TOTW: Don’t lose your sidestand in hot asphalt

The riding tips on these pages are my personal opinion about matters related to motorcycle riding. They are not the official position of any organization, and are for your consideration only. They are not hard and fast rules, they should not necessarily be applied in all circumstances, and they should not be applied without thinking. Always use your judgement and take all current safety factors into account while riding. You are responsible for your riding, not anyone else (especially me). These tips were originally published by a motorcycle riding course, called “Tip of the Week” (the reason for the TOTW in the titles).

What’s the problem?

On a hot day, asphalt gets soft. Your bike is heavy and, when parked, a lot of that weight is pressing down on the small spot where your stand touches the ground.

It’s often an unpleasant surprise to new riders that your side stand can sink a long way into the asphalt on a hot day — far enough to allow your bike to fall over. (And, with the side stand buried in the pavement, it can be more difficult to pick up than usual.)

Of course, the same risk exists on ground that really is soft: grass, dirt, sand, etc.

Solution

When possible, park on more solid material such as concrete. If you must park on asphalt, spend a moment to think about where the sun will be and how the conditions will change during the time you are parked. If you can arrange that your bike shades the spot where your stand touches the ground, you may avoid a tip-over.

New asphalt is particularly susceptible to acting like quicksand on a hot day. (And its owner will be particularly annoyed if your side stand gouges a hole.) When selecting a parking spot, learn to spot the telltale holes that show where previous bikes have sunk, and park where it has happened less often.

Avoid blacker asphalt, and prefer lighter patches. Blacker asphalt contains more tar, so it is softer to begin with, and the dark colour will absorb more sunlight, softening even more. If you must park on a soft spot, use your centre stand. It will also sink, but both feet will sink evenly, reducing the chance of a tip-over (but be sure both feet of the centre stand are on similar quality asphalt — don’t have one on old pavement and one on a recent patch.)

Side stand support plate

You can purchase expensive after-market side stands with wide heads to prevent sinking, but it’s not necessary.

Here is a tip. Visit the electrical department of your local hardware store and buy a “junction box cover.” This is a 10 cm. diameter circle of sturdy galvanized steel. Placed under your side stand, it will support even a heavy bike, won’t rust, stores easily under your seat, and costs about a dollar. Buy several and give them to your riding friends. If you’re caught without this accessory, look for any flat material (such as a crushed soft drink can) to spread the load of your stand.

Additional tip: tie a 2-metre length of string through the hole in the cover, and tie a 10 cm. loop in the other end. When you park, loop the end of the string around your handlebar. This will remind you not to drive off without your stand plate, and also makes it easier to pick up the plate once you are mounted on the bike.


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