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Lazy amateur bike mechanics, this is for you: Feedback Work Stand

by Ted Johnson

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.

Verdict: Jerk.

Maintenance Motivator: Feedback Work Stand

Wal-Mart Bike on the Feedbac Pro-Elite Work Stand

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.

Maintenance Motivator: Feedback Work Stand

Why am I sanding the brake pads of a Wal-Mart garage sale bike? Because I have a work stand, that's why.

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.

Maintenance Motivator: Feedback Work StandMaintenance Motivator: Feedback Work StandYet 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.

Maintenance Motivator: Feedback Work Stand

De-Magna-fication

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.

(Stupid brakes.)

I happened to have one of our Commute by Bike JOYBAG™ bikes at home: the A2B Metro electric bike. Nothing on the bike needed work done. (Not that I could have done the work if it did need anything.)

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.

Maintenance Motivator: Feedback Work Stand

81 pounds and holding

Damn. The work stand is stronger than I am. But that’s not saying much.

Maintenance Motivator: Feedback Work Stand

What the elitist pros use instead of the the Pro-Elite

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.

Maintenance Motivator: Feedback Work Stand

Image: Feedback Sports

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.

Maintenance Motivator: Feedback Work StandAfter 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. All 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.

 

 
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8 Responses to “Lazy amateur bike mechanics, this is for you: Feedback Work Stand”

  1. Love it. Looks like a definite ADD to the Christmas list. It sure sound “Pro” enough for a guy like me & It looks a hell of a lot cooler and easier to move around than my homemade hunk of scrap wood screwed together I am currently using as a bike stand. Thanks for the review!!!

  2. I have a Park Tool work stand, (PCS-10), so I wanted to get a Park Tool truing station as well but the price of the Park drove me towards the single armed Feedback truing stand that also allowed me to not get that separate wheel dishing tool as well. I’d never heard of Feedback as a company but I read some encouraging reviews about their tools.

    My experience so far (only 3 wheels built and several truing checks on both my bikes) with this Feedback product has been great and there is nothing I dislike about it yet. I use mine with it’s heavy base stand but it can be attached to all Feedback work stands, including yours, so if you ever feel like spending about $80 more you can get into the wheel building/truing game. You’ll really have to keep quiet about your burgeoning mechanic skills then.

  3. J Rob says:

    BRAKES: How do they #*$&%^ WORK?!?

  4. jdc says:

    Fantastic writing style!….. and a good review to boot. The humor made our morning here at our shop :)

  5. BluesCat says:

    I just got a Park PCS-9 folding work stand. The clamp adjustment isn’t a knob, or a lever, but an L-shaped crank which you can spin so quickly that you’re clamped in almost as soon as the bike frame enters the jaws.

    Although — like you, Ted — I’m not much of a bike mechanic, there are common things which a work stand make so much easier: changing tires and tubes; adjusting the chain tension on a single speed bike; rotating the crank backward so you can lube the entire chain … and not having the crank bang into the kickstand forcing you to put up the kickstand, rotate the crank, put the kickstand back down only to discover you missed a three portion of the chain.

    Ah yes, one more thing Padawan Ted, the BluesCat has been informed by The Force the Great Cosmic Secret of Adjusting Side-Pull Caliper Brakes. I could tell you … for a price.

  6. Ted Johnson says:

    When I was writing this, I turned to our Marketing intern, Molly, and said, “Quick, say the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a crappy job that anyone could do.”

    “Wal-Mart greeter.”

    “Perfect!”

    Today is Molly’s last day. We’ll miss her.

  7. I have had an Ultimate brand workstand for several years. Ultimate was purchased by or, in some manner, became the Feedback brand. While mine is not the professional level, it is still exceedingly sturdy. I use it alot and abouta year ago, the plastic height adjustment clamp broke. I was able to contact Feedback rep who was very helpful in identifying and providing a new clamp even though the particular clamp was no longer used. I will use this stand until it falls apart which probably will be quite a while.

  8. Charlie Edwards says:

    I have one of these stands and love it. I’m 6’2” and it holds bikes up high
    for me to work on. Nice and lite to carry on my cargo bike. The quick release clamp is well worth the extra bucks. I have been very impressed.
    Good to see this stand reviewed.
    Always enjoy Commute By Bike posts.
    Charlie
    Lumberton, NC

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