Tech Review

By Ron Scopelliti

Blackstone Bikeway repair stands

As happy as I am for the variety of bike paths that Rhode Island has to offer, my go-to bike path has long been the Blackstone River Bikeway. Though its close proximity to Smithfield is an obvious draw, the things that really keep me coming back are the lack of street crossings, and the combination of scenery, history, and wildlife that are present along the trail.

Last time I was out on the path I learned of two recent additions: a pair of do-it-yourself bicycle repair stands. One is located near the Captain Wilbur Kelly House Museum in Quinville, right next to the Rte. 116 viaduct. The other is at the Blackstone Visitor’s Center on Rte. 295 North in Cumberland.

The repair stands each feature an air pump with a built-in pressure gauge to make sure your tires are properly inflated, or to fill up a replacement tire tube. They have arms that will support a bike either by its frame or by its seat while it’s being worked on, and wheel chock in case you want to stand your bike upright.

The stands also have an assortment of tools, secured to them by retractable cable tethers. These include:

A set of tire levers.
A folding set of metric hex wrenches.
Flat-head and Phillips-Head screwdrivers.
A T-handle Torx wrench.
Two combination wrenches for 8, 9, 10, and 11mm fasteners.
A combination pedal/headset wrench, with 15mm and 32mm ends.

Each stand also has a handy QR code that you can scan with your smartphone’s QR app to access, a website with advice on using the repair stand, and links to other sites with more extensive information.

As handy as the repair stands are, they won’t help you if you’re three miles away from them, so it’s always good to keep at least a minimal repair kit on your bike bag or in a backpack. And though they’re outfitted to work on most modern bikes, the stands won’t be useful for every bike. The old-school Raleigh 3-speed in the photo, for instance, doesn’t use metric bolts, or hex-head fasteners. So when I go out on a ride with it, I always augment my standard tool kit with the specialized wrenches I’m likely to need in case of a breakdown.

The repair stand at the Blackstone Visitor’s Center offers an ideal opportunity to park your car and give your bike a quick checkup before setting out on the path. The center also has a ChargePoint electric vehicle charging station, available for a maximum of four hours.

And the stand at the Wilbur Kelly House Transportation Museum offers a great spot to pause for a mid-ride safety check of your bike. It also offers a chance to rehydrate in the shade of the Ashton Viaduct, and to check out the museum’s exhibits, detailing the role of the Blackstone River and Canal in the area’s transportation history.

All in all, the repair stands are just two more reasons for me to brag to my friends about the great bike path we have just a stone’s throw from Smithfield. Now if they’d just open a couple coffee shops along the way…