Getting Your Bike on a Center Stand: A Rider’s Dilemma

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Dear Lynda,

My husband gets mad at me because I can’t get my bike on the center stand by myself. He’s tried repeatedly to teach me, but I can’t figure it out. He says every competent rider needs to be able to do this, which makes me feel stupid. Help!

~Robin

Dear Robin, I need to start with a confession: I can’t get my bike up on the center stand either, and I definitely see myself as a competent rider. Both my husband and I decided mastering that skill wasn’t a big deal, and he simply helps me when it needs to be used.

When he bought his new Africa Twin, where the weight distribution was different than any of his previous bikes, he found himself struggling as well. After doing a bit of research, he found others dealing with the same issue on the same bike. He now either uses a small block under the wheel or asks me to help. Again: no big deal. Many bikes don’t even have center stands so it’s unlikely to be a major consideration as to one’s expertise on handling other aspects of riding. Getting your bike on a center stand isn’t the most important part!

Sure, it’s nice to use it when doing routine maintenance and checking various oils, pressures, etc, but it’s not essential. So let’s assume it’s a skill you’d like to master, and your bike is one that you can conceivably get onto the stand by yourself. The issue now becomes twofold: dealing with your husband and dealing with the center stand.

It’s important to look at the dynamics of how the two of you ride, interact, and support each other. If this argument is reflective of other, deeper issues, even your achieving the desired result will only shift those issues further down the road. It’s always important to insure you are diagnosing, and fixing, the correct problem.

But let’s assume this the only area of friction between the two of you regarding motorcycling. The most helpful remedy is removing the emotional aspect of the experience. I’m guessing your dealer, mechanic, or another woman rider might offer to teach you without the pressure you’re feeling from your partner. Similarly to having a neutral party teach a new rider the basics of handling a motorcycle, you may feel far less reactive and defensive learning from someone with less investment in the outcome and potentially more methods to help you achieve success. The good news is that when you’re rolling down the road the center stand is up and your focus can be on enjoying the ride.

~Lynda

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One thought on “Getting Your Bike on a Center Stand: A Rider’s Dilemma”

  1. Raven says:

    While the answer is thoughtful regarding the emotional elements of the pesky center-stand, some useful information regarding the geometry of the beast is helpful as well. Yes, some motorcycles are definitely easier to get on the center-stand than others (we’ll start with that because it is about balance, after all). Even with the difficult ones the best thing you can do for yourself is be very sure that both feet of the center stand are in contact with sold ground. I’ve seen so many people try to put a bike up on the stand with it still leaned partly towards them. So, push down on the lever to hold it in place and push the motorcycle away from you. It will feel very far away but that foot on the other side must contact the ground. I tend to leave my bike in gear for this as well because I don’t want to risk it rolling away from me and it makes for a positive stop when you take your bike off the stand. Now that both center-stand feet are on the ground push down with your foot on the center-stand lever whilst pulling the bike backwards. What? Backwards? Really? I know, you thought you were supposed to be lifting up but what is most helpful is pulling the bike backwards because you create momentum to get the most benefit from the fulcrum that the center-stand lever creates (here’s a quick video of me putting my ST1300 on the center-stand https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-8LM2Z_XIg). Finally, if it just won’t lift, no matter what you do, check to be sure your center-stand isn’t bent or damaged (it happens). Check to see if you’re running the stock tires (other brands or sizes have slightly different ride heights that can affect the center-stand geometry).If there’s no damage and you’re on stock rubber, congratulations, you’ve got one of the motorcycles that has a poor pivot point and is slightly unbalanced. Best bet then is the old carry-a-chunk-of-wood trick or enlist a buddy. Cheers

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