is the TL-6.2 Steel-Core Tyre Lever, coming in a pack of two. At 12.6cm long, they are middle of the road length-wise, same as the ubiquitous Tacx £3-for-three sets.
Nicely shaped, with a slick plastic coating to facilitate easy sliding along under a bead betwixt rim and tyre, the finish is nice. The business end is where things go awry for me.
The tip of the lever is an exposed steel area 3mm deep and a whopping 1.6mm thick. It's this thickness that is the TL-6.2's downfall. Most tyre levers taper to a fine point, allowing them to wriggle under a tight bead without marring the tape or rim underneath. There's no chance of that here, as the thickness makes for potentially damaging impact on all but the loosest of beads – which defeats the purpose of needing a strong lever in the first place.
I found myself having to resort to the longer black lever in the Topeak Shuttle Levers 1.2 set to lift a tight bead just enough to get the TL-6.2 underneath, then use the strong steel core to do the business. Yes, you could carry two different styles of lever if you had a very tight-fitting bead with a high rim wall to then get it over, but really Park Tool, you should trust users with a more-tapered tip. It's not like you can't do an awful lot of damage as is with the blunt one – and like any outdoors person or chef knows, the most dangerous knives are blunt ones.
Ironically for the TL-6.2, Park Tool does a fine-tipped lever – the TL-5 Heavy Duty Tyre Lever Set. It's just not plastic-coated for rim-friendly slippage.
A while back I highly rated the £17 Silca Tyre Lever Premio Set – an alloy-core lever with a fine tip, capable of getting stupid-tight tyres over deep carbon rims without damage. Seems to me Park Tool has missed a trick with the tip of the TL-6.2, and it will only be of real use to those with looser beads or willing to carry an extra, finer-tipped lever to get started.
A strong lever let down by a thick tip that makes tight beads nearly impossible to shift
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Park Tool TL-6.2 tyre levers
Size tested: One size
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
It's for people with looser-bead tyres that still have to haul them over tight rim walls.
Park Tool says: 'The TL-6.2 is a composite covered, steel core tire lever that provides smooth, scratch-free operation and superior strength to help remove even the tightest tires. Newly upgraded with a tougher, more slippery material and a protruding steel tip to more easily and securely engage the tire bead. A perfect size (5in/12.7cm) to either take-along, or use as an everyday shop lever. Set of two.'
High quality – just poor design.
Given I had to use another lever to get tight tyres off, not a good score here.
It'll probably outlast you.
Steel is real. Exactly the same weight as the longer Topeak 1.2 lever.
A rounded, shaped grip is good.
It costs about the same as a Silca equivalent, but given you need a second finer-tipped lever to get tight beads started, it's not great value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Not well overall, if you include getting started under tight beads (and why wouldn't you?).
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfortable feel, strength.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The thick tip.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's the same as the lighter and smaller Silca equivalent, but that has a tip that works with tight beads.
Did you enjoy using the product? Not really.
Would you consider buying the product? Not really.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, but with caveats.
Use this box to explain your overall score
A very solid lever with good rim protection, let down by a fat, exposed tip that is asking to cause damage when forced.
About the tester
I usually ride: Sonder Camino Gravelaxe My best bike is: Nah bro that's it
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, general fitness riding, mtb, G-R-A-V-E-L
Living in the Highlands, Mike is constantly finding innovative and usually cold/wet ways to accelerate the degradation of cycling kit. At his happiest in a warm workshop holding an anodised tool of high repute, Mike's been taking bikes apart and (mostly) putting them back together for forty years. With a day job in global IT (he's not completely sure what that means either) and having run a boutique cycle service business on the side for a decade, bikes are his escape into the practical and life-changing for his customers.