If you’re a novice cyclist or someone who’s just beginning to upgrade, you may be surprised that a lot of high-end bikes don’t have kickstands. After all, if you’re upgrading why lose a feature?
I’ve personally used bikes with and without kickstands, and in this article I’ll explain why some bikes have them and other don’t.
Below is a list of the topics I’ll cover. Let’s get into it.
7 Reasons Many Bikes Don’t Have Kickstands
1. Kickstands Increase the Risk of Crashing
Kickstands add a sticking point on the bike, which increases your overall risk of crashing. Anything protruding from the bike can be an issue, depending on how and where you’re riding.
A kickstand can also open up while you’re riding. Whether it’s jogged loose by impact or accidentally knocked when you’re off the pedal for a second. Either way, it’s risky and could cause a wreck.
Mountain bikers are even more wary about kickstands compared to folks that ride on the road. The last thing you want on a tight single-track trail is to get your kickstand stuck on something, causing you to take a spill.
Protrusions should be minimized, and a kickstand is a major one that can be taken out of the equation entirely.
2. Kickstands Add Unnecessary Weight
As someone who has done extensive bicycle touring, this is probably the biggest reason I personally don’t use kickstands, other than the fact that my bike simply came without one.
People pay thousands of dollars to cut a few ounces out of their bike frame. Road and racing bikes, in particular, demand a premium price for shaving off a few grams here and there.
Why would someone investing seriously in a lightweight bike add that weight back with a kickstand?
Extra weight is unwanted for a bicycle, and kickstands add a significant amount while only adding a little bit of convenience. In the end, the extra weight is just another annoyance associated with the stand.
3. Kickstands Increase The Risk of Bike Damage
In addition to crashing your bike due to snagging, you can also damage the frame with a kickstand.
The area where a kickstand connects can damage the frame. In most cases, this won’t hurt the structural integrity, although that’s a possibility. On the other hand, it can flatten the tubing on your chainstays and scratch the finish.
And, as counter-intuitive as it seems, kickstands are less stable than any other way of setting your bike down. Most cyclists without kickstands on their bike, will park it up against something (e.g. a building, tree, etc.) or just place it on it’s side on the ground. If you’re in a city/town, then bike racks are often pretty easy to find.
All of these alternative methods are pretty much foolproof, unlike a kickstand, which can buckle, wobble, or sink into soft ground (all of which can cause your bike to fall over).
4. Kickstands Make the Bike Less Aerodynamic
Kickstands hang off the chainstays of your bike and block air, meanwhile, most riders spend extra money on more aerodynamic parts. Once again kickstands prove to be a bit counter-productive.
That’s a big no-no on a high-end bike, where every piece is designed to reduce wind resistance. The majority of kickstands just block air and make the bike slower, even if you don’t take into account the weight of it.
5. Kickstands are Ugly
Let’s face it: kickstands look terrible on a bike.
They can ruin the clean lines of a great frame. Somehow they just end up making the bike look less impressive as a whole.
Call it vanity, but no one thinks their bike looks better with a kickstand attached to the frame.
6. Kickstands Could Contribute to Injuries
Kickstands may not be the main contributor to injuries, but they’re in a good spot to complicate a crash. They’re called kickstands because they’re within foot range from the pedals after all.
It’s unlikely to be the main source of injury during a bike wreck, but no one appreciates a smack in the shin or ankle.
BMX riders are put at risk more than other riders with a kickstand. Doing tricks with an extra point to catch on to things is a bad idea.
7. Other Cyclists Might Judge You
As much as I frown upon “cycling snobbery”, a lot of cyclists consider kickstands a sure sign of a “newbie”. So if you want to blend in with the crowd, and avoid sideways glances from other riders, I’d leave the kickstand off your bike.
One reason for this, is that most high-end bikes from brands like Trek, Specialized, or Giant, don’t come with kickstands pre-installed.
And if you ask a crowd of cyclists why they don’t use kickstands, you’d probably end up getting a mix of all of the reasons above.
However, there is one group of cyclists where the value of kickstands is debated, and that would be among bicycle touring and bikepacking cyclists, who sometimes do like to use kickstands (though I personally don’t use a kickstand on my touring bike).
What Kinds of Bikes Don’t Have Kickstands?
Most high-end bicycles don’t have kickstands installed. That includes every category of bike, from road bikes to BMX to mountain bikes. In short: if you put down a good chunk of change for a bike, it’s not likely to come with a kickstand.
Those cyclists who feel the need to move beyond retail and entry-level bikes are often surprised that a more expensive bike doesn’t have a kickstand. As bikes get more expensive, it’s often hard to justify the drawbacks. They’re just a hindrance to most styles of riding.
What Kinds of Bikes Do Have Kickstands?
The majority of retail-level bicycles, like those found at Wal-Mart, do come with kickstands. Many mid-range bikes in the $400-700 range still include them as well, but those serious about riding usually take them off once the bike is home.
You’ll also find kickstands on children’s bikes.
And to be fair, a kickstand isn’t a sign a bike is terrible, they’re just not associated with high-quality bikes.
You will sometimes see kickstands on touring and bikepacking bikes, which can be rather expensive in their own right. They’re usually installed after purchase, and it’s best to use a two-footed stand that goes under the bike. These bikes usually carry plenty of weight, so a single foot isn’t a good idea due to the torque it can apply to your frame.
Do You Need a Kickstand for a Bike?
A kickstand isn’t necessary. The benefit of a kickstand is the small convenience of propping your bike up, so that you don’t have to find a rack, or somewhere to lean it or set it down. However, kickstands are not essential and you can easily get by without one on your bike.
And honestly, how often are you going to stop your bike and need the kickstand anyway? Most of the time your bike will be at home, where a stand or wall rack would be a better idea. A bike up on a kickstand takes a significant amount of valuable garage space.
And when you arrive at a cycling destination, where are you gonna go? Odds are, you’re probably going to want to lock the bike up to prevent theft. Anywhere you can lock a bike you can stand it up, and anywhere that’s safe enough to just rest the bike on the kickstand is usually also somewhere you can gently lay the bike down.
That said, they’re convenient for some people, and it’s your bike. You’ll never need a kickstand but go right ahead if you think that the convenience is worth the drawbacks.
How to Stand-up a Bike Without a Kickstand
If you’ve decided to ditch the kickstand, you may need some help with how/where to stash your bike without the kickstand.
You have a few options. Here’s a quick break down:
Lean the Bike on Something
Probably the most common way to stand up a bike is just to lean it on a pole, wall, or other convenient vertical surfaces. A lock will keep a bike standing when you use something thin like a pole or sapling.
You might be surprised at how little you end up needing a kickstand, particularly if you’re an A-to-B commuter.
Lay It Down
The damage done to a bike by laying it down is minor and cosmetic if any at all. It’s pretty simple to just gently lower the bike to the ground for a moment. Especially on grassy areas, which tend to be pretty soft.
When you lay your bike down, however, you should always leave the drive-side up. That means laying it on its left side in most cases, just to avoid any possible damage to the cassette, chain, and derailleur.
You can also flip the bike upside down, resting it on the seat and handlebars. Unfortunately, you’ll inevitably end up scraping up some parts of your bike if you rest it this way, but I confess, I’ve put my bike in this position many times.
Be mindful of which parts are making contact, but in the majority of cases, cosmetic scuffing of the shifters and seat is the outcome.
How to Install a Kickstand on a Bike
If I can’t convince you not to use a kickstand, then I may as well help you.
Here’s a quick guide to installing a kickstand on a bike that doesn’t have one already installed.
There are a couple of different mounting types, in the video above the bike has a spot between the chainstays where you screw the kickstand in. These are easy to install with hand tools, just push the bolt through the hole and tighten it up.
Others attach to the chainstay bars. They’re an inferior option as far as stability, but not every bike has the bracket used in the above video. In particular, high-end bikes lack a mounting bracket for a kickstand.
In that case, you’ll want to refer to this video:
A bike trailer can also be attached to the chainstays. Read our article about attaching bike trailers if you want to learn more.
Some kickstand setups come with extra brackets designed to help prevent frame damage as well, and if you have the option you should always opt to use them.
Kickstands are easy to install at home, but you need to make sure the height is right to minimize the chance of the bike falling over. Adjust the length until the bike is as stable as possible, try moving the front wheel around to make sure the weight distribution is safe.
Installing a kickstand is simple enough for most cyclists to manage if you decide to take this route.
Now, let’s quickly cover a few FAQs related to this topic:
Do Mountain Bikes Come with Kickstands?
Mid-to-high-end mountain bikes generally don’t come with kickstands. But cheaper mountain bikes, especially those sold at big box retailers, often do come with kickstands. However, if the bike is going to be used for trail riding, the kickstand will usually be removed. They cause to many risks for mountain biking.
For the most part, a kickstand is a massive detriment to mountain biking. For light trail riding, they may not interfere, but if you’re new to the sport, it’s best to remove your kickstand when off-road.
Do Road Bikes Come with Kickstands?
Road bikes almost always come without a kickstand. The added weight and less aerodynamic profile are counterproductive to a road bike’s design goals of fast and smooth riding on pavement.
For road bikes, a kickstand doesn’t make sense. Most people go on long rides or use them as a commuter. In both cases, a kickstand is more of a liability than a benefit, since you’re probably locking your bike on both ends of the ride anyways.
Do BMX Bikes Come with Kickstands?
BMX bikes, as a rule, don’t come with kickstands at any price point. Since they’re made for racing and performing tricks, the kickstand would interfere and become an injury risk to the rider.
You’d be hard-pressed to find any BMX bike with a kickstand, even one installed by a rider after they bought the bike. A BMX bike is arguably the worst type of bike to use a kickstand on, due to the injury risk when used for tricks, races, etc.
Do Trek Bikes Come with Kickstands?
The majority of Trek bicycles don’t come with a kickstand, but there are some models that do. As of 2021, they appear to have 39 models listed that do include a kickstand, primarily bikes on the lower end of Trek’s price spectrum.
Trek actually serves as a good example of which bikes have kickstands. The low end of their line mostly has kickstands since they’re aimed more towards casual riders. Meanwhile, bikes higher up in their pricing don’t have kickstands at all.