Topeak PrepStand X Review
Cons: Requires front wheel removal to mount, lots of adapters, expensive
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Prepstand X is one of two "Euro" style stands included in our test. Generally, we find this style of stand a bit less convenient than the more prevalent traditional clamping models. Still, the axle/bottom bracket mounting system is very popular in certain circles. Since ToPeak has an excellent reputation for making quality tools and accessories, we decided we would be remiss to exclude this model from our test. In the process of testing, we found that, while the "Euro" style sacrifices some speed and convenience, the Prepstand X excels in other areas.
Ease of Setup
Out of the box, the Prepstand X is a snap to set up. For the most part, it comes fully assembled other than the bottom bracket pad and strap that attach without any tools needed. From the box to fully set up, it took us about two minutes. Since this is an axle mounting stand, its important to install the correct mounting adapters before attempting to mount your bike. ToPeak includes adapters for quick release as well as 12x100, 15x100, 15x110, and 20x110mm axles. All of the adapters can be a bit of a challenge to keep track of, and ToPeak doesn't provide a storage bag. We recommend having your own storage bag ready to go when you unpack this thing.
Beyond the initial unpacking, the Prepstand X is relatively easy to set up and break down. It involves opening the lowermost quick release lever on the vertical tube and sliding the collar down to unfold the legs, then using the knob at the top of the vertical tube to fold up and slide the mounting bar. From there, you can adjust the height to your preference using the uppermost quick release lever on the vertical tube. We ran the stand through our setup time trial a few times and averaged about twenty seconds. It isn't the quickest stand to set up, but it doesn't take long by any means. Most of your setup time will be spent removing your bike's wheel and adjusting the axle/bottom bracket mounts to fit your bike's length.
The Prepstand X's wide tripod base makes it one of the most stable in our test. With a base diameter of 47.2 inches, the legs never had us concerned about the stand tipping over, and if the bike is secured properly in the stand, it's rock solid. The load capacity is a bit lower than many of the other stands we tested at 37.9 pounds, so we don't recommend this model for E-bikers or heavy downhill bikes. For road and cross bikes, however, the weight limit should be more than enough.
As long as you keep the bike's weight centered over the legs using the sliding mounting beam, you can wrench as hard as you want, spin the bike quickly, or work at a crazy angle without issue. If you're not careful about keeping the bike's weight centered while adjusting the angle, things can get a little bit wobbly, but we never had an issue with this in testing until we actively tried to destabilize the stand.
Due to the nature of the "Euro" style of the Prepstand X, it loses a little ground in the clamp metric. Unlike the majority of stands we tested, Euro-style stands don't use clamping jaws and instead fix the bike at the axle and bottom bracket. As previously stated, this fixture style is a bit more involved than a simple clamp, but it makes sense for riders with high-end aero road and triathlon bikes with oddly-shaped, thin tubes. Clamping stands can damage fragile tubes if you apply too much force, and axle/bottom bracket mounting stands like the Prepstand X eliminate that possibility.
With that explanation out of the way, we'll say that we found the Prepstand's mounting system intuitive and simple to use in the context of axle/bottom bracket mounting stands. Both the axle and bottom bracket fixing locations slide on the horizontal mounting bar using simple clamping levers, making it relatively easy to dial in the mount for your bike's length. The axle mount uses plastic adapters for each axle dimension that are conveniently marked to make picking them out of the pile a little bit easier. The bottom bracket sits on a soft rubber pad and is held in place with a ratcheting strap that runs up and over the down tube. Once you've got the bike mounted in the stand, it is solidly fixed with no wobbling or shaking under hard wrenching efforts.
The Prepstand's mounting system works best for riders who will be consistently working on a single bike or a single type of bike. Not having to swap out axle adapters and adjust the mounting length each time you put a bike in the stand makes this system far easier to use. Throughout testing, we mounted a wide variety of bikes to our test stand, and the process of making sure it was set up correctly each time got a bit tiresome. Additionally, if you're the type to keep up with current cycling trends, you'll know that axle standards are wont to change every few years. While ToPeak includes pretty much any adapter you might need with a modern bike, it's entirely possible that "standards" could soon change and require you to purchase new adapters. It's not the end of the world, but it's something to consider with an axle-mounted stand.
Our biggest concern with the axle/bottom bracket system is the limited mounting length. The horizontal mounting bar only allows for a maximum of roughly 32 inches from the axle mount to the bottom bracket depending on how your bike's bottom bracket is shaped. One of our taller testers found that the axle to bottom bracket length on his enduro bike was too long to mount on this stand. This was a good reminder of the limitations of this system, but we don't anticipate many people will run into this issue. Most high-end road bikes are much shorter than long-travel mountain bikes, so this stand's target user group shouldn't have any issues. Regardless, it's a good idea for taller riders to measure their bike's axle to bottom bracket length before ordering this stand.
Angle adjustment is one area where the Prepstand X has a leg up on the traditional clamping stands. In addition to offering 90 degrees of vertical angle adjustment both forward and backward, this stand allows for 360 degrees of rotation on a horizontal plane. The combined effect of these two adjustments allows you to quickly and easily access any part of the bike without repositioning the bike in the stand or moving the stand itself. We found that this was the biggest benefit of the "Euro" style stand.
The vertical angle adjustment is controlled by a knob at the top of the vertical tube. Loosening the knob allows you to rotate the horizontal mounting beam 90 degrees forward or backward. When the knob is loosened, you can also easily slide the mounting beam fore or aft to keep the bike's weight centered over the tripod base no matter how weird the angle gets. The combination of rotating and sliding the beam proved surprisingly easy even with heavy bikes on the stand. It's an intuitive motion, and the knob allows you to control how easily the bike moves. The horizontal rotation is controlled by a quick-release lever on the vertical tube. Releasing the lever allows the bike to spin freely in the stand, which makes hosing down or scrubbing the bike much more accessible than a traditional clamping stand.
With a height range from 33 to 57 inches, the Prepstand is one of the rangier stands we tried out. The uppermost quick release lever controls the height on the vertical tube, and the action of the tubes is relatively friction-free. Unlike some stands we tried, the upper height limit has a mechanical stop to keep you from pulling the upper tube completely out of the lower one. This adjustment was easy to make and gave us plenty of room to set up the bike at whatever height we needed for a given operation. We found that we could raise or lower with or without a bike on the stand, but we preferred not having to support the bike's weight during the process.
Tipping the scales at just 10.8 pounds, the Prepstand X sits near the bottom of our test's weight range. Add that to the fact that it's folded dimensions are just 33.9"x 9.8"x 6.3", and it clearly stands out as one of the most portable stands out there. We found lugging this thing around incredibly easy, and we were even able to pack it away in a suitcase.
Our only concerns about this stand's portability center on the copious axle mount adapters and the easily-lost bottom-bracket pad. The adapters are hard to keep track of and could be a pain when traveling, and the rubber bottom bracket pad can easily fall off in transport. After having to retrace our steps to find it a few times, we learned to remove the pad before moving the stand anywhere. If you're on top of it, spare pieces aren't an issue, but we've arrived at too many races missing shoes, axles, and helmets to let it go without mention. We're firm believers in minimizing the gear we have to keep track of, and the Prepstand X doesn't exactly help us out. We recommend dedicating a small storage bag to hold the adapters and bottom bracket pad when not in use.
During testing, the traditional seatpost/top tube clamping stands quickly became our go-to models for pre and post-ride maintenance and cleaning. Axle/bottom bracket mounting stands like the Prepstand X proved far less convenient and did not encourage us to keep up with routine bike maintenance. That said, of the two axle/bottom bracket stands we tested, the Prepstand X was the more convenient model with its easy-to-use adapters and rapidly-adjustable mounting locations. Even so, we would only ever really want to use this stand for deep cleanings or more-involved maintenance operations. If you're looking for a stand that will help you stay on top of your bike's daily maintenance, we recommend you look elsewhere.
The Prepstand X costs a pretty penny. It makes a similar wallet dent to the other axle/bottom bracket mounting stand we tested, but it's far more expensive than many viable clamping stands. For riders with high-end, uniquely-shaped frames that they're concerned about damaging, we think this stand provides solid value. If you're looking or this style of stand, ToPeak definitely provides a good product for the price, but for anyone else, we think this style of stand comes up short for the price tag.
Though we think axle/bottom bracket mounted stands are generally more cumbersome to use than the clamping style, we found a lot to like about the Prepstand X. Riders loyal to the "Euro stand' style will find a lot to like here. It's compact, lightweight, portable, and sturdy, and we think it stands out from the pack.
— Zach Wick