Why Don't Road Bicycles Have Kickstands?
The sight of a kickstand on a road bicycle is bound to annoy a cycling purist. “A racing cyclist would never have any kind of kickstand,” wrote noted cycling author Eugene A. Sloane in “Popular Mechanics,” capturing the snobbery against kickstands that was well under way in the 1970s. Not found then or today on better road bikes, kickstands add weight and permit a strong wind or passerby to knock over the bicycle. “I think they are useless,” Sloane concluded.
Relying on a kickstand to keep your bike upright and having it tumble over can lead to problems. Sloane notes in his book “Sloane’s Complete Book of All-Terrain Bicycles” that a knocked-over bike can experience damage to its derailleur, brake levers and paint finish. If you tighten a kickstand after its bolts loosen, its sleeve can squeeze and damage the chainstays, which are the frame tubes that lead from the bottom bracket to the dropouts that hold the rear wheels. Sloane recommends unbolting the kickstand and throwing it away.
A bicycle rider wants the lightest bicycle possible that can handle the job of handling the road conditions and hill climbing, with no causes of unnecessary aerodynamic drag. “The basic guideline is to hold extras to a minimum, while equipping your bicycle with those items that really contribute to safety, efficiency and comfort,” note the authors of “The Bicycle Rider’s Bible.” The added weight of a kickstand is not offset by a corresponding benefit, they feel. Further, bikes that come with welded kickstands may have been weakened by heat stress at the weld, they note.
Despite the snobbery against kickstands on road bikes, you may have a personal preference to have one on your road bike. Be careful in adding an aftermarket kickstand not to damage your chainstays, especially if you have an aluminum or carbon bike frame. Also factor in whether your bike is more likely to get damaged if knocked over by the wind than if you lay it carefully on the ground, chain side up. Particularly if you are riding a road bike with loaded panniers on a long tour, the bike is safer carefully laid on its side on the ground.
If you camp and want to unload your tent and panniers, a kickstand can help; you may want to add a golf ball or tennis ball to its tip so the stand doesn’t poke into soft ground and tip the bike over. An option is a Japanese model attached to the chainstays near the rear axle rather than just behind the bottom bracket. The Japanese models are more effective at stabilizing the bike, writes mechanic Rob Van der Plas in “The Bicycle Repair Book,” and do not get in the way when wheeling the bike backwards.
An award-winning writer and editor, Rogue Parrish has worked at the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun and at newspapers from England to Alaska. This world adventurer and travel book author, who graduates summa cum laude in journalism from the University of Maryland, specializes in travel and food -- as well as sports and fitness. She's also a property manager and writes on DIY projects.