If you harbour ambitions of looking after your bicycle yourself rather than relying on the local bike shop in times of need, a workstand is all but essential. For everything from the simplest jobs such as oiling the chain, right up to building a bike from a box of parts, a stand raises things to a comfortable working height, and it allows free operation of brakes and gears as well as easy access to all areas.
The Bike Gator comes from Slovenian firm Unior, and the fit and finish of all its parts is excellent, the action of its sliding and telescoping components being smooth and satisfying.
Setting it up is straightforward: the stand’s two legs unfold to sit about 80 degrees apart, with rubbery plastic feet protecting your floor and reducing the tendency to slide around. The legs are locked into place by a bike-style quick release lever that clamps to the main column, while similar levers hold the telescoping upper column at the desired working height, and clamp the head section at the angle of your choosing. At maximum extension, the centre of the stand’s seatpost clamp is about 150cm off the floor, and the stand collapses down to roughly 105cm long. Claimed load capacity is a plausible 30kg, so even the heaviest of mountain bikes shouldn’t tax the stand unduly, and most road bikes will barely even register.
The Bike Gator weighs 6.4kg including the handy removable tool tray, which has compartments for odds and ends as well as holes in which to stick your Allen keys and screwdrivers to keep them to hand. That’s light enough for easy portability, but it does also mean that you need a steadying foot on one of the legs when closing the fiercely sprung clamp to lock a bike in position. On conventional round seatposts this clamp’s single-action operation is great, but the pressure it applies is high enough that we wouldn’t be happy using it on delicate carbon frame tubes or thin-walled aero seatposts. Unior does offer an adjustable clamp as an alternative, but it lacks the positive, automatic closure of the sprung version.