It’s hard to compete with big box stores. Perhaps that’s why more bicycle tool companies don’t make workbenches. A Husky 72-inch, 18-drawer mobile workbench costs $1,200 at Home Depot, so that’s likely the go-to for most serious home mechanics. It’s relatively affordable (smaller units go for as low as $400) and at the very least, it holds your tools while you wrestle with your brake bleed.
So why invest in Unior’s modular workbench, which costs substantially more?
You may not want to, at least if you’re a casual mechanic. But if you’re in the garage daily, maintaining your bikes and even working on the car occasionally, the Unior workbench system has a lot to offer that the rolling rig from Home Depot won’t.
For starters, it’s completely modular. That means you get everything you need, nothing you don’t, and you can tailor it to your price point, the size of your space, and your specific needs. For example, you can combine the narrow 2 Drawer Tool Cabinet with the Adjustable Leg, and the short bench top for a total of $1,478. Don’t need drawers? Two adjustable legs and a short bench top will run you $865. In other words, you have plenty of options to suit your needs, and each one is perfectly stable for a wide variety of bike and non-bike tasks.
Our test unit will most likely find its home in bike shops. At $2,720, this might be overkill for all but the most enthusiastic home mechanics. But while it’s uber-pricey, it sure is a beauty. And there’s plenty of room not only for Unior’s tool trays that fit snugly into each drawer, but also for every other tool we had in the garage, including a few power tools.
The wood core bench top is wrapped in a stainless-steel sheet, which makes it resistant to impacts. If you’re like me, you drop tools … a lot. The stainless-steel shield helps a lot here. And since you’re likely to use a lot of chemicals — lubes, greases, cleaning products — the stainless steel means a longer life for your bench top. It comes in two sizes to accommodate your workspace.
The only problem we’ve had with the stainless-steel bench top is keeping it clean. It tends to stain slightly, though this is purely a cosmetic complaint. With a fair bit of scrubbing, you can get it sparkly again. Otherwise, it’s been bombproof and perfect for our needs.
It’s clear Unior has developed this system with the professional mechanic in mind. “A place for everything, and everything in its place” might as well be stamped on every drawer. The optional tool trays feature cutouts for specific tools, so you always know where your tools belong. And they’re logically grouped; like tools end up with like tools. After a few days working with the drawer inserts — and moving them to the drawers in which they worked best — it was easy to reach for the right tool in the right drawer without ever thinking about it. And it was easy to find that tool’s home when it was no longer in use.
The modular system doesn’t come with wheels. That’s by design. The top of this bench is meant to be a work surface, so Unior believes it shouldn’t sway, shimmy, slide, or otherwise move in ways you don’t want it to. So far, our test unit has been used for bike repair, woodworking, car repair, and a bar top for an after-work beer or two.
So while it will be difficult to move this system once it’s in place, you also shouldn’t have to move it. And as a bonus, this workbench is incredibly stable; you will be able to do heavy duty projects on it without worry that the bench might start creeping, wobbling, or otherwise moving in ways it shouldn’t.
That said, it is a pricey system. You’ll want to invest in this for the long haul, and for serious work. Thinking of starting your own bike shop? There’s a lot of value here, especially since Unior offers a Pro Pricing plan.
Need the most stable work surface you can get? Unior does an admirable job here. Want to buy a work station that will be the last you ever have to buy? This is worth the investment. Unior also offers a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects.
Casual mechanics, however, may be able to do just fine with a less expensive option from the big box store. You’ll lose out on stability, but you’ll save your wallet a bit of pain. And bonus: You can order some of the tool trays from Unior and toss them in your big box store workbench. It may not fit perfectly, but you can at least get a taste of both worlds.