Jul 07 2009

What a Kick! Happy on One Leg

Back in April I wrote a review of the Pletscher two-legged kickstand which I’d mounted on my Surly Long Haul Trucker. After using the two-legger for a year, I reluctantly came to the conclusion that a two-legger wasn’t for me. The Pletscher’s poor clamp design contributed to my decision, and while it’s possible to retrofit a “deluxe top plate” which forms a more secure and less crushing grip to the chainstays, I blanch at the additional cost (USD8 plus USD10 for shipping, on top of the already-high price of nearly USD45!). Most importantly, though, I can’t overcome a lack of confidence in the inherent instability of the two-legged kickstand. Here’s a diagram showing the stability triangles of the two-legged versus one-legged kickstand designs, drawn using measurements from my bikes:

A Wide Foot

The support triangle is much larger and more stable for the one-legger. After dithering for another month or so, I finally removed the Pletscher and stuck it away into a box. Maybe I’ll use it again in future should I have a change of heart. Until then, I will rely on my new Greenfield one-legged kickstand.

Happy on One Leg

Most cyclists will be familiar with this basic kickstand. 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 more securely than the Pletscher’s beveled clamp.

Greenfield Clamp

I wrapped old inner tube around the stays and secured them with strips of electrical tape, and 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.

Leveled

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 two months of use, 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…

Parked

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

Kickstand Plate

If you’re not happy 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

 

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