Test: ShadowStand invisible bike rack
The ShadowStand Invisible Bike Rack is a super slim accessory to pull out of your pocket and snap the perfect shot – your pride and joy, epically framed against the scenery, with no ugly stick holding it. It sinks easily into loose soil and isn’t particularly safe in a strong wind, and I’m still sad that it’s not a mount for an invisible bike.
The bike industry uses various tricks for great static shots – custom lengths of thin, stiff wire angled to hide behind components, fishing line held out of the shot, see-through plexiglass rods – but nothing as immediately practical and pocketable as the ShadowStand.
Made in Hungary from 100% recycled acrylic, the ShadowStand works like a curb to support your pedal, while chain tension keeps your bike from rolling – as long as it doesn’t want to roll forward. Unlike a sidewalk, however, it’s transparent and fits in your pocket.
Unlike a curb, it doesn’t keep your front wheel in line, and balancing everything can be tricky – nothing more than the lightest breeze will mess things up. Also, if you have heavy luggage on your bike, it is unlikely to end well. It’s really fair for light, pretty bikes. Like this one:
It’s there, honest
Ideally, these bikes will be on a road as well, as the ShadowStand easily cuts grass or soft dirt because it is so narrow. It should, however, make for great photos of your gravel bike collapsing at sunset.
This small version is designed for a gap of less than 110mm between the ground and the bottom of the pedal axle. Bikes with tall bottom brackets, big tires, short cranks, or a combination of all three will need the tall one.
My Sonder Camino works fine with 38mm tires, but 55mm doesn’t … the extra 17mm of lift means the pedal is too high. Measuring first is therefore essential, because the small is really reserved for classic road machines with lean tires. Fortunately, there is a size guide on the ShadowStand site.
If your bike is over 125mm max for the full size, ShadowStand also offers custom adjustments, and if you want to make your invisible mount visible again, they also offer custom logos engraved.
It’s fair to say that ShadowStand has entered the market for light and thin bike photo racks – too distant a niche, perhaps, but their Instagram page is full of admirers. There’s really no alternative beyond the usual DIY improvisations, and at € 17 (around £ 15) including postage, anywhere in the world it’s pretty cheap.
Yes there is Topeak Slim X Flashstand, but it’s a £ 40 folding rack that slides over one crank end, weighs 196g, and is limited to certain crank sizes. It’s definitely more stable, but it’s really more of a home / studio tool than a mid-point photo aid. Plus, while its glossy chrome finish is attractive, it’s far from invisible.
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If you just need to have your cranks leveled, ShadowStand also offers a much longer photographer stand at € 25 (£ 22) that fits into the non-driveline crank. It’s not pocket-sized though, unlike this – which, in its rather strict settings, is a great way to flaunt your bike for that perfect shot. You won’t even notice it until this magical moment arrives.
Yes, it’s only for road and gravel bikes and won’t work on grass or in the wind, but otherwise the ShadowStand does what it sets out to do simply, efficiently, and affordably.
Thin, light and effective on hard surfaces, but prone to sinking or spilling
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Brand and model : ShadowStand Photography Aid
Tell us what the product is for and who it is for. What do the manufacturers say? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
It is for people who want to balance their traditional road bike to take great photos.
ShadowStand says, “Featherweight and so portable, you won’t even know it’s in the back pocket of your jersey until you find that perfect spot, where the light is right and the scenery stops you in your tracks. This is a transparent acrylic triangle with a top curve, which fits under the pedal axle and a wavy bottom to prevent slipping. It’s simple, but it works.
Tell us a little more about the technical aspects of the product?
18g (size small)
100% recycled plastic
Small and large sizes
Rate the product for build quality:
Rate the product for its performance:
Good on firm ground without wind, otherwise limited.
Rate the product for its durability:
I don’t see how it would ever wear out.
Rate the product by weight (if applicable)
Evaluate the product for its value:
More expensive than a stick, but much harder to see – good value for money so unobtrusive if your goal.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its intended purpose
with practice, quite well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Height and weight.
Tell us what you didn’t particularly like about the product
No way to attach it to be able to move the bike.
How does the price compare to similar products on the market, including those recently tested on road.cc?
There really is no comparison …
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider purchasing the product? Yes-ish
Would you recommend the product to a friend? May be
Use this box to explain your overall score
I really like the idea, and it’s as minimalistic as it gets. If there was a way to tie it up to make adjustments easier, it could be an eight, but as it is, it works well and it’s a good seven.
I usually drive: Sonder Camino Gravelaxe My best bike is: Nah brother that’s it
I have been driving since: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would classify myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, general fitness riding, mountain biking, GRAVEL