A Kickstand Rant

A Properly Outfitted Utility Bike

We’re tired of messing with bikes that don’t have kickstands. Seemingly simple tasks that we do dozens of times every week such as loading groceries, strapping books on racks, stuffing panniers with clothing, etc., can be real a headache on a bike without a kickstand. We’ve come to the conclusion that no bicycle used for transportation or utility is complete without a kickstand. And if a manufacturer would rather sell their transportation model without a kickstand to save weight or cut costs, there’s really no excuse for not providing a kickstand mounting plate on the frame in the event the owner would like to add a kickstand at a later date.

Your Friend, the Kickstand Plate

Clamp-on style kickstands are available, and they work reasonably well on some bicycles, but in many cases they can damage paint or even permanently damage frame tubes. I’ve seen more than one case of deformed chainstays caused by clamp-on kickstands installed on bikes lacking kickstand plates.

The Click-Stand we reviewed earlier this year is an option for those bikes that absolutely can’t be outfitted with a kickstand. It’s a clever device that works well for what it is, but it doesn’t replace a heavy duty kickstand on bikes used for carrying heavy loads.

We have the opportunity to ride a variety of bikes and without a doubt, those outfitted with kickstands are more useful and get ridden more as a result. Going forward, any bike that we purchase to use for utility and transportation will either come outfitted with an integrated kickstand or a kickstand plate for mounting an aftermarket kickstand; anything short of that will be a tough sale around here.

46 Responses to “A Kickstand Rant”

  • Elliott @ Violet Crown Cycles says:

    Agreed. That’s why I spec double footed kickstands with plates on all my Ferguson city bikes. Funny how the bike industry thinks things like kickstands, fenders, and racks are optional on utility/transportation bikes.

  • John says:

    Actually, I’ve been a little disappointed with the (non)-utility of a kickstand for my grocery getting needs. If you’ve got two heavy bags you’re trying to load on a rear rack, the bike is going to tip.

    Is there a kickstand that’ll support a bike properly for that kind thing? The Pletscher 2-leg that I’ve got certainly doesn’t.

  • Aaron says:

    John,
    What’s your gripe with the Pletscher?

  • ksteinhoff says:

    I’m a belt-and-suspenders kind of guy. I have both a two-legged kickstand AND a Click-Stand.

    I use the kickstand for quick stuff: opening the shed door or the gate; I use the Click-Stand for longer stops and for windy days or places where the kickstand is likely to let my bike fall or blow over.

    The kickstand is faster and more convenient; the Click-Stand is more secure.

  • Alan says:

    Hey John,

    I’ve had good luck with Pletscher stands. If you haven’t done so, you might want to trim the legs a bit. Some of the bikes I’ve seen are set up with full length legs that place the rear wheel 8″-10″ or more off the ground. If yours happens to be set up this way, that is contributing to the tippiness.

    Alan

  • ksteinhoff says:

    I left my Pletcher untrimmed. If I’m parking somewhere where there’s soft sand (common in FL), I sort of “drive” the legs down in the sand for additional stability.

    I HAVE had a leg drive itself into shot blacktop and dump the bike more than once. That’s why I like the Click-Stand. By attaching so much higher than a standard kickstand, it raises the center of gravity and makes the bike much more stable.

    The Click-Stand requires you to lock the front and rear brakes (brake-bands are provided, but I use Velcro Straps). That has the side benefit of foiling a jump-and-ride thief. They won’t immediately understand why the bike won’t roll.

  • John says:

    Aaron – just that the bike gets tippy when loading heavy bags of groceries on the back one side at a time.

    The mounting mechanism is also a little suspect, but this goes back to Alan and Michael’s op-ed… bikes don’t seem to have dedicated kickstand plates anymore. When I stand up on the pedals, I can flex the frame enough that the Pletscher’s mount “rocks” on the chainstays, making a knocking sound. I’m going to fix this by wrapping the stays with twine where the kickstand mounts.

  • John says:

    Alan, I haven’t trimmed the stand yet, but the rear tire is only five or six inches off the ground (fat tires + not a lot of BB drop). How much do you suggest trimming? I.e., how much clearance between tire and ground do you recommend?

  • Alan says:

    @John

    You don’t need to trim the stand if you have only 5″-6″ of clearance. The double Pletscher stand is as good as any, so it’s probably a matter of adjusting your loading procedure. You might try placing a few items at a time in each side, balancing the load as you proceed.

  • Matt says:

    I’ve got a Pletscher two-legged on my Rivendell Atlantis. At the time, they didn’t have kickstand plates and seemed a bit irked or mystified by a female customer who’d requested one. They seem to have come around, and newer Atlantii came with kickstand plates. Kickstands, and especially the two-legged ones, are great things and the world seems to be coming around to them like they have on fenders.

    BTW, I got into the Pletschers back in the mid-1990s because having the bike stand upright made attaching the Adams Trail-a-bike, with it’s square male stud going into a square female receptor, much much simpler to attach than trying to do it with the bike at an angle. My kids are now junior and senior in high school.

    Be careful you don’t trim the legs too short. Mine works great on the Atlantis with 32mm tires but I tried some 50 or 60mm tires on it (was going to be riding a bunch of gravel) and the legs were slightly off the ground so the bike had to lean one way or the other.

    Finally, if you do have to clamp to the chainstays, make sure that you don’t clamp your rear derailleur cable to the chainstay as well. Don’t ask how I know this.

  • Rick says:

    Also, for clamp-on, slap some bar tape on the chainstays before clamping for paint protection.

  • Matt says:

    Agreed on the tape–I used double-sided carpet tape and some bits of old inner tube. The old inner tube grips the derailleur cable really well. Two of my Pletchers are on plate-less bikes, one on a bike with a kickstand plate.

    Another nice thing about those Pletschers–you can have the bike upright while you change a flat tire. Removing the wheel will mean the remaining wheel will balance the bike towards it. It’s also nice while you fiddle with brake adjustments, etc. Just a couple of weeks ago my chain came apart (my mighty legs no doubt) and I had to remove a defective link. Piece of cake with the bike standing up to re-thread it through the jockey wheels of the derailleur.

  • Alan says:

    I have a double Pletscher that I recently took off of my LHT. I just can’t get the clamp to hold securely over time and I hesitate to keep tightening the bolt more and more for fear of deforming the chainstays. I’ve used rubber, bar tape, and electrical tape, but still, after a little use, the kickstand starts rotating. I’m wondering if anyone has had luck with a Pletscher Double on an LHT, and if so, what you did to make it work?

  • adam says:

    Obviously others find otherwise, but I’ve found kickstands to be pretty much completely useless. In the city, my bike always leans against what it’s locked to if I’m not holding or riding it. I load the grocery baskets before I unlock, so it doesn’t fall over. Even if I was going to risk leaving it unlocked or free-locked, there’s simply no room to stand up a bike in many parts in the city- so if I did use one, i’d be irresponsibly blocking the sidewalk or bike path until someone knocked it over. Other people park that way anyway, and it’s irksome. In the country there’s less pavement and dirt is too soft to trust a kickstand, so if there’s no tree or fence I lay the bike on the ground where it’s probably going to end up anyway.

    I can see the utility on a bona fide cargo bike like a Big Dummy or Bakfiets, but I don’t have one of those. A few years ago I put one on my commuter just to see if it would change my mind. I used it once the whole year it was there, with my mini tripod strapped to the frame to take night pictures, but it was too wobbly in the wind so I got rid of it.

  • Brent says:

    I have a Trek Allant which does have a kickstand (and a plate!) but I do think that anything marketed as a city, commuter, or utility bike (or has a cargo rack on it standard) should not just come with a kickstand, but a two legged kickstand. I guess I shouldn’t complain though, most of the bikes I was looking at didn’t have a stand or a plate. My Pletscher will be delivered on Monday! Yay!

  • Jonathan says:

    I have a Pletscher on my Waterford touring bike. I trimmed it so that the rear wheel is about 0.5-1 inch off the ground. I may have gone too far. If parked on a slightly uneven surface, with no load onboard, it can be blown over by the wind. Very frustrating.

  • bongobike says:

    Alan,

    sounds like that bolt is coming loose all the time. Have you tried a thread-locking compound?

  • Stuart says:

    For an Xtra Cycle, Big Dummy or Bakfiets you’re getting into another world of stands. Something along the lines of the Rolling Jackass Centerstand (http://www.rollingjackass.com/rolling-jackass-centerstand.html) is called for if you’re hauling serious weight. It’s almost like a motorcycle centerstand. (I don’t have one–no cargo bike in my household–but my LBS has several bikes set up with the Rolling Jackass or similar and they are NICE!)

  • Elliott @ Violet Crown Cycles says:

    I demo’d the Pletscher stand for my bikes but ended up going with the M-Wave or Pyramid double foot for more stability plus they don’t sink into soft ground. I think the Pletscher is a clever design and good for light touring or recreational use but not as good for real utility/loaded cycling.

  • dukiebiddle says:

    Stuart, surely even motorcycle kickstands can’t cost $350? Zonks, that rolling jackass is expensive!

    My utility/grocery getter is a modified mid 80’s rigid MTB. Unfortunately, it was briefly popular at that time to mount U-brakes on the underside of chainstays where the kickstand plate belongs. With the 2 foot wide Wald giant delivery basket on the front, I’ve researched ad nauseum for a practical standing solution. 2 leg stands would require replacing the rear brake with disk brake, which would require a new disk brake hub. The click-stand would just be something else unattached that could be easily stolen. I finally gave up on finding anything that would work well and just settled for a single leg rear chainstay kickstand, which I’ll only use for a brief second while I’m unlocking a door, rolling my pants up, waiting for an elevator etc. For the most part I just do what Adam does: no loading or unloading of the bike without it being locked to an upright surface.

  • mike says:

    bakfiets.nl baks have a dedicated, built in stand. 2 legs with 4 angles to prevent the kiddies from tipping it over when they climb in. very secure. and it flips up under the box. a toe tap to the release is all that is required to set it free – then roll back onto the stand, lock the rear wheel and walk away. very very clever.

  • Stuart says:

    dukiebiddle, Yeah, $350 is a lot! I just barely registered the price before I made my last comment. In its defense it will probably outlast the bike it’s holding up — it is seriously built to last. Also made in USA (Seattle) — very much in the “cottage industry” way of things.

    OK back to regularly scheduled programming…

  • Alan says:

    Here’s that Bakfiets.nl kickstand Mike mentioned above.

  • Frits B says:

    German manufacturer Hebie makes good stands: http://www.hebie.de/bidop-stand-605.hebie605.0.html?&L=1
    Available in the USA too.

  • 2whls3spds says:

    The Hebie stand is better for a loaded bike than the Pletchser. Pyramid makes a Hebie Clone, but I have never used one. Not sure who is selling the Hebies in the US at the moment. I have a steel one on my Staiger utility bike, it is rock solid and I can load the bike up with very little movement. The Hebies are available in steel, alloy, and some type of composite.

    I used the Pletchser on my R530 that masquerades as a city bike, it does fine on that one. I did cut it down to where the tires are only 3″-4″ off the pavement when it is parked.

    Aaron

  • Tamia Nelson says:

    I really looked forward to a two-legged kickstand when I bought my LHT, and mounted a Pletscher. After about a year of use, I gave it up for a basic one-legged design. The reasons for my dislike of the Pletscher are outlined here:

    http://www.tamiasoutside.com/2009/04/13/pletscher/

    and basically boil down to its inherent instability in the kinds of places where I ride and park. I now have less trouble with loads, too, and the bike is less likely to topple. I did consider the Click Stand because of excellent reviews by Alan, Ken, and others, but wasn’t quite sanguine about using it in places where people are passing by. Maybe in the future…

    As for anchoring the KS plates on the chainstays and preventing rotation, someone at Surly recommended I place cloth rim tape between plates and stays. Didn’t try it, but might be worth considering.

    I DO wish that ALL bikes intended for recreation, touring, and utility purposes came with a kickstand plate. Seems a small thing from the POV of added cost and certainly adds very little extra weight, but the benefits are considerable.

  • Larey says:

    I had a different problem with Pletscher, my front wheel was off the ground and if I didn’t place it close to a wall, tee, etc, the front wheel would flop and sometimes tip the whole bike over. I trimmed the legs so there was only about 1″ of clearance, but that made it difficult to park anywhere that wasn’t solid and perfectly flat.

    The only complaint I have about kickstands mounted to the plate — when I’m off the bike and pulling it out of rack and have forgotten to put it up, it snags the pedal.

    My 2 commuters have clamp-on kickstands mounted close to the back wheel. They aren’t the most stable things in the world but they’ll do until the perfect kickstand come along.

  • ToddBS says:

    I’m not aware of anyone selling the Hebie in the US. I looked into it a few months back and the sole US distributor was closing up shop even as I emailed him.

    They are available from SJS in the UK though. I just went through the checkout process without actually buying and the Hebie HBP-1 with shipping to the USA was 45.56 GBP – 74.13 USD. I’ve ordered a few things from the UK, and shipping is actually fairly fast.

  • Jun says:

    Urbane Cyclist in Toronto (ucycle.com) carries Hebie stands. Having said that, I’d be reluctant to mail order one. There are many sizes, and if you get the wrong size, it can interfere with your pedaling. Also, the bolt on mine has seized after one winter of commuting. I find that the stability is better than the Pletscher, but YMMV.

  • William says:

    Sadly my Atlantis also comes from an era before Grant decided Kickstand plates were the bee’s knees. Currently I ride without one and occasionally regret it, but perhaps I’ll try a clamp at some point or else have it into the shop to get some new braze ons…

  • Frits B says:

    @Larey: Most suppliers in Europe who fit Hebie two-legged stands, also fit a steering stabiliser, i.e. a spring on the downtube. You might have a look at WorkCycles in Amsterdam, http://www.workcycles.com.

  • Frank | DIYCycling says:

    Well said!
    One thing I think the bicycle industry needs to take a strong look at (and I think they’ve been starting to look this direction for sure) is the are of utility bicycles. We need to break away from the idea that a good bike is lightweight, fast, and full of all the latest Shimano components.
    Let’s hear it for developing bicycles for people to use, every day, in every way.

  • Nick says:

    What about rear-mount kickstands yall? Greenfield makes a fine one that mounts at ends of the seat and chain stays(makes a sort of L-shaped mount). Its lightweight, works very well when your weights in the rear, and no special requirements for mounting it. It works great for me and my commuter!
    http://www.greenfieldny.com/chart_bicycle.htm

  • Russ says:

    Trimming the legs of a Pletscher lowers the center of gravity, when supporting the bike, but IMHO it makes any bike more tippy because the legs become closer together when it is in position to support the bike. I have not installed one on my utility bike but I have a Pletscher on my Gold Rush with years of good service on stock length legs.

  • dukiebiddle says:

    Nick, that’s exactly what I use. I read great things about how well they carry the weight from rear panniers, but I carry all my weight over the front wheel. In all honesty, though, I think the Greenfield is the best solution for me… just not ideal. At least that’s the impression I’m getting reading all these problems people have kickstands mounted in the traditional position.

  • hugo says:

    my experience is that a heavely loaded bike is difficult to lift up

  • Trisha says:

    I couldn’t agree more. And a bike without a kickstand plate is incomplete! My first bike, the MTB Schwinn, didn’t have a kickstand plate and the cheapo kickstand the shop put on there was far from stable since it wasn’t bolted to the frame itself.

  • e says:

    meh. i had a kickstand on last winter’s beater, and I never used it. there’s always something to lean a bike against. not worth getting riled up about.

  • Alan says:

    @Evan

    You must supply kickstands on your rentals, no?

  • Adrienne says:

    I have a super heavy duty center stand on my Batavus. I love it! Well, I loved it… it just ripped my mounting plate right off the bike! : ( I have no stand of any sort until I can figure out a fix. I miss my stand : (

  • virr says:

    I’ll vote for a click-stand. I have a kickstand on one bike, and click-stand for the other. Click-stand is far preferred. No matter what I put on the bike for commuting or running errands it holds the bike up. I did get the max once since I do commute and run errands with significant loads.

  • Val says:

    1. Centerstands rule, for pretty much any bike ( Adrienne, what you need is a top plate [which can either be sourced or fabricated] and a longer bolt – find an LBS that considers this sort of thing routine, and stick with them).
    2. The Pletscher stand is much stronger than it looks, and works best when adjusted to a length that allows the rear wheel ro rest 1/2″ to 3/4″ off the ground when on the stand. This will give the best stability, but mostly on hard surfaces.
    3. The Hebie and similar stands are also excellent, but are very difficult to adjust. If they do not yeild the proper height on installation, they may be substandard in use. Also, they do reduce ground clearance, though this is usually not a problem in actual practice.
    4. The Rolling Jackass stand (which I make) is intended only for heavy duty cargo use on the XtraCycle, Big Dummy, or Yuba Mundo bicycles. It will hold up a payload of up to 350 lbs, and allows the rider to set the bike on the stand before dismounting (think about it for a minute). It is wide enough to permit extremely assymetric loading, and it is, indeed, built to outlast the bike. Considering that many riders are building these bikes with rear hubs that can retail for $1200 (Rohloff) and rims that can cost over $100 each (Large Marge), $350 for a serious, thoroughly tested, unique centerstand should not be considered unreasonable. Most people do not need it, but for those that do, there is no substitute.

  • Tinker says:

    @hugo, I find that a Honda Goldwing 1600 is a bit heavy to get up on to the center stand, and you definitely want to be sure your side stand is fully locked in the upright position before resting the weight of a motorcycle on it. But a bicycle? Not so much. Some of those beasts weigh upward of 700 lbs (loaded).

    The fact is that motorcycles are losing factory installed kick stands and centerstands as well. The claim is that they limit ground clearance, and being able to get your knee down in a curve is as desired by a motorcyclist, as lightweight bikes are desired by bicyclists. And believe it or not, also for the reduction in weight. (But hey, you guys started it, right?)

    I always had both a centerstand, a two point center mounted stand that was extended by the judicious application of force, down on the lever provided while pulling back/lifting to roll the stand down, and forward and the bike up and back..

    The side stand just allowed you to drop it and support the MC on both wheels and the kickstand. If the weight of the MC was two heavy for the asphalt or soil in the area you chose to park, an excursion to see Mr. Ground could have dire consequences.

    A 750cc Yamaha would rock back and forth, with the slightest breeze, while on the centerstand as I recall, alternately touching the front and rear tires.

  • Gernot says:

    I have the Hebie 2 leg stand in steel on a touring tandem. It’s heavy, but very sturdy. I am very pleased with it. My other bikes have single leg kickstands.

    Gernot

  • Robert says:

    4 different solutions , on 4 different bikes for kickstands ..

    1 Esge twin leg , did settle in after reforming the tubes to suit itself, had a welder add 2 aluminum plates to the end of the legs, for better footprint size.

    2 Dutch Koga Miyata Trekking bike , came with a KS center mount plate and prop stand,
    but OEM added a second kickstand to the bottom of the left lowrider rack ,
    keeps the front load from pulling the bike over..

    3 a rear triangle stand , japan Bridgestone, has a lock in the down position, I added a strap to go around the front wheel to keep it from rolling or turning when on the stand , the 2 things help.

    4 is a rear wheel support stand on the camp-tour bike , swings down rolling the bike back on it.

    pivot up by rear axle, .. triangular towers with base tubes just above ground level, stands upright on soft turf.

    nylon end plugs contact the pavement on hard surfaces.
    I got to build it as frame was being built . It’s a Touring Truck, carries bringing too much with grace..

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Kickstand Plate Fetish says:

    […] and kickstand is a big deal to me. As a matter of fact, not so long ago right here on this blog I vowed to never buy another bike without a kickstand plate. Call me weird, but this wasn’t an insignificant factor in my decision to go with my new […]

 
© 2011 EcoVelo™