When it comes to bike maintenance, I come from the school of Turn The Bike Upside Down and Fumble With It. Also known as self taught.
Any bike shop that would hire me as mechanic deserves to go out of business. Yet, I occasionally find myself being thought of as a bike repair go-to guy by people even more clueless than myself. And when I tell them, “Seriously, take your bike problem to a real mechanic,” I get the feeling they think I’m being a jerk; just not willing to help.
If these folks ever see this Feedback Sports Pro-Elite Work Stand in my garage, it will be case closed.
Who but someone with pro skills has something like this?
It’s the first work stand I’ve ever had at home. It’s only the second work stand I’ve ever been allowed to use — because real bike mechanics can size me up accurately, and they don’t want me touching their tools of the trade.
I have a reputation around my workplace as the guy who naively takes on fixer-upper bikes that probably aren’t worth fixing up. At $239, the Pro-Elite Work Stand might just be worth more than I could get for any of my bikes on Craigslist. I know my bikes are old and maybe even a little junky. Sometimes that makes it hard to find the motivation to do the alleged work.
A simple cost-benefit calculation would probably show that for the amount of time I spend working on my crappy old bikes, I could get a part-time job as a Wal-Mart greeter and buy a crappy new Magna bike with a 10% employee discount. (Of course, a new box-store bike would need some maintenance about 15 minutes after I bought it anyway — and for that I could use a work stand.)
I don’t really know a good work stand from a bad one. But for me, simply being able to suspend a bike in the air and work on it while standing is a total joy. Having a work stand in my garage has helped me to find the motivation to put some love into my family’s Wal-Mart, and Costco bikes as well as my mid-level bikes; an opportunity to explore the vast universe of my mechanical ignorance.
The Pro-Elite folds up very compact, like a big-boned camera tripod. I could imagine having this in a small apartment, with newspapers spread all over the living room floor, then folded and stored in the corner of a closet when not in use. It even comes with a tote bag.
Yet it extends to more than six feet tall. That’s impressive. I don’t know why.
I spent a whole bunch of time — at least three hours — working on my stepdaughter’s Magna bike, trying unsuccessfully to adjust the brakes. Why is it so goddamn hard to get brakes to work anyway?
Eventually, I gave up and started scraping off all of the flaking paint to de-Magna-fy this bike.
Having the work stand made it easy to flip the bike to any angle for easy access to whatever surface I wanted to scrape. Sad, I know. But at least I was adept at it.
I wondered if the Pro-Elite could support this 81-pound monster.
Lifting the bike with one hand so I could operate the clamp with the other hand was not easy. I cheated.
The work stand strained a bit, but held the bike aloft well enough that I could have gingerly worked on the bike if necessary.
Damn. The work stand is stronger than I am. But that’s not saying much.
Back to the clamp. I asked Josh Lipton his thoughts on the Pro-Elite, because, unlike me, he has used a few work stands.
His only nitpick was the clamp. He prefers a clamp that operates with a single lever — so you can quickly attach the bike instead of holding it in the air while you twiddle a knob tight.
That would be a handy feature. But the clamp on the Elite Pro doesn’t keep you twiddling for too long. You push the clamp closed, and it ratchets for a loose hold on the bike. Then you twiddle one or two rotations until the clamp is tight.
To release the clamp, you push (or smack) the triangular release button, and the clamp pops open. Before you do this, of course, you need to be supporting the weight of the bike so that it doesn’t fall to the ground.
After two or three times, I learned where to stand so that the clamp didn’t pop me in the face.
If you are someone who is inclined to do your own bike repairs, a work stand really makes it easy and eliminates some of the dread of maintenance. Perhaps the Pro-Elite is misnamed, because it is clearly not as beefy as the work stands used in bike shops (i.e. those used by pros). Feedback Sports makes several other models that are less expensive — down to about $110. A
ll of them fold up, which is what an amateur with limited space would want.
Over time, I suppose I will save enough money on bike repairs to exceed the cost of this stand. I may even learn to do some things I never would have tried without it. I may ultimately truly become the selfish jerk some of my friends think I am; keeping my bike mechanic skills to myself. I doubt it. I’m a show off.