Bike Repair Stands 101
If you've ever had to do any repairs on your bike, you can probably understand the need for a bike repair stand (or work stand). A stand holds your bike off the ground so that you can access the components more easily. It makes the whole repair process much easier than doing the same thing on the ground.
If you're a serious cyclist and want to do most of your own maintenance, or if you're interested in building your own bike from scratch, you're going to need some sort of stand. This article will go over the reasons to use a repair stand, basic features to look for in solid models, and a few other tips and tricks. Let's get down to business.
Why use a repair stand?
As we mentioned already, repair stands make bike maintenance a whole lot easier. Whether you are repairing a flat, cleaning and lubricating your gears, or building up a new frame, the annoyance and effort of working hunched over your bike on the ground is a big bummer.
There are numerous benefits to using a stand. Here are just a few:
Getting enough leverage can be a big problem when your bike is on the ground, unattached to anything. Sometimes the ground works as something to push against, but with a bike balanced on two wheels or an unstable handlebar-seat combo, it can be a recipe for some scrapes and bruises.
A stand gives you something to push against when using your bike tools, making it easier to remove tough components like pedals and drivetrains. With your bike ratcheted down on a stand, you'll be able to get some serious leverage on whatever wrench or spanner you're using at the moment.
If you're working on your bike on the ground, you're likely kneeling in an uncomfortable position, hunched over your bike in the opposite of an ergonomic position. That might be fine if you only do one repair now and then, but if you're keeping your bike in tip-top shape, this won't do.
Repair stands hold your bike at a higher level, so you don't have to hunch all the way over to repair your bike.
3. Easy access
Trying to access your bike's components while it's on the ground can be a big pain. Beyond simple comfort, sometimes it's nearly impossible to do certain repairs without flipping your bike in all different directions.
A raised bike stand allows you to access the drivetrain and other hard-to-reach parts of your bike without flipping over your bike and potentially damaging your handlebars or seat.
4. Testing repairs
Last but not least, a bike stand allows you to test the effectiveness of your repairs on-the-fly. That's because you can make a change (such as adjusting a derailleur) and then pedal the bike forward to see how you did. If you don't have a stand, you usually have to take the bike for a short test ride after making a change. The time you can save skipping test rides with a stand adds up quickly.
Features to look for
If you're shopping for a bike stand, there are a few basic features you should look for:
Weight and size
Whichever bike stand you choose should match the space you have for it. If you need something small that can fold up in your garage for easy storage, look for something that fits those needs. On the other hand, if you would rather leave your stand set up all the time and the thing needs to be durable, you might want to look for a larger stand with a heavier base.
Bike weight capacity
Your stand should be able to handle the weights of the bikes that you will be working on. If you're a mechanic and will be working on a bunch of different cycles, look for something beefy; some stands will support up to 100lbs. However, if you just need a system for your lightweight racing bike, something more basic should suffice.
Different stands have different levels of adjustability. Some are fixed to a given position, while others let you adjust height, rotate the clamp to various positions, and hold your bike in a variety of ways. This gives more usability but costs more money.
A few other features can be handy on a repair stand. Many stands come with small tool shelves to keep all your wrenches and pliers handy. Others offer a built-in scale for weighing your bike, which can be very useful for racers. Some stands fold up very small and come with carrying cases, which can be useful if you often go on the road with your bike. Look for other features as you need them.
Most stands allow for accessories to be added on, so you can always purchase a simple stand first and then add to it later.
Stands can vary quite a bit on price. Basic models are often priced around $100, although a few models can be found at a lower price than that. More feature-laden, shop-grade stands can cost on the order of $200 - $300, and many shops choose bolt-in models that are more durable but cost even more.
The DIY option
If that sounds like too much to pay for a simple bike repair stand, you could go the DIY route and build one yourself. There are a bunch of different designs floating around on the Internet (you'll find lots of ideas on YouTube) that range in price from $25 to $50 or more. Some are sturdier than others, so make sure you've found a good design before moving forward.
However, if you're a serious cyclist or mountain biker and often have to make repairs, it might be worth shelling out the dough for a professionally-built repair stand. The clamps will be tighter, the design more adjustable, and the overall experience will allow for easier, less stressful bike repairs.