Aug 19 2014

A Leg to Stand On: Installing a One-Legged Kickstand

I like my bikes to have kickstands, and when it comes to choosing a bike support, my preference is for basic Greenfield one-legged stands. I tried the Pletscher two-legged stand for a year, but just could not love it. So I swapped it out for a basic model:

Happy on One Leg

Most cyclists will be familiar with this simple accessory. The clamp consists of a knobby bottom plate and a level, smooth top plate, and a bolt which squeezes the two plates together over the chainstays.

Greenfield Clamp

It isn’t elegant, but this clamp grips the LHT’s stays securely (better than the Pletscher’s beveled clamp).

Greenfield Clamp

To mount the stand on the bike, I wrapped old inner tube around the stays and secured them with strips of electrical tape, then aligned the folded leg with the stay so that it wouldn’t rub against the wheel or be struck by the pedal.

Lined Up Nicely

The Greenfield’s leg was too long to allow my LHT to lean at a comfortable angle when parked on level ground, so I used a hacksaw to cut the kickstand back. I mounted the kickstand right out of the bag and parked the bike on the sidewalk to get an idea how much to remove from the leg. Gingerly I let go of the bike—it stood almost erect, with the slightest lean toward the kickstand—and got onto my belly in front of the bike to eyeball the foot. With a laundry marker, I scribed a rough line on the foot to indicate where I wanted to cut. I removed the kickstand, clamped it in a vise, and used a hacksaw to remove about one-quarter inch of alloy bar. I noted that the guide marks molded into the kickstand leg are scribed at the wrong angle. I learned that only after following the guides and remounting the kickstand. What that meant was that all the bike’s weight rested on a sharp edge rather than on a flat plane, as shown by the schematic drawing to the left in the diagram below.

Setting the Angle

Back to the vise, where I sawed a triangular wedge off the kickstand to set the proper angle. After a few swipes with a metal file, I was satisfied that the foot was as good as I could make it.


That’s all there was to it. Sawing the leg to the correct length and mounting the kickstand took me less than an hour, and would have taken even less time if I hadn’t messed up the first cut and if I hadn’t needed to rewrap the stays with rubber tubing. Now after five years and over 12,000 miles, I’m happy with my decision to use the one-legged kickstand. It supports the load securely when the bike’s parked, even on soft sand…


…and also in loose gravel, especially when I use a kickstand plate for additional support:

Kickstand Plate

If you’re not pleased with the two-legged kickstand you’ve mounted on your bike, consider replacing it with a single-legged kickstand. A trial run will cost you less than buying a “deluxe top plate” for your Pletscher, and you might find—as I have—that your bike is more stable on the one leg.

Further Reading


This article is an update of one published on July 7, 2009.

Questions? Comments? Just click here!

Aug 18 2014

Bike Monday for August 18, 2014: Mopping Up

Cycling isn’t for the over-fastidious. After a long ride in hot weather, drops of sweat leave salty blossoms on your headset and stem, spittle obscures the display on your cyclometer, and sticky splashes of Newt Nectar (or beetroot juice) festoon your bike’s down tube. And then there are the blobs of lube on your chainstays, and — on rainy days, at any rate — the clinging film of grit left behind on nearly everything — bike, panniers, you — by passing cars.

What’s a girl to do? Well, I carry a cotton bar mop in a pannier, one of a pack of 12 I bought at a local Big Box outlet. It’s bright yellow, so I can find it easily in the black bag. Sometimes it does duty as a towel, sometimes as a washcloth, and sometimes it’s simply a rag to wipe things with. Then, when it becomes too dirty to do its job, I just pitch it in the laundry bag.

Simple and good and cheap. The bar mop has all the virtues. And I keep discovering new uses for it. I’ll bet you will, too.

Bike Mop

We love our bikes, right? And we never tire of looking at them. At least I don’t, and if I’m to judge from what others tell me, I’m not alone. So each Monday I’ll publish a bike-related picture. Most of the time it will be a photo, but don’t be surprised if a few drawings and paintings get added to the mix from time to time. I might even include a sculpture or two. (OK. A photo of a sculpture.) Anything, in short, that evokes the world on two wheels. And don’t be shy. If you have a picture you’d like to share, just email it to me. I’ll do the rest.

Questions? Comments? Just click here!

Aug 16 2014

Prompt Response: Making a Cue Sheet for Cyclometer Functions

I’m not your typical technophobe. I work on a computer, write a regular column for a website, and do much of my reading on a Kindle. My landline phone never rings now, and I recently parted with my last film camera. But I still have a love-hate relationship with technology’s latest products.

Take the bicycle computer, for instance. There’s no doubt that it’s an improvment on the old tickity-tick clockwork cyclometers. After all, they just counted the number of times your wheel went round, leaving you to do all the math. They were simple, to be sure. But they didn’t tell you very much. On the other hand, my present bike computer — I still think of it as a cyclometer, but I’ll stick to the accepted usage here — is a marvel of virtuosity. It not only tells me my current and average speed, but it keeps track of the number of feet that I climb, too. That makes trip planning easier, something of real importance if you use your bike for running errands and keeping appointments, as I often do. The little computer even gives me a more or less accurate idea of the gradient that I’m struggling up right now, as well as telling me the air temperature. Neither of these last two things is necessary (and the gradient figure is occasionally wildly off), but they’re sometimes nice to know, if only to help me understand just why I feel so tired after a long climb!

But all this information comes at a price: complexity. And therein lies its greatest weakness. I own a lot of electronic gadgets, and I have a hard time remembering which button does what on all of them. The result is sadly predictable. On far too many days, my attempts to reset my bike computer at the start of a ride result only in confusion. I change over from English to metric measure, say, or I reset my reference altitude, or I change my wheel size, thus making a nonsense of critical measures like distance and speed.

The problem is compounded by my aging eyes. Farwell, who’s perfectly capable of mistaking a bear ambling across the road ahead of him for a dog, and who regularly confuses sparrows with shrikes, still manages to retain some useful near vision. Not me. But at least I can use reading glasses to even the odds. They don’t do much to improve my memory, however, and I often need some help deciding what buttons to push, and in which order.

That’s where my cue sheet comes in. At first, I just carried the bike computer’s instruction booklet around with me. But it’s written in four languages, and although I can struggle through the German and French texts given enough time (and a good dictionary), I prefer to take instruction in English. Unfortunately, whoever wrote the booklet went to a different school than I did. I keep coming up against such puzzling exhortations as this:

Before resetting to zero, make sure the information NAVIGATOR is called in. If NAVIGATOR is not in the display, you are accidentally re-setting other information to zero.

That sounds important. Vital, even. I only wish I knew what it meant. Maybe I did, once. But I’ve long since forgotten. And the booklet is printed in such tiny text that I almost need my Hastings triplet to decipher it.

So, after several trips in which my speed was reported in kilometers per hour, and several more where I managed to clear all the computer’s trip records before I’d written them down, I decided there had to be a better way. And there was. I made my own cue sheet. It’s nothing fancy, mind. Just a piece of white cardboard with instructions for the things I need to do most often, like resetting trip registers to zero before starting out, toggling between functions, and correcting the altimeter for changes in ambient pressure. The cardboard slips into the map window of my bar bag, where it’s always handy, and I’ve written the instructions in large, bold letters that I can read without my glasses.

What can I say? It works. And it didn’t cost anything. Now that’s the sort of progress that even a technophobe can appreciate!

Prompt Me

Further Reading


This article is an update of one originally published on May 14, 2013.

Questions? Comments? Just click here!

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