By Jim Langley
Obtained: Test sample from company
RBR Advertiser: No
Hours of use: 40
Winter’s a great time for getting your bicycles ship-shape for the 2012 riding season. It helps if you have a nice home bicycle workshop. If you don’t, or you’re in the planning stages, you should check out my RBR e-book on the subject -- the only book on the subject, I might add -- titled Your Home Bicycle Workshop.
In my book, which is based on my experience as a former bicycle shop service manager, I explain everything you need to know for setting up a fully functional, efficient home bike repair area. From the many readers who’ve followed my instructions and set up home shops, I know that they get satisfaction from being able to work on their own bikes, plus they also really enjoy having a home bike shop they can hang out in and show off to their riding buddies.
I spend a lot of time in my shop and put as much effort into fine-tuning it as I do my bikes, and my friends’ bikes, there. So I wanted to tell you about a cool new tool that I’ve added to my shop that’s been a significant upgrade. You may want to consider it for yours.
There are a lot of elements to a nice home shop, but the heart of any bicycle shop is the repair stand -- the device that holds the bikes off the ground to make it easy to work on. Mine is a Park Tool single-arm model purchased around 1978 -- the same model I used at my bicycle shops. It has worked wonderfully all these years.
But, with the explosion of carbon bicycles, the clamp on my trustworthy Park stand has become hit-or-miss. If a bike has a round metal seatpost, the Park clamp holds it just fine by the seatpost. But when a bike has aero-profile carbon tubes and an aero or carbon seatpost, it can be tricky or even impossible to actually hold the bike with the clamp.
As a workaround you can always support any bike by resting the tip of the seat on the clamp. But that’s only good for quick fixes because the bike isn’t clamped, and it can swing in that position. And if it swings, it’s possible for the seatpost to bang into the clamp, which could damage the carbon.
Speaking of damaging carbon, Park’s original clamp features an adjustable locking closure that requires care to use correctly. If you don’t know what you’re doing you could easily damage a frame tube.
So this year at the Interbike Bike Show, I was excited to see Park’s new Professional Micro-Adjust Clamp, which addresses these issues. There are different versions to fit into older-model Park repair stands like mine. And there are Park repair stands that come with the clamp, if you’re shopping for a complete stand.
I’ve been using the 100-3D (the model that fits my repair stand) on my two Cervelo carbon bicycles that have aero frame tubes and seatposts and it has made all the difference. I’ve also been using it with standard round frame-tube bicycles and with bikes I need to hold by the seatpost, and it has worked perfectly for these, too.
The clamp has nice rubber jaws to safeguard your frame and seatpost (they’re replaceable, too). There are also openings for the cables, should you need to clamp a bike by the top tube. But it’s the shape of the jaws and how wide they open that changes everything. They will hold “tube” diameters from 7/8 of an inch to aero “tubing” up to 3 inches wide (23-76mm). Plus, the clamp sports a handy cam lever closure to rapidly close/open the clamp once it’s set to the right width.
To secure the bike firmly in the clamp, you then tighten it by turning the handle clockwise with its spinner knob. This ensures that you’ll never overtighten and crush a carbon tube, and it holds bikes plenty tight too so you can perform any repair needed without worrying that the bike will slip or move.
One of the best features of the clamp is that the jaws are only 2.7 inches tall (70mm). This lets you fit it in tighter spots than you could with the old clamp, like on a seatpost that’s partially blocked by a large seat bag. Not having to remove the bag is much better than having to take it off and then forgetting to put it back on for your next ride (D’oh!).
It also means you don’t have to raise and lower seats to clamp a bike, which is a major time-saver and prevents you forgetting to set the seat height back after a repair.
Another nice touch is a rubber pad on the top of the clamp that gives you a safer way to hang your bike on your repair stand for quick repairs, since it grips better than metal and won’t scratch or gouge the carbon rails you might have on your seat. Plus, it even wraps around the body of the clamp so that if your bike does swing, the seatpost will only bump into rubber, not metal.
Overall, I’m highly impressed with Park’s new clamp and loving how much easier it is to work on all my bicycles now. It’s become my favorite new feature of my bike shop, and I’m sure if you work on carbon bikes you’ll love it, too.