One of the most common problems bicycle tourists face is trying to find a place to prop up their heavily loaded touring bicycle at the end of the day or at a rest stop, or simply to access gear inside your bags. What seems like an easy problem to fix leads more often than not leads into frustration..
Imagine this all too common scenario -
You need to stop riding because the sun is beating down on you and earlier in the morning you neglected to apply proper sunscreen. You’ve searched high and low for a somewhere to rest your bicycle up against – finally you do, but realize you can’t access one side of your panniers!
Speaking from experience this one -
You’ve given up on finding a wall to rest it on, and opt for lying it on the ground – You remove what you need out of your panniers on the side you will be laying it on, or even take them off completely, coming back after a nice rest to find you’ve broken welds in your rack because it can’t support such extreme top down pressure! Not a problem you say, using a hose clamp to keep things together until you can find someone with a spot welder to repair the damage, when you look down and find a puddle of oil leaking from your internally geared hub!
OK, so here’s an idea -
You opt to rest your handlebars on a tree or street pole delicately balancing it so that when you walk away it doesn’t fall over, only to find that when you come back, the wind has made the wheels shift, and it finally fell over after letting all of the bikes weight put pressure on your bar end shifter, thereby breaking internal components that are seemingly available in rebuild manuals, but always out of stock when you query the manufacturer direct.
So why not use a kickstand?
For many years people have relied on kickstands to prop their bicycle up. They came standard on any bicycle I rode in my earlier years, and I was more than surprised to not see them on current batches of bikes. You can purchase an aftermarket kickstand from a variety of manufacturers, but do they work well for a touring bike? It’s one thing to mount a kickstand to the bottom of your frame for an unloaded bicycle, but what about one that weighs 53 pounds? Don’t forget to account for food, water, bags, electronics and other necessities that you are carrying around with you each day to make your tour comfortable! My complete setup comes in at just around 120lbs fully loaded in the midst of a tour, give or take a few pounds based on recent grocery purchases - The simple mounting of a kickstand to your frame could void your warranty due to the fact that the thin walled tubing can crush the chain stay with all of the stress. Not to mention your paint getting damaged causing premature rusting. If your frame manufacturer OK’s the installation of a kickstand, get ready for another surprise, weight – a well built kickstand is made of solid metal and can add extra weight to your already loaded down bike making it difficult to achieve speed, move around, and climb hills. To be fair, Tubus offers kickstands that attach to their front and rear racks, yet do not fit on any other manufacturers models.
Enter the Click-Stand
Sometime around 2006 Tom Nostrant of Aberdeen Washington set out to solve this issue, taking design cues in bicycle touring, tent poles! Made from multiple pieces Easton Expedition Quality Aluminum Tubing, a shock cord connects the pieces for fast setup and quick disassembly into back to a small compact footprint, which can then be strapped to your rack, placed in your handlebar bag, or even a pocket. A rubber coated cradle holds sits under your bicycles top tube where it connects with the bicycles cup sits on the top of the stand, intended to cradle your bicycles top tube next to your set tube. A non-slip rubber foot is on the bottom allowing the stand to work in a variety of conditions.
While this will now prop your bicycle up, it doesn’t deal with the issue of your wheels rolling – so Tom came up with the idea of two elastic “Brake Bands” which are intended to stretch from your handlebar to your brake levers, keeping the bicycle stationary.
Tom offers thee different models of the Click-Stand, using different thickness of tubing to support different weights of bicycles and loads. My chosen model, the ‘Click-Stand Max‘ has no set weight limit, and Tom lists on his website ‘If you are able to pedal it down the road, it should be able to hold it up!’ (this includes tandems!). The other two models (Original, and Mini) offer options to have the unit smaller in length, splitting the stand into 5 or 6 segments. The stand weighs about 75 grams, a small bit heavier than a candy bar and folds up to a length of about 9 inches.
Tom has also started offering mounts which allow you to strap in the stand beside your water bottle cage, or to unused water cage bosses on your frame. I found that one needs to cinch tight the Velcro attachment on the mount to avoid slippage. It does have a bit of bulk associated with it, so you may want to make sure your chosen location does not let your legs brush against it.
Setting it up takes less than 15 seconds stretching the bar bands over the brake levers, removing the stand from the mount, and shaking it, while all the segments automatically connect. It does take longer to pack up, as I find I still need to balance the bicycle while replacing and fussing with the mount. Once tightly in place, I remove the brake bands which rest on my handlebars for next usage and pedal away.
One of the bonuses with using the Click-Stand, is that I can use the stand on an graded surface, providing my brakes are strong enough to hold onto the bike and its contents. I’m also quite happy that I can rest the bicycle on either side. If I ever found the stand sinking into soil – Tom recently started offering the “fat foot” – a wider slip on foot which should solve those issues. I’m sure if I ever had any problems with the Click Stand, I’d be able to get replacement parts and questions answered promptly.
I’d recommend the Click-Stand to anyone who wants a lightweight and compact stand for their bicycle, yet caution to measure properly for your bicycle before ordering because each Click-Stand is custom made for the height of the bicycle and diameter of the top tube. Turnaround time is exceptionally fast using regular postal methods, and Tom is good at letting people know his availability months in advance. In 2010 he even had a notice on his website notifying potential customers well ahead that prices were to be rising, and to take advantage of the cheaper price before they did. Doesn’t sound like shady marketing tactics to me, more like pure honesty.