If you prize the time you spend working on your bike as much as riding (and especially if you love building wheels), you’ll want to start saving your pennies right now. The German-made P&K Lie Special250 truing stand is far and away the most lustworthy piece of workshop kit we’ve ever seen – and there’s a good chance it cost more than your last bike.
The appeal of the P&K Lie Special250 goes far beyond its industrial-looking aluminium frame, although even that’s worth a special mention for its precise CNC-machined construction, monolithic solidity, and gorgeous green anodized finish. Meanwhile, the axle clamps, dial indicator and hub slides, and locking knobs are all machined from solid brass.
Seriously, have you ever seen a wheel truing stand this beautiful? No, no you have not
Even if you’re not a seasoned wheel builder, it’s easy to see the beauty here. But if you are, it’s the Special250’s incredible gauges that really highlight its capabilities.
Dial indicators are nothing new when it comes to truing stands as they provide an easier, faster, and more precise way to see exactly how far a wheel is out of round or true. The ones P&K Lie use on the Special250, however, feature a non-linear motion that magnifies even the tiniest deviations.
The custom dial indicators are works of art in and of themselves
At either end of the 160-degree sweep of the needle, the graduations on the face read in 1mm increments. Toward the middle, however, the top-end Special250 reduces that to just 0.025mm – half the thickness of a typical piece of paper. Further boosting the Special250’s dial resolution are small stainless steel rollers at the end of the feeler gages, which not only improve accuracy but also prevent damage to delicately finished rims. As if that weren’t already enough, so-called ‘drag pointers’ built into the gauges also record the maximum run-out so builders can keep visual track of their progress.
It’d be easy to dismiss the Special250 as little more than an expensive design study with little functional benefit but Kerstin Lie (say, “lee-uh”) – the co-founder of P&K Lie along with partner Peter – insists that it’s anything but.
Amazing craftsmanship is on display everywhere you look
“We developed the truing stand and the gauges for easy and precise truing,” she said. “Other truing stands are made simpler but they can't reach such a high precision in wheel truing. We use brass for the wheel holders because it doesn't damage the axle and they allow repeatable, precise positioning. Our gauges – which we build in house – are the only ones that have a non-linear scale, which is the most important for wheel truing because the pointer movements are smooth and you can see the finest run-outs. With the drag pointers, you immediately can see the maximum run-outs. Our gauges shows exactly what you must do.”
Moreover, the Special250 may be one of the most distinct-looking – and arguably, beautiful – truing stands available but its creators insist that both its appearance and function were joint goals rather than one coming at the expense of the other.
“Function and design belong together,” said Lie. “The design is a process between the function and the appearance. Every part of the truing stand is important for the function. Many bike shops that have our truing stand put the wheel truing stand in the showroom so that the customers can see the quality of the work. Now the customers can see and understand what wheel truing is.”
P&K Lie wouldn’t disclose to BikeRadar how many Special250 stands the company has sold but the suggestion is that it’s more than you’d expect. Even so, the exorbitant $1,980 / €1,880 means that there will invariably always be a big rift between those who might want one and those who can actually have one but then again, that’s perhaps part of its mysterious appeal.
If a company goes to this much trouble just to display its name on a product, you know it's special
There’s a French term – la douleur exquise – that describes the “exquisite pain” of forever wanting something you know you can never have. If ever there was a bicycle tool to which that applied, the P&K Lie Special250 would be it.