Bicycle kickstands


Kickstand types, stability, forces, etc.

Kickstand types and mounting plates for centre-mounted kickstands

There are several types of kickstands. The first type is for mounting on a plate that's welded on lots of bicycles, just behind the bottom bracket. Often these plates have a bit angled at 90 degrees with a hole (possibly threaded) to attached a rear fender.

These centre mounted kickstands come in 2 variants: 20mm mounting width and 30mm mounting width. 20mm is not used much, mostly used by Dutch bike maker Gazelle. My Koga test bike also has a 20mm mounting plate.

For bicycles that do not have a mounting plate, you can still use a centre mounted kickstand as there are wedges that go underneath attached to the kickstand, and on top. Some bicycles have only a small tube with hole for a fender in that position, in which case you can't use a wedge and thus a rear fork mounted kickstand is the only option.

Rear fork mounted kickstands are suitable for most bicycles, and for a touring bike the most useful type of kickstand. But also if you use your panniers for groceries, with any load, a rear fork kickstand is far better than a centre mounted kickstand.

There is another advantage of rear fork kickstands: You can turn the crank for maintenance (oiling the chain, replacing chainwheels) without needing to retract the kickstand...

Kickstands with a wide stance: More stable, or not? Updated with force measurements

Note first of all that for touring with heavy load all kickstands are problematical. Look for example at the Hebie 672 rear fork stand: It is not good enough, because it's not strong enough, it will deform. The 611 is better but it still deforms too easily. The Hebie 632 could be a good option but it's in no way perfect. The 630 is better, though it's not so wide, and though they specifiy a lower weight limit for this kickstand. Rear fork kickstands are better in the case of heavy load at the back of the bike, but the newer ones I tried from Hebie are weak...

Manufacturers may say a wide kickstand means it's more stable, but this is only true if you have very little bagage on the bike (on the rear rack)... My measurements show that force on the rear rack is almost the same for toppling the bike with narrow and wide middle kickstand.

The real reason to have a wide kickstand is to be able to lean the bike a bit more than with a narrow kickstand, but when you do this (with a centre mounted kickstand, not so much with a rear-fork kickstand), then with bagage the bicycle wants to rotate with the kickstand's foot as the pivot point in case you have heavy baggage, thus toppling the bike.

So for heavy loads the bike must stay positioned as near vertical as possible, with the kickstand screwed out as high as possible, but of course, then there is no advantage of a wide kickstand over a narrow kickstand in being more stable...! (well, almost none, there is a slight difference in favour of the wide kickstand). In both cases wind can then topple a bike over (in the direction opposite of where the kickstand is mounted). And sometimes you can't get the kickstand high enough (not sure about the 632, I'd have to check this again).

A narrow rear-fork kickstand is fine for a touring bike with heavy load, in fact the aluminium Mruichi kickstand can be used just as well as any of the much heavier ones, if you place the bike correctly (which can be a nuisance on inclines/hills/non-flat ground but that is the case with any kickstand), then it can be used easily with ca. 25 kg bagage, but it's a 1990s kickstand and it's not available any more...

For centre kickstands, I think the Hebie 630 is just about as good as the 632 for loaded touring (which means to say, they are both bad for that purpose! Get a rear-fork kickstand instead!), but there is not much in it. However it can depend on whether you bike has front suspension and how heavy that is in whether there is a real advantage or not of .

Summary: A wider stance is mainly useful so that the bike can lean more and thus it's more stable against toppling with no load or little load, but leaning more makes the bike less stable with heavy baggage! At least, with a centre mounted kickstand. With a rear-fork kickstand this is not so much an issue but as I found with the Mruichi (which is almost straight), a wide stance simply isn't needed and only means more stress on the material which tends to deform. Using a kickstand with a wide stance you can let the bike lean more, but this means you lose the small advantage that it gives in more force needed to topple the bike, and there is virutally no difference with a load on the rear rack. Result: Wide kickstands are only useful in some cases. But too narrow kickstands are an issue. The Pletscher Zoom is problematic, just a little too narrow, for example (and thus the Hebie 630 is also problematical, though I didn't experience it on my earlier testbike, possibly because it's heavier than the Cannondale Vintage).

Rear-fork/stay mounted kickstands vs. centre mounted kickstands

When you look at what happens with the forces, you can see why a centre mounted kickstand is not as good as a rear-fork mounted kickstand for heavy loads: With the rear-fork kickstand, the kickstand is pushed into the ground by the load. This acts against toppling over. Of course the load is never exactly above the point where the kickstand is on the ground, but the effect as seen with centre mounted kickstands is far smaller.

For a centre mounted kickstand, the point where the kickstand touches the ground is far away, and what now happens is that the kickstand cannot counter any weight from the load, no, the countering comes from the weight of the bicycle itself: When the bike topples over, the mass on the rack, times distance to the line of the rear wheel and point where the kickstand touches the ground, is bigger than the mass of the rest of the bike times distances at which these masses are from that line. This is why with centre mounted kickstands, the width is not much help to counter rotation. It gives a bit more counter weight to the mass on the rear than with a narrow centre mounted kickstand, but, not enough. 2016-8-27: This is confirmed with my measurements of narrow/wide kickstands, more on this to come.

Summary: Rear-fork/stay mounted kickstands are better for heavy loads than centre mounted (bracket) kickstands. I've seen dual kickstands (with one on the front lowrider) used for loaded touring which I haven't tried yet, but such a front kickstand should work similarly well to the rear fork kickstand for the rear bags.

Measurements of forces to topple a bike, with a rear fork kickstand, and narrow and wide centre kickstands

2016-8-27: Measurements not quite systematic, but that may come later:

Test bike 1: Koga World traveller rear fork kickstand.

Test bike 2: Cannondale Vintage with headshok, Pletscher Zoom and Hebie 632 (to come: Pletscher Multi flex for rear-fork)

Test bike 1 (rear fork Pletscher Zoom):
Force on saddle rail (same side as kickstand) downwards: > 25 kg, still no toppling of the bike.
Force on rear-rack, tube (same side as kickstand) downwards: ca. 22 kg, the bike topples.
Force on seat post, horizontal: 1.6kg, the bike topples.
Force on Headtube/top tube, downwards: ca. 11 kg, the bike topples.
Force on Headtube/top tube, horizontal: 1.8 kg, the bike topples.

Test bike 2 (centre kickstand Pletscher Zoom, ca. 24cm from line from centre of bracket, 2 holes left):
Force on saddle rail (same side as kickstand) downwards: ca. 8 kg, the bike topples.

Test bike 2 (centre kickstand Pletscher Zoom, ca. 24cm from line from centre of bracket, 3 holes left, so more upright but it gets too unstable on ground that is not perfectly flat):
Force on saddle rail (same side as kickstand) downwards: ca. 9 kg, the bike topples.
Force on rear-rack, tube (same side as kickstand) downwards: ca. 6 kg, the bike topples.

Test bike 2 (centre kickstand Hebie 632, ca. 28 cm from line from centre of bracket, to the end of the foot):
Force on saddle rail (same side as kickstand) downwards: ca. 17 kg, the bike topples. [ A lot more than the Pletscher, this is because with the Pletscher, the vertical line from the saddle rail is very close to the end of the kickstand ]
Force on rear-rack, tube (same side as kickstand) downwards: ca. 7 kg, the bike topples. [ Almost no difference with the narrow kickstand... ]
Force on seat post, horizontal: 2.9kg, the bike rotates around the kickstand. Stopping the rotation, the bike topples at 3.5 kg.
Force on Headtube/top tube, downwards: ca. 14 kg, the bike topples.
Force on Headtube/top tube, horizontal: 3.8 kg, the bike topples.

Doing this experiment showed mainly what I knew already but made it a bit more clear:
1. A rear kickstand is far superior for loads on the rear rack (or bags mounted on the rack).
2. Wide and narrow centre mounted kickstands are not much different for loads on the rear rack (both are bad).
3. A wide centre mounted kickstand is better than a narrow centre kickstand to prevent wind-induced toppling.

Kickstands that may be interesting to review

1. Reviews of rear-fork mounted kickstands

Pletscher/Esge: Multi (rear-fork kickstand)

Specifications from the manufacturer: Mass: 433g (specifications), ca. 440 g (measured), max. load: 25kg

I've got one, and I had no plans yet to use it, but I've now used it on someone else's bike, which was prone to toppling over. It's a Dutch style city bike, which roller brakes, and Spanninga's version of the Libra kickstand without height adjustment. There wasn't room to mount it because of the roller brake bracket, but then I decided to remove the bracket to fix the roller brake arm, and then use the bottom bolt of the kickstand instead of the bolt through the bracket, to secure it. And so it all fits! The difference is huge, the rear kickstand is far better for transporting groceries.

Essentially it's a Multi zoom without the adjustable height. You simply saw (or file for small adjustments) to length. This is the way it used to be done with Pletscher kickstands for city bikes here in NL in the 1980s and earlier (just about all such bikes came with Pletscher standard kickstands), and it just works, when being careful not to saw off too much of course. This is not so bad, or so much work, as it sounds. But I think that the adjustable version being not much more expensive, is the better option (although: it is rated with lower maximal load).

The stand itself has a small foot-area and with heavy load this will sink into any surface that's not rock hard. I will do a test to see how much the foot with larger surface area of the Pletscher Zoom and Flex help with this issue compared to this kickstand... For city use it's irrelevant.

Pletscher: Multi zoom (rear-fork kickstand)

Tested: From 9 Feb. 2014

Specifications from the manufacturer: Mass: 340g (must be a typo, I think they meant 440g, see further), max. load 18kg

Measured: Mass: 442g with all mounting hardware.

You can mount this for forks of various sizes but I think the method chosen is a bit cumbersome. A front and rear plate with impression of a tube will work with any size tubing. At first I had mounted it such that the kickstand was quite far forward and I could even hit it with my heel if not pedalling exactly straight. So I changed it such that the arm to the rear fork is shorter and the kickstand is thus farther to the rear. Much better but still, why do these kickstands extend so much to the side (with the arm to the rear)? The 611 also has this but I will make some measurements to find out exactly with all rear fork kickstands (though I deformed my 672 and 611, so not sure what they were originally). Measurements: Pletscher: 4.5 cm, Mruichi: 2 cm which is much better.

I like the positive action of this kickstand, I still need to test it with heavy load.

Changing the height must be done by unbolting the plastic end of the kickstand (which is fastened with inner-hex bolts), and then moving it to the required height. This works, but I'd like to have seen a rotating system as e.g. on the Simson kickstand, which makes easy and quick adjustments for different situations possible (e.g. with light load and if wind is strong, you might want to let the bike angle a bit more).

Update 2014-7-13: I've used this kickstand for 5 months, including heavy loads, and it is excellent. Far better than the rubbish rear fork kickstands by Hebie.

On a 2nd bike where I cannot place the kickstand far enough to the rear, it's a real problem hitting the kickstand's base with the heel of my shoe. See picture for why:

Conclusion: Excellent rear fork kickstand, but it extends 4.5cm from the rear fork which is problematical in case you can't mount it far enough to the rear.

Cyclia responded for Pletscher (though they will have another look at my suggestions), to my suggestions on the Multi/Multi zoom/Multi flex, to make it stick out less with the following comments:

Pletscher: Multi flex (aftermarket rear fork kickstand for high load)

Not tested, see the multi zoom, and it's like that but with the foot of the Comp flex. Or imagine the Comp flex with mount as on the Multi/Multi zoom.

Pletscher: Comp (rear fork 18mm mount kickstand, not adjustable in length except by sawing/filing)

Not tested, see the review of the Comp flex and imagine it with the foot of the Multi.

Pletscher: Comp zoom (rear fork 18mm mount kickstand, adjustable in length)

Not tested, see the review of the Comp flex and imagine it with the foot of the Multi zoom.

Pletscher: Comp flex (rear fork 18mm mount kickstand)

Tested: From 22 Jul. 2016

Specifications from the manufacturer: Mass: Not mentioned! Max. load: 50kg

Measured: Mass: 352g with all mounting hardware. Well, it has included 5mm bolts, whereas you need 6mm bolts!!!

This was released not long after I tested the Multi Zoom, but I was happy with the Multi Zoom so no need for testing at that time. After using the Pletscher Zoom on my 2nd testbike (Cannondale Vintage) which has a 18mm rear fork-mount for the kickstand, I decided to mount a Pletscher Comp flex on it. There is also a version for 40mm rear fork mount. The Comp flex has a higher allowed load than the Comp Zoom, and the foot has a bigger surface area which may help it stand (and not sink) on softer ground. It's adjustable in height, but again you need a inner hex key. Pletscher doesn't mention the weight which means it's heavier I suppose than the Comp Zoom, and ditto for Optima Flex vs. Zoom? Well, it weighs 352 g. Not bad.

The height can be set with a small inner hex screw at the base. The foot has a reasonable surface area, better than the Multi, but is it enough to prevent sinking into grass with heavy load? I will do a test...

There is an issue with the mounting method. Perhaps the 'standard' has been changed, but it doesn't fit on the Cannondale Vintage without modifying (removing a ridge) first. It looks like to be meant for round forks whereas the cannondale rear fork is flat in the area of the mount for the kickstand.

More to come after this modification...

After filing away the not-needed aluminium to make a smooth surface to mount on the rear fork, I used it quite a while and it's excellent. But it's a bit too long for some reason. Possibly becuase the mount on this bike is at the bottom of the rear fork, 1 cm would be enough to make a difference. It is fine now but I'd like to try it with a slightly more slanted stance. So perhaps I will saw off a little from the inside so the movable foot section can move up more.

Cyclia responded for Pletscher about the issues with the Comp flex, with the following comments:

Hebie: 672 rear fork kickstand

Tested: July 2013 - August 2014.

Mass: 420 g with all mounting hardware.

This kickstand sucks. Its mount on the fork is from plastic with a steel u-beam added for strenth. The plastic deforms way too much when you have some stuff on the rear rack or in the rear bags, not that much weight, just 5 kg or so and the problems start. And no, the steel u-beam like thingy doesn't prevent bending, it gets bent... The threads on the metal part used to fix the stand at the bottom tube were not correctly angled which made it very hard to get the bolts in.

Conclusion: Poor, not recommended.

Hebie: 611 (Fox s) rear fork kickstand

Tested: August 2013 - Feb. 2014.

Mass: ca. 503 g with all mounting hardware.

This has a steel base instead of plastic + steel in the 672. I used it on a long bike trip with heavy load, about 35 kg total in the front and rear bags, and it's not suitable for this. Hebie mentions the weight limit of 25 kg but of course that depends on how much you let the bike lean... See the section about wide-stance kickstands at the start of this page. And despite going over the weight limit, the way it bends which the Mruichi doesn't is pathetic. Manufacturers should look at what has been done in the past. What Hebie achieves with their rear-fork kickstands is quite poor, especially looking at how heavy they are.

Conclusion: Poor: Not stiff enough despite being quite heavy, expensive. With heavy load it can temporarily bend more than I feel comfortable with and a little too much load and it's completely deformed. Still way better than the 672.

Mruichi 700-S rear fork kickstand

Tested from: Spring 2007 (still in use as of Summer 2011).

Mass: 280 g.

This is a sample from 1992 and works pretty well but about after a year of intensive use during 2009 the steel gliding parts were worn away. However, I used the kickstand really intensively that year, on lots of long trips with almost countless stops. I think that year I used the kickstand so much that it would be equal to at least 10 years of normal use. I used it with heavy loads up to ca. 30kg in the rear panniers that year, which it could withstand because it's pretty well designed. It's strong where it should be, and does that with little weight, and that's possible as the stand stays almost vertically, which means little bending stress on the metal.

Conclusion: Excellent (but not available any more).

Simson rear fork kickstand

Tested: August 2013

Mass: 237 g. So very light weight.

Comparable to the Mruichi, but of lesser quality (no stainless steel protection as a slide-bearing against wear from the movement of the foot, for example). Works very well so far, height can be set perfectly, the bicycle is very stable on this stand. It does flex a bit much when putting several kilogram in the rear panniers. It's supposed to be a MTB kickstand and not meant for travel bikes. Wth a bit more solid construction it could be as strong as the Mruichi (which I've used for years wtih up to ca. 30 kg loads in the rear panniers) and this would not be an issue!

Conclusion: Good for MTB or other bike that you won't transport heavy stuff or groceries with, too weak for other purposes. This kickstand could have been made far better, see the much stronger and hardly heavier Mruichi 700-S

2. Reviews of bracket mounted kickstands

Pletscher/Esge: Standard & Optima

Specifications from the manufacturer: Optima: Mass (305mm long): 254g, Standard: Mass (305mm long): 223g. Maximal load: 25 kg for both.

The "Standard" and "Optima" are very similar. I've used the "Standard" stand long ago (when the name of the manufacturer was still Esge), and they used to be put on just about all city bikes in the Netherlands. They are rock solid, not too heavy, with only 1 thing that could be improved on: To adjust the length of the kickstand (for 26/28 inch wheels) you need to saw off a bit of the kickstand... (though these days they come ready made in lengths for 26/28 inch). It works well and these kickstands can last decades. Mounting plate width 31mm for the Optima, 31 and 20 mm for the Standard.

Conclusion: Good (perhaps too narrow for some bikes? See also the review of the Zoom).

Pletscher: Zoom (bracket mounted adjustable kickstand)

Tested: From 17 Jul. 2016

Specifications from the manufacturer: Mass: 240 g, max. load 18 kg

Measured: Mass: 280 g with all mounting hardware.

The weight limit is not really a limit in my view, definitely not for keeping the bike steady with lots of stuff in rear-bags, as the bike is unstable anyway in that case with a bracket mounted kickstand. Use a rear fork kickstand instead!

The plastic foot has a surface area which is perhaps a little small, for travelling when you want to put the bike besides the road it may dig into the ground (with the standard version, not adjustable in length, it is worse). But in these cases you usually need to lean the bike against something (tree, fence, building) anyway, so I would say it is not a big issue.

It suffers from instability of the bike, with even moderate loads in the rear bags, and this is inherent in all bracket kickstands. For normal use I really like it, but as I use the bike a lot to transport stuff (often heavy), for me it's not so good.

Update 2016-8-27: I like the look of the Zoom, but it is not wide enough. It extends ca. 24cm from the centre of bracket which may not be enough. I found after testing with the Hebie 632, that that kickstand is surprisingly significantly better on the same test bike (Cannondale Vintage) than the Zoom... (there was no such significant difference in favour of the 632 when comparing the Hebie 630 vs 632 on a different test bike, which is shown in the pictures with those kickstands, presumably because that bike was heavier).

Conclusion, updated 2016-8-27: It's nice looking, fairly light weight, but too narrow. And for loaded touring, a rear fork kickstand really is the only option, as that will get pushed into the ground by the stuff in the rear bags (fill the bag on the side of the kickstand first!).

Pletscher: Optima flex (bracket mounted adjustable kickstand for heavy load)

Not tested. This is like the Zoom, but with the foot section of the Comp flex...

Hebie: 630 (bracket mounted kickstand)

Tested: Since spring 2010

Mass: 393 g with mounting bolt.

Length is adjustable, the kickstand extends about 19 cm from the bike. This kickstand works well. Update 2016-8-27: For some reason I didn't have the instability issue with this bike that I had with the wider Pletscher Zoom (extending ca. 24cm) on the Cannondale Vintage. Possibly caused by the the other bike being heavier, so more counter weight against toppling. Still this means the Hebi 630 might be too narrow for many bikes...

Conclusion: Good (but perhaps too narrow?).

Hebie: 632 (bracket mounted kickstand)

Tested from: End of July 2011.

Mass: 391g with mounting bolt. The kickstand extends about 28cm from the bike.

Also a wide kickstand, which is barely better than narrow kickstands, but see the section at the start for more on this. It looks nice, works nicely.

Conclusion: Good for a centre kickstand, but really, you should get a rear-fork kickstand instead!

Spanninga: Libra

Tested from: Autumn 2010.

Mass: 415g with mounting bolt. The kickstand extends about 30cm from the bike when extended near the maximum.

I thought at first this was a good kickstand, and its length can be adjusted. However, there are some problems. This first is that if you ride with kickstand out backwards with bike on your hand the crank can drive the kickstand out of its socket. This also happens fairly easily if you kick the kickstand too hard when extending the kickstand, to park your bike. This has happened several times with me and my sister. It takes some (annoying) work to get the arm back in its socket again. Another problem is that it's a very wide kickstand. This may sound good, but I actually found out that with a wide kickstand and a heavy bag on the rear rack, the bike is more likely to topple over than with a more narrow kickstand (because with a wide kickstand you want to use that width and make the bike more stable when it hasn't got a load, which is mainly so when you let it lean more, see the section at the start that explains this). Then I had another problem on the bike shown: The kickstand hits the brake disc unless I very carefully retract it. This is because it keeps fairly high, it's fairly long, and the socket for the arm is from plastic, and flexible...

Conclusion: Poor, not recommended.

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