With a delivery price well in excess of what most people are prepared to pay for an entire bike workstand, the Hirobel Carbon Frame Clamp is going to remain pretty rare even among diehard home workshop fettlers. But if you have a fleet of bikes, strange carbon aero shapes, or very short exposed lengths of seatpost, this may well be the workstand accessory you've been looking for all these years.
Clamping a bike by the seatpost can mean having to move the post to secure enough 'real estate' for the clamp – risking misalignment of the saddle, returning it to the wrong height or ultimately stripping the clamp bolts through repeated tightening/loosening. With modern bike-fit principles setting seat height to within fractions of a millimetre, you don't want to be getting this wrong...
Combine this with the difficulty of clamping increasingly thinner-walled and strangely shaped hydroformed alloy tubing or complex 3D carbon layups, and what's an honest fettler to do? Enter the Hirobel Carbon Frame Clamp.
The Hirobel consists of an octagonal aluminium rod and two grooved rubber mounts with securing straps that fit into either 'corner' of your bike's main triangle – one by the seatpost and one by the head tube. The one by the head tube is movable and has a simple QR to secure it, once pushed up tightly against the head tube itself. Because of the deep indentation between the 'petals', the frame is held securely, regardless of shape.
The frame is further secured by two rubber straps with holes, pulled tight and slotted over protruding aluminium knobs. Once the Hirobel is clamped into your workstand, the bike can be turned completely upside down.
Shifting the bike rearward from the seatpost to its natural balance point over the bottom bracket greatly increases overall stability. This also increases the amount of force that can be applied to components on the front of the bike without hitting the tipping point of the workstand or friction limit of the workstand clamp.
The Hirobel's petal channels allow cables exiting or entering around the seat and top tube to do so uncompressed. The petals can be rotated so the clamping force is maximised where there are no cables exiting or entering the frame. The octagonal profile of the aluminium beam is to prevent rotation in the workstand clamp, and is best suited to being clamped by the Feedback Sports Pro Elite stand with its octagonal jaw profile. (It's fair to say that Hirobel is likely to partner long-term with Feedback Sports – at last year's pro cyclo-cross events in the US the two products were frequently seen together in the pits.)
Anyone used to working with bikes in workstands will be familiar with the problem of supporting the weight of the bike while adjusting the clamp. On a sub-8kg race bike this isn't a problem, but if you're working on a 20kg full-suspension mountain bike there's a risk of injury or damage should you misjudge.
The Hirobel is rated for loads of over 100kg, so even the heaviest tandem or e-bike is well within its capabilities and well beyond the capacity of even industrial workstands. If you're trying to work on a tandem, the issues with workstand clamping often involve several people and boxes to support one or both wheels. Being able to fit the Hirobel to the bike frame, pick your balance point, then lift with both hands up into an open horizontal clamp makes the exercise much safer.
If the Hirobel is already clamped in the workstand, you can lift the bike onto the left-hand support by the seat tube, then pivot it upwards with your right hand while sliding the right-hand support along to butt against the head tube. This makes mounting even a heavy bike a simple, controllable process for people with limited upper body strength.
Over several months of regular use on steel, alloy and carbon bikes, I found myself putting the Hirobel to work in a way I never envisaged. When needed, I could remove the whole assembly from the workstand to do work with the Hirobel still attached to the bike – for example where wheels were required to be fully seated into frame dropouts using body weight to check brake or gear alignment. Once the QRs had been locked down I'd lift the entire bike and Hirobel back onto the stand, re-secure and carry on working. Where I had to do quick jobs on bikes about to roll out the door it was always quicker to fit the Hirobel than to clamp it traditionally by the seatpost if that meant removing saddlebags, lights, or adjusting the seatpost.
The design thinking behind the Hirobel is to remove the modern issues of aero or strange frame shapes or short seatposts from the equation when working on a bike. If you only work infrequently on one or two traditional shaped bikes then the Hirobel is probably of no additional use to you over a decent standard bike workstand. But if you work on a number of bikes with strange tube shapes, or short seatposts, or maybe have elaborate audax-style saddle luggage arrangements, child bike towing setups, or anything else cluttering your seatpost, the Hirobel could be a sound investment.
As is often the case, the initial price of innovative, niche cycling products appears steep when viewed through the prism of perceived mass-market fabrication and distribution costs. Should Hirobel be purchased by the likes of Feedback Sports, Park, Tacx or Topeak then the subsequent economies of scale might see this functionality come down in price. Until then, £215 seems acceptable if your needs fit the use case.
The ideal way to secure and work on your oddly shaped or short-seatpost bike
road.cc test report
Make and model: Hirobel Carbon Frame Clamp
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 CARBON FRAME CLAMP WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU WORK ON YOUR BICYCLE.
Shops and professional mechanics will appreciate being able to lift a bike onto the stand without worrying about cracking a frame or seat post or having it flop around. Bicycle owners who do their own work will appreciate the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their bike will be protected, and held securely enough to rotate the bike to any position needed for maintenance without having to apply excessive pressure on the frame tubes. Designed to fit into the jaws of popular repair stands, the Carbon Frame Clamp is an essential add-on for protecting your bicycle.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
It's made of aluminium and rubber. It will support bikes weighing up to 115kg (but it's almost certain your bike workstand won't).
Excellent. Can't fault it.
It does what it says - holds the frame - perfectly.
Can't see any issues with it - looks new after three months of abuse.
Only adds 1kg to your overall workstand load limit.
For what it allows you to do - work on strange frame shapes safely - it's great.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed - can't fault it.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The rubber petals. They are made of something that's akin to perfect for holding yet not marking frames.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The sliding clamp seems a bit cheap for such a premium product - but it does the job.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Functionally, it's nailed it. If it could just come down by about £50…
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc 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: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling