It’s a great idea. But now what? Let’s learn a few things to consider before you make your purchase. We’ll look at a few models as examples, including a great DIY budget-friendly solution. The best stand for you is one that meets your needs and bank account.
Why a bike work stand
A bike work stand makes the execution of any mechanical task easier and safer for you and your bike. It raises your bicycle to a workable position so there’s no need to strain any muscles to get the job done. A lot of work stands come with an optional clip-on tray for tools, so no more fishing around in your apron pockets for the right one.
A bike work stand holds your steed securely off the ground, making it easier to pedal and change gears to check your work and adjustments. If you have the space, it can even double as bike storage.
How they work
Bike stands come in many forms but a trait they share is a pre-loaded pressure spring jaw that clamps down to hold a bike stable. The jaw’s opening is adjustable to match the circumference of any tube or seatpost. It’s like the spring and lever action of a soon-to-be-obsolete quick-release skewer. Sometimes you have to make a few adjustments to get it right.
You can’t clamp down just anywhere anymore. Today’s bikes are made of materials less rugged than the default steel of old. Clamping down with force on a tube made of aluminium or carbon can leave a permanent impression or worse, damage or even crumple it. The answer is the seatpost. Use only that for the clamp unless you are sure your bike tubes are made of steel.
Bicycle work stands come in a few different formats depending on your needs, portability, space and budget. Let’s look at a few options made by reliable brands such as Park Tool, Feedback Sports, and Tacx.
Lightweight foldable / portable
Most lightweight work stands designed for portability are made of aluminium and have long, bi- or tripod-like legs with rubber grippers on their feet to create a wide and stable base. Take the Pro-Elite Bike Repair Stand by Feedback Sports, for example. It collapses easily in seconds and pops into its own carrying case to take with you anywhere you go.
Bike shop work stands
Bike work stands used in shops are built of heavy-duty steel and have one tube connected to a wide square base to keep things solid as you manipulate the bike. They weigh a ton, don’t collapse, and aren’t designed for portability but are extremely reliable and durable. These will most likely outlive you.
If you have the space and no need to take it with you, they are the grandfathers of all bike work stands. The Park Tool PRS-3.3-2 Deluxe Single Arm Repair Stand is a perfect illustration. Park Tool is the leader in bicycle tools and stands. They made the first one in 1976 and have been making bicycle-specific tools since 1963.
Bench and wall-mounted
If floor space is at a premium, opt for a bench (PRS-7-1 by Park Tool) or a wall-mounted work stand (PRS-4W-1 by Park Tool). It’s the same clamping and rotating head and jaws that come on bike shop work stands but in a floor-space-saving mountable format. Don’t install it just anywhere. They weigh a fair amount and will need solid materials, like brick or wood, for the best results.
Some work stands such as the Tacx Spider Team secure a bike by its front fork dropouts via quick-release skewers built into the stand’s beam. The mounting points adapt to accommodate any wheelbase length and the beam height is adjustable. No clamping of any tubes or the seatpost is required but you need to remove the front wheel.
You see fork-mount work stands used by mechanics in professional racing as the beam on its supporting tube pivots 360° in any direction. They break down into two separate pieces for easy transportation or storage but you’ll need a Plan B for working on any centring, front-wheel brakes or discs. This is a drawback for some.
Do it yourself
While a beautifully CNC’d aluminium portable bike work stand or a heavy-duty deluxe steel one from Park Tool is a fantastic choice, it isn’t in everyone’s budget. Before I owned a work stand, I got the job done at home with something cyclists have lying around – old inner tubes, two of them to be exact, and two plastic-coated bike hooks. Any hooks work, provided they are wide and strong enough to support the tube and the bike’s weight.
Measure the distance between where the end cap of your stem holds your bars and your saddle. Mark it on a piece of paper. Measure and mark that same distance on the ceiling in your workspace. Screw in one hook at each end of your measurement. Now place an inner tube over each hook.
When ready to mount your bike, start by placing the nose of your saddle into the inner tube loop on your right. Now lift the front end and lasso your stem with the second inner tube. You’ll have to go around the handlebars to get there. And voila, you’ve got a DIY bike stand. The bike will move and sway a bit but I don’t find it to be a problem. You can’t have it all.
The inner tubes will stretch, so a bit of trial and error by doubling or tying knots into your tubes to find the right work height is in order. If you have kids’ tubes, try them first. One hook and inner tube can do the trick, hanging the bike by its saddle only but the front end droops. Using two provides better support. Up to you. But it’s a budget-friendly bike work stand solution.
If you can’t drill into your ceiling and your garage or workspace has rafters or built-in storage structures, you can permanently mount your hooks into two planks of wood and straddle them between two objects at height. If this is your preferred method, cut a bit of yet another old inner tube into a few squares and attach them to the ends to act as grippers so they don’t move (as much).
So, you have the information you need to decide which bike work stand is the best solution for you. Do you have another method of working on your bike at home that we didn’t cover here? If so, we’d love to hear about it. Now, about those wrenching skills…