Take a stroll through the pits of any professional road race and you’ll only see mechanics working from race repair stands. These stands differ from the tube-clamp stands more commonly found in bike shops in that they support the bike from beneath, with the only clamped part of the bike being the wheel dropout. Along with offering a more stable and arguably safer hold of the bike, race repair stands are built to allow 360-degree access to the bike without having to move, while also being more friendly in tight spaces.
Market leader Park Tool recently updated its Team Issue repair stand, an item you’ll see the likes of BMC, Sunweb and Katusha using, and one we were interested in knowing more about. How good is this stand, and does it make sense for the home user? CyclingTips’ Australian tech writer and content strategist David Rome finds out.
Starting from the base, the new PRS-22 uses a wide-legged folding tripod design. In the case of this light 5.48kg stand, the uniquely hexagonal-shaped legs are made of thin-walled aluminium coated in Park’s recognisable blue.
The legs surround an aluminium center tube, which holds the stand’s main beam, another piece of anodised aluminium. It’s this 82cm long beam that shows the biggest changes from Park’s previous generation, the PRS-21. Here, the beam hosts multiple bike mounting methods and far greater adjustability and versatility.
Without question, the closest competitor to this stand is the Feedback Sports Sprint, the ‘other’ American company with a strong following in the workstand market. These two stands are quite similar, and it could be argued that the Park borrows a number of design cues from Feedback. At US$269.95, the somewhat more basic Feedback stand is cheaper than the PRS-22 at US$329.95. In both cases, carry bags for the stands are sold separately.
Folding into use
Fully folded, the PRS-22 is 82cm tall (the length of the main beam) and about 17cm in diameter. It’s Park’s most compact and lightest stand to date.
To unfold, you start by loosening a small knob to allow the legs to span out. These don’t extend under their own weight, and so you’ll likely need to pull opposing legs.
Once the stand is on its own three feet, it’s time to set up the beam via the quick release lever. It’s perhaps the one part of the stand I’m least fond of as it can be a fiddle. Here, the quick release doesn’t function as quickly as expected and you need to turn the nut on the opposite side to produce enough tension for the beam to lock in place. According to Park, this was a difficult decision, and in the end, they purposely went this route in order to prevent accidental (and potentially damaging) release of the beam with a bike on it. Still, I feel a more elegant solution could have been found.
Beneath the beam is a small knob that easily allows you to adjust its fore-aft position in relation to the rest of the stand. This is an important feature as it allows you to best balance the weight of the bike over the tripod legs. It’s something that I’d approximate when unfolding the stand, and then dial in once the bike was fitted.
You’re then able to use one of the two centre quick releases to adjust the beam height, with the other allowing the beam to be spun separately from the legs. These quick releases are quite large, but they are perhaps counter-sunk a little too neatly, making them tough to undo if tight. My solution was to not close them all the way, instead, leaving a finger gap to use.
Now assembled, you can adjust the position of the dropout holder and mount the bike. This is done by selecting which end of the bike’s dropouts to clamp, removing the respective wheel and then tightening the big quick release down. Spacers are included so that 100, 130 or 135mm dropouts are not an issue. Likewise, the provided quick release can simply be replaced with your bike’s thru-axle, whether that be 12, 15 or 20mm – with such a size adjustment done with a simple tool-free pin. Unlike its predecessors and competitors, no thru-axle adaptors are needed for this stand.
With the fork or rear dropout clamped, you then just need to ensure the bottom bracket cradle pads are supporting from the right spot. This is especially important for bikes with cable guides or power meters. Here, Park’s new stand really shines, offering far more adjustability than any other stand on the market. The tall bottom bracket pads are independently adjustable in length, angle and width to clear just about any problematic bottom bracket design, cable placement or accessory. The only catch is that you’ll need to use a 4mm hex key to undo the three bolts holding each one in place. Yep, another fiddle.
If you own just one bike, or multiple similar bikes (e.g. all road bikes, in your size), then this race stand is most likely a set-and-forget affair, as it is for professional race mechanics working on a fleet of near-identical bikes. However, if you’re constantly working on a variety of bikes, the use of a clamp-type workstand becomes more desirable (more on this below).
While it’s fully possible to clamp the rear of the bike to work on a headset or adjust a front brake, for the majority of road bike owners, you’ll likely only ever clamp the front dropouts. After all, adjusting a front caliper brake on the ground is not such a big deal.
Wrenching on the PRS-22
Once the bike is set up on the stand –it takes about 30 seconds to remove the wheel and put the bike on the stand if it was previously set up for that bike — you’re ready to wrench.
On flat ground the stand is stable, with little risk of toppling. On uneven surfaces you’ll need to pay closer attention to the fore-aft placement of the main beam to ensure the bike is well balanced over the tripod base.
Working in tight quarters or just for cleaning bikes, this stand proved to be great – allowing the bike’s bottom bracket to sit anywhere between 76cm to 114cm in height, and swing it as needed.
Adjusting components or removing tighter components is easy too, with the bike firmly supported from beneath. It’s a different sensation compared to a regular clamp stand, which often has the bike bouncing and bobbing around from its single attached point.
The stand includes a rubberised strap that can be used to strap the downtube to the stand’s beam in order to stop the bike from lifting at the bottom bracket. For most use, this strap proved more a hinderance and it typically only saw use once the stand was folded for storage.
Race stand or clamp type?
For me, as a home user, this was the main question I had when reviewing the PRS-22. Would I buy this over a clamp-type stand?
The benefits of a race repair stand are without question there. The bike is extremely stable and well supported, something that’s especially important for the latest generation of ultra-light or weirdly-shaped aero machines. The bike typically sits at a more comfortable working height and you can swing it so that the opposite side of the bike comes to you. Lastly, you have a set base to perform headset repairs, along with handlebar and saddle adjustments from. The appeal is no doubt there.
Still, my preference still sits with the shop clamp-type stands (grabbing the seatpost, never the frame) I grew up using. And with the latest wide-opening and stubby clamps that work on just about all aero or weirdly shaped seatposts, I have little to complain about.
Here, the ease of simply mounting the bike whole makes up for the inability to work on the seatpost or swinging the bike to you. And with the advent of disc brakes on all types of bikes, this opinion is only made stronger. Head to any cross or mountain bike race, and you’ll only see my preference further reinforced.
Add in that you can’t adjust the working angle of the bike in a race stand (not in a locked state, at least), which can be the secret recipe for working with some internally cabled frames or hydraulic disc brakes, and such a stand seems to be all the more troubled.
If you’re shopping for your first stand, the clamp-type Park Tool PRS-10 remains high on my list. It’ll last forever, is easy to use, stable and can be found at a great price. I can say similar things for Feedback Sports Consumer stands too.
Moving up to the price of this race stand, you have a few more options, including Park’s Team Issue PRS-25 and the Feedback Sports Pro Elite. Both of which I’ve used extensively and strongly recommend.
If you’re like the WorldTour pro mechanics and set on the compact size of a race stand, along with the way it supports a bike and the cockpit access it gives you, Park’s PRS-22 is an impressively solid choice. It’s built to last a lifetime while holding the bike safely and securely. Despite being a bit of a fiddle to set up, a number of new features make it an easier fit with a wider variety of bikes, including those with power meters and thru-axles. It’s here that it’s clearly an improvement on its predecessors and competitors.
My loyalty still lies with a tube-clamp stand, but the Park Tool PRS-22 is very good, dare I say the best, if you’re set on this style of transportable stand.
Price: US$329.95 / AUD$TBC