So you want to know how to install a kickstand on your mountain bike? This article will cover everything you need to know, including the tools you need for kickstand installation, how to select a kickstand and considerations for if you should install a kickstand on your mountain bike or not.
But, before we go any further, a confession: when I worked in bike shops, we always tried to talk people out of installing kickstands on mountain bikes. In fact, we used to snicker derisively about customers who brought their mountain bikes to us for kickstand installation. I’m not proud of this.
That was a long time ago, however, and there weren’t mountain bike kickstands, just street bike kickstands that were installed at the bottom of the frame with two bolts and tended to rattle loose during bumpy single track mountain bike rides. Kickstands are still a mountain bike accessory that’s very much subject to personal preference, so we’ll go into the pros and cons below.
Step by Step instructions for Installing a Mountain Bike Kickstand
If you’ve decided to install a kickstand on your mountain bike, the first thing you’ll want are the right tools.
Tools Needed to Install a Kickstand on a Mountain Bike
- 5mm Hex Wrench. Alternatively, you can use a multi-tool. (If you’re looking for advice for picking the best mountain bike multi tool, check out DIY Mountain Bike’s recommendations.)
- Bike Repair Stand. Optional, but highly recommended. Link to Amazon BIKEHAND BIKE REPAIR STAND Having a bike repair stand will make DIY mountain bike repairs much easier, and you can perform a higher quality of work. Read about DIY’s recommended bike repair stand, BikeHand YC100B.
Step 1: Select and Purchase a Universal Kickstand or a Mountain Bike Specific Kickstand
- When you choose a kickstand to purchase, you’ll want to consider several things before you buy:
- How easy is this kickstand to install?
- How adjustable is this kickstand?
- How sturdy and durable is this kickstand? Is it long-lasting and made of strong materials?
- Does it have good product reviews?
- Is it compatible with the make and model of your mountain bike?
I’m installing the ROCK BROS Universal Kickstand for MTBs – Amazon link to check out prices and reviews.
For these instructions, we’ll be using the Rock Bros Mountain Bike kickstand, which we highly recommend for several reasons:
- It’s mountain bike specific.
- It mounts to two separate points on the rear triangle of the frame making it much less likely to rattle loose.
- When pushed back to its resting position, it sits behind the back gears, completely out of the way of your pedal stroke. (Kickstands that mount to the base of the bicycle can get bumped or snagged by your feet when pedaling.)
- It has a reliable yet adjustable stand to accommodate the height of almost any mountain bike.
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Step 2: Install Kickstand on Your Mountain Bike
- Put the bike in your bike repair stand.
- Unscrew the bolts holding the front and back mounting pieces of the kickstand.
- Line up the front mounting piece to the rear triangle of the bike frame.
- Line up the back mounting piece on the inside of the rear triangle of the bike frame.
- Loosely screw all the bolts so the mounting pieces are held together around the frame. Now, you can make any final adjustments to where the kickstand will be positioned on the frame.
- When you’ve got the kickstand positioned where you want it, use your hex wrench or multi-tool to tighten the bolts, alternating between them so you distribute the tension equally between all the bolts.
- Set the mountain bike on the ground and adjust the length of the kickstand to suit the height of your bike. (With Rock Bros kickstand, there’s a super easy button for adjusting length, but other kickstands may have different adjustments.) If the kickstand is too tall or too short, the bike will tip over, defeating the purpose of having a kickstand.
This video is the easiest way to learn how to install a mountain bike kickstand.
Pros and Cons of Installing a Kickstand on a Mountain Bike
Returning to the earlier question of whether or not you should install a kickstand on a mountain bike…
Why were we, as mountain bike mechanics and gear junkies, snickering all those years ago about people who want kickstands installed on mountain bikes? To be honest, I’m sure part of it was ego, the macho view that you should spend more time riding your bike than leaning it on a kickstand. But, ego aside, there are several drawbacks to kickstands on mountain bikes (even with the technological advancements since my days as a mechanic):
- On rocky trails, the kickstand can get bumped into the downward position creating a serious hazard for mountain biking. Additionally, if the spring mechanism gets loose or worn out – and no longer reliably holds the kickstand back and out of the way – the kickstand can fall into the downward position. You can avoid this by checking the spring tension before rides.
- In a crash, the kickstand can get bent in and increase the chance of damage to other components. Kickstands are cheap and easy to replace, but if a kickstand is jammed into the wheel spokes or derailleur, that’s much more expensive to repair.
- A kickstand is just one more sharp object you risk impaling yourself on in a crash. (The majority of injuries I’ve experienced mountain biking have been inflicted by the bike itself – handlebars to the chin, pedal gashes on my shins, etc. Like a gun, a kickstand can very easily be used against you.)
- The mechanical design of certain bikes can make it structurally difficult or impossible to mount a kickstand on the frame or bottom bracket.
Looking at that, why would you want a kickstand on a mountain bike? Like I said, it’s very much a question of personal preference, and there are multiple reasons you might choose to install a kickstand on a mountain bike, such as:
- You have a very expensive mountain bike or custom paint job. Of course, you want to reduce the risk of scratches and dents!
- You have a back injury or some other physical limitation that makes bending over to lay a bike down or pick it up painful or impossible.
- You frequently use your mountain bike for commuting and errands around town.
Alternate Ways to Keep Your Mountain Bike Standing
If you don’t want to install a kickstand on your mountain bike but also don’t want to lay it on the ground, here are some alternative ways to keep your bike upright:
- Flip it over upside down and position it so it’s balanced between handlebars and seat. WARNING: this is not always reliably stable and still risks scratching the frame if it gets knocked over.
- Lean the rear wheel against solid surface such as a wall, a tree or a signpost. Because the rear wheel doesn’t have side-to-side rotation like the front wheel (courtesy of the handlebars), it’s preferable than leaning against the front wheel.
- In your garage, storing your bike in a bike repair stand is a great option to prevent both scratches to the bike and damage to other things (such as the car), if it were to tip over.
MTB Tools I Love and Recommend
I own each of these tools and only recommend things I own and use.
- Bike Hand Bike Repair Stand. Nice mountain bikes don’t have a kick stand so keeping your MTB safe but conveniently stored is essential. I keep my bike on my stand whenever I’m not riding it. This makes it easy to lube the chain, inflate the tires and adjust the derailleur. Highly recommended – Bike Hand Bike Repair Stand (👈 Link to Amazon to see what thousands of others have said)
- A basic MTB toolbox for replacing a chain, adjusting brakes and dialing in the fit. Bike Hand has a 37-piece box that has most of the specialty bike tools to keep your MTB properly maintained. The Bike Hand brand is value packed for the avid rider. Check out the competitive prices with this link to Amazon 👉 Bike Hand 37 pcs Bike Repair Tool Kit
- Get a good air pressure gauge, if you get just a tiny bit serious about MTBing you’re going to start playing with tire pressure. A couple psi can make your tires sticking or not. Get a good gauge, I highly recommend the Topeak Smartgauge D2, it’s accurate, flexible and easy to use. An Amazon best seller, here’s a link 👉 Topeak Smartgauge D2
- Carry a multitool with you on every ride. I’m serious, most of the time you can MacGyver something to get back to the trailhead if you have a multitool. I’ve got the Crank Brothers M19, it’s worn, rubbed and abused – but it still works. Thousands sold on Amazon – check it out with this link 👉 Crank Brothers M19
Why Don’t Mountain Bikes Come with Kickstands?
People who have come to love biking through paved recreation paths and road cruising are often surprised when they make the jump to mountain biking. Why doesn’t this bike have a kickstand? they often ask, assuming a kickstand is as customary to bikes as pedals. So, why don’t mountain bikes come with kickstands?
- Like most performance sports, light weight is advantageous. You ride faster, especially on uphill grinds, if you’ve got a lighter bike. A kickstand is simply extra – potentially unnecessary – weight. You’ll notice weight is listed among the product specs a manufacturer provides about the bike, and bike makers want their bikes as light as possible.
- Engineering. As mentioned before, the structure of some bikes doesn’t leave space in the bottom bracket or frame for mounting a kickstand. Bike makers would rather devote their research and design resources to design elements of higher value than figuring out how to make their frames kickstand-compatible.
To Kickstand or Not to Kickstand: That Is the Question
So, would I still snicker at someone who wants to install a kickstand on their mountain bike? No. Technology has improved enough that kickstands on mountain bikes aren’t as implausible as when I was a young and self-righteous bike mechanic. Additionally, I now recognize the convenience and, in some cases, necessity of choosing to install a kickstand on a mountain bike.
Would I choose to install a kickstand on my own mountain bike? No. But mainly because I don’t find it necessary, not because it’s a bad idea.
The choice is yours, and with this article and video, you should know everything you need about installing a kickstand on your mountain bike!
Professional writer Kat Jahnigen was 2 miles from the nearest village – and roughly 2,310 miles – from the nearest English-speaking town – when her bike tire burst. At that time, she was a college student on a bike trip across the desolate, rocky island of Crete. It suddenly occurred to her that it would’ve been good to learn some basic bike repairs before setting off on a solo bike trip.
Check out Kat’s website WriteHire at writehire.net.