If you have a look around at advertisements for second hand road bikes and groupsets, you’ll notice that a lot of them have words to the effect that the saddle or the hoods have the “usual” scuffs and scratches from leaning the bike against walls. You know what I’m talking about because you do it as well. And if there’s no wall/tree/post around to rest your bike against while you’re getting your macchiato, you’ve probably done the pedal balance against the gutter/log/rock trick. If you have, you’ve probably also done the “oh crap my bike’s falling over but it’s just out of reach” mad dash back to try to stop it hitting the ground trick.
There’s a good reason why this happens, it’s because we don’t have a kickstand on the bike. Kickstands are heavy, awkward, dangerous (when you forget to kick them up), and most road bikes don’t have attachment points for them anyway. Most importantly, they look bloody awful and no self respecting roady would ever be seen dead using one – you can save that sort of stuff for the bearded, pannier toting, hi-vis utility cyclist types.
And then there’s the upstand. Kickstarter is a wonderful pathway for good ideas, and the upstand is a good idea, which is why it was funded when it came up on kickstarter in 2013, and it’s also why the company that produces them is now producing a variety of models.
Let’s start with the installation process; one of the reasons I noted above for not having a kickstand on a road bike is the lack of attachment points. The upstand solves that problem with a light (15g) metal tab, like a washer with a rectangular prism attached to it. This attaches to your rear wheel skewer on the left hand side. It can be attached without removing, or even moving, the rear wheel. Undo the skewer, unwind it and pull it out, slide on the upstand attachment tab (if you have a spring here, remove that first, then put it back after you’ve put the tab on), re-insert the skewer, tighten it and you’re done. All up, about 30 seconds. You can buy tabs separately from the upstand itself (for $7 each), so you can add a tab to all of your bikes and just have a single upstand.
The upstand itself weighs in at 25 grams and is a carbon fibre wrapped aluminium pole with a magnetic coupler on one end that connects to the tab on your bike, and a rubber foot on the other end. There are two types of stands, a folding one and a non-folding one. The folding one has an elastic cord down the middle and folds in half for easy storage, either in a special clip that you put on your bottle cage, or in your jersey pocket (it also has a little bit of velcro on it to wrap the halves together to stop them coming apart in your pocket). The non-folding stand is too long for a jersey pocket, but it also has a clip that allows it to be stored next to your water bottle. All in all, the stand stays out of the way very well when it’s not in use.
To actually use the stand, you unclip it from your bike, or pull it out of your jersey pocket. If it’s the folding one, you unfold and assemble it (the chord makes it very, very easy). Then you slide the end of the stand over the little tab on your rear wheel, lean your bike on it, and you’re done. It takes, literally, 20 seconds or less, and it doesn’t look stupid either stored or deployed.
I found the upstand very easy to live with and use. Once it’s on the bike, it’s easy to forget it’s there until you want to park your bike. At that point, you look around for a wall only to realise you don’t need one anymore.
In terms of practical usability, I found that the initial tab positioning to be important. You need to get the angle right so that the lean of your bike and the support of the stand match up properly. This is going to be slightly different for each different bike geometry, so you need to experiment a little, but it doesn’t take long and once it’s dialed in you can forget about it and it will just work. I haven’t had to adjust the angle once since I first did it.
The stand itself is well constructed and strong, but having said that I wouldn’t be putting a lot of weight onto it, so bikes with panniers probably wouldn’t suit this stand (the manufacturer says keep the weight below 14.5 kg). For a normal road bike with two water bottles, a saddle bag, accessories, and a helmet on the handlebars, it’s fine.
The only issue I had with the upstand was with the surface I was using it on. For solid ground and carpeted floors, it worked as expected, but on soft grass it was a bit hit and miss and I didn’t always trust it. Not really a big problem for a road bike, I know, but it’s worth mentioning. Also worth mentioning is the possibility of riding off on your bike with the stand still attached. You can move and even ride your bike with the stand attached to it, since it is magnetically attached, but that’s (a) dangerous and (b) likely to cause the stand to fall off at some point, which will leave you with a feeling of utter stupidity when you realise what you’ve done (and no, I didn’t do it).
If you’ve got a road bike that you want to protect from wall scuffs and bumps and you can afford 40g of weight (well, only 15 is on the bike at all times if the stand is in your pocket), then the upstand is a good investment that will do the job of a kickstand, without the dork factor. The upstand also allows you to pose your bike almost anywhere for those all important instagram and facebook pics.
You can get the upstand directly from the Australian distributor Full Beam Australia for $55. There is a version (for an extra $4) with a mounting bracket for the bike and also a ‘non-foldable’ version which is $49.