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I went through three phases. First I adjusted my child's (I was 9-13?) bike, always fantasizing about a hook-and-cable to the ceiling that I can attach to the metal loop behind the elongated (and lavish) seat. Instead I flipped the bike upside down.

Then in my mountain and hybrid biking days I invested in bike tools. Avoiding to change the ball bearings in hubs/cranks when they were due was more a result of laziness, but delaying the tune-up of derailleurs to perfection was, I imagined, less a result of laziness than lack of a stand.

I'm now entering the road bike phase. On one hand I see that the bike is quite steady when it's upside-down. If I ever dare attempt truing a wheel myself, a stand, even a very solid one, will be wobbly compared to turning the bike upside-down. On the other every bike seems to have a top-access-to-bolts-and-screws design. And hence tuning brakes and derailleurs is inherently easier with the bike on a stand.

I appreciate that an upside-down bike is better than one on a wobbly stand, but assuming it's either a solid stand or none at all, I'm wondering:

Is a bike stand really necessary for pleasant/patient regular maintenance of one's bike?

(Update: And does there really exist such a thing as a "solid stand"? In various repair videos taken in serious bike shops I see that the bike moves way too much with even mild work being done on a screw here or there. It's as if a truly solid hold must grab the frame in three, or possibly two, places.)

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    Quick note: that a bike repair stand and a wheel truing stand are different tools. You can do a pretty rough truing job just clamping the bike in a repair stand and eyeballing things, but if you are truing your own wheels, a proper truing stand is probably an advantage. Else, one could decide to outsource wheel truing to an LBS. – Weiwen Ng Apr 16 at 13:33
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    @WeiwenNg Ah! LBS is Local Bike Shop, for the new folks not yet accustomed to the jargon here. (What are the other major acronyms?) – Sam Apr 16 at 13:38
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    IN the 80s and 90s, road bikes tended to have big arcs of brake cable coming out the hoods and over the bars. So putting the bike upside would risk damage to the brake lines. That's part of why one of The Rules is "rubber side down" – Criggie Apr 16 at 14:44
  • Not too many acronyms, but plenty of other jargon in cycling. BSO is everyone's favourite. If you find any others we can explain and add them here bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/244/… Oh yeah, "the rules"!! First rule of cycling, don't start a conversation about the rules – Swifty Apr 16 at 14:44
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    Sorry Sam this is neither the time nor the place to discuss The Rules. I've already said too much. (although @Criggie brought them up first) I'll put a link in the Velodrome and any further discussion can happen there (I tried to warn you) – Swifty Apr 16 at 15:33
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Almost all jobs are easier in a repair stand. It also a lot harder to knock over the bike in a repair stand, which is otherwise quite easy to when reaching for tools with the bike upside down on the floor.

Here's a few things that are much easier in a stand

  • headset service
  • replacing brake and gear cables/bleeding brakes
  • front mech adjustment
  • rear derailleur adjustment
  • brake pad replacement

The only one out of this list that is actually quite tricky is headset adjustment, especially if you have a headset with loose ball bearings; although many quality bikes nowadays come with cartridge bearings. Most of the these jobs should be fairly infrequent too. Once initially set up, your derailleur should only need tiny adjustments using the barrel adjuster to account for cable stretch.

It really comes down to how many times you needs to service your bike. I would normally be commuting to work by bicycle covering approx 100km per week. I therefore need to service my bike each month, sometimes more if the weather is particularly horrible.

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Do I need to pamper myself with a stand?.

I'd like to argue with the word "pamper".
It's not pampering to have the right tool for a given job. The fact that you have soldiered on without a stand and have been successful is a testimony to your patience and ingenuity.

At one point in your question you say:

I invested in bike tools

Using a stand is every bit as life changing as using bike tools (maybe more).

Is there such a thing as a solid stand?

Yes, but I'm too cheap to buy one.
That being said, even a less than perfect stand is better than working upside down or on hanging hooks.
You will wonder why you waited so long to get a stand once you have one.

There are many types of stands. I bought the cheapest name brand stand I could find. None of these are meant as an endorsement - only examples
enter image description here
Of the stands I've used this is the least stable. I still greatly prefer it to the floor (or even hooks hanging from the ceiling).

A slightly more expensive stand I've used looks like this:
enter image description here
And it is more stable than the less expensive Park stand.

At the extreme other end of the spectrum from the inexpensive Park stand is the shop stand by Park. It was a joy to use and more expensive than I can justify. It has a large (23" x 35" x 7/16"), very heavy (115lbs), steel base. enter image description here

The two key features in a stand are:

  • A solid base. Generally speaking the better the base the more stable it is.
  • Easy to use clamping. Holding a bike in one hand and managing the clamp with the other hand means you need a well thought out clamping mechanism.
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  • Good roundup. The red Feedback stands are the tallest I know of (ignoring the Park PRS-33.2) which can be nice. – Swifty Apr 17 at 9:29
  • A solid base like the shop stand picture is only stable on a flat floor surface. Otherwise, a large tripod may be better. – alephzero Apr 17 at 17:08
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There are a couple of problems with working on a bike upside-down. The two major ones:

  1. The bike is unstable. This depends to a degree on the handlebar and seat, the angle of the head tube and other such issues, but it can be very frustrating to work with.
  2. There is a significant risk of damage to the seat, the handlebar, and, more particularly, cables on the handlebar. This is especially the case with cables that arc up from the brake/shift levers.

And, if you look around, you can find some decent bike stands which are quite cheap and fold up nicely. Perhaps not as stable as more expensive models, but entirely adequate for a garage mechanic.

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    Also note that upside-down road bike is more unstable than other types as both the seat and the handlebar is usually narrower, the low weight makes it even easier to fall from small actions. – Alexei Levenkov Apr 17 at 5:17
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Three big advantages of a bicycle work stand, IMHO:

  • The bike can't fall over.
  • Raising the bike up to a height where where it's more comfortable to work on it - especially areas at the bottom of the bike like the rear hub or bottom bracket.
  • Getting the wheels off of the ground while also being able to turn the cranks - invaluable for derailleur adjustments, etc.

Getting the wheels of the ground with the bike the right way up is probably the biggest thing, and you don't necessarily need a repair stand to do that. Anything that hold the bike up will do. I've done repairs and adjustments with the bike on a car trunk transport rack and storage stand.

Consumer level stands can definitely be wobbly, pro ones are substantially more massive and can hold a bike quite steady.

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  • The bike can most definitely fall over in a workstand - see that happen all too often., although they were the "folding portable" style and lacked significant mass. A goodly sized sandbag can help limit that, or lashing the stand down with a tiedown or similar. – Criggie Apr 17 at 8:17
  • Instead of a sandbag a large water-filled canister does a similar job. – Carel Apr 17 at 15:27
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I want to challenge the assumption that bikes wobble in work stands, or that this causes a problem for the mechanic. If you're assuming that a cheap stand is less stable than a posh one, I haven't found that to be significant. I wouldn't describe any work stand I've used as 'wobbly'. Even the cheapest eBay work stand that I started with did it's job well (shorter lived though).

Maybe bikes do wobble in the picture of a video, but I don't think this makes the job difficult - do the mechanics in these videos struggle as a result?

I've never thought, 'oh if I put the bike upside down on the ground instead, this would be easier'. You don't have to do every job in the stand, but those key tasks you mention like tuning the brakes and the gears are definitely easier in the stand.

Each to their own, but I'd say try it, you might like it. If not, you can sell it and go back to the old way. Or try the Dutch way.

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Here are two other stands which work and don't cost silly money. Both are really "storage" stands not workstands, but they cost under $15 NZ each.

First is a front wheel support that fits 29" and 700c wheels. When assembling, I filled the base tubes with dry sand and some generous squirts of CRC556 to add mass. It holds any bike acceptably so you don't have to lean it on things.

enter image description here

I also have a table that is a good height for working at while standing- I can clamp this to one end and lift the whole bike onto the table, and the rear mech is a very good height to work comfortably.

enter image description here

The other stand can be used separately or at the same time. It clamps over the rear axle, over the QR or the axle nuts, and also lifts the rear wheel clear of the ground. It makes working on gears and the whole chain transmission area a lot nicer. Its vaguely similar to a trainer, but this won't carry the whole weight of a rider, and doesn't provide resistance either. Plus this one folds flat to hang on a wall, whereas the first one is a fixed rigid shape.

BOTH of these shapes could be made up with scrap timber, or an old pallet or similar. There are plenty of plans for cheap bike parking stands which would do similar.

The fancy ones which hold a bike by a single clamp are not perfect - mistakes in clamping pressure can cause them to damage tubes.

Other workable alternatives include a couple of ropes or straps, or even old inner tubes. Use them to hang your bike from a convenient support, whether its a roof beam, a tree branch, or even a washing line. Shower curtain rails are not suitable though.

Lastly, I used to attend bike fixups. To move my kit I used a kiddies trailer, and mocked up this workstand:

Own work Its more like a race-bike workstand that clamps onto the fork dropouts, and supports under the BB. Advantage is that I can spin the cranks. Disadvantages were that the trailer was quite wobbly, so I ended up lashing the drawbar to a fixed object, either a stake in the ground or a heavier fixture.


A truing stand can be nice to have if you're doing it often. I've made do using an old 26" MTB front fork mounted in a bench vise. For rear wheels I have another fork which has been bent to accept a wider hub OLD. This serves well enough though is not exactly shop-grade.

Summary: if you're maintaining your own bike, a workstand can be good for your posture. If you're doing a lot more work on bikes, then a workstand of some format can help speed things up.

But they're not Necessary

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  • Is the object in the first picture actually one of your bikes? – ZOMVID-20 Apr 17 at 20:11
  • @ZOMVID-20 yes - its a terrible steel folding bike with 20" wheels. Weighs a lot, is too small for me. But with the 3x8 gearing it goes right down to 15 gear inches, so can eventually climb most any road. I also use it for towing a loaded bike trailer, because of the lots of low gears. Plus this is my only bike that fits safely inside the family car. Why do you ask ? Consider jumping over to Bicycles Chat because this isn't the place for it. – Criggie Apr 17 at 23:47
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    One of the core advantage of having a workstand for maintenance is to adjust derailleurs and brakes. For those you need to spin the cranks / wheels. That does not seem possible with your depicted workarounds. – user2705196 Apr 19 at 14:35
  • @user2705196 the last two certainly do permit crank rotation. – Criggie Apr 19 at 22:10
  • And the reason to spin the crank would be to adjust the gears. Which requires the rear wheel to be in and free too spin... – user2705196 Apr 20 at 13:37

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