Taking care of your bike is not only important, but it can also be a rewarding experience as well.
However, bike maintenance can be frustrating when you lack the skills or tools you need to do the job.
One tool you always see the pros use is a Bike Repair Stand and boy does it look like it makes things a lot easier.
But do you need a bike repair stand?
You do not need a bike repair stand if you are doing basic maintenance to your bike like; cleaning and lubing the chain, changing tires and replacing brakes – however, you will need a bike repair stand if you plan on adjusting the derailleurs, cables or anything that involves pedaling the bike.
Even though Bike Repair Stands make things a lot easier, some riders still argue whether or not they are a necessity.
To help you decide for yourself, we will break down the benefits of Bike repair stands along with a few commonly asked questions.
What is a Bike Repair Stand?
Before we get started, lets first give a quick rundown as to what a Bike Repair Stand is and how it works.
A Bike Repair Stand is a tool that allows you to lift your bike off the ground, so you can freely operate and repair the bike at a comfortable height.
There are two styles of Bike Repair Stands, one that clamps around the top tube or seat post and one that supports the bottom bracket and front axle.
The clamp style bike stand is more popular with consumers and most bike shops, as you typically only see the bottom bracket style in professional settings.
When you do not need a Bike Repair Stand
As I mentioned before, having a Bike Repair Stand is not a requirement – even if you’re an avid rider.
While some bike maintenance can be easily performed, like changing tires or lubing a chain, some maintenance requires special tools and skills to complete.
Not only do you need to invest in many specialized tools, but you also need to have a place where you can freely work on your bike and then store the tools afterward.
And as you can guess, most of this “special maintenance” also calls for the use of a Bike Repair Stand.
For these reasons, among others, a lot of riders trust their LBS to perform maintenance that involves the use of a Bike Repair Stand.
This was the case for the first few years I was riding.
Among others, these were the reasons I did not see the ROI for buying a Repair Stand.
- I relied heavily on my LBS for bike maintenance.
- I did not have the skills to safely work on the parts of my bike that required a bike stand.
- I did not have enough bike tools to warrant the purchase of a bike repair stand.
- I did not have the space to store a bike stand and the tools I would need.
- Finally, the money I would spend on a repair stand would have been better spent on more gear, better parts, or better maintenance.
This is in no way a comprehensive list of reasons for not buying a bike repair stand, however, you can use this as a base to judge whether or not it is worth it for you.
Trust your instincts, you can always buy one if you encounter a time where you need it.
When you should invest in a bike repair stand
Although a bike repair stand is not necessary to keep your bike in tip-top shape, most riders end up investing in one once they start getting more involved in bike maintenance.
As you grow more familiar, or more interested, in your bike, you will start to learn how to better care for it.
This can include anything from cleaning and lubing the chain to completely replacing the cabling and housing.
You may even be able to adjust your brakes and gears to a degree using the barrel rollers.
At some point, taking your bike all the way to the LBS seems like a waste of time if you can do the maintenance yourself – and at a cost-saving as well!
This is how a lot of riders accumulate tools over the years until eventually, they have a complete bike shop in their garage.
If this sounds like you, you may need to start thinking about buying a repair stand for your bike.
Not only will this make your life easier, but you will also be able to better perform work on your bike.
Here are a few instances where you should invest in a bike repair stand:
- You want to complete your own bike maintenance
- You need to adjust the derailleur
- You need to adjust the gearing or cabling
- Diagnosing noise in your drivetrain
- You work on your bike often
That last part about working on your bike often is really important, as it is really hard and uncomfortable to work on a bike that is sitting on the ground.
Although it can seem insignificant, a bike stand that can lift your bike to a comfortable working height is worth its weight in gold.
Bike Maintenance you can complete without a bike repair stand
Even if you want to start doing work on your bike, you can hold off on buying a bike repair stand.
Just know that you may have to stick to the absolute basics when it comes to bike maintenance.
Here are a few the things you can easily do without a bike repair stand:
- Clean & lube your chain
- Replace tires and innertubes
- Adjust brakes
- Replace grips
- Replace handlebars
- Adjusting brake or gear levers
- Replacing brake pads
Of course, you can also do things like cleaning, inspecting, and lubing your bike.
Just know that you will run into trouble if you try to do anything drastic with the cabling or drivetrain.
Bike maintenance that you need to have a bike repair stand for
Having a bike repair stand is all about one thing – helping you work on your bike.
And although you can complete a lot of the basic maintenance without one, all riders who do their own maintenance eventually feel the need for one.
One of the first times I realized I needed a bike repair stand was when my gears got out of alignment.
I don’t know if my derailleur got bent on a crash or if I clumsily fooled with the barrel adjuster, all I know is that I hated dropping all that money just to take it to the LBS to get fixed.
It’s not that I dislike my LBS, its that I knew I could have corrected the issue if I had a repair stand.
This may not be the same situation for you, but if you find yourself needing to perform any of the work below, you’re going to need a bike repair stand:
- Adjusting derailleurs
- Indexing gears
- Replacing or adjusting cabling
- Replacing the headset or stem
- Working on your bike for extended periods of time
Arguably, any serious work you perform on your bike should be done with a bike repair stand.
Use your own judgment when deciding if it is worth the investment.
How to save money on a Bike Repair Stand
If the time comes where you find yourself needing to invest in a Bike Repair Stand, the initial costs can be a little off-putting.
Here are a few ways you can save money when buying a bike repair stand.
One of the best ways to save money on a bike repair stand is to buy used. This can be from a platform like Craigslist or eBay, or even your LBS.
I’ve had a lot of luck with Varagesale, although I have to go through my wife.
Buy a Portable Stand
Bike stands typically come in a portable option and more permanent options.
A portable bike stand is not only cheaper, but it is also more convenient – even if you’re a home mechanic.
Finally, you should be patient when buying a repair stand.
Not only does this give you time to properly research, but it also prevents you from buying a piece of junk that you can barely use.
Alternatives to buying a Bike Repair Stand
If you’re not yet ready for a bike repair stand or you think you can manage without, here are a few alternatives to buying one:
Turning the bike upside down
This is not the best option if you’re trying to work on the cables or gearing, however, this can be more comfortable if you’re working on your wheels or drivetrain.
A bike storage rack or car rack
Believe it or not, you can actually use a bike rack or car rack to work on your bike.
It’s not going to give you the most freedom and maneuverability, however, it will give you a simple way to lift your bike where you can pedal it freely.
Suspending the bike with a rope or chain
Some riders use a couple of chains or ropes to suspend their bikes from the ceilings.
This is not ideal because the bike will easily move around, however, it can help you do simple maintenance that would otherwise be impossible.
Using the shower curtain and doorway method
One of my favorite alternatives for a bike repair stand is the shower curtain rod and doorway method.
You essentially buy one of those cheap spin style shower rods and secure it in a doorway.
Find a good height to where you can rest the underside of your bike seat on it with your rear wheel lifted off the ground.
It’s not the most secure method, but it allowed me to adjust and index the gears on my Mountain Bike for months.
In conclusion, there are many reasons why you may or may not need a Bike Repair Stand.
Take into account your current situation and eventual goals to best decide for yourself.
Good luck and safe riding!