Bike Noob is happy to feature a guest post by Sam Walker, for those of us interested in working on our bikes.
When I first started learning about bike repairs, I began with learning how to fix a tire. That wasn’t too tough, and all I needed were a few minor tools. As my knowledge of repairs evolved, so did the tools.
Sooner or later, if you are into bike mechanics, you start researching how to hold your bicycle while working on it. Turning it upside down is a rather poor option for both your bike and your back. Many of us make do with something at home in the beginning, but investing in a good bike repair stand sets the framework for all your bicycle maintenance.
A bicycle repair stand is useful for a few reasons:
- It holds your bike at any height you need
- It keeps your bike stable while you work on it
- It allows you to work on your bike without putting pressure on any of your bike’s components
There are various types of bike repair stands on the market. Which one you choose will depend on the type of bicycle you ride, the type of mechanic you are and how much space you have at home to do your bike tinkering. In short, there are four main styles:
As the name suggests, a racing stand is designed for people who are racers and therefore own a racing style bike. They are also good if you own an ultra thin and light frame bicycle that you want to be extra careful you don’t do any damage to that light frame.
Racing stands are built light. They are designed to be taken with you on the road or to the track and consequently are extremely portable. They can also hold your bike without grasping it by the frame tube or seat post so as not to do damage to the ultra thin frame. They are pretty nifty, but if you don’t fall into the category of owning a racing style bike, then it may not be the best option.
In order to make a stand super portable, you need to sacrifice on some of the stability and you should only do this if you really do need it to be that portable. With that said, they’re building them better and better these days so that even a racing stand can hold your bike pretty stable if you get a good one. Of course, you will pay for that quality.
Home Mechanic Repair Stands
This is probably the style that will suit most people. A home mechanic stand is specifically designed for home bike mechanics that work on the average road cycle as well as mountain bikes. They usually have a tripod base, and adjust to any height.
Home Mechanic stands are great because assuming you get a good one, they can hold your bike rock solid, rotate your bike 360 degrees and be folded up and put away after you are done with it. If you buy one with a good wide base, it will allow you to work on your bike outside on uneven ground. I wrote a comprehensive review of the Park Tool PCS-10 Repair Stand because it was a good example of having all the features that a home mechanic stand should have.
Most home mechanic repair stands have one of two styles of clamps.
Spring cam-style clamp – This is the most popular as it allows you to clamp and unclamp your bike in one swift clamping action. It is good for all normal bikes and mountain bikes as the clamp is fully adjustable.
Screw-down clamp – This option takes a bit more work, as you need to hold your bike into the clamp while you screw it closed. However it can be good if your bike is very lightweight and has thin-walled tubes, as you have a lot of control as you adjust the pressure.
Either style clamp will work well, but read the reviews before you buy and make sure you are getting a quality home mechanic repair stand. They are not all built the same and the quality of the clamp makes a lot of difference.
Incredible Hulk Shop Stands
Okay, I added in the incredible hulk myself to emphasize the point, but heavy duty shop stands are the style of stands you would likely find in most bike shops, but some home mechanics choose them too. They are for the real hard core mechanics… the handy types that know how to build a bike from scratch and spend a lot of time working on it. They will generally hold any bike, and they will hold them completely solid no matter how hard you crank on them. However, they are not portable, and you often need a parking space for it in your garage or basement.
These are my least favourite but some people like them. Miniature stands are small and lightweight stands that can be used for average bikes that don’t have any unusual designed frames or accessories. This style of stand is chosen by some who are low on space such as living in a small apartment and by those who want something very lightweight for very minor maintenance or cleaning. Basically they will only hold the bicycle upright. They cost less, which is also why some people go for them, and they do the job, but they don’t do the job well. For normal bike repairs they are not a good way to go.
Learning to do your own bike repairs can be a fulfilling and worthwhile investment towards our sport. Putting a little love and care into your two wheeled vehicle can also go a long ways to help your bike live a long and healthy life.
About the author: Sam Walker works as a reviewer at Gear Reviews Online where he reviews quality gear for outdoor enthusiasts.