Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Bike Washing Pro Style.

Like my last post, this is a topic that has being discussed and You Tubed a thousand times, but most of what I have seen is disorganised and poor technique. The thing with cleaning a bike is all down to technique, a good technique will make it easier with great results. I don't like to inflate my ego but the word often going around was that I always have the cleanest bikes in the peleton.

The washing of the bike is a crucial part in the functionality of the bike, simply put, a clean bike works better. This is the main reason why on teams that bikes are washed every day, to keep them in good working order because as we are washing and cleaning we are looking for problems which may arise. There is two stages to cleaning a bike. The first is degreasing and washing, the second stage is cleaning and lubing, the latter is the more important stage. NO! it is not just a case of splash some degreaser on the chain, hose the bike off and your done, that is the worst you can do. YES! you can use water on your bike, it won't hurt it. However, years ago we were taught that water and the components of a bike do not mix. In a way this was true, but not so much now days. I remember when I was younger cleaning my bike with just a damp cloth, little bit of petrol on the chain and cassette and then drying it all off, wiping a spoke at a time so they would shine. Back then the frames were steel, so rust corrosion was an issue, and on the likes of a non racing bike, almost everything was steel as alloy parts were just more of a price increase and really only for serious racing bikes. Also back then, before the days of sealed cartridge bearings, it was a lot of work to fully service the bike. Wash it with water too often would mean more work to pull apart the headset, bottom bracket and hubs for a regrease. Now days with the sealed bearings, carbon fibre frames and good quality alloys, washing a bike is more acceptable to water with the likes of headsets and bottom brackets which are both quick and easy to replace or regrease.
You should wash your bike at minimum once a week. If your a guy that races every weekend, always the day before the race and then usually after the race, just to take off all the sweat and energy drink spillage. You really want to avoid the chain, cassette and derailleur wheels from building up with too much grease and dirt, this will not only decrease the way your gears should shift but will rapidly decrease the life of these components. If you leave it too long it will take you twice as long to wash and clean, do it every week and by using the following method it should take only 1 hour at the most. I do a bike from start to finish in about 40-45mins including checking gears etc.

So the first thing you will need to wash your bike, the Pro way, is a workstand. This allows you to work efficiently on the bike. Now a couple of posts ago I posted on the new Tacx stand, in Europe all the mechanics use this type of stand because of the ability to rotate the bike as you work. The clamp style version you cannot do this but any stand is better than struggling to wash the bike on the ground.
The second thing you need is all the items to was the bike, sponge, brushes, cleaners, lubes etc etc. Below you can see all the items I use to wash and clean a bike, and I will go through these items. You don't necessarily need all the fancy bike specific brushes, however they are designed for cleaning bikes, but just some normal household items will also work.

As you can see above I have a nice big bucket of soapy water, I like it soapy. I see many Belgian mechanics that fill up the bucket then put the soap in, which results in not very soapy water, or they let it sit there so long all the soap suds disappear. I hate it. But you can't tell them any other way. If using a standard hose then a good trigger nozzle is of great use, and decent water pressure is a must. This is why so many pro mechanics use high pressure washers, but I'll go into that later. To the right of the bucket I have my soap liquid which is just a normal dish washing liquid, yes, if it is good enough for your dishes it is good enough for your bike. A car wash liquid is also good but more expensive. The white bottle of Cif ( aka Jif) is a handy item for cleaning white bar tape or white logos on the frame. Next is my Morgan Blue (the best ever) chain cleaner solution, a small bottle of Morgan Blue Syn Lube, Morgan Blue Race Oil spray, a selection of towels for different areas and stages of cleaning the bike, a hand mitt wash cloth or a sponge is often the preferred choice (the small sponge I sometimes use on the chain) and then a selection of brushes. The grey one is a normal kitchen brush which I use under the brake callipers and the hubs because of it's curved shape, then I have a Morgan Blue Wheel brush which I use to brush over all the components as well as the wheels. Then just a chain brush which is Morgan Blue but a normal paint brush will also work, just be sure the density of the brush is not too soft. Also there is a chain keeper, this will help you clean the chain properly with the rear wheel out and lastly an old bidon with the top cut off to be filled with the chain cleaner.

So at the end of this post is a video of me washing a bike while in between races in Belgium, but first I will explain a few details of the process as there is no commentary and only demonstrates the first stage and not the second cleaning stage.
But first a little bit about pressure washers. Basically, avoid them if you can. If you have good water pressure from the tap combined with a decent trigger gun then that is enough. We use Hi Pressure washers on the teams for a number of reasons.
1) It is quicker. When you have 6 or 8 bikes to wash in a short time just so you can go get dinner before the riders eat absolutely everything, a pressure washer sure makes the work quicker, but so does two mechanics apposed to just one.
2) With so many teams at a hotel the water pressure from a standard hose can be very dismal, all teams washing bikes and all running washing machines. Often from just one water outlet does not provide much to go around.
3) The bikes are serviced very regular, with me, if a cable or a headset does not feel right it is replaced. On the pro teams bikes are often stripped and rebuilt a couple of times a season.
team parking lot during this years Tour des Fjords
in Stavanger, Norway.

If using a pressure washer try not to point it directly at the bearing parts like the headset or bottom bracket for long periods, just give that are a quick couple of sprays and you should be fine. But just be prepared to maybe every now and then fork out some cash to replace these parts. Now headsets these days don't require much grease but giving them a reasonable coating of a good quality grease like Morgan Blue's Aquapasta can prolong the life of them. Also using much higher quality items can last much longer.

So your bucket is full, the bike is in the stand, you have all the gear and ready to start washing. Now you might think to give the bike a quick spray as a kind of presoak wash, NO, don't do this, it's not the car your washing. The rear wheel should be out, this will give you good access to clean in and around the rear brake, rear derailleur and the rear triangle of the frame. Install the chain keeper and adjust the chain alignment so it runs smooth, always on the large chainring. Take your cut off bidon filled with chain cleaner, put in the seat tube bidon holder just like the pros. Start with degreasing the brake callipers, then around the shifters. Then move onto the front derailleur, rear derailleur, chainrings/bottom bracket area and then the chain. You can also give the pedals a quick brush over as dirt can build up in the spring mechanism and on the axle around the crank arm. There is no need to be gentle with the brush, being firm with it will achieve a better result, it's not a Picasso your painting with that brush. That is why to be sure not to get one with too softer bristles. Now if this is all done when the bike is already wet it will not degrease as well, so do it when the bike is dry, yes even muddy. Don't forget to also degrease your cassette, I don't do the wheels in the video because I had done them all the day before. Then what you do is hose all the degreaser off, components and frame.

TIP; if not using a pressure washer, degrease the chain by brushing it in an area on the large chainring. You will need to brush it quite firm but by doing on the large chainring there is no movement of the chain, because you need to brush on the side cleaning all the outer edges of each link, outside and inner side and finally run the brush along the top as I do in the video.
degreasing the brake callipers keeps them free from
road and brake grime.

Then take some kind of firm bristled brush (In the video I'm using a Morgan Blue Cassette brush), dip it in your bucket and clean the chain, brakes, derailleurs, pedals and cassette. This will wash off any remaining dirt. DO NOT use your sponge for the frame on the components, use it only for the frame so it stays reasonably clean.

Next take your hand mitt or sponge and soap up the frame. I start on the top tube, seat, handlebars and then slowly work my way around the frame by going along the top and then down the front fork then all along the left side, up the seat stay, down the seat stay on the right side then along the right side back to the front fork, or something like that. Working to a similar routine reduces the chance of missing any areas. Pay attention to areas like the dropouts, bottom bracket and at the fork crown, areas where dirt builds up even in nice weather. As I said, it's all about technique.
Let all that sit while you soap up the wheels with the wheel brush, washing rims will remove all the brake residue and use the kitchen brush to clean around the hubs. Brush quickly over the spokes as these can be cleaned further in the next stage.
Then it's time to hose everything off.

Now if that went well you should have a chain looking like the right image below. These photos were from a different day when I was at home servicing the bikes where I just used a standard hose, no pressure washer. So I use the method of degreasing the chain in the area on the larger chainring as I mentioned in the tip above, brushing up and down but also horizontally in order to clean the inner links.

Now the important part comes, cleaning and lubing. If you do not have a small air compressor then go get one right now. An air compressor is the secret to a clean working bike. This will flush out any remaining grit that may be left in small areas like in brakes or derailleurs. It will also blow out any remaining water to avoid any contamination. So go ahead and blow all those greasy components as well as bolts on stems and also seat clamps.

With all the water blown out from every nook and cranny you can now take the spray lube and relube all the compontents. Spray the shifters, derailleurs and brakes, but be sure to cover the brake pads with a cloth, also a bit on the pedals. Let all that sit for a moment while you dry off the frame with a clean cloth that is only used on the frame. Take a separate cloth to clean the components. This is because it will catch any remaining dirt so you do not want to use that to dry your frame. You should have a cloth for drying the frame, one for drying the components and one for the wheels. Yes that reminds me, once the frame is done then do your wheels, drying the rims, hubs and not forgetting the spokes, as you may have missed some of these in the wash process. Washing the spokes is not easy but it is easy to clean them when drying them properly.
Then you can take another cloth to apply some polish to the frame. A bit of polish on the frame will protect the paint a little and make it easier to wash next time.

If you have some white logos you can take a tiny amount of Cif on a clean cloth and rub it gently on the areas needed. This will take away any grease stained areas on the frame, especially on matte finished frames. On the Ridley Helium I wash you will notice small highlights of white, so I use it on those areas when they still look dirty after the wash because the matte finish is hard to get clean after some days in the rain.

Lastly, put your rear wheel back in, lube the chain, a quick check of your gears and brakes and your all set to go, on one clean machine.

Happy riding

Monday, 27 October 2014

The Art of Bar Tape

I know this has being done a hundred times but I thought I would give my take on it. The wrapping of bar tape, sounds simple, but is it really? Bar tape is one thing on the bike your average cycling enthusiast can struggle with. For some, it is sometimes more difficult than a gear adjustment. Most repair work requires special tools, but not bar tape, just a pair of scissors. So fitting bar tape should seem fairly straight forward then, right? Well it is actually not that simple. There is an art to it and the reason some struggle is because of, or rather lack of, practice. Wrapping tape is all down to technique, which you get with practice, it’s that simple. Some will say there will be a right way and a wrong way to wrap tape. You'll realize this by watching a few You Tube videos, in the comment section readers will write stating the procedure being done is wrong, I believe there is no real wrong method, just bad technique. I started wrapping my own bars around the age of 14, so since then I have wrapped a hell of a lot of bars, which is now something I could probably manage with my eyes closed, but I will never attempt doing  as attention to detail is what it is all about.

right side bar wrapped outside to inside. 
In my view, the proper way to wrap bars is to start at the drop and tape towards the stem. A good example of a video the way I do it, is a clip by the Global Cycling Network (GCN) http://www.globalcyclingnetwork.com/videos/sec-how-to/how-to-change-bar-tape-wrap-your-bars-like-a-pro/  Try not confuse yourself with watching too many videos as the variety of methods people use might differ. Although most do it fairly much the same way of drop to stem,  the difference is in the direction, as some go inside to outside rather than like me outside to inside. Either way will work given the right technique, but either method is not necessarily right or wrong. My reason for outside to inside is because when a rider is on the drops, they tend to sit naturally with the wrists rolled slightly inwards, thus tighten the tape. In some videos though they think this is the opposite, force is put to the outside of the bar. But I don’t know any elite rider that sits with wrists rolled outward, or even puts that much force to the bars outside edge.  At the end of the day wrap your bars any way you please, like I said there is no real wrong way despite what some might say. But I believe the way I wrap is the right way. If you have gaps, bulges, unevenness or the tape unwraps after a couple of rides, you have clearly done something wrong. The way I wrap bars is just the way I was taught but all the mechanics I know in the pro circles wrap the same way as I do. Us race mechanics don’t use any fancy tricks either, just get the tape on quick and proper because most likely in a week or so it will be changed anyway.

bars wrapped stem to drop.
Another wrap style is to start at the stem but with this method it will leave the tape with a kind of against the grain feeling under your hands, imagine a cheese grater sort of feel. On the top it will start to curl up on the edges as your hands push against the wrap of the tape. Wrapping from drop to stem will give a much smoother feeling under the hands as the grain runs away from the hands. But some guys wrap this way so they don’t have to use the finishing tape, but the finish tape gives the opportunity for a bit of customizing. The only time I would use this stem to drop method is on bars that have a large flat top section, in where you might want to show a bit of carbon. 

 Then there is the little piece that goes around the shifter, use it or don't use it. You may hear the term figure8, which relates to the tape going around the shifter body a particular way . Now the shifter is probably the most difficult part and it is easier to use the little strip. The figure8 method can be tricky on current shifters, more so for a beginner wrapper. A few videos will say you don’t need the small strip of tape, but on these videos you will notice most are wrapping around an older Shimano (usually 7800 type) style shifter. This type of shifter is easy to do the figure8 method without creating much bulk because the shifter body dimensions are quite small. Shifters now days have a much larger body profile to achieve a flat transition from hood to bar, so the figure8 method is a little harder to master in order to get a result with no gaps. To do a figure8 with no gaps can create more bulk than if you just used the little strip. On the very few videos that do wrap over newer shifters using the figure8, you might also notice they never show you the inside of the shifter, because this is the area where you will most likely have a gap. Not saying it can’t be done, but you can achieve a nice finish much easier by using the small strip, just because you use it won’t mean it’s not pro, however a nice finish will be pro.

The selection of tape you choose can also make the wrap process easier, If your new to wrapping tape, don’t go with something like a Microtex tape such as the Fi’zi:k. This is a really nice tape but for the beginner but to achieve a nice finish might be difficult, leaving you possibly in a rage of frustration. It is better to choose a good quality cork tape, something with a bit of elasticity so you have a bit of stretch to shape it as you’re wrapping. A tape with Gel backing is comfortable but is more crucial to get the wrapping tension technique just right as some have not much of an adhesive backing , which you might find it coming loose in a day or so. A tape with an adhesive backing is a better option for a beginner. There is a huge variety of different brands and types and it will all come down to personal choice, but if wrapping tape for the first time then just try to keep it simple. When you get the technique down pat you can move onto more complex tapes.

here I could use white tape, but I had a black seat and a white
bar and stem, so black was a better option.
Color will also be a huge factor, and this is where no matter how perfectly you wrapped the tape, if the tape doesn’t tie in with the bike it will look wrong. Black or white is probably the most popular on all bikes these days with other colors not as common anymore, as it was in say the 90’s. Back in the old days the tape choice could always match the color of the decals on the frame. In the 80’s white was very pro. Now days most bikes will either accept white or black unless it’s an old school celeste colored Bianchi. For me there are 3 major rules to white tape, 1; white should only be selected if it suits your bike. 2; you’re prepared to clean it regularly or 3; you’re prepared to fork out the cash to replace it often. Dirty white tape is a big no no and extremely not pro. A simple guideline to remember would be white frame decals =white tape, but also keep in mind, white tape white seat, black seat black tape. Just look at all the Pro Tour bikes this season, tape and seat always matching, with the exception of Belkin. White tape has always been the pro look but now more Pro Tour teams are going to black tape as it saves time in the washing process, a majority of teams now use black. 

Before you start you’re wrapping, be sure to have all the necessary items to do the job close by. This includes scissors and finishing tape. If you have a Pin Spanner or Peg Clamp then they are useful to hold the tape in place if you need to let it go. It is easier to have the bike in a workstand, but don’t have the bars too high up, lower the bike into a position so you stand a little over the bar. This will give you good control during the wrapping process. Always start with a nice clean dry bar and be sure the cables are in good condition and taped neatly together. This might differ if routing the shift cable at the rear of the bar like on Campagnolo, as the shift cable may be positioned at the back of the bar while the brake cable is at the front. Now is also a good time to check the length, long cables just look ugly as well as increase friction.

So now it’s time for some wrapping. Start on the underside of the bar leaving about ½ of the tape so it overhangs the end of the bar, gently apply some tension on the tape while wrapping in towards the bike (known as outside to inside) at a slight angle. You might hear this as a 35 or 45 degree angle, but I really don’t know where they come up with that number.  If you take the right side of the bar for example and look from behind, following the direction of the tape wrapping, the angle of the tape is more like 15 degrees, but looking from side on, it’s more like 75-80 degrees. Anyway, this is not a mathematics class, so just put the tape at a slight angle. By the time the first wrap is done, because of the angle of the wrap you should have only about 5mm overhanging where it meets the start of the tape. Continue wrapping by keeping gentle tension (no need to over stretch it) and the slight angle on the tape, overlapping the tape each time by about 1/3, only do about 3 or 4 wraps for now, you can use the pin spanner to keep the tape in place. Then what I suggest you do is place the end plug in already. Most will leave this step til the very end, but for a beginner, now is a good time to place it in. Here is why. If you wrap the bar completely and then find you had too much or too little overhang when you started, the plug will not have the correct amount of resistance for a snug fit, resulting in the plug falling out. If you just do 3 or 4 wraps then there is no need to unwrap all the tape to correct it. The fit of the plug can depend much on the type of tape and type of plug, so get the fit right before going too far. Now I did mention it was an attention to detail thing, what I do is turn the plug in the direction of the tape as I put it in. This I find gives it a bit more bite to stay in, and of course with the plugs logo facing the correct way up.

Every wrap of the bar you want to focus on keeping the look of each wrap nice and even. Also keep an eye on any gaps or bulges that may appear on the underside of the bar, especially in the bend. Bulges will easily appear with a tape that has not much stretch in it. It is IMPORTANT to keep constant tension on the tape as you wrap.

As you near the shifter, you want to finish no more than 1cm below the shifter body. Then use the Pin Spanner to hold the tape while you cut the small strip piece to cover the shifters band clamp. A tidy trick is to cut this small piece flush with the shifter body as in the GCN video, going over the body can create a little extra bulk and may cover holes in which the hood cover pushes into. But it is not a big deal to just trim it back a little. Place the strip so the bottom edge lines up with the bottom edge of the shifter body. With the small strip in place, continue the wrapping by going under the shifter body so you have half of the tape on the bar while the other half on the shifter body. REMEMBER, keep constant tension.

Then go behind the bar and over the top of the shifter body. The direction of wrapping should now be towards the rear of the bike. This is so when riding on the top of the bars the hand pressure tightens the tape as you naturally roll your wrists downward. So for now just wrap the tape another 3 times, use the Pin Spanner to hold the tape so you can pull back the hood cover to check if there are any gaps before continuing.
before pulling back the hood I will trim the clamp strip
so it does not cover any holes or look so bulky.

As you wrap into the bend of the bar, the area of the tape at the front of the bar should become narrow while the outside area remains the same consistent spacing as the rest of the wrap. It is in this bend where hand pressure is very common and often where the tape will separate, so tension on the tape is important.
As you come out of the bend, a couple of wraps will be straight but then continue at the 15 degree angle (towards the stem) and do not keep wrapping straight.

You want to finish the tape where the bar starts to taper out, or where the logo starts. I aim to finish the tape about 40-50mm from the stem, try to get the other side exactly the same so they look even. If it’s not even it will not only look shit but will give you an illusion the bar is not mounted in the center.
Do not cut the tape on the wrong side otherwise you will get the wrong finish. Cut the tape perpendicular to the stem, so that's the inner edge of the tape. The cut should be long enough (about 70-80mm) that it does a complete lap of the bar. To get a real clean look the trick is to now get the tip of tape to finish underneath the bar, you can cut a small tip off if needed.

the cut edge in on the right side
Now to finishing the tape off, this is the final touch to get it looking right. First, it’s again about the right color, here though you can get away with a touch of real color other than just black or white. For example, if you have red highlights on the frame you can maybe use a red finish tape. Use a good quality electrical tape that is of reasonable width. Always wrap the finishing tape in the same direction as the bar tape. If you managed to end the bar tape on the underside of the bar, start your finish tape here also, this is better for a smooth look on top of the bar. Overhang the finish tape by just a millimeter or two, give it a slight bit of tension and as you wrap it around, the slight overhang will curl over to cover the cut edge of the bar tape. Once all the way around then release the tension and wrap the finish tape around 2-3 more times. Do not make the finish tape too much wider than its original width, as that is wrong and just looks ugly. I see many mechanics do this and it just screams unprofessional, as it is not the finish tape that holds the bar tape in place, it's the tension you used in the wrapping process. 
Then cut the tape off at an angle so it is easier to locate when the time comes to replace the tape.

Then that's a wrap, you have finished wrapping your bars, and if all done correctly you will have a tape that looks pro and will stay on without unwinding itself.

Below is a video I did some time ago for team sponsors, here I use the figure8 method. It was just on a mobile so quality is not that great and I am the first to admit I’m not the clearest talker.

Happy riding

Friday, 17 October 2014

The New Tacx Workstand

I was well overdue for a new workstand having had the previous one for 8 seasons. The Tacx Spider Team is a widely used stand throughout team mechanics, some by sponsor deals and some by choice like me. Tacx's new stand was designed with the help of pro team mechanics, so my expectations were high. My old Spider Team T3050 was a good reliable workstand, I only had to once replace the front fork mount due to it breaking when the stand blew over in a really strong gust of wind. Other than that, the one bad point I would have to pick on about the old stand was the horizontal base in which the bike sat on, this is changed with the new T3350 version, plus a extra benefit thrown in.

A workstand is a vital workshop tool for doing bike repairs properly and hassle free, it makes also washing a bike much easier. In Europe the fork mount type stand is just about used by every mechanic, but I notice in the US, mechanics will use more often a clamp mount type like Tacx's Spider Professional model. In my opinion, I prefer the fork mount type as the bike is much more stable to work on and no worrying about crushing carbon tubes or scratching paint. This said, a clamp mount style is good when you have a variety of bikes to work on, as a shop does for example. The other benefit is being able to leave both wheels in, this is handy when say bleeding or working on front disc brakes like on mountain bikes, and is why this type of stand is common with mtb mechanics. But if I was to set up my workshop, I would take the top part of my new Spider Team and just mount it on a pole that is then welded to a steel plate, similar to the Park Tools PRS-23. I would set this up in a wash area and also in the workshop. Then I would have a stand like Park's PRS-3 OS-2 to work on mountainbikes to make working on the front disc easier.

The new T3350 is a light stand, I weighed mine in at 4.18kg. The light weight is always an issue with stability, but this stand has a wide foot stance, and with the back and forth adjustability of the top tube you can really fine tune the stability. Tacx state the new design is also to help shed dirt build up thanks to the triangular construction, but also the material finish feels different which I think will aid in the dirt just washing off easier instead of sticking to the surface, time will tell though as it is light silver in color. As with Tacx all the parts on this stand are also replaceable, so if anything breaks it's good to know you can replace just the faulty part. I will note that the stand is no longer height adjustable as it is fixed, I would have therefore liked the main tube maybe a tad longer to give just a touch more height.

The fork mount holders seem fairly solid, but the levers are slim and feel as though they may break if you adjust them too tightly. You want tension just at the half way point similar to a quick release. I do like the bottom bracket craddle, it is much longer than on the previous stand which is a benefit to flat shaped brackets found on TT bikes. It is also now two separate arms that overhang out the rear with a good hollow depth to allow for bikes with Di2 or SRM sensors The separated cradle also means if you put on a bike with a shorter wheelbase the rear wheel can slot between the two arms rather than hit the stand like it used to on the old one.

The best idea on this stand that makes it different to other stands of the same type, is the tilt function of the top tube. Most stands are a fixed top tube at a slight upward angle that levels the bike as if it were on the ground. Or the top tube is fixed in a horizontal position like the previous Spider Team. While most stands just lock into place this stand's top tube can not only be adjusted backwards and forwards but also tilted backwards or forwards. This is great when you have to work on shifters or a rear derailleur for example, because you can put the area you need to work on at the right height. This I guess makes up for the stand not being height adjustable but I still would have liked a tad more height from that main tripod tube, and I'm not a tall person.
push the blue button to rotate.

The tilt adjustment is thanks to a lever, similar to what you find on a thru-axel, that you can loosen and tighten to set the angle you need the top tube to be in. Then you push the release button to flick the lever out of the way. This is a great feature for this type of stand, but... The biggest downside I see on this stand, and there is no way I would have designed it like this, is that although it is 360 degrees rotatable, it comes with a negative point. There is a small blue button that locks the top tube into place via a spring loaded pin, to rotate it, you must push the blue button, great you say, until it just locks into place again. I don't know about other race mechanics but I'm constantly rotating my stand as I work on the bike, especially when washing the bike. When the Top tube is locked into place it also is positioned in a place that leaves you standing over one of the tripod legs rather than in between two in order to stand parallel to the bike. I think I will be rigging that pin so it doesn't pop out and lock it in place as I believe it could do without it, then it will be fully rotatable quickly and easily.

Overall the stand is a great improvement on the old version. Other than the rotating issue I would have liked to see the arms that attach from the legs to the main tube, to be made out of something harder than just plastic. There is a small amount of flex in this area if the top tube is moved side to side, say like when cutting a steerer tube. But given my nit picking, if you are in the market for a new stand than this one is a great option to consider. It is much more affordable than similar workstands that may have similar small issues to some degree or another. The stand also comes with converters for different axle types to accommodate thru-axles on mountainbikes. A tool tray is also provided that just clips, but I'm not sure if tools would get in the way when turning the crank. I don't really use the tool tray other than to put bolts or small tools on as I usually work from a table or workbench. The stand also compacts easily and small enough to stand in a corner or small space if needed, it also stands on it's own. It will be a bonus if it is small enough to pack into my Park Tool carry bag.
assorted adaptors for different
axle types.