Take a stroll through the pits of any professional road race and you’ll only see mechanics working with cradle-type repair stands. These stands differ from those with a tube clamp commonly found in bike shops in that they support the bike from beneath, and the only part of the bike that is clamped are the wheel dropouts. 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 and are better suited to 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 Dave Rome has been putting this stand (and the previous iteration) through its paces.
Starting from the base, the PRS-22.2 uses a wide-legged folding tripod design. In the case of this light 5.51kg 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. It’s now wider with a more versatile system of clamps for frame and fork dropouts that can be easily adjusted to suit a range of wheelbases and bottom bracket shapes.
Without question, the closest competitor for this stand is the Feedback Sports Sprint from 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$270/AUD$410/£300, the Feedback stand is cheaper than the PRS-22.2, which sells for US$340/AUD$550/£300, but it is a more basic offering. In both cases, carry bags for the stands are sold separately.
Folding into use
Fully folded, the PRS-22.2 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 then have two quick release collars to adjust. The first adjusts a collar on the sliding shaft of the stand, which when closed, causes a firm stop which prevents the stand from dropping in height. With this, stand rotation is now left solely to the lower quick release lever, and can be left completely open for easy swiveling without fear of the bike sinking in height, or closed to stop the bike from spinning. Both quick releases are quite large, but the lower one is perhaps counter-sunk a little too neatly, making it tough to undo if tight. My solution is 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, bottom bracket-mounted drivetrain batteries or older 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, made more difficult since the bike needs to be held out of the way, or removed from the stand altogether.
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, home mechanics may find a workstand with a tube clamp offers more utility (more on this below).
While it’s possible to clamp the rear of the bike to work on a headset or adjust/bleed a front brake, the majority of road bike owners will probably only ever clamp the fork. Removing either wheel to work on a bike can be a bit of a hassle (another point in favour of workstand with a tube clamp), but removing a front wheel is always the easier of the two.
PRS-22 vs PRS-22.2
The PRS-22.2 is nearly identical to the PRS-22 stand that we originally reviewed April 2017. The most notable update concerns the height and swivel collar. Previously, this was a single plastic piece with two quick-release levers, and now, it is two separate pieces. It’s a fix that Park has “borrowed” from its closest work stand competitor, Feedback Sports, and it’s a welcome change. In our original review, we found this collar fiddly to use and not all that secure.
In addition to the updated clamp, Park state they have tightened the tolerances between the pivot bracket and the beam bracket. This too, is a welcome change, since the original design, as evident in my sample, is prone to a light knocking during use as the stand’s beam tilted back and forth (which occurred even when the central clamp was torqued up tightly).
For owners of the PRS-22, they can obtain the updated height and swivel collar by ordering parts #2707.2 (US$21.80) and #2737 (US$16.40). At this stage, there is no (cheap) way to replace the beam hinge for the newer version with a tighter tolerance.
Wrenching on the PRS-22.2
Once the PRS-22.2 is configured to suit a bike, it takes about 30 seconds to remove the wheel and install the bike on the stand, which is plenty quick for most home mechanics.
On flat ground, the tripod stand is very stable, with little risk of toppling. If you’re out in the garden or working at the races where the ground is uneven, 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 base.
The PRS-22.2 is really well suited to working in tight quarters, and provided the tripod is secure, and the bike well balanced, the bike remains secure when making forceful adjustments or removing tight components. It’s a different sensation compared to a regular clamp stand, where the bike can bounce and bob around the point of attachment.
For those looking for more security, a rubberised strap is supplied with the stand for securing the downtube to the stand. This will stop the bike from lifting at the bottom bracket but it can get in the way. I found it was more useful for keeping everything together when the stand was folded up for storage.
The stand also works well for cleaning bikes, and for most buyers, this is when it will get most of its use. The bike can be positioned at a good working height (76cm-114cm) then rotated as required to keep the spray and muck from flicking back on the mechanic. In this regard, the new adjustment collar for the PRS-22.2 is a great addition because it is easier to use and more effective than the original design.
Having used the PRS-22 for over a year, there are just two aspects that stand out as weaknesses. The first is that play in the center post mentioned above, which no amount of torque on the clamp can remove. If Park has managed to eliminate this with their new tolerances for the revised PRS-22.2, then I’ll be ready to cheer. At the moment, I haven’t been able to test this aspect of the updated stand but I’ll provide an update once I have.
The other shortcoming concerns the steel bolts that hold the bottom bracket cradle pads in place. After a year of use, they now have some surface rust on them, which is unsurprising given that water always ends up pooling in this area when a bike is washed. It’s an obvious oversight, but at least it’s an easy fix with a new set of stainless steel bolts (I’d recommend paying more for marine-grade bolts, just to be sure).
Bottom bracket cradle or tube clamp?
For me, as a home user, this was the main question I had when reviewing the first PRS-22, and then the PRS-22.2. Would I buy this over a workstand with a tube clamp?
The benefits of a cradle-type repair stand, like the PRS-22.2, are pretty obvious. The bike is extremely stable and well supported, something that’s especially important for the latest generation of ultra-light (or weirdly shaped) composite 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. Additionally, the working footprint is noticeable smaller, which is essential for working in cramped spaces (like a small shed or an apartment balcony). Lastly, these kind of stands provide a convenient point of reference for handlebar and saddle adjustments, so there’s plenty to like.
Still, my preference still sits with tube clamps (for grabbing the seatpost, never the frame). To start with, it is much quicker and easier to install the bike in the stand. This is something that has become more noticeable as disc brakes have become widespread. The latest wide-opening and stubby clamps will also work on just about all aero and weirdly shaped seatposts, so it only ever takes a moment to get the bike off the ground. Plus, there’s little risk in (gently) clamping a carbon seatpost.
This alone probably accounts for why work stands with tube clamps are preferred by mechanics at MTB and CX races. I also appreciate the fact that it is easy to adjust the working angle of the bike. This is not always necessary but it can be the secret when working on internally cabled frames or hydraulic disc brakes.
If you’re shopping for your first stand, then you’ll find that stands with tube clamps are also cheaper than the PRS-22.2. Park Tool’s PRS-10 is built around a tube clamp and it remains high on my list of recommendations. Not only is it quite affordable, it is easy to use, stable, and it’ll last forever. I can say similar things for Feedback Sports entry-level stands too.
Moving up to the price of PRS-22.2, there are a few more options with tube clamps, 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 WorldTour pro mechanics and like the compact size and support of a cradle-type workstand that has a convenient carousel function for spinning the bike around, then Park’s PRS-22.2 is an impressively solid choice. It will provide a sure and secure hold on most bikes (tandems are a different story) while providing a great working height, and it’s built to last a lifetime.
Despite being somewhat of a fiddle to set up, a number of new features means this stand will accommodate a wider variety of bikes, including those with power meters and thru-axles. My loyalty still lies with stands that have tube clamps, but the Park Tool PRS-22.2 is very good — dare I say the best — if you’re set on this style of transportable stand.
Price: US$329.95 / AUD$550