I literally wrote the book on home bicycle workshops, Your Home Bicycle Workshop (eBook), and I think every roadie would like to have a nice at-home bike shop. But, you can actually do just fine without a shop if you have the most useful shop tool — a bicycle repair stand (also called a work stand).
In DIY Bike Stands I described a few basic and homemade stands. In this article I’ll cover commercial models, from a couple of super-simple ones to full-on pro stands.
Please note that manufacturers change designs regularly and I have not personally tested every stand out there. My recommendations are based on earlier models I use from the same companies or similar stands I’ve owned or used. If you have a favorite stand, please click the Comments link in the left menu and tell everyone about it.
Let’s start with a stand that anyone can afford. Actually designed for bicycle storage and available at home centers and online, I call it the $10 repair stand. It works just like the 2-arm wood stand I described last week. It attaches to the wall studs with 2 screws and suspends your bike by the top tube. It also folds up and out ofthe way when not in use.
“Y” or Multi Stand
These basic, usually wire-type stands are only about 20 inches (51 cm) tall and cost around $15. They go beneath the bottom bracket (under the crankset) to hold your bike upright with the rear wheel off the ground. There are several types that you might find at bicycle shops. Sometimes they’re used as and called display stands. Here’s just one.
These stands are inexpensive and handy because they’re small enough to take anywhere. They don’t raise the bicycle high, so you have to crouch down to work on it. And, to spin the front wheel to work on the front end, you must lift the bike off the ground by the handlebars. But that’s not much trouble. This stand is very handy for fine-tuning the shifting, washing your bike and even for parking your bike so it can’t fall over.
Tip: The Y stand also fits in a suitcase, so it’s handy for travel to cycling events.
Stay stands also only hold up the rear wheel. But they’re more stable than Y stands because they support the bike by the left seatstay and chainstay. Nashbar’s $20 Stand By Me is a good example.
Bottom Bracket Stand
Next are basic stands that hold and elevate the bike by the bottom bracket and down tube so that you can spin both wheels and work on all the components without kneeling or bending over. Performance Bike’s Spin Doctor Essential Work Stand, gets high ratings and is currently on sale for $70. These types of stands are light and fold for storage and portability. Because they simply support the bike and don’t clamp it by a tube, they’ll work on almost all bikes. The only drawback is that they can be a little tippy if you have to wrestle with your bike on a repair. They also hold the bike in one position. You can’t raise, lower or rotate it.
Tip: If you get one of these basic stands and have to fix something that takes a lot of force, like removing a stuck seatpost, just remove the bike from the stand and work on it on the ground. That way the bike and stand won’t fall over, and you’ll have all the support you need to get the job done.
After these basic models come professional stands that offer the features shop mechanics need. They hold both wheels off the ground, can be raised or lowered to place the bike at just the right height, have clamps that safely and securely hold onto the bicycle, let you rotate the bicycle so that you can put it in any position for easy wrenching, and they’re stable enough to hold even heavy bicycles and not rock or tip over when you’re working — even with a lot of force.
Home-and-Travel Pro Stands
Pro stands come in two varieties: the type that work at home and on the road; and the dedicated type made for stationary use in a home or pro shop. The latter is more practical for most roadies and will make you a big hit if someone needs to fine-tune their shifting before the start of a century and you let them do it in your stand.
My favorite home-and-travel pro stand is Feedback Sports’ Ultralight Repair Stand. I’ve been using an earlier version of this $200 stand for going on 15 years, and it’s been nothing short of amazing. The best feature is its slide-lock clamp. You just place the seatpost or frame tube between the clamp jaws, push the clamp closed and turn the knob a half turn or so to lock the bike in place. The clamp is small enough to fit on a short seatpost or a small-size frame with a bottle cage in the way, etc. It also has soft rubber jaws to safeguard your frame finish. Other fine features include its 10-pound (4.5 kg) weight (it’s even easy to move this stand with a bike on it), fast folding to a small package, stable tripod base, height adjustability, 360-degree bike rotation and durable, rust-proof construction.
Tip: When you’re working on one of these portable stands, moving back and forth from your toolbox to the stand, pay attention to the stand’s legs, which protrude and can trip you.
Park’s $150 Home Mechanic Repair Stand PCS-9, saves you $50 over the Pro-Ultralight stand and shares the basic features. You can still raise and lower your bike, clamp it easily and safely, and rotate it 360 degrees. It has a nice clamp designed to hold round and aero seatposts. The PCS-9 folds for travel and storage, too.
Tip: If you work on bicycles with aero shaped tubes, integrated aero seat masts or oversize tubes, it can be tricky figuring out how best to clamp it. The pro stands have clamps that accept a wide range of tube and seatpost diameters and shapes. But, you never want to risk damaging the frame or paint by clamping a fragile carbon tube or holding the bike in such a way that you put too much pressure on a tube. For these situations you might want an adapter. One option that works on other challenging bikes is Park’s Repair Stand Clamp.
Shop-Type Repair Stands
The final stand type is a full-on professional model designed for dedicated shop use. These are the most expensive stands because they’re made of heavy-duty materials and include hefty steel bases or are bolted to the floor. They’re the most stable of all stands, and once you’ve found a good place for them, that’s where they stay.
The classic example is Park’s PRS-3.2-1 Single-Arm Repair Stand, which you’ll find in bike shops around the world. It’s overkill for most home mechanics, but if you want a dedicated stand to place in your home bicycle workshop, this is a top choice. It even has a built-in tool tray. The only disadvantage is that you’ll surely want to purchase a portable stand, too.
You may notice that I didn’t mention one type of repair stand, the type sometimes called a “race stand.” Popular among European team mechanics, these hold the bike by the fork and bottom bracket, meaning you have to remove the front wheel to put the bike on the rack. That’s not a problem for race wrenches, since they remove the wheels to wash them. But for you and me, it makes it a pain to work on the front wheel and front end.
Tip: While shopping for stands, you’ll probably see accessories that hold the handlebars from flopping and smacking into your top tube as you work on your bicycle (an issue when you put the front end higher than the rear). Get one if you want, but note that an elastic band works just as well — and it’s free. Just place it over the frame’s down tube and on the front wheel’s valve stem and it’ll keep the bars from swinging around.
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.