Kickstand reviews: Pletscher two leg center kickstand & Click-Stand folding portable kickstand
When I first started touring (weekends at first, then part of a summer on the road after university) I did not use a kickstand. Up until that point, I falsely assumed that they were for kids’ bikes or that they only came on “cheap bikes.”
You probably had a kickstand on your first two-wheeler as a kid. Sometimes you used it, other times your poor old bike was dumped on the ground.
One summer when I was younger, a group of us discovered a neat kickstand trick on a hot summer day at a friend’s house. His blacktop driveway was newly resurfaced. To our amusement, we chanced onto the fact that if you set your bike on the stand, the leg of the kickstand would slowly push through the new un-cured asphalt and the bike would fall over.
We promptly made a game of it and would alternate our bets on whose bike would fall first or last. My friend’s parents didn’t think it was so funny, but what do grown-ups know about fun?
Years later, I started to consider a stand for my England to Singapore trip. The more reading and investigation that I did the more convinced I became that it was a useful addition. I put a Pletscher two leg center stand on my bike and it proved very useful during that year on the road.
The Benefits of a Kick Stand
- Convenience – hop off your bike, engage the stand and go about your business. If there is not a wall or pole to lean against, no worries.
- Pannier saver – panniers do not get as dirty or worn from lying the bike on the ground or leaning it up against walls, posts, etc.
- Mobile work stand – in most cases it makes cable, break, seat, lubing a chain etc. adjustments easier. If you have a two leg center stand, removing a tire to repair a puncture can be done while the bike is standing and makes re-seating the hub in the drop-outs easier.
- Easy access to panniers at camp or on the road – with the bike on a stand, you can get to all your panniers. If your bike is lying on the ground half of your bags are inaccessible.
- Makes loading racks and panniers easier.
The Drawbacks of a Kick Stand
- Extra weight – sometimes a significant amount. A lot of additional “it doesn’t weigh that much” added to your gear eventually can feel like an anchor, regardless of your physical condition.
- Potential frame damage – depending how a kickstand is mounted to the frame it can cause damage
- Sand, mud and loose soil make them less effective – your kickstand can sink into the ground unless a suitable surface can be found or created (rock, crushed can, shoe sole, driftwood, your riding companion’s foot), causing your bike to fall over which can lead to …
- Bike go boom – Wind or the stand sinking into the ground can cause your bike to fall, potentially damaging your bike, gear or causing annoying adjustments like realigning a break hood or stem.
A Leg Up
One or two legs, those are your kickstand choices. Where those legs are attached to the bicycle is a different matter.
I have ridden with people that have used single leg kickstands on the rear, near the axle, or a combination of back and front (mounted on a lowrider rack). A bicycle with front and rear panniers tends to pivot around the rear kickstand, causing the bicycle to fall over. However, once you are aware of this fact, you learn to compensate.
I have experience with two types of kickstands, the Pletscher two leg center stand and the Click-Stand folding portable kickstand. The remainder of the entry will focus only on those two. If you love your rear axle kickstand or front and rear combination, great! I’m not trying to debate the merits of those options but rather focus on my loaded touring history with the Pletscher and Click-Stand.
On my England to Singapore trip I used the Pletscher two leg stand. It was amazingly convenient to use. The major downside was that it mounted via a clamp and bolt assembly. The stand is centered between the two chainstay tubes behind the crank with the clamp over the chainstays. Every few days to a week it would seem to loosen. I tried teflon tape and thread lock on the bolt but neither seemed to help. I noticed that tightening the bold started to cause tube damage. If it was loose and the bike was on the stand, the bicycle would sometimes rotate on top of the stand and fall over. As a result of tightening it eventually damaged the chainstays on the bike, gower I never had the tubes crack or break.
I wanted to use the same type of kickstand on our tour of the Americas and found a promising fix to the chainstay tube crushing issue. It was an insert.
Using a friend’s wood shop, I manufactured one for each of our bikes and at first, it appeared to alleviate the pressure on the tubes. However, during the first four days of our trip, the stands continued to work themselves loose, even with a locknut ring and thread lock. It is possible that I made the inserts too thick. Additionally, in just a few short days I could see the beginnings of wear on the chain stays from the Pletscher stand.
In Austin we opted for a more permanent solution and welded kickstand plates onto our bicycles. Our friend, Rich, had done it with a bike of his and persuaded me to do it. Sarah was nervous, but after using my bike as the test case, she reluctantly acquiesced. If the fact that we used a Pletscher stand on our bikes didn’t void the frame warranty, welding the plates onto the bikes most certainly did.
However, the plate proved to be the perfect complement to the Pletscher and we were completely satisfied with the result.
Later, climbing into and out of the Andes mountains multiple times had us scrambling to shed weight. The Pletscher stands, about 550 g (1.2 lbs), are heavy and were an obvious choice in the list of things to discard, however I wasn’t ready to sacrifice the convenience of a stand.
Looking for a lighter weight solution I discovered the Click-Stand. It folds up like a tent pole and our version (the Max, five segment) weighs about 90 g ( 0.2 lb). Once extended, one end of the pole has a cradle on which the top tube rests with the other end on the ground to support the bike. With the brakes engaged (via included brake bands) the bike does not roll.
Although not as convenient as the Pletscher (the plestcher is mounted on the bike and ready to go, with the Click-Stand you need to engage the breaks, get the stand out, unfold it and put it in place) the trade-off in weight is well worth it.
Feet Don’t Fail Me Now
A minor note about both types of kickstands. Both have optional larger rubber feet available which have two benefits. First, they help keep from marking floors when indoors. Second, fatter feet give a larger surface area and somewhat helps prevent the feet from sinking in on softer surfaces.
In both cases, if the feet are used on a loaded bike, they will wear through very quickly. Four days into our trip, when we arrived in Austin, one of the feet on the Pletscher stands was almost worn through.
The feet are not necessary for softer surfaces (you can always find a rock, stick, empty soda bottle or other trash to put under a leg). Indoors, a newspaper, junk mail catalogue, scrap of carpet will work as well. They’re not worth their weight or money (improvisation is a lot cheaper).
Quit waffling, which stand should I get for my bike?
The short answer is if you have the cash, want to use a kickstand and are not a die-hard weight weenie (in which case you wouldn’t get a stand), my recommendation is the Click-Stand. However, each kickstand has its place.
Both types of stands cost about the same so this factor is irrelevant.
Without a kickstand plate on a bike, I would not even consider the Pletscher because of the frame damage issues I experienced (The model I used has since been updated with a modified clamping system. This seems to reduce but not eliminate the chainstay tube issue). Since we have the kickstand plates on the bikes I’ll put the Pletschers back on for the convenience while riding around town.
If I were to tour in relatively flat areas (after the Andes, most places seem like the Netherlands) I’d be tempted to use the Pletscher, although lighter is always better when touring. Outside of flat areas, I’ll stick with the Click-Stand.
A final note, Click-Stand is a one man company. The owner, Tom Nostrant, is extremely responsive. I sent Tom a review of our experiences with his product and requested a new cradle for Sarah’s stand. The c-shaped cradle arm was bending and could no longer support the weight of the bike and gear. A few days later a package arrived with the replacement part. He provides great customer service.