Searching for the perfect all-around ultra-portable stand can feel a bit like trying to find Bigfoot (or Littlefoot, pun totally intended; hey product developers, you payin’ attention?!) – there have been sightings but they just don’t appear to be the real thing. We ourselves can’t claim that we’ve seen Littlefoot either, but there are two contenders that come close.
The first wannabe is the Topeak FlashStand, and while it certainly is extremely compact and even more so when folded up, customers complain of its design and construction, including the use of plastic in key places, that lead to instability, flimsiness, and weakness (can’t take much torque at all, not usable for any serious repair work beyond oiling your chain, bike in stand was knocked over by a gust of wind, etc). That being said, others have found a way to make it work. One customer advises, “Put a rubber band on the front brake lever to hold it closed and tie a piece of cord (or bungee) between the front wheel and the frame. I can rock my bike back and forth quite vigorously and it doesn’t want to fall over.” Well, there you go. Still, there seem to be some limitations that one can’t work around, including a weight limit of just under 31lbs/14kgs and customer claims that it can’t handle anything but round-tubed bikes. And if you’re not packing a rubber band and cord or bungees at the moment you need to replace a rear wheel inner tube, then you might end up wanting to throw that aluminum and plastic thing in the garbage the first public bin you see.
Your second wannabe comes in the form of the AndyStand, a zinc-plated steel stand which is nothing if not sturdy. Version 1 didn’t fold, v2 does, but it only folds flat, not up and in like the Topeak FlashStand. No matter, it would still easily fit in a backpack or pannier. What’s more, it is designed to give you access to either the front or rear wheel and can definitely handle more serious repair work. It is the brainchild of Andy Richards, a British motorcyclist and mountain biker, and it is proudly made in Great Britain. OK, great, so what’s the problem then here, buddy? Weeeeeeelll…it is made so that it only fits a Hollowtech crank set as it is made to slide into the opening afforded by said crank set (see the photos on the company’s Facebook page of the stand in use). Yeah. As bikemagic points out, that means that your bike needs to have “cranks with a large, hollow axle that’s open at one end. That’s most good-quality modern mountain bikes but if you have an older bike with a square taper, ISIS or Octalink bottom bracket, you’re out of luck.” What that really means is that if you don’t have a Hollowtech crank set, you’d have to literally remove your cranks and bottom bracket spindle and bearings and whatnot before you could put this sturdy stand to use. In other words, you’d have to partially disassemble your bike prior to working on the problem at hand. And if the problem is your crank set? Uhm, yeah, no.
It looks like there are some excellent telescoping stands that fold up when not in use like the RAD Cycle Products EZ Fold Bicycle Repair Bike Stand, but we’re looking for something that can be easily thrown in a backpack or pannier. Again, something ultra-portable. If you’ve seen Littlefoot, give us a comment shout.