The penguin's motorcycling and Jeep blog

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Zen and the art of the centerstand

I have a love-hate relationship with centerstands.

First, let us be blunt: Centerstands are a terrible solution for keeping the rubber side down on a parked motorcycle. The basic problem is that they are narrower than the triangle formed by the wheels and a sidestand, and thus the motorcycle can be more easily toppled off of a centerstand. Furthermore, they are sensitive to tire height -- if you put shorter tires onto your motorcycle you may have trouble getting the bike up on the stand, if you put taller tires onto your motorcycle the tire may no longer be off the ground when you try to put the bike onto the centerstand.

And finally, not all bikes are good candidates for centerstands. Centerstands tend to reduce your ground clearance because of all those levers and rods and springs and such hanging down below your bike, and some bikes have inadequate places to mount a centerstand. For example, on a KLR650 dual sport, the centerstands available on the market mount to the footpeg bolts -- a known weak point on the KLR motorcycle due to the mild-steel captive nuts inside the mounting boxes. A centerstand simply helps those captive nuts strip out even faster than they already do without help from a centerstand.

All of the above is why my KLR-650 has no centerstand. I had one on the bike, but took it off because it did more harm than good. If I need to loft a wheel off the ground and I'm not at home in my garage where I can just wheel the lift under it, it's pretty easy to do -- click the Givi topbox off and place it on the right hand side of the parked motorcycle. Push the motorcycle over onto its sidestand until the rear tire (or front tire) is off the ground. Kick Givi topbox underneath the skidplate at the appropriate place so that said tire *stays* off the ground. Voila.

So on a dual-sport motorcycle, a centerstand is not necessary. If all else failed, I could turn off the gas and lay my KLR on its side and do whatever I needed. It wouldn't hurt the KLR, as long as I kept the cylinder above the oil level so that I don't get hydrolock. My KLR has spent a weekend on its side before when I was off camping and a bear knocked it open and ripped all the luggage apart looking for WD-40 to eat (he found it, BTW -- I have a picture somewhere of the WD-40 can, crushed by bear jaws, holes from bear teeth in it). Didn't hurt the KLR at all, though the luggage was trashed.

So anyhow, now we come to my new Suzuki DL650 V-Strom, and we find one very big reason to have a center stand: There's no skid plate or frame members to use to lift the bike! Yeppers, the oil pan is just a hangin' out there in the breeze, and it's not a *big* oil pan, and you wouldn't want to try to lift the bike on it. So how do you change the tires? Well, look back by the suspension dog bones, and what do you see? CENTER STAND MOUNTING HOLES!

So I researched the available center stands and chose the one that I liked the most -- the SW-Motech, which is a bit narrower than the OEM one, and reduces ground clearance a little more, but does not interfere with cornering clearance. So in my next article, I install this sucker on my V-Strom 650...

-- Badtux the Motorcycle Penguin

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