I was close-minded about kickstands for a long time.
I intentionally left the kickstand box unchecked on the order form for my Koga Worldtraveller-S touring bike. I hadn’t needed one for the previous 10 years of touring, so why would I need it now? But when I picked up the bike there was one fitted. Koga said, “just try it Alee, if you really don’t like it, you can throw it away”. I reluctantly accepted their request.
Skip forward a few months into my trip and I broke a bolt on the kickstand. I had to remove it for a while, and it was then that I realised how much I missed having it. I use it every time I get off the bike; to snack, to take a video or grab something from my bags. I’m now a complete convert and I don’t think I’ll go on another long-term bike tour without one.
Ok, it’s time to fill our brains with kickstand knowledge!
Why Should You Use A Kickstand?
Firstly, they help you to load your bike. There’s no leaning it against yourself or another object while you mount your panniers or bikepacking bags. It’s pretty much like you have a personal assistant holding your bike for you. They’re also super quick to deploy! I often stop abruptly, flick my stand down and take an opportune photo. Or sometimes I grab my rain gear from the top of my pannier just as the drops start to pelt.
Look, you might have the same view of kickstands as I had six months ago: they’re simply unnecessary. Or maybe you had a bad experience with a kickstand previously; perhaps it deployed itself while riding, snapped it half, damaged your frame or banged into your pedals.
Those things suck, but I can assure you the best kickstands listed here are out of the way, silent, durable, quick to use and will add just 250g (0.5lbs) to your touring bike.
Stabilizing The Front Of The Bike
Before I get into the kickstands themselves, it’s important to understand how to stabilize a touring bike, especially if you have a front load and a centre mount kickstand. On almost every surface your front wheel will want to tilt as the bike leans, and this results in the handlebars turning as much as 180-degrees, or worse, your bike falling over! Here are some options to ensure you get the best bike stability with your kickstand.
Firstly, it’s not a bad idea to stabilize your bike with something that pulls the brake lever(s). Click-Stand makes some neat brake bands, but you can also use hair ties or sections of inner tube. A reader has also pointed out that bikes fitted with ‘European-style’ frame locks will also prevent your bike from rolling.
SteerStopper makes a really neat component that’s designed to stop your handlebars from turning. By all accounts, the people who use them, love them. A side benefit of this device is that you can push your bike up a hill without touching the handlebars. Alternatively, a neat solution called the LockLink was specifically created for Surly LHT and Disc Trucker bikes (by LongHaulTruckerBuild.com), but the website has been down for a while now, so I’m not sure if they’re still in production.
A steering stabilizer connects a spring from your downtube to your fork crown. They offer a self-centering action to the front wheel which prevents it from turning more than 45 degrees. This also makes it easier to load a front porteur rack or basket. Velo Orange ($15 on Amazon) and Hebie are the most common aftermarket brands for steering stabilizers.
Tubus Lowrider Rack Kickstand
If you decide not to use any of the locks or stabilizers mentioned above, this kickstand provides additional stability to the front of your bike. They fit the Tubus Tara, Duo, Ergo and Nova lowrider rack models.
Integrated Steering Limiter
Some touring framesets like my Koga Worldtraveller-S have components inside the headtube that prevent the handlebar from turning more than 45 degrees in either direction (see my Koga bike video @3:49 for an example). I think these are the neatest solution for helping to somewhat stabilize your bike, but they’re limited to only a handful of touring bike manufacturers.
Kickstand Weight Limits
If you’ve broken a decent quality kickstand, it’s likely that you’ve exceeded its weight limit. Most kickstands have a maximum capacity of 18-25kg, which is pretty easy to exceed with double leg kickstands in particular, given the rear load is suspended from the ground. Determining the weight capacity for a single leg kickstand is a little more difficult, so I’ll recommend the following…
Total bike+gear+food+water weight:
Under 40kg – 18kg capacity kickstand
40kg or higher – 25kg capacity kickstand
If you’re planning on going on a bike trip where you need to carry 10+ days of food and a decent amount of water, you may be best served with the 35-80kg capacity models.
Rear Mount Kickstands
As most touring bikes have a decent amount of weight over the rear wheel, this kickstand type is undoubtedly the most stable given its ultra-wide stance. You may need to cut down or adjust the length of your kickstand so that your bike can lean on an angle of approximately 15 degrees from vertical. A handlebar stabilizer of any kind is least necessary with this kickstand design.
If you’re a front-loader with a minimal rear load (eg. front panniers with a rear bikepacking seatpack), skip past these rear stands to the double leg kickstands below.
Integrated KSA-18 Mount
This has got to be the neatest rear kickstand option for a touring bike. The rear dropout or chainstay is designed with two mounting holes which sit 18mm apart. The best frames will use a nut and M6 bolt design so that if you accidentally snap a bolt, you can easily remove it from your frame. Unfortunately, many KSA-18 frames have an M5 thread built into the mount, so you’ll need to constantly check bolt tension to ensure the bolts don’t bend and eventually break inside your frame.
Touring brands with KSA-18 mounts: Koga, Santos, Tout Terrain, Trek, Van Nicholas, VSF
Recommended: Pletscher Comp 18 (25kg capacity), Comp 18 Zoom (18kg capacity) or Comp 18 Flex (50kg capacity)
Integrated KSA-40 Mount
This is an older, and therefore less common standard with the mounting holes spaced 40mm apart. There are still ample kickstand options available, in any case.
Recommended: Pletscher ESGE Comp Zoom 40 (18kg capacity, $27 on Amazon), Comp 40 (25kg capacity) or Comp 40 Flex (50kg capacity)
Adjustable Rear Kickstands
If you don’t have the KSA mounting points on your frame, here is your alternative. Adjustable rear kickstands will fit most rim brake touring frames (careful if you have a spoke holder) but will only sometimes clear a disc brake caliper that’s fitted inside the rear triangle (seatstay mounted disc calipers are fine). The Pletscher ESGE Multi kickstand tends to fit bikes with chainstay disc calipers a little better; I’ve annotated a photo with the potential bolt locations HERE. But ultimately it will depend on the brake mount, brake model, chainstay diameter and dropout shape.
Recommended: Pletscher ESGE Multi Zoom (18kg capacity), Pletscher ESGE Multi Flex (50kg capacity)
Centre Mount Kickstands
Centre mount kickstands are probably the most common kickstand type, in fact, many touring frames come with an integrated kickstand plate so that you can fit one up nicely. I highly recommend using something to stabilize your handlebars with any of the below kickstands. If your frame lacks a mounting plate, you’ll need to be EXTREMELY careful when tightening a centre kickstand to your chainstays – many frames have been destroyed from overtightened kickstand bolts.
Single Leg Kickstands
Single leg kickstands aren’t quite as stable as rear kickstands but are a great option for bikes with a kickstand plate. They’ll work very well when deployed on uneven surfaces, but keep in mind that you should have a load over the rear wheel for maximum stability. Try to achieve a 15-degree bike lean by adjusting your kickstand length to suit your bike. The main downside to single leg kickstands is that you can’t spin your cranks backwards (for lubricating a chain, for example).
Recommended: Pletscher ESGE Zoom Adjustable (18kg capacity, $23 on Amazon), Ursus King 79 (35kg capacity) or Pletscher Optima Flex (50kg capacity)
Double Leg Kickstands
These stands are typically the best option for front-loaded bikes, as well as tandems. For the best stability, the rear wheel should lift off the ground rather than the front; you can achieve this with a heavy front load relative to your rear. You may need to cut the legs down a little so that your rear wheel isn’t more than a few centimetres from the ground. Try not to exceed the weight limit on a double leg stands because they do tend to be a little more prone to breaking than the other stand options. Double leg stands have a narrow stance, so the location where you deploy the stand should ideally be flat, and your panniers should be as evenly balanced as possible. A side-benefit to double leg kickstands is that they make a great repair stand for tuning your gears!
Recommended: Pletscher ESGE Twin (25kg Capacity, $42 on Amazon) or Ursus Jumbo 80 (80kg Capacity)
Other Bike Stands
These tentpole-esque stands get rave reviews. They’re stable and ultra lightweight. I’ve spent a fair bit of time playing around with them and they do work effectively. I do find the assembly and disassembly to be a little inconvenient when compared to a spring-loaded kickstand, however. Still a great option if you don’t have a centre kickstand plate or room in your rear triangle for an adjustable rear kickstand.
Surly Long Haul Trucker Mount Plates
After years of condemning kickstands fitted to Surly LHT and Disc Trucker frames, Surly started manufacturing kickstand plates to fit centre kickstands.
Surly Kickstand Adapters for Troll, Ogre, ECR
This is a really cool set of two 3D printed stainless steel parts (part 1 + part 2) that will mount a KSA-18 kickstand onto Surly Troll, Ogre and ECR dropouts. To complete the kit you will also need to pick up 2x M6 stainless steel 30mm bolts/nuts from your local hardware store. Note: these parts will not fit with a Rohloff hub using the external gear mech.