Monday, May 17, 2010

Take A Stand ... Or Two!

As we've discussed in a previous post, the pursuit of balance can take many forms, both mental and physical, when applied to cycling.  Today's post is regarding balance of the physical nature.
To ride like the wind and be free ... yes, this is the longing we share.  But what does one do in the midst of such a ride when one must stop and step off one's bike to meditate whilst consuming mass quantities of caffienated beverage?  One must, of course, lean, lay down, or otherwise "park" one's beloved steed.  Provided there exists such amenities to safely support the bike, leaning it or laying it down may suffice.  For me, that is most often not the case, and I cannot bear the thought of adding scratches or other debris to my frame that is not the result of some epic ride that I can replay in my head or tell as a short story to others.  No, no ... there has to be a better way ... and there is!  The solution is a kickstand!  Equipped with such a clever device, one may easily park one's bike almost anywhere, almost any time, and step back to admire the beauty of your ride while resting, refueling, texting, chatting, or yes, drinking coffee.

For those of you who already have a kickstand mounted to your bike, you're already experiencing the convenience ... but you will still appreciate the following information, and may even find a desire to upgrade.  If you don't have a kickstand, it is time, my friend, to consider it.

Many of the new breed of commuter and urban bikes on the market are now being equipped with kickstands.  That's great news, and a very welcome addition that shows the manufacturers are actually listening.  However, many of the road-oriented bikes out there do not have kickstands, as they do certainly add a bit of weight, which is something most roadies do not care to have.  I happen to believe the benefits far outweigh (pun intended) the weight.

There are many options for adding a kickstand.  I have recently added a Pletscher Twin-Leg stand to my Surly LHT.  This highly-regarded and long-tested model is quite stout, like a Guinness made in Ireland.  But every ounce is an ounce of strong metal, and the design is great.  Both legs swing up together behind the bottom bracket and to the left of the rear wheel, tucking away nicely and never in the way of pedaling. 

When opening, the legs swing down and separate to their respective sides under the bike.  The bike then balances with the two legs and either front or rear wheel, depending on whether your bike is front or rear weighted.  The other wheel is lifted slightly off the ground.  This can be quite helpful for minor maintenance, by the way.

Installing the Pletscher was not an easy thing.  Although a fairly straight-forward process, my particluar frame has chainstays that are shaped in an oval, and at an angle that isn't ideal for kickstand mounting.  Having a kickstand mounting plate would have made it very simple, but alas, my LHT has one minor shortcoming.  No worries.  I also purchased the Deluxe Top Plate kit, which has two plastic inserts for the top of the chainstays, a replacement top plate, and a longer mounting bolt.  This also was not as simple as it first appeared.  The plastic inserts are just wide enough that the inner chainring came into contact, due to my small frame size.  I had to use my handy Dremel tool to grind away some of the material until it would fit with enough clearance for comfort.  I also added a wrap of cotton tape around the chainstays to protect the paint from the metal-to-metal contact.  Once this was all done, installation was pretty simple ... except for one last thing.  The legs on this stand are long.  Let me repeat that ... the legs on this kickstand are LONG.  So long, in fact, that they absolutely had to be cut down to be functional for my small bike.  Larger bikes may not have this problem, but mine does.  To their credit, Pletscher is aware that this may be necessary, and has measured markings on both legs to help make sure the cuts are even and at the proper angle.  Thank you!  After looking for an hour for my hacksaw, which I never found (where do those things disappear to?), I again turned to my handy Dremel tool with a cutoff wheel, and began cutting the legs.  It worked just fine, and left a fairly neat edge, which I ground to be even smoother.  I put on the pair of rubber feet, and mounted the stand. 

After all was said and done, I love this kickstand.  It's very strong, works perfectly, and makes stopping anywhere easy.  At the grocery store, the double legs really help with loading the bags onto the racks, keeping the bike stable in the process.  The Pletscher Twin Leg stand is available from lots of different places, and comes in both silver and black.  The rubber feet are usually sold separately.

Some of you may be saying "Well, that's nice, but my bike doesn't have room to mount a kickstand."  For you ... and for me ... there is an ingenious product called the Click-Stand.  It is perfect for road bikes that have no place to mount a kickstand, or for those of you who just don't want the extra weight on your bike.  They are custom made to order for your bike's frame size and tube dimensions. 

It weighs almost nothing, and amazingly folds up so it can fit into a jersey pocket or bag.

When you need to use it, a quick flick unfolds it and turns it into a "third leg" for your bike. 

The soft rubber cradle at the top hooks under your top tube near your saddle, place the other end about ten inches to the side, and simply lean your bike on the stand. 

Elastic bands are provided to "lock" your brake levers, thus preventing your wheels from turning and your bike rolling away.  Brilliant!  A third elastic band is provided with your order as a spare.

So ... take a stand with your bike!! Or take two!  Aren't you glad today's technology provides lots of choices?

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