I'm having great difficulties getting a kevlar belted tire onto my rim (maybe I'm getting old). I had heard about the Kool-Stop tire bead jack as a possible alternative to using just my tire levers. Has anyone used these things? Am I signing myself up for a pinch flat?
Interesting tool. I haven't used one but can sympathize after breaking many tire levers with my old tire+rim combination. It's no fun being in the middle of nowhere and snapping a lever while fixing a flat. I've since switched tires (and later the rims) and can now roll the tires over the rim by hand -- what a difference!
Unless you plan on taking this tool with you on rides, you may want to look at tires that are easier to work with (if this one is new, you can probably exchange it at your LBS). Otherwise a single flat could end your ride.
For beefy plastic levers, I'm now using a set of Pedro's. They're about 3-4 times the size of the ones I had before and were strong enough to wrestle my bad old tires back onto the rim before I switched.
To avoid pinch getting flats while putting the tire back on, try putting a bit more air in the tube. This will make it hug the inside of the tire instead of getting caught between the tire and the rim.
I've used a Quik Stik for about 17 years pretty successfully. Not totally free of pinch flats, but I think using darkcanuck's technique of putting a bit of air in the tube first really helps. Much better than regular tire levers, although it actually seems to be softening after all these years. Rumor has it that certain brands of kevlar-beaded tires are a lot harder to mount safely (as in free of pinch flats), notably Vittoria, and that was my experience with them too.
With the few problem tires that I've dealt with, I find that they always get easier to mount after successive changes due to the beads stretching. I haven't tried stretching a bead in advance before, but you might be able to do it by hooking the tire under your foot, pull upward, rotate tire, repeat. It only needs to stretch a bit before it will mount, so don't kill yourself.
I have used the Bead Jack a few times now with great success. As with any tight tire-rim combination, you still have to be careful not to pinch the tube. However, I've found it a lot easier to keep the tool from pinching the tire when compared to using tire levers (I've given up on trying to use levers to put a tire back on--just too easy to damage the tube). It can still be a bit of a hassle until you get the hang of it because you will pull up on one spot using the jack and the tire will slip off on another spot.
The tool is light-weight enough that you could carry it with you, though it's somewhat large. You would need to keep it in a pannier or would need an extra-ordinarily large saddle/frame bag.
For $10, I'd definitely recommend it over any other tool or solution I've found short of buying a different rim/tire combination.