The Park PRS-21 is a very good workstand, made from robust replaceable parts, with good attention to detail. Just be aware of the height limitation, and overall stability.
The PRS-21 arrives completely disassembled, requiring wrenching together with two spanners and a hex key set for about 15-30 minutes depending on your ability to follow instructions. Attention is required as the fit of the main support arm is one-way-up. Park advised that the stand is shipped disassembled to keep costs down. In the grand scheme of things 15 minutes isn't long, but for the best part of £250 you'd think they could build it up.
Folding & unfolding
The arm of the PRS-21 is secured by a hefty spring-ball-locked pin that really needs both hands to remove or install. Once the pin is removed the arm folds down beside the pole and legs, the locking pin is re-inserted in its hole, and the legs are simply pushed in (noting the dropout mount slider arm must be secured or it will slide off the end of the arm when folded down). The pole is then slid fully down into the base and the whole package can then be stored, freestanding or leaned against a wall.
When folded the stand is 98cm tall and 23cm across at its widest point. As this is the 'lite' version it only weighs 6.2kg - light enough to hang on a wall or back of a door, and relatively easily included in luggage for that training camp flight or road trip.
Unfolding is the opposite. Slide the pole up, lock it, spread the legs out with a kick or three and lock the arm into place with the pin. This becomes a quick process anyone could manage.
Once put together and standing on its three legs the overall impression of the PRS-21 is that it looks great, but doesn't *feel* that much like a premium bit of kit. There are loose tolerances in each bolt/tube interface, resulting in a surprising amount of movement, even when everything's done up tight. With a bike clamped on there's about 5cm of side-to-side movement at the saddle. Not a huge amount, but more than similar stands. In 'spinning' mode (see below) there is 1.5cm of vertical play at the fork end of the arm due to poor tolerances in the locking pin fitting and the plastic sleeve the pole slides into. Again not much, but for well over £200 you'd expect more 'Swiss watch' than 'Lidl'.
Around and Around
The PRS has two modes: spinning or fixed. In 'spinning' mode the bike can be spun 360 degrees with the light push of a hand. This is great for washing bikes without tangling hoses, or swapping sides of the bike in a workshop without having to walk beyond arm's reach of workbench, bucket or tools. In 'fixed' the bike doesn't spin.
In order to spin it there's a collar on the vertical post with a quick release lever on it, that you shift to whatever height you need and lock. Then the 'handbolt' at the tripod base gets undone, the pole slides down until the collar hits the base, and the bike can be spun. To lock the bike, simply do up the handbolt. Doing up the handbolt removes some of the overall slack in the system.
The collar has two holes in it to allow mounting of the Park Tool Work Tray (about £22). Because the collar doubles as the spinning mode support the tray can only be used high up in fixed mode where the post is supported by the locked handbolt. The alternative is that the tray is low down, but can spin with the bike. You can purchase a second collar (£10-15) to lift the tool tray higher whilst still being able to spin the bike.
Something to be aware of in spinning mode is that if the bike is lifted to relocate the stand the leg assembly will fall off as they are only held together by gravity. The handbolt should be tightened before lifting, but that's no comfort if you are left holding a potentially heavy or expensive bike while having to juggle getting the stand stood back up, legs extended and the post re-inserted. Another issue is that when lifted some or all of the three legs may hang downward. This can lead to instability if the stand is then placed back down without the user being aware that the effective footprint triangle has changed.
This folding leg design is in comparison to other stands where the legs are pushed outwards and locked down by a sliding mechanism. These take a few seconds extra to operate and can get gummed up with mud or dirt if the stand is used for washing. Both designs have their advantages and drawbacks.
The bottom bracket height of the PRS-21 can be varied in a range from 71 to 94cm above the floor. This means the rear mech is at about hip-height on a 6ft tall person. Given the amount of time usually spent at the mechanical business end of a bike this is quite low and means a lot of bending over to do derailleur adjustments unless you sit on a stool.
The foot of each leg sits 43cm out from the centreline of the stand. This isn't a large distance compared to other stands, and the outcome is that with an average-size/weight roadbike on the stand only 15N of force is required at the fork to tip the whole lot over. That's the force required to lift 1.5kg, so not a great deal, and in comparison other stands I'm currently testing require more than twice the amount of force to tip over with the same size bike onboard. A small child or large dog running past and knocking the stand could see a bike sent tumbling. Again, this is an inherent drawback to deliver a small footprint, maybe for use in a confined space.
Fork-mounting a bike
The bike rests on its bottom bracket, cradled between four plastic-covered points that support the bottom bracket shell. These are 8mm thick, 48mm apart sideways (thus leaving a 40mm gap between them) and are 46mm tall at the points, allowing clearance underneath for any cable routing, power meter accessories etc. Given how exposed these four points are it could be imagined that over time after the stand being thrown in/out of vehicles or due to the stand falling over when folded, the protective rubber coating on the tips could wear through. This would need checking periodically, to ensure the bottom bracket area doesn't get damaged when in use. Other designs use a flat surface to sit the bottom bracket on, avoiding this potential issue.
The blue fork slider has a handbolt securing it to the arm, this is easily loosened and the slider moved in or out to centre the quick release axle underneath the fork or rear dropouts. It pays to have already set the quick releases to the correct distance as they are a two-handed operation to wind in/out and you don't want to be balancing the bike on its bottom bracket while adjusting them. The Park Tool-branded front quick release has quite an aggressive cam action, the result being there's only a fraction of a turn of the quick release nut between Too Loose and Too Tight. Once you have the distance setting right, due to the aggressive cam action the front quick release opens clear of any 'lawyer lips' retainers on the fork tips. It's good to see Park have thought this through and come up with an option that works, one-handed. The fork quick release 'axle' is the standard 100mm wide, and will accommodate fork dropouts of 8.9mm or wider.
Once the quick release is locked and the slider handbolt done up, the bike can be further secured to the stand using the supplied webbing strap and buckle. There's a rubber pad that slides over the strap to protect the frame, and the strap runs through a set of jaws under the arm. This is particularly relevant for bottom bracket shells with no external cable routing to act as a natural sideways-movement limiter, as it removes the chance of the bike slipping to the right and off the stand. The webbing strap can also be used to secure the arm down when folded, allowing the stand to be easily carried in the hand.
Rear-axle mounting a bike
Mounting using the rear dropouts is much the same: remove rear wheel, position bottom bracket over the four prongs and lower down onto the rear quick release, taking care to thread the chain over the quick release 'axle'. As opposed to the front quick release, the rear is a standard action lever as there are no lawyer lips to clear. There are two options for rear axle width: 130mm or disc-friendly 135mm. The wider size is selected by unscrewing a separate section of one end of the quick release axle by exactly five turns - dab a small black dot on it so you can easily count the turns. The rear axle will take 9.8mm dropouts or larger.
Park have missed a trick here by not including an option for a 'chain keeper' pulley wheel to slot over the end, to facilitate smoother running of the chain during cleaning or fettling. As it is the chain can be run over the surface of the quick release axle, but it doesn't feel premium and you wouldn't want to use it for gear setup. It could be argued that's what the fork mount is for and go buy the Park DH-1 Dummy Hub tool for cleaning/drivetrain work.
When mounting using the rear dropouts the bike is roughly in the same orientation as it would be with wheels attached, so you need to come up with a way of holding the handlebars straight to stop them flopping to one side. Park sell a bent-wire handlebar holder (the HBH-2) for about £15-20, which is more or less a compulsory purchase for fork/headset/gear cable work unless you want to spend a lot of time faffing with bungy cords.
The previously mentioned £22 tool tray is a useful addition, featuring a large and small divided area for tools / parts and seven holes to slot screw or hex drivers into. There’s also a small clip-on basket to hold cans of liquid and hooks for rubbish bags, as well as a rail to hold rags or a hand-towel. The tray has two metal prongs that drop into the holes in the collar. It can be lifted straight out, which is handy when using the stand for bike washing - you don’t want to get tools and other gubbins wet/dirty, or have to remove them all from the tray before starting washing. The tool tray will fit many different Park workstands with the appropriate collar adapters.
For bikes fitted with through-axles an additional slider is available for around £50, accommodating both 15mm and 20mm options. This can easily and quickly be swapped out for the quick release version, or both could be left fixed to the arm and slid into place as/when needed.
A soft carry/storage bag with shoulder strap is available for around £25. This has no padding, so you might think twice about putting it into the hands of airport baggage handlers as-is.
Using the stand is a decent experience for the money. The bike is stable enough for pretty much any sort of work, but you do need to be aware of the 'tippiness' of the whole setup, particularly if it's a top-heavy arrangement such as working on a full-suspension downhill rig. Park have made choices regarding the design that translate into foibles some may find unacceptable in a £200+ bit of workshop kit, but most users should be quite happy with the performance.
For example, a positive aspect of the potentially negative auto-folding/unfolding legs is that if you have washed your bike outside on the stand with both wheels off (the correct way, that is) it's very easy to carry it back indoors still attached. This is instead of having to remove the bike from the stand, replace one or both wheels, then revert once inside.
Other stands with wider, locked legs are borderline impossible to navigate bike-attached through a normal doorway 'legs-out' without risking serious damage to bike, doorframe or self. Folding up locking legs with a bike attached requires supporting the bike and stand while unlocking and collapsing a potentially sticky mechanism, with associated risk of dropping the lot or gouging/greasing yourself up in the process. And then reversing that process once inside. Knowing what your likely use case is will help in deciding if this stand is for you.
A benefit of the stand arriving literally in a hundred bits is that all those bits are available for purchase from Park, should the stand ever get damaged or worn out. Given the industrial-grade engineering of the stand it's hard to see a home user (or even a pro-team wrench) ever wearing any component out, but it's nice to know spares are readily available.
Overall the Park PRS-21 is a very good stand, made from robust replaceable parts, with good attention to details like the fork quick release throw and rear axle spacing adjustment. Just be aware of the height limitation, and the overall stability.
NOTE: This is the first in a series of three detailed reviews of 'race style' compact folding workstands, which support the bike by its bottom bracket and require the removal of the front or rear wheel for mounting. The three stands being reviewed are the Park Tool PRS-21, the Feedback Sports Sprint and the Tacx Spider Team. All three have been or are being used by pro-team mechanics and therefore represent the pinnacle of current portable workstand evolution. Each will have an in-depth review, followed by a buyer's guide comparing them side-by-side.
One point to bear in mind with all fork-mounting stands: you cannot fork-mount a bike with a full-length front mudguard attached. Therefore this is not the sort of stand you'd want for regular rear-wheel/drivetrain/brake work with Dutch bikes, or a winter commuter with full guards.
Very good, robust workstand, with good attention to detail
road.cc test report
Make and model: Park Tool PRS-21 workstand
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The PRS-21, like its heavier, cheaper sibling the PRS-20, is for the keen home mechanic, travelling race crew or event support team. Its ability to fold up small and light makes it ideal for travelling with.
Super Lite Team Race Stand
Same great stability, versatility and features as the PRS-20 Team Race Stand, yet weighs 35% less''only 13.5 lbs (6.2 kg). Built using a combination of steel for strength in joints and pivots, and aluminum to save weight. The PRS-21 is the perfect stand to choose when size and weight are important. Ideal for the traveling mechanic.
The PRS-21 now features a taller bottom bracket saddle to clear the sensor used by power meter (watt measuring) cranksets.
Quick release mounts hold bike securely by the front or rear dropouts
360 degree horizontal rotation allows easy access to both sides of bike
Rear axle adjusts from 130mm to 135mm by turning adjusting nut outward five turns
Folds to 33' (84cm) for easy transport and storage
Bottom bracket height quickly adjusts from 28' to 38' (71cm to 96cm)
Note: For front thru axle bikes (15mm or 20mm), use the 1728-TA Sliding Thru Axle Adaptor
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The PRS-21 is designed for standard dropout frames and forks, 100mm front and 130/135mm rear. An accessory allows 15 or 20mm through axles to be used. It weighs 6.2kg, and measures 98cm tall / 23cm wide when folded.
The components used are shop-grade, and should last a home mechanic a lifetime. They are all replaceable in the event of damage or wear. The only downside is that the fit tolerances are not precise, leading to a degree of movement overall when a bike is clamped into the stand. This doesn't overly affect the main purpose of holding the bike for work.
As a workstand the PRS-21 is perfectly useable. The compromise between spinning and locked modes, and the need to remember to tighten the bottom hand nut before lifting, is an aspect that could be improved on.
This thing feels like it would would survive a nuclear strike.
For what it does, 6.2kg is pretty light.
The low maximum height is an issue for taller people doing derailleur work.
The compromises in performance are pretty well offset by the potentially low price (as low as £190 at time of writing).
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. If you understand the limitations, you won't be disappointed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The front QR throw makes adding/removing bikes risk-free, as can be done single-handed. Also the ability to lift and carry a bike attached through a doorway.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The slack fit tolerances were a disappointment, as was the low overall height possible.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, definitely, but with the caveats on height, stability and tolerances made clear.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Any design will have compromises, other stands do some things better and some things worse. The PRS-21 is a quality bit of kit and if it fits your needs/expectations, you will have a lifetime of use.
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 183cm Weight: 71KG
I usually ride: Charge Juicer My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: club rides, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, MTB, singlespeed and Dutch bike pootling