Topeak PrepStand Pro Review
Cons: Plastic parts, durability issues, knobs less user friendly than competitors
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The ToPeak PrepStand Pro faced some serious competition in our bike work stand test, and although we liked almost everything about it, it was edged out of the top spot by our top-performing models. That said, we do feel the Prepstand Pro is an excellent work stand that is worthy of a place in anyone's home workshop or their travel bike repair kit. It's one of the most expensive models we tested, but the added price gets you additional features that other brands sell as accessories. The included storage/carrying bag is a feature that virtually everyone can appreciate, and the built-in digital scale is sure to please the gram counting cyclists out there. Heck, we're not the most weight-conscious bunch around, yet we found ourselves weighing all of our bikes just for the fun of it. Read on to find out what we did and didn't love about this excellent work stand.
Ease of Setup
The PrepStand Pro comes fully assembled and zipped into the included storage/carrying bag. After removing it from the bag and familiarizing ourselves with the operation of the stand, we could have it set up and ready to use in right around 20 seconds. That's pretty darn quick, yet the PrepStand Pro was edged out in ease of set up by both the Feedback Sports Pro Elite and the Feedback Sports Classic. Of course, it's only a matter of seconds, and we are definitely splitting hairs here, but the PrepStand Pro is certainly quite easy to set up, just not as quick as some of the competition.
The stand's tripod legs are lowered smoothly and quickly down into the open position by flipping open the large burly aluminum quick release that secures them and sliding them down all the way. The height is adjusted by flipping open the upper aluminum quick release and sliding the upper tube out of the lower/main tube to the desired height. The clamp arm is then folded out into the horizontal/open position by unscrewing and then pulling down on the large spring-loaded metal collar that secures it in place and folding the arm up from the vertical/closed position. The large metal collar is then tightened back down to secure the arm in the horizontal/open position. The clamp is controlled by tightening and loosening a knob on the front of the clamp, while the angle of the clamp arm is adjusted by using the large knob at the back of the clamp arm.
The PrepStand Pro took top honors for stability with 28-inch long tripod legs that gave it the largest footprint of any model we tested. This wide stance, coupled with generous soft rubber feet, provided great grip and stability on a variety of surfaces. As was the case with all the stands we tested, stability increased as the height decreased. This stand is only rated to hold 55 lbs, however, which is among the lowest of all the stands in this test.
It was only slightly more stable than our overall winner, the Feedback Sports Pro Elite, due to the slightly longer length of the legs. We also found that stands with only two legs, like the Park Tools PCS-10.2 and the Bike Hand YC-100BH, couldn't match the stability of the tripod style stands. We were impressed with how solid the moving parts of the PrepStand Pro felt, with large and durable aluminum quick-release levers securing the legs and height adjustment, and a beefy metal collar supporting the clamp arm.
The clamp of the PrepStand Pro is one metric where it lost a little ground to the competition. The jaws accommodate tubes from 0.75 to 2 inches in diameter. In contrast, the clamp of the Park Tools PCS-10.2 and the Bike Hand YC-100BH open up to 3 inches. Despite opening smaller than some of its competitors, we found this range to be adequate for all of the bikes in our quiver, even the big carbon top tubes of our all-mountain bikes.
The jaws of the clamp are made from a very dense non-marking rubber, which we found to be a bit less grippy than some of the others, but we were still able to clamp down on any surface securely. Our gripe with the clamp of the PrepStand Pro has to do with the knob used to tighten and loosen it. The knob of the PrepStand Pro's clamp has been improved over the version we previously tested by adding a fold-out lever designed to give the user a little more leverage. This knob, while effective, required significantly more turning to open and close than others in the test. It works, but others work faster and more efficiently, like the slide-lock clamp on the Feedback Sports Classic, or the ratcheting quick release clamp of the Feedback Sports Pro Elite.
Like the other clamp style work stands in our test selection, the PrepStand Pro offers a full 360 degrees of clamp arm adjustment. The angle adjustment is controlled by a large knob on the back end of the clamp arm that engages and disengages a circular set of indexed plastic teeth, similar to the adjustment found on the Bike Hand YC-100BH.
We found this angle adjustment to hold the clamp arm securely in position when tightened adequately, but we remain somewhat suspect of the durability of the plastic teeth, which we feel will be prone to wear if adjustments are made carelessly. It is possible to adjust the angle of the PrepStand Pro with a bike in the stand, but extra caution should be taken to prevent damage to these plastic teeth. We found the smoother and simpler non-indexed angle adjustment of the Feedback Sports Classic and the Park Tool Team Issue to be more user-friendly and confidence-inspiring.
The height adjustment of the PrepStand Pro is one of the features of this work stand that really impressed us. With an adjustment range of 48 to 72 inches, we were able to position our bike at a height that was convenient for a variety of tester's preferences and any repair or maintenance task we could think of. The height was easily and smoothly adjusted by opening the large aluminum quick release and sliding the upper tube up or down within the lower/main tube. The thick and burly quick-release levers used on the PrepStand Pro gave us an additional sense of confidence when using this stand and always held it in place securely. ToPeak also built in a unique air-cushioned feature to the height adjustment of this stand, which prevents the stand from free-falling when the quick release is opened, potentially preventing unwanted damage to your bike or your fingers.
The durable quick release and air-cushioned drop were the two most impressive aspects of the height adjustment. Both the Feedback Sports Classic and Pro Elite offer a larger range of height adjustment, 42 to 71 inches, but a slightly lower maximum height.
With a weight of 13.67 lbs, the PrepStand Pro is by no means heavy, but it is a little over 3 lbs heavier than the lightest models in our test. When fully collapsed for storage or travel, it folds down to a size of 48.5 x 7 inches, a few inches taller than the smallest competition.
When collapsed, everything is held securely in place with the quick release levers and the threaded collar. Despite the slightly heavier weight and larger collapsed size of the PrepStand Pro, the addition of the included storage/carrying bag proved beneficial to its portability. The zippered bag has two nylon shoulder straps, which make it easy to carry around, and being enclosed in the bag prevents it from snagging on things in your storage area or when packed into your vehicle. The Feedback Sports Classic and Pro Elite are both somewhat smaller and lighter, but neither comes with the added convenience of a storage bag.
The Topeak PrepStand Pro is well suited to everyday maintenance. The clamp can and will accommodate virtually any type and size of bike, up to 55 lbs.
Leave it set up in your garage, or break it down after each use. The quick setup of this stand, about 20 seconds in our setup time trials, makes it no problem to pull out at a moment's notice. We did find it to be slightly less convenient to use for everyday maintenance than our Overall Award winner, the Feedback Sports Pro Elite, due to its less user-friendly clamp design, which requires significantly more knob turning and time to secure a bike. It is important to note that these gripes are based on the comparison, and using this work stand is quite easy.
The PrepStand Pro has come down in price since the last time we tested it, but it's still one of the most expensive stands in our test. With extras like the built-in digital scale and an included storage bag, we feel that this still represents a good value to the right consumer. Extras like these come at an additional cost from other brands, and can certainly improve the user's experience. The scale is an interesting feature that many riders and especially racers will appreciate, and the storage/carry bag was universally loved among our testers. We are skeptical of the durability of the stand's many plastic parts, but it is backed by a two-year warranty, with a one year warranty on the electronic components.
We found the ToPeak PrepStand Pro to be a very sturdy, lightweight, portable, and generally well-designed work stand that comes standard with features like a digital scale and a storage/carrying bag. It is our opinion that weight-conscious, gram counting riders will get the most out of this great product with the ability to weigh bikes and components in your garage or on the road. We remain slightly skeptical of the durability of this stand's many plastic parts, but if you're the type who takes great care of your things — and if you're buying a $300 work stand, you probably are — then we feel this is an excellent option.
Other Versions and Accessories
ToPeak makes a wide range of bike-related accessories, including bags, baskets, child carriers, saddles, and tools. They also offer several bike work stands, including one very similar to the Pro version that we tested. The Elite is basically the same stand, with a small parts box included instead of a digital scale, and at a cheaper price. ToPeak also makes several optional accessories for the repair stands, including a tool tray, handlebar stabilizer, and scale upgrade kit.
— Jeremy Benson