Affinity Cycles Tire Lever Review – Faster, Stronger, Lighter
Affinity Cycles Tire Lever Review
One of the very first tools we are introduced too in cycling are a pair of plastic tires levers. These cheap and unassuming pieces of plastic are probably the most used tools in the shop. Usually made of plastic or steel, Affinity Cycles has decided to enter the market with a pair of carbon fiber tire levers. Made entirely of carbon fiber. Faster, stronger, and lighter than all before it, this modern take on a tired old tool is quite refreshing. Albeit painful.
Affinity Cycles, based on Brooklyn, have been making serious enthusiast bikes since 2007. While making mainly single speed, fixie, and track bikes, they have dipped their toes into the bicycle tool arena. Engineered by a gentleman named Aaron Panone, these levers are made from a 3K + unidirectional carbon fiber weave and designed to be stiffer and stronger with a 3D ergonomic shape.
I was pretty excited when we ordered a few pair of these for our shop. I mean come on, who wouldn’t be excited about something made out of carbon fiber. And at 22ish grams for the pair, half the weight (and ¼ the thickness) of the portly Pedros levers, I was sure this would save milliseconds off my PR up Flagstaff Rd in Boulder.
The cool factor is definitely high. They fit right in sitting next to my assortment of Snap-On ratchets. The design is modern and kind of remind me of my standard issue Pedros levers. And to be honest, I don’t care that they didn’t put the little hook on the one end, I’ve honestly never used that feature.
But the glimmer and shine start to fade away when you actually start to use the lever long term. Day-in and day-out. Over and over. Back-to-back even.
First, lets talk about those ergonomics. The “thoughtful” design and “dual ergonomics” that are expressed on the Affinity website are a tad misleading. I say this because I used these levers in and out of the bike shop for over a month now. I was eager to use them until I actually used them. They are so thin that it starts to hurt the palm of your hand when you are muscling off stubborn tires. And doing this all day started to make this more evident.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love things made of carbon fiber, but only when it “makes sense”. I say this because carbon fiber isn’t really known for it’s resistance to abrasive forces, which is basically what this tool goes through the majority of the time. Yes, you want a stiff lever for getting tight tires beads on and off the rim, but if it can’t withstand abrasive forces, then it will soon snap once enough material is removed from the lever.
Or… as in my case… it will start to delaminate, and little fibers can splinter off and stab you in the hand.
So, who is this lever for? Well at $29 a pair, not everybody. I can see myself carrying a pair in my saddle bag because they are thin, light and I may only use them once or twice a year while out on a ride. If you are a full-time professional mechanic working in a shop environment though, I honestly don’t see anybody reaching for these over the tried-and-true Pedros.
With all that being said, it’s time to enjoy some tacos!