Jim’s Tech Talk
Company: Park Tool
Product: HBH-3 Extendable Handlebar Holder
How acquired: Sample from company
RBR advertiser: No
If you’ve ever had a frame or nice brake damaged by the front end of your bike flopping to the side, you’ll appreciate this new gem from Park Tool. Bicycle front ends tend to swing to the side most when you’re working on your bike in a repair stand – especially if you raise the front of the bike more than the rear.
It can also happen when you’re storing a bike on a display stand or bike hook, if you’re hanging by the front wheel. If the handlebars swing and hit the frame with their full weight (which can be significant with many levers), it can easily dent some frame materials and could possibly crack some types of carbon.
Another risk is having a sidepull caliper brake strike the down tube, which can occur with some types of stoppers. While this can prevent the bars smacking the frame, the brake arm can chip painted frames; dent or scratch the tubing; and it can also bend the brake, which could ruin it.
For these reasons, it’s great to have a way to keep the handlebars from swinging to the side. In a previous Tech Talk, as a gift idea, we described how to make a simple loop style holder that goes around the down tube and front wheel: https://www.roadbikerider.com/diy-holiday-bike-gift/.
Those DIY holders can work in a pinch, but they prevent spinning the front wheel for checking it and making adjustments. And, whatever you make may not fit every bike you need to use it on. Which means having to make new ones.
Made for the Job
Enter Park’s new HBH-3, a fully adjustable handlebar holder that fits most bikes thanks to adjustable soft rubber straps and a telescoping main arm. It extends from 18 to 32 inches (45 to 81cm).
It’s made of anodized aluminum so it holds well to prevent the front end swinging to the side “accidents.” And its two ends can be attached in many ways to facilitate repairs, not make them more difficult like holders that are secured by restraining the wheel.
It’s perfect for jobs where you want the front end higher than the rear, such as for bleeding disc brakes. And it only takes a few seconds to install it. The stretchy straps will fit around anything from .5 to 2.4 inches (12 to 60mm) in diameter and also the many aero and oversize frame and component shapes.
I appreciate having Park’s professional holder in my shop for working on bikes. It’s a huge upgrade from my homemade ones. And, when I’m not using it for repairs, I put it on any bike in the garage that might otherwise fall to the side and hit the car. It’s also small and light enough to take along in my toolbox. Highly recommended.
To see just how versatile Park’s HBH-3 is, watch this:
Ride total: 9,983
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 cycling streak ended in February 2022 with a total of 10,269 consecutive daily rides (28 years, 1 month and 11 days of never missing a ride). Click to read Jim’s full bio.
I’ve used the Feedback Sports “Flop Stop” for several years, likely where Park got the idea vs. their prior handlebar holder. Half the price, literally, for the same exact concept. I love Park Tool and use many of their products, but this one won’t be in my workshop unless something happens to my Flop Stop and the price drops significantly. I’m sure it’s a quality product, but I can’t understand how they justify the cost when another product with the same design is available.
Jim Langley says
Thanks for the tip on the Flip Stop by Feedback Sports, Katherine. Here’s a link to it on Amazon in case anyone wants to see it: https://amzn.to/332uLv4 Regarding the price, it looks like the going price on Amazon is about $25 but all the sellers I could find were tacking on delivery fees from $8 to $10. (Oddly I could not find it in Feedback Sports website.)
At those prices its not that much less expensive than Park’s new tool. Also, I wonder if the Flip Stop rubber straps can fit around larger things like the repair stand arm or super wide aero seatposts? That’s one of the reasons I like Park’s – on my Cervelo the seatpost is huge.
I purchased mine several years ago on Amazon. Perhaps it’s been discontinued, but I thought I saw it not long ago after someone commented on mine (and sold by Amazon with shipping included over $25 orders). It has rubber straps with small, ball shaped stoppers along the way. It attaches to fairly wide items, though not sure if it would on a work stand since I’ve never needed to connect it on the work stand. Connecting to the seatpost has always worked for me, but my bikes are sleek and so are the ones that I work on belonging to family and friends. That said, usefulness is dependent on need.
It may be a better mousetrap, but for the price I’m reasonably sure anyone could fashion something similar to fit their needs, especially if they only work on their own bikes and don’t need to adapt to bikes belonging to others.
Kevin Moran says
Still on their website under maintenance accessories have had my Flop Stop for several years it does fit around my Trek Emonda large seat post mast and will attach to my Park bike stand to the (lock body assembly) but I usually just use the seat post https://www.feedbacksports.com/product/flop-stop-handle-bar-holder/
Jim Langley says
Thanks for the link and additional details, Kevin – appreciate it. By any chance do you know if the telescoping arms of the tool are made of aluminum? They don’t say on the website. Their repair stands of which I have two – include lots of plastic pieces. so it has me wondering.
Kevin Moran says
I checked Jim and it’s aluminum I have to say though after looking at the Park HBH-3 that it is with out question a heavier duty unit that would hold up to extended shop use where as the the Flop Stop is more geared for home use.
One such device is included with the cheapie bikemate work stand occasionally available from Aldi supermarkets.
I’ve been using the Park Tools HBH-2 for years on many frame and handlebar configurations. Although the HBH-3 is interesting and versatile, I really don’t see a reason to upgrade. Similar to your diy holder, I use double-sided velcro straps to hold the front wheel on bikes held in suspended storage stands.
Tony M says
Agree…the HBH-2 can be a little awkward to work on odd-shaped top tubes, but it still does the job pretty well.