Most of our reviews start one of three ways. First there is often a pitch made to us. A company has a new product out that they share with us and we decide to either review it or pass. The second way is when we pitch a company. We see they have a product that looks interesting and we want to get some time with it. In both of these cases we typically review it for a period of time and then typically send it back, or in some cases purchase it for permanent use. Then there is the third way – when we see a product so interesting or needed that we buy it for ourselves immediately and then review it. The Silca Hirobel frame clamp is that last type of review. We saw an ad, researched it, and bought it in all of 10 minutes. And now just a week after getting it, using it, and using it some more we were ready to share it with you.
The Silca Hirobel Frame Clamp
First things first, Silca did not invent the Hirobel frame clamp – it was actually first introduced at Interbike way back in 2014. But Silca did recognize that clamping a carbon frame can cause a serious issue. You can see in the image below both what can happen when a frame is over clamped. And also how much damage is done. The yellow grease pencil indicates the total damage inside the frame found via ultrasound inspection – far beyond what is visible to the naked eye.
Luckily there was already a good solution on the market – just not under the Silca name. So Silca had two choices – reinvent the wheel or add Hirobel to the Silca family. They chose the latter. And here we are just a few months later and the Silca Hirobel is ready to order.
The Hirobel is a specially designed frame clamp for bicycle repair stands which better distributes stresses and loads within the frame to eliminate damage potential to paint, graphics and especially to irregularly shaped thin walled tubes of modern high end bicycles.
At its core the Hirobel is incredibly simple. An octagonal aluminum beam with two rubber mounts and securing straps. Each mount fits into either corner of your bike’s main triangle – one at the top tube \ down tube junction. And the other either at the seat tube \ top tube junction (or if you have a beam bike just secured to the top tube though we haven’t had a chance to test that and see if there are any unexpected issues). The one by the head tube is movable with a quick release lever to secure it (this has been updated by Silca versus the original Hirobel). Your frame is then secured to the mounts via stretchy rubber straps secured to aluminum knobs. Finally the octagonal beam itself is clamped by your bike stand. If it seems overly simple – it is. And so far we can also say it works. (The video below shows how your bike mounts to the Hirobel).
The Hirobel originally retailed for $249.99 pre acquisition. But Silca’s brought the price down to $185. And as we mentioned it is already available for purchas.
We have always struggled with mounting and wrenching carbon tri bikes. First, we never clamp a top tube of both the bikes we own or that are loaned to us for review. It’s a simple rule but one that we suspect has saved us many thousands of dollars. So instead we clamp the seat post which leads to all sorts of challenges – we need to remove any lights and radar units prior to all clamping, we cannot work on a bike if we also want the seat post removed (like when we want to replace a Di2 battery), and some seat posts are so long and wide that clamping them is nearly impossible. But for years we have managed to deal with these challenges – because we really did not have much other choice. Then we saw the Silca Hirobel and decided to jump in and buy it.
The first bike we tried with our Hirobel was our Shiv test bike. The bike at the time of maintenance was attached to our Wahoo KICKR CLIMB and needed to be race prepped. So instead of first mounting the Hirobel to our stand, and then the Shiv to the Hirobel. We instead mounted the Hirobel straight to the Shiv. We quickly learned that tri bikes have a unique challenge for the Hirobel – bento boxes. Our Shiv has a Zipp Speed Box frame bag on it, and it was right where we wanted to strap down the head tube mount of the Hirobel. Our first thought was just strap it down over the bento box – as you can see below that was not our finest idea.
So second thought was to detach the bento box. Which solved our problem. So for those using a bento box – know that you will need to remove it still before mounting the Hirobel. Now we were ready to clamp down the Hirobel’s aluminum bar into our stand. At first we did find this to be a bit awkward. Holding the bike with the protruding octagonal arm is a little different than just holding a bike. With practice it became easy – but the first few times the muscle memory was a bit off.
With the SHIV we also had to remove the wheels and remount them. Being able to quickly undo the stand clamp, put the bike on the ground (Hirobel still mounted), adjust the wheel’s quick release levers, and then reclamp the Hirobel was magnitudes easier than dealing with the seat post. Just the fact that the clamp was horizontal so the Hirobel would sit there, versus the vertical orientation needed for a seat post was great.
Once clamped in we learned the second important thing about the Hirobel – it worked fantastic. Once the bike was strapped down we did an end to end cleaning and chain lube and found it was the easiest and stablest platform we had ever worked on.
Once we wrapped up the Shiv we undid the straps and removed the bike but left the Hirobel on the stand. We then strapped on the new AeroGeeks 2019 Specialized Venge. Adjusting the mount via the quick release is not as easy while the bike is on the stand then when you strap the Hirobel to the bike first and then secure it. The rubber mounts do not easily slide over your frame (as one would expect them not to) and getting everything into position took a little more effort. It was far easier to mount the Hirobel to the bike first, and then to the stand versus the opposite.
At $185 the Hirobel is not a cheap addition to your garage. In fact it costs just about the same (or more) than the Park Tool or Feedback Sports stand you need to partner it with. But for those dealing with carbon bikes – especially ones with awkward seat posts this will make your lives a whole lot easier (and wrenching on your bike a whole lot safer). And for us being able to protect our fleet of bikes (and the bikes we review) is almost non negotiable and worth the cost. Because it would be a whole lot harder for us to review the gear you want to read about if all of our bikes kept getting destroyed. As always thanks for reading AeroGeeks.com, and make sure to stay tuned next week for another new launch from a company you may – or may not have read about this week!