If you’ve ever had to repair your bike out on the trail, you know it can sometimes be a pain. It won’t stand up on its own, you can’t get it oriented in the right position, and it’s never at the optimal height to make working on it an easy process.
So why would you want to duplicate this frustrating process in your garage?? This is why bike repair stands exist. But do you really need one?
Not everyone needs a bike repair stand, but if you’re an amateur garage mechanic or DIYer, it’s worth getting one. The ability to set your bike in the perfect position at the perfect height makes working on your bike significantly easier…and much less frustrating.
Take it from someone who does a lot of his own repairs and upgrades: a bike repair stand is a great investment!
Is a Bike Repair Stand Necessary?
Pros of a Bike Repair Stand
Whether you’re replacing brake pads, adjusting the cockpit, or even just cleaning off the frame, a bike repair stand makes every job easier. Since a mountain bike doesn’t have a kickstand, it’s not going to stand upright on its own. Leaning it against a wall works for a bit…until the front wheel turns, sending the bike rolling toward the ground.
How many times I’ve had the handlebars come down and hit me on the head while inflating the tires with a hand pump because I didn’t want to take 10 seconds to set up my bike stand…
A repair stand also makes repairs quicker. In the time you wasted getting your bike to stay put in the right position without using a stand, you could’ve easily finished whatever job you planned on doing. Time spent working on your bike is time you can’t spend riding, so get those priorities straight!
Aside from repairs being quicker and easier, you’re also more likely to do things correctly. When the bike is oriented in the best possible position at the correct height for you to complete a task, you’re much more likely to do it right the first time.
Modern bike repair stands also feature an impressive degree of adjustability, all while folding away into a compact package. This makes storing and transporting them easy. If you’re the one with a repair stand in the back of your car, expect to make a lot of new “friends” in the trailhead parking lot!
Cons of a Bike Repair Stand
The one con of buying a bike repair stand is the price. A decent one isn’t cheap! Most stands from reputable companies will cost a couple hundred dollars…and you will certainly pay a premium for high-end models with more features.
Mountain biking is an expensive hobby, so many of us have to prioritize our shopping list into “must have” and “nice to have” items. Depending on your mechanical experience or interest in DIY projects, a bike repair stand could fall into either category. But if your budget is tight, I would first focus on the things that will actually improve your riding performance.
How Much Bike Repair Stands Cost
A good quality bike repair stand is going to start in the upper $100 range, but can easily cost $300 or more for a pro-level product. Sure, you could spend a lot less on a knockoff from Amazon for less than $100, but a bike repair stand needs to handle a lot of wear and tear: a cheap version just isn’t going to hold up to much abuse.
It may be cheaper, but you’ll regret buying that low quality bike stand when it drops your expensive bike on your concrete garage floor!
Is a Bike Repair Stand Worth It?
Who Should Get One
If you love taking mechanical things apart and putting them back together (or at least trying to), you’ll benefit from buying a good quality bike repair stand. Working on your bike will teach you a lot about how it works. As you learn, you’ll start tackling more difficult repairs. A repair stand will keep your bike right where you want it so you can focus on the job at hand.
Self-proclaimed garage mechanics and DIYers love things that make jobs easier: a bike repair stand does just that. Nothing validates your mechanic status more than having the right tools for the job!
Who Doesn’t Need One
If you’ve just bought your first bike, a bike repair stand doesn’t need to be next on your list. Once you have some experience and have learned how your bike works, then you may want to consider buying a repair stand to do some of the work yourself. But until then, there are plenty of other expensive things you could buy that will improve your riding.
And don’t forget: sometimes parts break! You might want to set aside that money for replacing broken components…because it will eventually happen.
Even if you’re an experienced rider, maybe you have absolutely no interest in working on your bike yourself. Not everyone is mechanically inclined. If you’re worried that a wrench in your hand will do more harm than good, don’t bother with a bike stand: use that money for the services of a professional bike mechanic instead.
Bike Repair Stand Alternatives
Set Bike Upside Down
Turning your bike upside down is how most of us remove a wheel when needed…so why not just do this for all your repair jobs?
This is a simple solution for some maintenance work, as it does indeed keep your bike from rolling away. However, it has some limitations. Try adjusting anything in your cockpit. Or your seatpost. Or your suspension. An upside down bike doesn’t make things easy, as most bike components are designed to be accessible from the top down.
A bike rack or stand may be a viable option for some repair jobs as well. Most racks either hold a bike by the frame or by the wheels, and will keep it stable enough to work on. This will allow for more repairs than turning your bike upside down.
One downside to a bike rack is that it’s meant to hold a bike securely in a fixed position. Normally this is a good thing, but when you’re working on your bike, you want security and adjustability. Being able to reposition your bike on the fly makes most repairs much easier.
If you are planning to buy a car bike rack, you should check out our articles about bike rack compatibility and how they work.
Indoor Bike Trainer
An indoor bike trainer can be a good choice for performing your own bike repairs. It will securely hold your bike in an upright position and allow access to your entire bike without getting in the way.
The way a bike mounts to a trainer will prevent you from removing or doing any repairs on the rear wheel, drivetrain and brakes however. To mount a bike on a trainer, you need to remove the quick-release skewer from your rear wheel and then thread it through the trainer itself. This locks the rear wheel into place and limits access to it for repairs.
Some of them can also be quite expensive. But if you’re looking to buy a bike trainer to actually use it as intended, or already own one, this won’t matter. It’s still not as versatile as a bike repair stand though!
DIY Bike Stand
If you’re creative and on a budget, you can just build your own bike stand. If you’re really good at building things, you might be able to create a stand that rivals the best on the market! But for the rest of us, we’re probably using whatever we can find at Lowe’s for less than $20…that also won’t fall apart.
YouTube has all kinds of tutorials for the DIYers among us, and some of them actually look pretty good! If you need a weekend project, do some research online, head to your local home improvement store and get building!
Leading Bike Repair Stands
Now here are a few of the best bike repair stands available, if you’d like to browse your options.
Park Tool PCS-9.3 Home Mechanic Bike Repair Stand ($189.95)
Park Tool is an industry leader in bike-specific tools, so it comes as no surprise that they would make some great repair stands as well. The PCS-9.3 is the budget-friendly version of some of their higher end professional-level stands: the kinds you’ll see in the mechanic tents on a pro race day. It has everything garage mechanics need, with nothing they don’t.
The PCS-9.3 weighs 19lbs and holds up to 80lbs: which should be enough even for those bulky e-bikes (kidding…no offense e-bike crowd). At a folded length of 44”, it has an adjustable working height of 39-57” and a 360 degree pivoting clamp that can be rotated to attach to any part of the bike.
Speaking of the clamp, it has the largest opening of any similarly-priced products I’ve seen: at 3”, the clamp is perfect for attaching to almost any part of your bike’s frame. Most other repair stands only open wide enough to attach to the seatpost, so this is a great addition.
The Park Tool PCS-9.3 also features accessory pods (sold separately) for holding paper towels, tools, and other garage mechanic essentials. This allows you to keep your most used items close at hand. The repair stand is constructed completely of steel and should remain a durable addition to your garage for many years.
Feedback Sports Ultralight Repair Stand ($240.00)
The Feedback Sports Ultralight Repair Stand is a great option for those who want, as the name implies, a super lightweight stand that doesn’t take up much space. Coming in at only 10lbs and a collapsed length of 38” it’s quite a bit lighter and smaller than the Park Tool PCS-9.3, yet holds up to 85lbs…again, not that you’ll ever have that much weight on it!
The stand has an adjustable height range of 35-57” and a 360 degree adjustable clamp. This clamp only opens to a maximum width of 1.9” however, which is still plenty for a seatpost (which you’ll use 99% of the time anyway) but not wide enough for most frame tubes.
One of the Ultralight’s features I really like is the tripod base. The Park Tool PCS-9.3 features a bipod base, but the Feedback Sports’ tripod just feels a little more sturdy, especially when the bike is mounted in an awkward position. The legs are a little on the chunky side however, but at least you can be confident the stand isn’t going to topple over!
While the Ultralight is a little more expensive than the PCS-9.3, it’s a great option if you value lightness, portability and a tripod base. I’ve had this stand for years and have found it to be a worthwhile investment!
Topeak PrepStand Elite ($289.95)
At the top end of the budget range for this review sits the Topeak PrepStand Elite. So what makes it a full $100 more than the Park Tool PCS-9.3?
For starters, the PrepStand Elite features a much wider height range (42-70”), making it ideal for a wider variety of repair jobs…and great for taller mechanics (no more hunching over to work on your brakes with the PrepStand Elite!)
This stand weighs 13lbs and holds 55lbs…significantly less than either stand above, but remember: even e-bikes weigh less than this, so it will never be a limiting factor. At a folded length of 46” it’s the longest stand in the group, but not by a significant amount. It does have the smallest clamp opening however, at 1.8”. Again, not significant, but something to note.
The PrepStand Elite features a tripod base, but has much thinner legs than the Ultralight. This makes it look more streamlined and helps cut down on overall bulk, which is great if your bike stand is a frequent passenger on road trips.
The Topeak Prepstand Elite may be the most expensive of the budget-friendly bunch, but it does offer the most professional fit and finish. So if you’re frugal but still want the best, this may be the repair stand for you!
A Garage Mechanic’s Best Friend!
Is a bike repair stand necessary for everyone? No. But will the right type of person significantly benefit from having one? Absolutely!
It would be hard to call yourself an amateur bike mechanic without having a repair stand in your garage. After all, looking the part is just as important as having actual mechanic skills, right?
Even the most budget-minded riders (like myself) have a long list of items they say they don’t need…but end up buying down the road eventually. So add a bike repair stand to your list of ‘nice to haves” and before you know it, one will end up in your garage. Sure it’s a lot of money, but after doing a few repairs, you’ll be glad you bought it!