There are really only three different types of repair stands: your buddy when he's nice enough to hold the bike up off the ground while you tinker; heavy and expensive shop-quality stands that are super sturdy but aren't designed to be moved, and folding repair stands that are hopefully still sturdy but can be transported easily and don't cost as much as the bike they're made to hold up. Unior's $299 USD BikeGator+ slots into that last category, and at 12.5 pounds it's easy enough to throw it into the back of your truck for a race weekend or road trip.
• Quick-release folding repair stand
• Adjustable height
• Adjustable clamping head
• Height when extended: 66"
• Height when collapsed: 38.5''
• Footprint: 34.2''
• Tool tray w/ replaceable foam organizer
• Maximum load: 66.1 lb
• Manufactured entirely in Europe
• Weight: 12.5lb (w/o tool tray)
• MSRP: $299 USD
The BikeGator+, which Unior says is the only stand manufactured entirely in Europe, features mostly aluminum construction, including both legs, the main upright, and the supports that connect those three pieces. Both the stationary upper and sliding lower quick-release clamps are also aluminum, and all of the hardware is replaceable if need be. Sturdy rubber feet have been stuck on to the ends of both legs, and a thick rubber cap covers the bottom of the main upright, all three being points of contact with the ground. A third quick-release lever is used at the top of the BikeGator+ to hold the steel clamp in place - loosening it allows you to rotate the head to angle your bike up or down as required.
Unior has also come up with a nifty tool tray that slots into the clamp that adjusts the repair stand's height. The tray's metal base sees a foam tool organizer laid over top (it's held on by four bolts), with holes for screwdrivers and hex keys, as well as different sections to keep all of the tiny bits and pieces separate once you've taken them off your bike.
It's been said that being organized is the key to success, so hopefully this keeps you from ending up with leftover parts after you're done with a repair. The tray can also be purchased on its own, just in case you're so unorganized that you manage to lose the organizer.
Arguably the most important part, the clamping head is the business end of a repair stand. Unior's steel unit is fairly basic - there's no spring-loaded mechanism - with a linkage to bring the clamp down onto your bike's seat post. A threaded rod allows it to be adjusted to work with tubes from 24mm to 40mm in diameter, which is a wide enough range for any seat post out there, as well as some frame tubes (be gentle or suffer an embarrassing and costly mistake), and a rubber-coated handle is used for operation. One nice touch is the deep slots in both rubber clamp faces that allow the cable for a dropper seat post to go unmolested so long as you get it lined up correctly. Both the entire clamp and jaws can be purchased on their own.
All of the above adds up to 12.5 pounds, which is much lighter than a beefier stand that's intended for use in a bike shop, and the BikeGator+'s 34.2" footprint is also smaller than many other folding racks that use three legs instead of the Unior repair stand's two leg design. It also folds down to only 38.5'' long, and can easily fit under the bench seat of a vehicle, especially if you remove the quick-release head. Performance
Anyone who's lived with a folding repair stand knows that sometimes you have to push in just the right place to make it transform, and it's no different with the BikeGator+. Giving it a shove on the lower, sliding clamp while pushing or pulling on the legs does the trick, and the whole thing moves smoothly once you get that figured out. You do have to squeeze down on the quick-release clamp pretty firmly to keep it from slowly folding down over time, but a good press of the lever does the trick. Once it's up, the tray simply plugs into two holes on the upper clamp and then you're good to go.
The clamp feels extremely sturdy, which is nice, but the fact that it's not spring-loaded means you have to get the tension just right if you're looking for a snug grip on your seat post. This probably won't be noticeable to most people who will only ever be clamping one bike in the stand, but those who work on other bikes with differently sized seat posts will need to adjust the clamp's tension each time. The steel rod can be turned with just your fingers - no tools are required - and it's easy to do with one hand while holding the bike up with the other.
Once the bike is in the stand, changing its angle was as easy as loosening the top quick-release and rotating it whichever way, but be sure not to pull the bike towards you as you do it or the entire head will pop out of the stand.
Sometimes it's the simplest things that we're so thankful for, and the BikeGator+'s tray is one of those things. Most folding stands don't include a tray, and using one never really popped into my head, but having all of the tools you'll need, as well as a place to put parts is extremely handy when you're in the middle of a repair. This is especially true if you're on a road trip and trying to fix your bike in a parking lot or campsite; sure, you can put stuff on the ground or the tailgate of your truck, but a tray makes things easier and cleaner.
Now we get to the most important part: how stable is the BikeGator+? The dual leg design certainly makes for a smaller overall package, as well as a smaller footprint when it's unfolded (especially important if space is tight in your garage or apartment), but it's also nowhere near as steady as a three leg, folding repair stand. This is especially noticeable on uneven ground when you're outside, and pushing on the bike or bumping into it can send everything tipping over backward. Lowering the height of the stand, as well as tilting it forward, does help this, but the bottom line is that it's not as anchored feeling as I'd like it to be. You'll definitely want put your bike on the ground if you need to crack a bottom bracket or set of pedals loose. Pinkbike’s Take:
|A repair stand is definitely a luxury, but, once you own one, it's also something that you won't know how you ever lived without. The BikeGator+ is certainly better than just leaning your bike up against the wall when you need to work on it, but its unstable two leg design means that there are better options if you aren't pinched for space or won't ever need to move it to a different location. That said, it's a practical, compact repair stand that's best suited to being stashed away in your car or truck for use during race weekends and road trips. - Mike Levy|
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