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Park Tool HBH-3 Extendable Handlebar Holder

3
£54.99

VERDICT:

3
10
Expensive and poorly executed design that is bested by versions costing half as much
Spares are available
Brackets at either end flop around, thereby not holding the bar solidly
Many moving parts, some can work loose
Price
Weight: 
260g

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Park Tool's HBH-3 Extendable Handlebar Holder looks much the same as many far cheaper designs. Unfortunately, it's made what was a functional design worse, resulting in a tool that – given the hefty price – is a disappointment from an industry leader.

When you have a bike in a workstand for fettling or cleaning, you want the handlebar to be held stable so you can crack on without the bar or wheel flopping from side to side. Some folk swear by using a couple of inner tubes looped over the seatpost and then each handlebar grip, but if you're working on different bikes that idea gets old real fast.

Park Tool's own HBH-2 is a coat hanger-esque solution, but doesn't hold the bar 100 per cent solidly, and can foul on handlebar accessories.

> Find your nearest dealer here

> Buy this online here

The tried and trusted way that most people will have seen if not used is a simple telescoping rod with two rubber straps at each end, popularised by the German supermarkets Aldi and Lidl in their neverending war to sell the cheapest home bike mechanic solutions. The 'handlebar stabilisers' are included free with their bike stands, which are a generic model you see popping up all over the place.

You can even buy them separately for just £5. That's the cheap and cheerful benchmark right there: a fiver.

> Beginner’s guide to bike tools – get all the vital gear for basic bike maintenance

Stepping things up, Feedback Sports has the Flop Stop, a £25 pro workshop-grade tool that works flawlessly. I should know, because I've owned one for five years and use it multiple times each day in a commercial setting.

That's the benchmark I'm judging the Park Tool HBH-3 against, and at twice the price, Park Tool has some work to do to justify consideration.

The HBH-3 is pretty simple: two blue-anodised alloy poles, one sliding inside another, with a plastic clamp in the middle secured by a large serrated metal knob. Great. Works well, so far.

2021 Park Tool HBH-3 - Extendable Handlebar Holder - extender.jpg

At either end is where things came unstuck, literally. The plastic V-shaped brackets that align with your seatpost and handlebar grips pivot on metal screws, which out of the box on this example were so loose one fell apart. Fortunately, as it's Park Tool, spares are available via the UK distributor.

2021 Park Tool HBH-3 - Extendable Handlebar Holder - strap 1.jpg

The brackets aren't very wide, so as to facilitate fitting into narrow what's-available-seatpost gaps, and the ability to pivot, compounded by the narrow footprint and distance from the pivot point, means that at the handlebar end the rod can very easily push the bracket over into the handlebar grip.

2022 Park Tool HBH-3 - full.jpg

Basically, the bar can move a good few inches when moderate force is applied, even when the rubber strap is hooked down as hard as is sensible. This means if you are doing something on the wheel, fork or bar that requires a bit of pressure or torque, at the moment you need the bar held still the most, it moves.

2022 Park Tool HBH-3 - folded over 2.jpg

Wrapping bar tape was a frustrating experience using the HBH-3 – the movement back and forth over even an inch or so made applying even pressure on the tape as it wrapped around the bar a challenge.

2022 Park Tool HBH-3 - closeup 2.jpg

In contrast, the Feedback Sports Flop Stop has no pivot, just an indented plastic bar at each end with a thick rubber strap with lumps along it to hook into an open notch on the other end of the bar. It takes far longer to read than to do, and the end result is rock solid. Handily, if you need to remove it from the bar end, say to swap sides while wrapping tape, it's held so solidly at the post that it sticks out from the bike, ready to grab and reattach. The HBH-3 in comparison will flop down into the cranks/chain, getting dirty.

2022 Park Tool HBH-3 - hanging down.jpg

We contacted Park Tool's UK distributor, Madison, about the issues I had.

Eric Hawkins, CEO Park Tool, told road.cc, "We have had zero issues with the HBH-3 in either its function or longevity. The pivots are not meant to be tight but certainly if the feeling was they were going to fall apart we will have to look into that. I've also never heard that it didn't tighten up properly between the collars and the aluminium tube. You need very little pressure for a tight hold as the job of the tool is just to keep the handlebars straight."

Alex Cubbage, Park Tool brand manager at Madison, said, "At Madison we've not had any other complaints like the ones described here in terms of the bolts falling out or being loose to the extent they then fall out."

> Six essential tools for cyclists who do their own bike maintenance

Had I not used the Feedback Sports Flop Stop, I might have been more generous towards the HBH-3. But for twice the money, with multiple design flaws, it's not something I can recommend if you want to keep your bar solid while working on your bike.

Verdict

Expensive and poorly executed design that is bested by versions costing half as much

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Park Tool HBH-3 Extendable Handlebar Holder

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?

It's for holding your handlebar still while you clean or work on a bike.

Park Tool says: "The HBH-3 securely holds handlebars in place on any bike in any position while in a repair stand. Useful for brake bleeding, cable and housing routing, lever adjustment, or any scenario where you want to prevent the handlebars from rotating, including storage or working with the bike rotated upwards. With its articulating clamps and adjustable straps, the HBH-3 can easily be attached in a wide variety of positions onto almost any handlebar, seatpost, frame, fork, or repair stand. Anodized aluminum construction with soft rubber straps."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Park Tool lists:

Straps install onto any round tube from 12mm to 60mm (0.5" to 2.4"), as well as most irregular and aero-shaped tubing found on bicycles

Rotating articulating clamps allow for secure installation onto virtually any bicycle in a wide range of positions

Usable extension length of 18' to 32' (45cm to 81cm)

Collapses and folds to 17' (43cm) for storage

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
7/10

The individual parts are fabricated well enough.

Rate the product for performance:
 
3/10

For a product that's designed to hold a bar rock solid, it fails.

Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the product for value:
 
1/10

At twice the price and lacking the usability of alternatives, it's not good value.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Poorly. It's frustrating to use.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The colour?

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The fact that it can flop about, and the price.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It's overpriced for what it is. The Feedback Sports Flop Stop is considerably better for half the price.

Did you enjoy using the product? No

Would you consider buying the product? No

Would you recommend the product to a friend? No

Use this box to explain your overall score

The fact that it doesn't hold the handlebar still is the major failing here, compounded by the comparatively astronomical price.

Overall rating: 3/10

About the tester

Age: 47  Height: 183cm  Weight: 77kg

I usually ride: Sonder Camino Gravelaxe  My best bike is: Nah bro that's it

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, general fitness riding, mtb, G-R-A-V-E-L

Living in the Highlands, Mike is constantly finding innovative and usually cold/wet ways to accelerate the degradation of cycling kit. At his happiest in a warm workshop holding an anodised tool of high repute, Mike's been taking bikes apart and (mostly) putting them back together for forty years. With a day job in global IT (he's not completely sure what that means either) and having run a boutique cycle service business on the side for a decade, bikes are his escape into the practical and life-changing for his customers.

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9 comments

Avatar
philhubbard | 2 years ago
0 likes

Always liked the HBH-2, shame they updated it and made it worse

Avatar
cdamian | 2 years ago
0 likes

I used to have the Flop Stop, which I was quite happy with until my dogs ate the rubber bits.
My bike stand is always outside and takes a beating from the weather and animals.

I now got the Park Tool HBH-2 in the hope it will last longer. It isn't quite as stable as the Flop Stop, but definitely does the job ... at least as long as the bike is not upside down.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to cdamian | 2 years ago
2 likes
cdamian wrote:

I used to have the Flop Stop, which I was quite happy with until my dogs ate the rubber bits.

That sounds like it should be on late night TV adverts

Avatar
mdavidford | 2 years ago
0 likes

I've found that a £10 sweatguard for the trainer (elasticated strap round the seatpost and velcro straps round each bar) doubles up quite nicely for this purpose.

Avatar
Ihatecheese | 2 years ago
0 likes

The cheapy bike stand purchased on Amazon for £40 came with one of these. It was useful but would never pay for that part specifically. Its usage is a bit limited when perhaps a ingeniously bent coathanger may serve a similar purpose!

Avatar
ktache | 2 years ago
0 likes

I didn't know such a thing existed, but of course, it must do.  Odd that the park tools one is not great, normally excellent stuff.

I used string to position my bars when bleeding my brakes last time, rather unsatisfactory. Might try old inner tubes or some elastic if I get around to flushing them on my superbowl recovery days.

Eventually it will be a version of this, but not for one Park's.

Avatar
ktache replied to ktache | 5 months ago
0 likes

Tried the innertube, painful and messy, the tied some bungee, good tension, still too much wobble and spilled DOT fluid.

Went for some 550 paracord, figure of 8 loop to go over the saddle, then 2 lengths looped around the bars, just in from the levers (Jones H-bars), then tensioned using the wonderfully useful Truckers Hitch, each with 2 loops, simple overhands, both acting as pulleys. Holds the bars very securely, used to do several bleedings of the disk brakes. Used this evening to reglue a handlebar grip. A 12 foot length as I remember, kept the loops tied in. A variation of Ashley's Book of Knots 2124.

Avatar
Mathemagician | 2 years ago
0 likes

Wow...Park Tool taking a Really Basic Tool, and then charging an exhorbitant cost for the benefit of having a crappy name like the RBT-1 and their ugly-ass shade of blue? Surely not?!

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Mathemagician | 2 years ago
0 likes
Mathemagician wrote:

Wow...Park Tool taking a Really Basic Tool, and then charging an exhorbitant cost for the benefit of having a crappy name like the RBT-1 and their ugly-ass shade of blue? Surely not?!

I actually thought the price was relatively reasonable for Park Tools, but I'm not going to get one. I'm tempted to make my own one now with a stick and a couple of bits of velcro.

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