01 May 2008

bikefix Exclusive Review: Topeak PrepStand Pro repair stand

While most of us probably started working on our bikes upside-down in the garage, leaning against a workbench or hanging by the saddle from a hook in the basement ceiling, there comes a point when a proper bicycloe repair stand is very helpful. There is a wide range of models available, from inexpensive collapsable models through stable portables to professional models that weigh close to 100 pounds. While the best-known models come from Park and Ultimate, there are a number of unique and viable models available from other companies- including Topeak.

My positive experience with Topeak's Dual Touch bike storage played a large part in my decision to try the company's PrepStand Pro. The two model PrepStand line feature a collapsing tripod base, much like the portable speaker one sees at concerts and no doubt informed by Ultimate's successful use of a similar design. Solid composite joints and aluminum quick-release levers connect the aluminum tripod base to a 2-part telescoping 6061 aluminum trunk. The jucntion that supports the clamp arm is meaty aluminum, as is the arm itself. What sets the $280 PrepStand Pro apart from the less expensive ($215) PrepStand Elite (and from other repair stands on the market) is the digital scale integrated into the arm. At the end of the arm is a fairly simple clamp that can be closed around a wide variety of tube shapes by turning a small-ish knob. It all packs into an included 46x7x7 padded carry case, which is convenient for those without a dedicated workshop or for traveling to friends' or races.

While very stable when set up, the long legs that give the 12lb PrepStand its solidity can be a bit of a hassle. The 120 degree spacing of the legs mean that, when two are aganist a wall, the third tends to get underfoot. My biggest complaint, however, comes from the clamp. The clamping threads seem to have an intermediate thread that is neither quick to close nor provides as much clamping force as a 30lb mountain bike really calls for. A larger knob and/or some sort of free spinning "suicide knob" would no doubt help (though it may compromise portability). Also, while the clamp can be rotated 360 degrees, the serrated faces that prevent the clamp from moving once in place make adjusting a bike's angle difficult- the adjustment knob must be backed out quite a bit and the bike's weight supported while being repositioned. Compared to friction adjustments on competing stands, this can be a bit of a hassle. Collapsing the PrepStand, on the other hand, is a breeze, and it takes well under a minute to collapse the stand and place it in the carry bag, which is nicely made and fits very well.

The scale, which is located on the clamping arm, is handy, although with a 20g resoulution, it seems better suited to satisfying curiosity than anything else. I can't speak to its accuracy, but do use it from time to time (which QRs are lighter?), and complete bikes can be easily weighed by hanginf them from the nose of the saddle.

It's been a few years since I purchased my PrepStand Pro. In that time, it has proven both reliable and sturdy. Because its ease of use isn't quite that of competing stands, I probably wouldn't seek it out. The materials used and most of the design are top-notch, though, and with a revised clamp and rotation mechanisms, though, it would be one of the nicest and most compact repair stands I've seen.



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