Sunday, 18 April 2010

Initial Review: Click-Stand Max

I used my Click-Stand® Max for the first time this weekend. I was impressed with the product's functionality, ease of use and the simplicity of it's design.

Click-Stand Max - Portable stand for a loaded touring bike

A loaded touring bike is often very heavy and especially cumbersome when stationary. It is certainly beneficial to be able to keep the bike upright and stable while you load and unload it. A suitable wall or fence is not always conveniently available to prop the bike against, so usually some sort of kickstand (propstand) is used.

Traditional kickstands generally have a poor reputation. They normally attach to the bike's chainstays and the combination of a usually lightweight arm (or arms) and the low positioning below the bike's centre of gravity leaves the bike vulnerable to toppling, especially when heavily loaded. Sometimes chainstays are even damaged when using a kickstand, either from the clamping mechanism, the forces going through the kickstand while it's holding up the bike or as a result of the bike toppling over.

Four piece folding Click-Stand

Some frame manufacturers don't like kickstands very much because of the potential for damaging the frame, even through apparent normal use. Thorn, perhaps deliberately, don't provide a kickstand fixing plate between the chainstays of their bikes and they specifically state the frame's warranty is invalidated if you use certain kickstand models! (E.g. Pletscher ESGE KS11 Twin-Leg Propstand). This was enough incentive for me to look around for something different.

The Click-Stand is a clever bit of 'blue sky' thinking that solves the short-comings of a traditional kickstand. It is made of lightweight holllow aluminium tubing, very similar to that used in modern folding tent-poles and comes in either 4 or 5 sections. The sections are connected with an elastic cord which allows the Click-Stand to fold and unfold very neatly. The top of the Click-Stand has a U-shaped plastic attachment which supports the bike underneath the top-tube.

Closeup of U-shaped Click-Stand support

Click-Stands come in various tube widths depending on the application. I've gone for the heavy-duty Click-Stand Max which is suitable for loaded touring bikes and tandems. It is made from 11mm (.433") diameter Easton tubing. My Click-Stand weighs 125g which is significantly lighter than a traditional kickstand.

Each Click-Stand is custom sized. You specify at the time of order your bike's vertical standing height at the top-tube/seat-tube interface and the top-tube diameter. It folds up to about 20-25cm and two optional brackets are available to store it, either by the side of a water-bottle holder or inline.

Brake-Band used to pull the brake lever and lock the wheel

The secret of the Click-Stand's design is the Brake-Bands® that are supplied with the product. These strong elastic bands slip over the handlebar ends and are used to engage both brakes. This locks both wheels and when the Click-Stand is propped under the bike's top-tube, a very stable tripod is created. The Click-Stand attachment point also benefits from being above the bike's centre of gravity. This helps immensely with stability. It's simple physics.

So how does it perform in practice? Pretty well actually...

Conveniently folded and stored on the rear rack

Once the Click-Stand is engaged, the bike is remarkably stable. It can't be rocked or moved by pushing the bike in the direction of the Click-Stand and it's almost impossible for it to topple over, even if the front wheel swings around. It's also easily stable enough to load and unload panniers one at a time.

Saying that, the Click-Stand is not as easy as a traditional kickstand to use. You can't just get off the bike and flick the stand. I deploy the Click-Stand by first putting the bike in position and then Brake-Band both levers (the bands live close at hand attached to my handlebars). I unfold the Click-Stand (strapped to the top of my rack) and prop it under the Nomad's top-tube, leaning it about 30cm away from the bike (either side can be used).

Click-Stand - A simple and effective product

The Click-Stand works best on hard surfaces. For softer surfaces like mud and grass, the Click-Stand might dig into the ground and this could pose a problem (as it would a traditional one-legged kickstand, only more so). You could put a stone underneath the Click-Stand to prevent this. I think I'm just going to carry a small plastic bottle cap.

The only potential downside I can envisage is if you badly position the Click-Stand or the Click-Stand is accidently knocked, resulting in the (heavy touring) bike falling on top of it. Since it is semi-captive underneath the bike's top-tube, it could well get bent or crushed in the fall as the lightweight tubing is only really strong in one direction.

In summary, I like the Click-Stand®. It's a simple and effective product. It's keenly priced too. If you're in the market for a kickstand for your touring bike, I recommend you add the Click-Stand Max to your shortlist.

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