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The Topeak Prepstand Elite is an okay example of a tube-clamping portable workstand, but while it's adequate for lighter jobs it's not stiff and stable enough for bigger ones. The robust tubes should stand up to a lot of abuse, though.
Workstands are possibly my favourite cycling accessory. Working on bikes, for me and many others, is a way of relaxing, often tinkering away with a beer nearby. For me, a good workstand must be stable, allow access to the whole bike, and be robust enough to withstand regular bike washing.
Putting the Prepstand Elite up for the first time is simple. The quick release clamps are easy to set securely and the feet slide down to form the base. The arm that supports the clamp was a little trickier to figure out, and slow to adjust with a lot of twisting involved, but this, too, is secure once set.
My stand came with the clamp angled to hold the top tube. If this makes you squirm, you can rotate it to any position with the head turning 360 degrees. I set mine to clamp the seatpost.
My caution around clamping the top tube did mean that the small parts box is completely wasted as, in this position, anything in it will just fall out.
The clamp that holds your bike is unpadded, so I was careful not to rotate the bike accidentally while it was secured in place. The clamp is tightened via a plastic handle which isn't the smoothest to operate. The flex in the system also adds to this, resulting in the clamp moving around a lot. When holding a heavier bike up to the stand, the problem is highlighted.
I've been working on my winter and cyclo-cross bikes which did present an advantage here over my preferred fork mounting workstand. The ability to have both the front and rear wheels in the bike meant I could fine tune my cantilevers on the cross bike and also my mudguards' position on the winter steed.
However, working on a bike with disc brakes, I'd be happier working with one wheel in at a time on a fork-mounting system. The benefits of being able to rotate the stand are key here; walking around to the other side of the bike is annoying for this lazy mechanic.
Stability is okay for lighter jobs, but there is flex in the system. It's fine for washing and basic adjustments, but I found that pedal removal needed to be done on the floor, and bar wrapping was a bit trickier than I'd like.
Once you're done tinkering, the Prepstand folds away relatively compactly, not taking up too much room in the shed. There's also a carry bag for transporting, although I didn't find I needed it when taking it in the car.
Most of the time, I remember to wipe down a stand after cleaning, but I'm not perfect. Especially after a cold cyclo-cross race. I'm more interested in that second beer and some food than drying the stand. This has seen its fair share of water and it's showing no signs of wear.
The fork mounting system as found in the Park Tool Team Race stand and the Feedback Sports Sprint stand are much more stable designs and allow rotation. They're a bit more expensive at £300-plus, but if you're spending this much money, I'd suggest seriously thinking about your requirements. For me, the ability to rotate a workstand and improved stability are essential.
Looking at the same seatpost clamping designs, there are several good options. The road.cc office, for example, has a Feedback Sports Sport-Mechanic stand. The clamping is much easier to operate and it's cheaper at £195 RRP.
The Prepstand Elite is okay, but I don't think it justifies the £229.99 price.
Expensive for what you get; there are more stable options that are easier to use
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Topeak Prepstand Elite
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for
Topeak says: "A pro level workstand with a built-in closable small parts bin. Stable tripod design folds down small for travel or use at the races. Additional clamp lever for tightening / releasing the clamp with ease."
I struggle to see a professional mechanic being happy with this. Mostly because I am one and I'm not happy. The clamp isn't easy to use and there are more stable systems that fold up just as small while being more stable.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
ADDED FEATURES - Carry bag, Rubber base feet, Clamp lever, Closable small parts bin
CLAMP HEAD - Non-marring rubber jaws, 360° rotation
CLAMP OPENING - 1.9 cm to 4.5 cm (0.75' - 1.8')
CLAMP HEIGHT - 107 cm to 178 cm (42' - 70')
MAX WEIGHT CAPACITY - 25 kg / 55 lb
WEIGHT - 6 kg / 13.23 lb
The rotating handle for operating the clamp is too small and stiff.
It copes well with small jobs but it's too flexible for bigger jobs.
Washed many times and left out in the rain and cold. It's still fine.
The low weight is a positive when transporting. But how much do you do that? I'd happily have it weight a lot more to make it stiffer.
You do get a smooth operation when extending the tubes and the quick releases are easy to use. But the overall package needs to be much stronger for the money.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It was good for light work when the bike was in the stand. There was too much movement to make bar wrapping and pedal removal easy.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It's certainly durable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The lack of stability and flex in the system made it difficult to get the bike into the stand.
Did you enjoy using the product? For most things, yes.
Would you consider buying the product? No, I like my bikes clamped by the dropouts.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
I like this, but there are better systems out there for less money.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!