Even with simple tools, it seems there’s always room for improvements or updates. In 2015, cyclist Johnny Hintze started Utah’s Snēk Cycling. Pronounced ‘sneak’, the name is a combination of the words slick and neat. Snēk has just announced their Lifeboat tire lever, which was designed to save tubeless riders some trouble.
The key addition that makes the Lifeboat levers ideal for tubeless setups is the built-in valve core removal tools. Cut into the lever, the core removers are always conveniently at hand so you don’t need to purchase or keep track of a separate tool to perform a simple repair.
The Lifeboat levers are made from a plastic outer with a full-length metal core for reinforcement. This ‘best of both worlds’ approach ensures your rims (especially if they’re carbon) don’t take unnecessary damage and makes the levers strong enough to pull on tight-fitting beads without snapping. In fact, if you tend to break levers you might be swayed to try these, as they are guaranteed for life.
The holes near each end of the levers act as valve core removers. Right away I wondered if putting the removal tool at the tip of the lever would provide more clearance for rotation, but Snēk’s promo video shows the tool can twist quite a bit before hitting your spokes. The removers are also positioned with one sitting lengthwise and the other widthwise, so you can use whichever one lines up better with the valve core or flip from one end to the other as you unscrew it.
The other end of the lever adds a feature most riders will appreciate, but at the cost of another- Where most tire levers have a notch to grab a spoke, holding the lever under the bead for you, Hintze found that some people never used that notch. If you’re one of those people, you’ll be happy to find a bottle opener on Snēk’s lever instead. I personally have mixed feelings about this – I definitely enjoy a post-ride beer, but I do like clipping levers to my spokes and freeing up my hands while pulling off tighter tires.
The Lifeboats levers also lock together, so a pair conveniently stays stacked in one neat bundle. A Kickstarter campaign for the Lifeboat levers starts today (June 5th).Early bird supporters can snag a single lever for $9 USD, or a pair for $16. Lifeboat levers are made in the USA, and the first finished units are expected to ship in October 2018. Check out the Kickstarter page here.