Bicycles are a super popular way to get around and have fun in many parts of the world. But if you’ve ever noticed, most bikes don’t come with a kickstand – that handy metal bar that flips down to hold the bike upright when you park it. So what gives? Why don’t all bicycles have this accessory that seems so useful?
There are some good reasons why kickstands haven’t been universally adopted on bikes. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at the pros and cons of bike kickstands, why they aren’t standard, things to think about if you want to add one, tips for installing them, and recommendations for the best kickstands to buy.
A Quick Intro to Bike Kickstands
First, let’s quickly review what bike kickstands are and how they work before jumping into why they aren’t on every bike.
A bicycle kickstand is a metal bar attached to the bike’s frame so the bike can stand up straight when parked. Kickstands flip down from the frame to give the bike 3 points of contact with the ground – the 2 wheels plus the stand. This holds the bike in an upright “parked” position so you don’t have to hold it up or lean it on something when you stop.
There are a few different types of kickstands:
- Two-legged kickstands – These have 2 legs that flip out to both sides of the back wheel for a wide, stable base. Best for heavy bikes.
- Single-legged kickstands – One thin metal rod that flips down from the frame. More likely to sink into soft ground.
- Rear wheel kickstands – Attaches near the rear wheel and lifts it off the ground. The rear weight makes this less stable.
- Center kickstands – Mounts in the middle near the pedals/cranks spreading weight over both wheels. Very sturdy.
Some of the benefits of using a bike kickstand include:
- Allows the bike to stand on its own without any support when parked
- Keeps the bike off the dirty ground
- Super convenient for quick stops while riding
- Lets you get on and off the bike easily without holding it
But there are some disadvantages too which likely explain why they aren’t universal:
Why Most Bikes Don’t Have Kickstands Installed
Now that we know what bike kickstands are and how they work, let’s look at some of the top reasons most bikes don’t come with them already installed:
One main reason is added weight. Typical kickstands can weigh anywhere from 250-500g or more. For high-performance bikes made for racing or light trail riding, this extra weight works against the goal of creating an extremely lightweight and fast bike.
Removing every possible gram makes a difference when riding hard or racing. So most sport/performance bike brands skip adding a kickstand mount to save those precious grams.
Can Catch on Stuff When Riding
Another big factor is that kickstands can bounce down and catch on things when riding over bumpy ground. This can lead to dangerous crashes if the kickstand catches on rocks, roots, or other obstacles when it’s jarred out of its flipped up position unexpectedly.
Mountain bikers especially want to avoid any protruding parts that could snag on the trail. So kickstands are almost never seen on serious off-road bikes.
Not Great for All Surfaces
Kickstands work best on smooth, paved surfaces and may sink in or tip over if the ground is soft, uneven, or sloped. Bikes made for trail riding or touring can be parked on grass, dirt, gravel or other natural surfaces. Standard kickstands aren’t well-suited for this.
Can Damage Frames When Dropped
On more expensive bikes, having a kickstand suddenly drop onto the frame can put dents, chips or scratches in the bike’s nice finish over time. High-end bikes use lightweight materials and gorgeous finishing that owners want to keep pristine. So most leave off kickstands to protect the frame.
Not the Most Secure Parking
While convenient for quick stops, a kickstand doesn’t offer the most stable long-term parking for bikes left unattended in public. This is especially true for lightweight road and mountain bikes, which can still easily be knocked over. Thieves can also still quickly grab a bike held up by only a kickstand.
So cyclists often prefer to use bike racks or u-locks on fixed objects when leaving their bikes for longer periods, whether the bike has a kickstand or not.
Can Limit Pedaling
Finally, kickstands mounted too close to the pedals can get in the way of pedaling. This depends on the bike design and where the stand attaches relative to the cranks. But on some bikes, deployed kickstands can obstruct a rider’s pedal stroke.
Taken together, these factors help explain why many bikes – especially high-performance sports models – are made without kickstands installed from the factory. However, there are good solutions that allow adding kickstands to just about any bike…
Key Factors When Choosing a Bike Kickstand
For bike owners who DO want the functionality of a kickstand for parking or frequent stops, there are several aftermarket options to add a kickstand to virtually any bicycle frame.
Here are important considerations when shopping for bike kickstands:
- Bike style and frame – Choose a kickstand made specifically for your frame type. Not all universal stands fit every bike.
- Weight rating – Pick a kickstand designed to securely hold your bike’s full weight when loaded up. Heavier electric or cargo bikes need extra sturdy options.
- Mounting method – Kickstands attach via welded or clamp mounts. Ensure adequate frame clearance.
- Ground clearance – The higher the kickstand lifts the rear wheel, the less likely it is to tip over on uneven surfaces.
- Width/thickness – Wider kickstands have a more stable footing. But slimmer ones tuck in tighter when riding.
- Folding vs non-folding – Folding stands collapse tighter to the frame when riding. Non-folding are simpler but stick out more.
- Angle – A wider angle/footprint offers better support when parked and is less prone to sinking into soft ground.
- Materials – Steel stands are super durable but can rust. Aluminum won’t rust but may weaken over time. Carbon fiber is lightweight yet expensive.
- Price – Kickstands range from $10 – $50+ depending on design, materials and brand.
With the ideal kickstand fitted to your bike, you’ll be able to park your bike freestanding securely anywhere. Now let’s go over some tips for installing them…
How to Put a Bike Kickstand on Your Bike
Adding a kickstand to your current bike is a pretty straightforward DIY project. Here are the basic steps:
1. Pick Your Kickstand
- Choose the right style and size to properly fit your particular bike based on the factors above.
- Top brands include Greenfield, Pletscher, Hebie, ESGE, Ursus and others.
- Confirm the kickstand is designed to work with your specific bike’s frame and dimensions.
2. Prep the Mounting Spot
- If your bike lacks kickstand mounting tabs, use clamp-on or bolt-on adapters.
- Lightly sand and clean where the kickstand will attach to remove any grease or gunk.
3. Attach the Mount
- For tab mounts, put a drop of threadlocker on manufacturers bolts and tighten to spec.
- For clamp mounts, securely tighten clamps to recommended torque.
- Avoid overtightening to prevent frame damage.
4. Install the Kickstand
- With mounting plate installed, attach the kickstand leg with provided screws and washers.
- Adjust angle so bike sits solidly upright when deployed.
- Flip up and check for clearance when pedaling.
And that’s it! Test ride it and make sure the kickstand doesn’t get in the way of pedaling or randomly flip down. Enjoy the ease of parking your bike hands-free!
5 Recommended Kickstands to Consider
Here are 5 top kickstand options to think about installing on your bike:
- Greenfield Stabilizer Kickstand – Dual-leg stand rated for up to 55 lb bikes. Wide stability.
- Pletscher Double Leg Kickstand – Durable zinc-plated steel with anti-vibration pads. Fits most sizes.
- Hebie Wingee Direct Mount Kickstand – Sleek folding aluminum German-made stand. Expensive but sturdy.
- ESGE Double Kickstand – Robust steel double-leg easily mounts to most frames. Great value.
- Ursus Jumbo Bike Stand – Extra wide single-leg good for heavy electric or cargo bikes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I get a center or rear wheel kickstand?
For most bikes, center kickstands with two legs give the most parking stability and are least likely to tip over or sink into soft ground. Rear wheel stands make the bike rear-heavy and prone to tipping.
How much weight can bike kickstands handle?
It varies, but most can hold 55-80 lbs (25-36kg). Heavy duty cargo or ebike stands may be rated up to 220 lbs (100kg). Match to your bike’s full weight.
Where’s the best place to install a bike kickstand?
Along the bike’s centerline near the crank/pedals area is ideal. Make sure the flipped-down position won’t get in the way of pedaling. Check bike-specific guides.
Can I add a kickstand to a carbon fiber bike?
Yes, kickstands can be safely put on carbon frames with proper clamps/mounts. Just take care not to overtighten clamps which could damage the tubing. Follow torque recommendations.
Should I grease my bike’s kickstand pivot?
Yes, a little bike grease on the pivot bolt and moving joints allows the kickstand to smoothly flip up and down without sticking or squeaking. Don’t overgrease.
While many modern bikes leave out kickstands, adding a sturdy aftermarket kickstand can be a nice convenience for bike owners looking to park their bikes freestanding. With the right style properly installed, kickstands enable hassle-free parking. Just be aware of potential clearance problems, extra weight, increased risk on trails, and limits to parking security. Consider your specific bike and needs, then pick a solid, bike-appropriate kickstand to enjoy the perks of hands-free parking.