The humble kickstand

Whether a bike has a kickstand or not is really a personal decision. They’re so amazingly convenient, but come on new fewer bikes then you might think. Can your bike take one? That depends.

What your bike’s frame is made of is important. If you’re not concerned with scratching the paint a little and if the frame is reasonable sturdy, then a kickstand is a real option; it’ll make the bike more usable, important for a commuter or a city rider. I wouldn’t attach a kickstand to, say, a carbon frame or a bike with a custom paint job, but most of my bikes have stands.

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If your shop tells you that “kickstands don’t stay on well”, what that means to me is that they’re either using bad kickstands, or they don’t attach them well, or that they’re buying into the bikes-are-for-racing mentality. However, there are some bikes that won’t play well with a kickstand: my Bike Friday, a folding commuter bike with road tires, really has no place on the frame for one; and my steel pack-mule touring bike, while a kickstand fits well, it’d chew into the frame because of the weight of a touring load. However, a commuter bike that won’t take a kickstand isn’t nearly as useable as one that will, and I would consider that bike to be unsuitable as a full-time commuting rig.

On my steel touring pack-mule bike, I ended up getting a gadget called the click-stand; it’s essentially a tent pole with a fitting on the end that hooks onto the frame, and also comes with a pair of brake bands that do just what you’d think. Unfortunately, it takes a minute to deploy the click-stand and it isn’t suitable for everyday use, unless you’re not in a hurry on your commute, and who isn’t? It is perfect for touring.

A bike without a stand of any sort can be parked by simply leaning it against a railing, or the end of a bike rack, or even lying it on its side on the ground if you’re not locking it up. You can use cable locks combined with a sturdy lock such as a U-lock (or even a bungee cord combined with a lock) to keep the bike steady. My kickstand-less bikes have bungee cords that live on the rear racks for this purpose. Unfortunately, in a crowded city environment, it’s hard to find a spare wall to rest your steed on.

Kickstands are cheap; if you want one, get one and attach it. If you’re concerned about scratching the paint (you will scratch the paint), then you can cut up an old tube and use it to protect the frame. Don’t tighten it so much that you crush the frame, but check it every so often and make certain it’s reasonably tight.

The humble kickstand can make your ride a more pleasant experience!

Text is descended from an answer I wrote for this Stack Exchange Q&A page.

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