Topeak Shuttle Levers 1.2
The Topeak Shuttle Levers 1.2 have been around and seemingly unchanged for the last decade and based on my experience, no call to revamp them. They’re effective for most tyre/rim combinations, seem incredibly tough, and dependable.
There’s a definite knack to getting the best from them and the primary lever’s a bit generous for some wedge packs, but otherwise, much to like.
Pros: Solidly made, good length, efficient and lightweight. 2-year warranty.
Cons: Length is mainly a boon but could be too big for some wedge packs.
These are a little and large pairing; both are made from a “high strength matrix polymer and engineering grade reinforced plastic”. Coming from other composites, they feel super stiff, almost like glass-fibre - at least in the case of the longer lever. This is a good 15cm long, whereas its yellow counterpart is a modest 6cm. The two clip together securely, though are straightforward to separate.
Both have very sharp tips and rounded handles, which means they should infiltrate stubborn beads, without digging painfully into the palms. The curve is less pronounced than some - my defaults, specifically, which initially felt counter intuitive. Look closely and you’ll notice the yellow has an indentation, for bleeding residual pressure from a Schrader valve and a spoke grip. More about this later - all good things, mind.
First up, I default to old school tubed setups. The Shuttle’s arrival also coincided with some fresh rubber - some 170tpi CST Cito (review to follow), Ursula’s spiked wheelset had succumbed to a flat - first one I’ve had from the Schwalbe Marathon Winter 240.
An extremely aggressive sharp had sliced into the casing past the blue breaker strip and nicked the tube, causing a slow flat.
My fixed gear winter trainer’s CST Pika had also succumbed - again, another first.
Technique is crucial for getting the best from them. I’d started the test by removing the 25mm Schwalbe Lugano from my early 90’s road bike. These had been in situ for a good ten months.
Fully deflated, I intuitively began by whipping out the bigger lever and get busy with the wire bead. I was somewhat underwhelmed by its lack of efficiency. Switching to the yellow counterpart, burrowing beneath the bead, clipping this to the spoke, then sweeping the bead clear with the black lever restored my faith in the design.
Much the same story with the Marathon Winter and Pika, although the shallower curve made the scoop a little trickier with the latter’s folding beads. On the plus side, I’ve never strained my digits, and have been astounded by the levers’ rigidity- even under some extreme provocation- felt like some steel core models I've used. Talking of which, all the rims were alloy and between 15 and 25mm wide.
Though rare, there have been occasions where I’ve needed to introduce a third, unbranded resin lever. Most notably, cajoling the Schwalbe Road Cruiser from my trailer’s wheel. I should point out this is the case for other levers, so not a swipe at the Shuttle.
On the flip side, the longest lever has proven highly effective at persuading the last section of tighter folding beads home. This was particularly welcome with the packet fresh Cito. I’ve also worked on other folks’ tyres - from notoriously stubborn, unbranded 16 and 20-inch folder/tagalong and trailer to 2.1-inch mtb rubber.
Some SUPER tight combinations, including these Halo Aerotrack and Kenda Kwick Journey KS Plus demanded my workshop tyre lever. This wasn’t so, with the CST Xpedium.
I’ve been impressed by how well they’ve performed against some testing tyres and liberal force. Some minor trace of use but no hint of deterioration several weeks and many tyres down the line. The two-year warranty also inspire confidence. I’ve accidently left ours out overnight when its’ been several degrees below zero for successive days- no issues and casual conversation with some other riders suggested theirs are still going strong, several years down the line.
£8.99 for a pair might seem a little steep, given you can buy sets of three polyamide types for less than a fiver. Steve was impressed by the Lifeline Professional Tyre Levers, which are ridiculously good value, even at their new price of £2.99 for a pack of three. Lezyne Power Lever XL weigh in at £6 for a pair, measure a willowy 15cm apiece (all right, 14.8 for the pedants) and are made from a composite matrix. Then of course, there’s my personal favourite, The Crank Brothers Speedier Lever, which is now £7.80.
However, its competitive alongside some others. Hutchinson Tyre Levers come in a pack of three and feature steel cores, which might swing the balance, if you’re tackling some seriously tight beads. That said; at £14.95, they’re also a bit dearer. Steve was also impressed by the Tyre Glider, which is another, less traditional take on the tyre lever and very efficient. However, also a bit dearer at £12.99.
All told, the Topeak Shuttle 1.2 faces a lot of competition and size won’t be for everyone. Nonetheless, they still hold their own and will tackle most tyres pretty convincingly - with the correct technique and though not unique, the two-year warranty inspires confidence.