Old School

In Memoriam: The Original Park Adjustable Linkage Clamp

In Memoriam: The Original Park Adjustable Linkage Clamp

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There are certain bicycle tools that once owned, signify much more than just ownership. For me, it was this Park clamp. No one starts out with a proper bike stand. For any cyclist, I see the early years of working on the bike as it leans up against the end of the bed. I also see no live-in girlfriend or second room to do this in. This era includes adjustable crescent wrenches and pliers as the go-to tools.

Once one fully realized the impossibility of replacing loose headset bearings on a bike leaning against furniture on a shag rug, the search began for a work stand. For me it ended with one made by Minoura; functional but a violation of all we hold dear. It was functional like a bowling ball is functional in a bar fight. Something unintended was going to happen and something was going to get damaged. It’s a folly of youth where one always wants to buy the best bike components but not best tools to install them. Bad tools make for graphic expletives.

The bike frame teetered on its bottom bracket shell on the Minoura stand. A cheap book clamp marred the paint on the downtube. I’ve put out of my mind what might have followed that in my work stand evolution. Whatever it might have been, it did suck.

The quantum change happened when @Rob’s and my LBS went out of business. The owner, like most, was worn down from years of barely making a profit. He threw in his Phil Woods waterproof grease covered rag and said Basta! He allowed me into the basement which was both stock room and secondary wrenching room. I pounced on one of his Park clamps, can I buy this – for cheap? (Yes, I’m a terrible person). I left there as excited as if I had bought a new bike. Merckx be praised, I have a proper work stand. Actually all I had was the clamp and its socket but I had access to all the things necessary to fabricate a support column and base. This was one of the things in life that actually lived up to expectations. It was fast. It was quickly adjustable. It was extremely Pro.

You want to work on your bike? You just chuck the frame’s steel seat tube into the clamp, throw the lever and done, perfect. And it was perfect until my Merlin Extralight entered and we weren’t allowed to clamp onto that seat tube. The seat post was the only thing legal to clamp to. What a world, what a world, perfection had come undone. The clamp was now too low for proper seat post clamping. Unhappy accommodations were made, but years later, when the wife’s new Madone seat post was too fat for the adjustable clamp, even I had to admit defeat. Oh Fortuna, you are a cruel and unreasonable mistress, FFS.

New frame materials meant the original Park adjustable clamp’s long run at the top was over. For everyone but me it was no doubt over ten years ago but I’m always the last guy to leave the party (too high to find the door). Park has adapted to new frame materials and new shapes. Minoura makes something approaching a normal work stand. Even I am on top of this. Soon a new Park adjustable clamp and taller (and adjustable!) steel column shall be fabricated. All will be right with the world once again.

// In Memoriam

  1. Great article, Gianni – thanks! The sentence “It was functional like a bowling ball is functional in a bar fight” had me wiping droplets of Danish Stout off the keyboard. Brilliant stuff.

    FWIW, I have a crappy and cheap ‘tripod’ stand that is excellent for cleaning/hosing down the bike(s), and a Tacx ‘Cyclemotion’ – which does a great job – for all the other work.

  2. Nice on Gianni. I know the attachment to good tools all too painfully. A year or so ago we had a big clean out of the house and garage. Mu uncle and father-in-law helped out and somehow, along the way, a tool box made a one way trip to the tip.

    Sadly it wasn’t the one with the dull tools for house hold chores or anything that left me with a feeling of anticipation about buying new stuff. I had all my favourite bike tools from my Wera hex and torx keys to the Cannondale SI crank specific tools and a couple of tourque wrenches. Several hundred quid all up.

    I still haven’t replaced everything.

    I’ve got a Minoura work stand, it must be a more recent version than yours. It’s been superb and only ever fell over when I took the back wheel out of my downhill bike without first removing the front..

  3. @ErikdR

    That is a great idea, relegate the crap stand to the hose and washing. Do I need two stands now? Screw it, I’ll be dead or unable to pedal before this new one rusts away from occasional bath.

    @Chris

    Bloody relatives…what are they good for, FFS?

  4. Ahhh Gianni, was that Laughing Alley? Fond memories, that basement was where the chain was bathed in the large parts cleaner, then given a blow job hanging from a hook with the compressor then replaced on the racing bike with a chain tool and lovingly lubed link by link. Fond memories of Jim, Steve and now nameless minions all who held my hand through all my own wrenching and wheel building as I’d get ready for the big race.

    The attachment to tools is a sickness that needs no cure. Weirdly, unlike in my day job, I have only been attached to one bike tool. It was a pair of chain whips that I lovingly made and in the then recently past fad I drilled them and polished them so that they were the lightest and shiniest whips on the east coast. They even had RAB drilled in the handles, so if you have ever seen those whips you know the asshole who stole them from me at a race!

  5. @Rob

    Ahhh Gianni, was that Laughing Alley? Fond memories, that basement was where the chain was bathed in the large parts cleaner, then given a blow job hanging from a hook with the compressor then replaced on the racing bike with a chain tool and lovingly lubed link by link. Fond memories of Jim, Steve and now nameless minions all who held my hand through all my own wrenching and wheel building as I’d get ready for the big race.

    The attachment to tools is a sickness that needs no cure. Weirdly, unlike in my day job, I have only been attached to one bike tool. It was a pair of chain whips that I lovingly made and in the then recently past fad I drilled them and polished them so that they were the lightest and shiniest whips on the east coast. They even had RAB drilled in the handles, so if you have ever seen those whips you know the asshole who stole them from me at a race!

    Yes it was Laughing Alley. A shop that went out of business so long ago there are no photos of it on the interwebs. Damn. What a fine shop. Damn, does that mean we are old too?

    You need to post a photo of your whips.

  6. Rob and old dudes

    @Gianni

    Yes it was Laughing Alley. A shop that went out of business so long ago there are no photos of it on the interwebs. Damn. What a fine shop. Damn, does that mean we are old too?

    You need to post a photo of your whips.

    Damn, you said it not me! There is no image of the whips. But for your entertainment I include a shot of this last Junes reunion ride of the old gang… We rode the Allis Loop with the man and it was very entertaining!

  7. @Rob

    Rob and old dudes

    @Gianni

    Yes it was Laughing Alley. A shop that went out of business so long ago there are no photos of it on the interwebs. Damn. What a fine shop. Damn, does that mean we are old too?

    You need to post a photo of your whips.

    Damn, you said it not me! There is no image of the whips. But for your entertainment I include a shot of this last Junes reunion ride of the old gang… We rode the Allis Loop with the man and it was very entertaining!

    When was that taken-recently? The joker on the right in the Wheelworks kit looks super familiar (as does MIT dude), singing guy in middle – not so much. The CCB kit is current, but the Wheelworks one is quite different now from what I’ve seen.

  8. Cool article. During my bike shop days of the ’80s, I carefully clamped many a steel frame into a Park stand. Just seeing a Park stand sends me back to those days and good memories. Thanks for the Pic ‘N’ Words to lighten up my Saturday…

  9. We’ve got these clamps still in the shop, they work a treat.

    And I beg to differ on the bowling ball in a bar fight… Cyril used one to great affect in Breaking Away.

  10. @Ccos last June at Wheelworks in Belmont, MA. Peter Mooney frame builder on the right, MIT is Jim Presig, singer we won’t identify… CCB guy is James Fitzgerald who is still actively racing. The best reason for the get together was to ride the Allis Loop with John Allis my Sensei in Blue, he is to the left of Steve Zale in white.

    All of these guys raced New England in the early eighties we were not team mates but sometimes a few of us raced on the same team for one event. Often we’d train on the Allis Loop out of Cambridge or Belmont. By the way the singing guy, Tom Cochran would crack a joke 300 yards from town lines and paste me because I was laughing so hard. Rich Mcgillvary (left side), Saman Majd, (middle), John Lopheimmer (right) round out the crew. It was fun to ride together after so many years, all were pretty fit and it was just like old times!

  11. John Allis? Respect, that’s a hell of a Sensei you got there!

  12. @Oli John is a one of a kind. A terrific person and a great example of hard man. As my initiation I spent 2 years following his wheel on the Allis Loop 5 days a week and he had me on fixed and roller racing for winter training. He was responsible for my start as a racer and any success I had comes from the habits he taught me. He inspired many by his daily morning ride with Harvard and MIT men and women until he retired from Belmont Wheelworks a few years ago.

    At age 70+ he still rides like he did 35 years ago!

  13. Hey Gianni, spot on about tools and equally about the progression to a work stand . I’ve lost count of the scuffed bar tape and worse that came from fettling my bike while it leant on something. Picked up a cracking stand for £30 in the sales last year and have never looked back.

  14. Very timely indeed. I have a biek workshop cum storage shed in the works for 2015 and have been researching stands. Looks like the Park PCS4-2 with the latest edition of the maha-clamp is the front runner. Have been hanging my bike by the saddle on a piece of rope that holds a ladder together. Not ideal!

  15. Here I was thinking I was the only one who spent a few years chasing a moving bike as it edged down the wall/bed/bookshelf, moving just enough to make working on it impossible. I don’t miss those days.

    I have two stands – PT one where you remove the front wheel and it cradles the BB and then a mid-level one where you clamp the post or ST. Very nice to have two options. Now the final piece…come spring I shall build a proper bike shed where both stands can live, along with the bicycles. Can’t wait!

    Nice one, Gianni!

  16. @rfreese888

    Very timely indeed. I have a biek workshop cum storage shed in the works for 2015 and have been researching stands. Looks like the Park PCS4-2 with the latest edition of the maha-clamp is the front runner. Have been hanging my bike by the saddle on a piece of rope that holds a ladder together. Not ideal!

    That Park stand would be a good upgrade from the rope. The clamp on that stand is perfect. Believe me, I have hung my bikes from ropes too, barely better than leaning them against furniture. No, not ideal.

  17. @gilly

    Hey Gianni, spot on about tools and equally about the progression to a work stand . I’ve lost count of the scuffed bar tape and worse that came from fettling my bike while it leant on something. Picked up a cracking stand for £30 in the sales last year and have never looked back.

    There should almost be a Rule about this. Before one spends upgrade money on a light cassette/carbon handle bars/climbing wheels/ or other fancy bits, blow some money on a nice stand. It will make one a happy mechanic even if the only thing one wrenches is new bar tape. And it will last forever.

  18. Nicely done. I have a tripod to peak Work stand… It would not have been my first or tenth choice, but it was a gift from family so it works well enough that I can’t justify a new one…

  19. The gentleman on the right is Peter Mooney, fame builder and WheelWorks principle. If you’re thinking about a custom steel frame you should consider him, and if you reside in New England you should doubly consider him…

  20. @Chris

    Nice on Gianni. I know the attachment to good tools all too painfully. A year or so ago we had a big clean out of the house and garage. Mu uncle and father-in-law helped out and somehow, along the way, a tool box made a one way trip to the tip.

    Sadly it wasn’t the one with the dull tools for house hold chores or anything that left me with a feeling of anticipation about buying new stuff. I had all my favourite bike tools from my Wera hex and torx keys to the Cannondale SI crank specific tools and a couple of tourque wrenches. Several hundred quid all up.

    I still haven’t replaced everything.

    I’ve got a Minoura work stand, it must be a more recent version than yours. It’s been superb and only ever fell over when I took the back wheel out of my downhill bike without first removing the front..

    Tell me about it. When my parents moved house in 93, a whole freaking bike (my Brian Rourke winter bike), tool box and my racing wheels (24 spoke, Royce Hubs, Mavic Rims, Clement tubs, with covers) disappeared. How do you lose that? I’m still upset by it 20 years on . . .

  21. “It was functional like a bowling ball is functional in a bar fight. Something unintended was going to happen and something was going to get damaged.” Well played (Brett’s objections notwithstanding).

  22. @G’phant

    “It was functional like a bowling ball is functional in a bar fight. Something unintended was going to happen and something was going to get damaged.” Well played (Brett’s objections notwithstanding).

    Did Velominati suddenly come back online in NewZ? All of a sudden the old posse is back! Great to see you, G’Phant. You’ve been so scarce you’re back down to a Level 2. Sorry.

  23. @rothbj1

    The gentleman on the right is Peter Mooney, fame builder and WheelWorks principle. If you’re thinking about a custom steel frame you should consider him, and if you reside in New England you should doubly consider him…

    Gaga Googoo! That is perfection.

  24. @frank

    @G’phant

    “It was functional like a bowling ball is functional in a bar fight. Something unintended was going to happen and something was going to get damaged.” Well played (Brett’s objections notwithstanding).

    Did Velominati suddenly come back online in NewZ? All of a sudden the old posse is back! Great to see you, G’Phant. You’ve been so scarce you’re back down to a Level 2. Sorry.

    thafuck are you apologising for? If lawyerboy can’t prioritise his life properly & doesn’t visit often enough to maintain his standing then it’s hardly your fault!

  25. @Mikael Liddy

    @frank

    @G’phant

    “It was functional like a bowling ball is functional in a bar fight. Something unintended was going to happen and something was going to get damaged.” Well played (Brett’s objections notwithstanding).

    Did Velominati suddenly come back online in NewZ? All of a sudden the old posse is back! Great to see you, G’Phant. You’ve been so scarce you’re back down to a Level 2. Sorry.

    thafuck are you apologising for? If lawyerboy can’t prioritise his life properly & doesn’t visit often enough to maintain his standing then it’s hardly your fault!

    He’s right. Not something a man in my profession says easily. The shame …

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