Introduction: PVC Bike Repair Stand
A simple to build, easy to use, inexpensive, sturdy bike stand. Can be made with a few tools you probably already own. Parts can be purchased at any home supply or hardware store. My parts at Home Depot cost under $35, including NY sales tax.
This is a European style stand with no adjustability & no rotation of the bike. But it also requires no clamp & has no moving parts. It can be used to do mechanical work, wash your bike, or for storage & display.
This stand suites my style in two very important ways. First of all, I enjoy mountain biking & doing my own wrench work. Second of all, I hate to spend a lot of money on something that should perform a very simple function.
Step 1: Materials & Tools
I chose 1 1/2 inch PVC pipe for the main frame because it was sturdy & had the broadest selection of fittings. There are a couple pieces of 2" pipe that I use for the bike frame rests, and some optional foam weather stripping to use for padding. There is also some shaping of some of the pipe & fittings, so some carving & shaping tools are required.
- hack saw (or alternately a PVC tubing cutter)
- tape measure
- wood chisel (or alternately a dremel tool with a carbide bit)
- pencil & dry-erase marker
- sand paper
(4) 15" lengths of 1 1/2" diameter pipe for the base supports
(2) 34" lengths of 1 1/2" diameter pipe for the legs
(1) 16" length of 1 1/2" diameter pipe for the down-tube support
(1) 51" length of 1 1/2" diameter pipe for the base outrigger
(1) 3" length of 2" diameter pipe for the bike rests
(3) 1 1/2" T-fittings
(2) 1 1/2" 90 degree elbow fittings
(2) 1 1/2" coupling or end-cap fittings
(1) 1 1/2" cross fitting (AKA 4-way fitting)
- PVC cement (get the cheapest kind, since it doesn't need to hold water)
- 1 1/4" rubber foam weather stripping (optional)
The 1 1/2" pipe pieces total just over 16 feet. I bought (2) 10 foot pieces & used most of the excess 4 feet on design mistakes so that you don't have to. You could make the legs & base parts a bit shorter, but then you'll be doing a bit of bending while working on your bike. At these lengths, you can do most of your work fairly upright, but the stand is still sturdy & you can fit it through most doorways if you want to move it from room to room or outdoors.
If you're not too concerned about asthetics, the printing on the pipe should not be a problem. If they bother you, you can buy PVC pipe without printing on some internet sites. But it will be more expensive - especially with shipping. You can even get PVC in designer colors. But if I wanted to pay that much I'd probably be buying a stand instead of making one.
Step 2: Carve & Cement the Bike Frame Rests
Take the 3" length of 2" diameter pipe & split it length-wise. You end up with (2) 3" long half-pipes. These will be used to rest the bike frame. One will be the rest for the bike's bottom-bracket shell, & the other will be the rest for the down-tube (the frame member that runs from the head-set down to the crank). Lets start carving & assembling the down-tube rest, since that will be easier than the bottom-bracket rest.
Start carving one of the T-fittings so that the 2" half-pipe can be cemented parallel it. You want to begin carving the branch of the T that runs perpendicular to the other two. You want the low spots on that branch to be pointing toward the straight-through branches so that when you cement the half-pipe it will be parallel to the straight-through direction. Look at the photos to see what I mean.
Begin rough cut carving with a tool that can remove a lot of material quickly. (I started out with the hack saw, then tried a bolt-cutter, & finally went out & bought a Dremel Tool. I've always wanted one, & justified the purchase based on the money I'm saving by not buying a bike stand.) Be careful to not remove too much material during the rough cut. Dish the shape out to match the curve of the 2" half-pipe. Match the half-pipe frequetnly to your carving as you progress in order to tell where to carve & to maintain the parallel of the two pieces.
As you get closer to the final shape & it becomes more difficult to tell where to carve, start using the dry-erase marker as an indicator. Cover the outside of the half-pipe in the dry-erase color & let it dry. Then fit the half-pipe into the carved area & rub it around a bit. The dry-erase color will come off on the high spots that need to be carved down. In addition to carving down the high spots, keep checking that the pieces are fitting parallel. If they are not, you may need to remove a little more than just the dry-erase color in some spots to bring them back into parallel.
As the fit gets closer to the final shape, remove less & less material each time. Eventually you will want to switch to a file & finally sand paper. You will never completely fill all the gaps, & you don't need to since the PVC cement will soften the plastic material & bridge small gaps.
When you think the fit is close enough, clean the parts thoroughly in preparation for cementing. Make sure all of the PVC particles & dry-erase color are removed. (I don't think it is necessary to use PVC primer, since this bond doesn't need to hold water.)
Now comes a critical step. Since we are not fitting these parts usign their insertion fittings, we must make certain that the cement is applied in the correct place & that the parts are aligned properly. Set the parts on a clean flat work surface in a well ventilated well lit area. Observe all the precautions on the PVC cement label. Apply a thin layer of cement to the surface you have just carved and to the outside of the half-pipe where it will contact. Bring the two parts together & smear the cement around slightly for no more than 2 seconds - making sure you end up with them properly aligned before they begin to harden. Hold the parts together for at least 30 seconds more. Then let the cemented assembly sit for at least 2 hours. After at least 2 hours, you can add another light coat of cement to the joint to help fill it in & reinforce it (this isn't necessary with pipes inserted into fittings, but since this is a surface-to-surface fit, every bit helps).
Next, lets assemble the cross-fitting & the bottom-bracket rest. Hold the cross-fitting up in a position like the letter X (not like a + sign). The 2 branches pointing down will join to the legs of the work stand. The branch pointing upper-left will join to the front-tube support. The one pointing to the upper right will be carved to hold the bottom-bracket support.
Start by placing the remaining 2" diameter by 3" length half-pipe in the upper crotch of the X with the open side facing up. You could cement it in place right there, but there would only be 2 tiny contact points - not very strong. Since the upper-left branch is going to hold the pipe for the front-tube support, our only choice is to carve into the upper-right branch. Go ahead & carve away, using the same method used on the front-tube support. As you carve, make certain the half-pipe is aligned straight up (with the cross-fitting remaining in the X position) & perpendicular to the branches of the fitting.
It is OK to let the half-pipe rest against the upper-left branch of the cross. As a matter of fact, it is probably preferable & will lend strength to the final assembly. This bottom-bracket support will hold most of the weight of the bike - it will need all the strength you can give it. This is why we started with the front-tube bracket - so that you could get practice carving & cementing. As you carve away, watch to see how small the gap in the crotch of the X is getting. You don't need to completely close it off, but let it get small enough that it will hold some PVC shavings from your carving without falling through. Later we will use some of the shavings to help reinforce the joint.
Continue to carve until the fit is good & the gap in the crotch of the X is small. Finish sanding & clean up the area - but save some of the PVC shavings for later. Set the parts on your clean flat work surface. Apply a thin layer of cement to the surfaces, including where the half-pipe will contact upper-left branch of the X. Bring the two parts together & smear the cement around slightly for no more than 2 seconds - making sure you end up with them properly aligned before they begin to harden. Hold the parts together for at least 30 seconds more. Then let the cemented assembly sit for at least 2 hours.
After at least 2 hours, you will lay the X down on the work surface & sprinkle some of the PVC shavings into the gap in the crotch of the X on one side. Then dribble a small amount of cement into the shavings. Sprinkle some more shavings into the cement & press them in with a nail or a stick. Let it sit for at least 2 hours, then flip it over & repeat the sprinkling, dribbling, & pressing on the other side. You can also coat the other parts of the cemented joint with another coat of cement to make sure it is strong. Just be certain not to dribble cement into the branches of the fitting that will later need to have pipe inserted.
Now you're done with the most tedious & time-consuming part of the build. From this point on, we will progress quickly & begin to see the stand take shape.
Step 3: Assemble Legs & Base Cross Pieces
Before cementing any of the pipes into fittings, pre-assemble them to check the fit first. Go ahead & pre-assemble the 34" leg pieces into the lower braches of the cross-fitting. If necessary, sand any burrs from the pipe ends or the fitting branches, but don't remove so much material that it no longer fits tight. The cement will act as a lubricant for a few seconds while the pipe is being inserted, so a tight fit is alright. And since these are load-bearing parts, a tight fit is preferred. Now extract the 34" legs & cement them one at a time into the cross-fitting. Apply a thin layer of cement to the outside of the pipe end & the inside of the fitting. Then insert it fully & give it a small twist to help distribute the cement. Hold it in place for at least 30 seconds.
You can go ahead & cement the other 34" leg into the other lower branch right away, but be careful not to stress the parts by putting a load on them until the cement has cured for at least 8 hours. While you are waiting for the cement to cure, you can go ahead and assemble the bottom base cross-supports (but don't attache them to the legs yet).
Start with one of the T-fittings & cement (2) of the 15" pipes in the straight-through positions. Use the same cementing method as you did for the 34" legs. Cement the other (2) 15" pipes into the remaining T-fitting in the same fashion. Let both of the assembled base-supports cure for at least 8 hours, being careful not to stress the parts by bending or putting a load on them while they cure.
After the leg assembly & the base-support assemblies have cured, pre-assemble the base-supports onto the legs & stand it upright. You will need to adjust the base-supports on the legs by twisting them back & forth slightly until the assembled stand is perfectly upright & the base does not rock. You will also need to put the end-caps & 90 degree elbows on the ends of the base to prevent rocking (the stand rocks on the T-fittings in the middle until some fittings are placed on the ends). Don't cement any of these pieces yet. Don't put a load on the stand yet.
Continue to adjust the legs so that the stand is perfectly upright. You can use a level to make sure (as long as you are sure you are working on a flat level surface). Once you are satisfied that the stand is perfectly upright & the base is stable with no rocking, you should put alignment marks in the upright portion of the T-fittings & the 34" legs near the T-fittings. You can use a dry-erase marker for the alignment marks, but be careful to not erase them before the pieces are cemented in place. Then disassemble the bottom supports from the legs. One-at-a-time, cement the legs into the bottom supports, taking care to get the alignment marks lined up while inserting the leg fully into the fitting. You should be twisting a bit to help spread the cement, but also make sure the final position is aligned. You have limited time to do this as the cement begins to cure. Using a little extra cement on these 2 joints will help the insertion & positioning go more smoothly & give you more time to do the final alignment. (This is probably the most critical step of the entire assembly. On my first attempt, I didn't get the legs straight so that the stand leaned to one side & rocked. That is why I decided to use the alignment marks.)
So now you have an assembly that stands upright, but be careful not to put a load on it until it is fully cured (at least 8 hours) & the base outrigger has been added (to keep the legs from flexing excessively when loaded).
Step 4: Assemble the Down-Tube Support & Outrigger
Take the down-tube support from step #2(T-fitting with the half-pipe cemented to it) & cement the 16" length of pipe into one end. Set it aside & let it cure.
If you haven't already dry-assembled the 90 degree elbows to one side of the base supports, do so now (don't cement them). Take the 52" pipe for the base support outrigger & measure its proper length. Set it next to the 90 degree elbows & mark off the correct length - including the length that will be inserted into the elbow fittings. I recommend you err on the long side with this one (you can make corrections & cut more off later). Cut the pipe to the length you have just measured, then dry-assemble the 90 degree elbows to it (be sure to fully insert them), & try to dry assemble this outrigger to the base supports. If necessary, cut the outrigger pipe a bit & try again. (My dad used to joke "I cut it 3 times & it's still too short".)
Once the outrigger fits correctly, you can choose to cement it in place, or leave it as a dry-fit if the fit is tight enough (I left mine as a dry-fit & it works just fine). Now get the downtube support assembly that you cemented earlier, & pre-assemble the lower end into the cross-fitting (the only end remaining that is not already assembled to something). The half-pipe that will support the down-tube should be rotated straight up. If you are confident you can align it properly without without alignment marks, go ahead & cement it. Otherwise, use the dry-erase marker for the alignment marks & then cement it.
You are nearly finished, but before going onto the next step, you need to let the whole assebly cure for at least 8 hours again before putting a load on it. And the next step requires that you put a bike on it to do the final fitting.
Step 5: Fit the Bottom-Bracket Support
After the last cemented piece has cured for at least 8 hours, try placing your bike on the stand. Keep your hand on it, because it probably won't be stable until you do the final fitting. Note where the chain-stays contact the bottom-bracket support & start carving it until the bottom-bracket shell rests nicely in the support. You should take care of how much material you remove on one side vs. the other in order to keep the bike straight upright.
Step 6: Clearance Between Support & Sprocket
The bottom-bracket support should be just clear of the front sprockets. If not, you may need to trim it a little shorter.
Step 7: Final Check
See that the bike sits upright & is fairly stable, resting on the supports. If not, you may need to adjust the supports somewhat by trimming them. You can alternately put foam weather stripping in the supports to help cushion. The foam may help the stability a bit.
If your bike is top-heavy, you may find that it is a little tippy in the workstand. This is especially true if you need to apply some force while working on the bike. If you remove the wheels, the center of gravity is higher & the bike is more tippy. I'm trying to find a way to lend more stability to the bike with some kind of attachment. Perhaps I'll add some more information later.