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Hoisting a bike on a stand makes almost any repair a lot easier. A bike stand is the third tool you should get, after hex wrenches and a screwdriver. Normally a bike is simply hoisted on the stand.

When did you find that flipping the bike upside-down—either on a stand or simply on the ground, taking care not to damage any levers—is superior to regular (seat up and wheels down) hoisting (on a stand)?

Do note that an upside-down bike (whether on a stand or any other method) is not recommended for hydraulic disk brakes.

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    Draining water out of the frame. Dec 18, 2022 at 22:56
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    Aside - I own many bike tools, some quite specific, and yet I still don't own a repair stand.
    – Criggie
    Dec 19, 2022 at 0:09
  • @DanielRHicks Aren't all frames designed to handle condensation, with a couple of tiny holes at the bottom of the frame? Even aside from rust, trapped water is a health hazard, given the potential for mould growth. Are you referring specifically to these holes getting stuck?
    – Sam7919
    Dec 19, 2022 at 1:28
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    @Sam good spotting - both are "storage" stands but I haven't room to store bikes like that.
    – Criggie
    Dec 19, 2022 at 1:46
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    @Sam - Some bikes have the drain holes, some don't. And often grease and crud collects in the BB, causing water to collect. Dec 19, 2022 at 2:08

5 Answers 5

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Not many. During initial assembly of the bottom bracket area because access is easier when it is a bare frame and upside-down. This includes cable guides that mount under the BB.

If I was painting a bare frame, I'd do at least one coat with the frame upside down to ensure coverage of the hard-to-see areas. Same for sanding, and general inspection before painting the bare frame.

All other assembly or maintenance I'd do with the bike right-side up because gravity has an effect on the transmission and how it works and shifts.
The mass of heavy wheels isn't a problem if you're lowering the frame onto the wheels instead of lifting wheels up to frame.

I might also put the bike upside down when removing a stuck seatpost with a vise and leverage, or if I've had a roadside mishap and having to improvise.

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Aligning disc-brake callipers is much easier when the bike is upsidedown as there is a clear view of the pads and rotor.

Most repair stands will also hold the bike upsidedown or allow it to be twisted right round.

Removing a medium-stuck bottom bracket can also be easier upsidedown, as can knocking out the top headset cup (so it doesn't fly away) and a few other things. The bike doesn't have to stay the right way up dusing repairs. It is only important not to mark the saddle or handlebars. Some shimano disc brakes don't like going upsidedown but usually only when there is already air in the system.

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I think, there is no such repair task.

When doing repairs on the roadside, the bike can be put on its side. Wheel removal and insertion doesn't require the bike to be upside down. I have removed and installed studded tire wheels many times, and that task doesn't require the bike to be upside down.

Testing the drivetrain such as after rear derailleur adjustments, or testing the brakes obviously requires the wheel to be away from the ground. However, using brake levers is cumbersome if the bike is upside down. Also, a repair stand is better for all of these tasks.

If you don't have a repair stand, you can install a kickstand for your bike. Then all you need to do to raise the rear wheel from the ground is extend the kickstand and tilt the bike slightly towards the kickstand. Perfect for rear brake and rear derailleur adjustments.

I have assembled a complete bike from parts, without a repair stand. I didn't need to ever put the bike upside down.

If you really do put the bike upside down, please ensure that nothing on the handlebars is damaged. A speedometer can be damaged. A speedometer mount can be damaged. A bell can be damaged. Also, as you noted, hydraulic disc brakes don't like the bike being upside down, air can be introduced there when upside down.

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Historically, I would say, for the most because wheels cannot be easily removed on a standing bicycle - even if you would manage somehow, who would hold a bicycle without the wheel? Side position restricts a lot where you can reach. But historically there was only the bell on the handlebars. Now with multiple delicate levers and computer there is a risk of damage, these levers must be operated while working in some cases so the stand may become as usual accessory as a pump.

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    The trick is to first undo the wheel nuts or QR, then lift the bike off the wheel and put it on side. Less hassle than dealing with chain falling to seatstays.
    – ojs
    Dec 18, 2022 at 12:37
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    When removing the front wheel roadside, the frame stands on the front wheel dropouts fine, and the chainrings clear the ground. If you have to remove the rear wheel, I'll sometimes hook the saddle on a convenient fence or post, or position a pedal down to support the bike. Or I'll remove the rear wheel for work and lay the frame on its side while doing the tube swap.
    – Criggie
    Dec 18, 2022 at 18:20
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The following two tasks are easier with the bike upside-down, whether on a stand or, judiciously, on the floor:

  1. Installing fatbike wheels is considerably easier if the bike is upside-down. You just drop the (heavy) wheels. If the wheels are fitted with studded tires, dropping them down on an upside-down frame is a breeze, whereas navigating them up into the bike from below will (unless you have formidable control and have done it very many times) risk scratching your frame.
  2. Applying "skin armor" on the bottom of the down tube is easier with the bike upside-down. Arguably, installing a fender on the down tube itself is also easier on a flipped bike.
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  • For heavy wheels, i prefer having the wheel on the ground and pushing the bike onto the wheel.
    – Burki
    Dec 20, 2022 at 9:49
  • @Burki Yes, sure.. why not? But you also do see the merit of stabilizing the heavier one (the bike) rather than wrangling it in the air, and avoiding to seek a helper or another mechanism to hold the wheel upright and steady for the insertion, no? Also, you do see the merit of not having to bend your back to see that the alignment is progressing accurately. Try it; you'll like it.
    – Sam7919
    Dec 20, 2022 at 11:28
  • I didn't want to imply your approach was bad. Sorry if i created that impression. I just hardly ever have a bike that doesn't have tons of stuff at the handlebars, plus with hydraulic brakes, i try to avoid turning the bike over.
    – Burki
    Dec 21, 2022 at 7:22

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