If you’re really into riding (and the fact that you’re reading this tells me you are), you’re already familiar with the Topeak brand. As a techy kinda guy who does all his own bike work (and work for close friends), I decided to test out some of Topeak’s shop/home gear. Although these items aren’t new for 2012, the PrepStand Pro and the JoeBlow Ace both represent top shelf units in their respective product categories.
Topeak PrepStand Pro ($250 MSRP)
The PrepStand Pro has some seriously cool features that really make it stand out. For one thing, the Pro has a built-in scale good for both small parts and full bikes (up to 25kg / 55lbs, ±20grams). The scale is accurate enough to get a decent reading on parts like derailleurs and gear, as well as an idea of where your rig weighs in. The 6061 aluminum frame with two stout aluminum clamps lock up the stand and base.
The base opens up to a generous 53″ diameter and adjusts its height from 48-72″. Along with the lower QR there is an air bleed system that will prevent your bike from slamming down when adjusting the height of the stand (I cannot tell you how often that has happened to me). That feature in itself is a big plus, perfect for those times when you just don’t have a good grip on the bike when making adjustments. You’re safe knowing that the bike will at least slow to a stop before bottoming out, saving both stand and bike from possible damage.
Once deployed, the clamp rotates 360°degrees and locks in positive increments so that your bike will not slip from position once set. The clamp itself opens up to 2″, big enough to clamp on frames, seat tubes, or posts. The non-marring, firm rubber jaws fit well, without scratching your equipment. A dial works well at quickly adjusting the jaws, without over-torquing your gear. When you’re done you can neatly fold everything away and pack it up in the PrepStand Pro’s own carrying bag, perfect for those who race or need to bring their work stand with them when they ride (like me!).
So what was my take on the PrepStand Pro? Overall, pretty sweet. There are some truly great things about the stand that I instantly appreciated like the sturdy construction as well as that slick air bleed (remember, I usually work on heavier bikes). Working on DH bikes that weigh anywhere from 32-45lb, I need a stand that won’t topple or bend on me. The air bleed was a blessing especially when I opened the QR to lower a bike (without wheels) and realized I didn’t have a firm grip on the bike. Down it went to a soft stop. Wow, love it!
The actual clamp was decent. I wish it wasn’t as wide as it is, but a little bit of time with a file and I had the width down closer to what I needed ( I use very little seatpost extension on my DH bike). Now one thing that could be added to make this an even better design would be a quick release clamp. That would definitely save time setting up and removing a bike from the stand.
As far as the scale is concerned, I went out and picked up the small parts tray and hook kit for an additional $20, making the scale better suited to measuring small parts without fear of them rolling of the scale. I also added the tray and tool holder kit for when I need to transport the stand.
Topeak JoeBlow Floor Pump ($100 MSRP)
Having used other JoeBlow floor pumps in the past I had high expectations for the top-shelf JoeBlow Ace. Using a JoeBlow Mountain with great success, I was keen on giving this very different looking unit a shot. Unlike most floor pumps, this unit utilizes extruded, twin-tube, anodized barrels with a large and small bore. The two tube design allows for a three stage operation.
The upshot: this pump fills a tire t0 60psi 30% faster than a single barrel pump. In stage two, only the main barrel is used, allowing you to pump up to 120 psi. At stage three, the small barrel cranks up the pressure to 240psi with ease.
Most MTB riders don’t need pressures nearly that high but if you do run skinny-tired bikes too, this is a great pump as it handles both high volume and high pressure tires very well.
Another really useful feature is the SmartHead which automatically adjusts for Presta or Schrader valves without the need for an adapter or dissembling the head. Simply place the head over your Schrader or Presta valve (remember to open it first) and then turn the lock lever to automatically seal things up. On the SmartHead, there is a convenient yellow pressure release button which does a good job at releasing pressure evenly. In addition to the three stage operation and SmartHead, the ergonomic handle offers great grip and support when pumping up your tire.
The pressure gauge at the base of the pump includes a high visibility pointer which allows you to quickly see when you’ve reached your target pressure. Along with the gauge, you also get a fairly large cast base with a rubber coating, perfect for those less-than-ideal floor surfaces. Top that all off with a Presta, Dunlop, needle, and beach ball adapter and I am sure you can inflate just about anything.
Using the Ace was pretty straightforward. No more searching for a Presta adapter, no more fumbling around with changing internal bits on the head. Like the PrepStand, the construction on the whole pump is solid. The dial was a bit hard to read as the 240psi scale makes everything pretty tight but that’s the tradeoff for a pump that can go that high.
The only thing I could think that could make this pump any better is a liquid filled, larger diameter gauge, with an easier to read scale. The carbon background on the gauge is cool but a bit distracting. From zero pressure to seating the beads on a 26×2.40 UST tire takes about 8 pumps. Filling to 30psi takes 15 pumps wich is pretty good considering some tires can’t even muster beading the rim that quickly.
Topeak PedalBar ($30 MSRP)
This expandable tool comes in its own pouch and everything you need to take care of the most popular pedals on the market. With a twist this 7-inch tool expands to 9.5 inches, adding both additional leverage and revealing a hex wrench for newer hex-only pedal spindles. The conventional 15mm open-end wrench is offset about 15 degrees to keep hands away from the chainline and crank arms. Made from chromoly and impact-resistant plastic, the PedalBar is made to last. Extending the head of the tool requires a twist of the base and then you can extend the open-end wrench. A press tab at the base flips away the cap which holds both bits for easy access.
The PedalBar is advertised as a shop tool but I would say it’s really more of a home tool. For shop use you really want something that can take a sh*t kicking. I could see either the bottom lid or the bar coming apart if tossed around (just visit a shop when things are not going smoothly to really appreciate what I am talking about). The handy hex sockets are easy to use and the open-end wrench really does make this tool useful. The 9.5-inch extension is just about the right length to remove and install pedals without over torquing. Due to the nature of design on the open end I can see how it might not be able to remove certain pedals with very narrow wrench flats.
I would like to thank the folks at Topeak for sending down the items for review.