What happened to motorcycle centre stands?

Kawasaki Z900RS with radiator guard and centre stand accessories

What has happened to motorcycle centre stands which are often only available as options (like on the above Kawasaki Z900RS) or provided as standard on just the biggest motorcycles?

When I started riding in the ‘70s, most road bikes had them.

Honda CX500 with standard vinyl seat
1980s Honda CX500 had a centre stand

Even some modern bikes regarded as touring bikes don’t have these utilitarian stands and if you want to buy one, they cost several hundred dollars.

Benefits of centre standsHonda Africa Twin CRF1000L main stand

A centre stand is vital for any chain-driven motorcycle heavier than, say a 400cc bike.

Here are some of the advantages of centre stands:

  • They will allow you to securely park on soft ground;
  • They make it easy to clean and lubricate the chain;
  • They allow you to fit your bike in a narrow space such as in your garage or within parking line markings; and 
  • You can sit or even sleep on your bike when it’s on a centre stand!

The only option is to buy a paddock stand which often also requires the owner to fit pick-ups. But of course you can’t take these with you on tour.Anderson Stands centre

Reasons for omission

There are three main reasons manufacturers don’t provide centre stands as standard equipment on most modern motorcycles.

The first is to make the bike appear cheaper.

It’s a competitive industry and price is a huge bargaining tool.

Most buyers are more interested in the power of the engine, the bright colours and hi-tech features, often forgetting about practical things like a centre stand.

The second reason is that they don’t look sexy!

I can’t recall one motorcycle brochure or promo photo showing a motorcycle on a centre stand even when they have one.

I’ve seen motorcycles on paddock stands, but not a provided centre stand.

MV Agusta Superveloce 800
MV Agusta Superveloce 800 on a paddock stand

The third reason is emissions regulations.

It is becoming more and more difficult for manufacturers to reach the ever-increasing standards of European emissions controls.

So they try to keep the bike’s weight down to improve engine efficiency.

Centre stands are heavy, often weighing several kilograms, so jettisoning this extra weight allows manufacturers to reach emissions targets.

Even many modern side stands are now made of a light alloy rather than a substantial steel or iron for weight-saving reasons.

Consequently, they bend and can develop faults with the engine cut-off switch. You should never stand on the pegs to mount a tall bike while it is on its side stand for this very reason.

Weight-saving and emissions targets are also why fuel tanks are getting smaller on modern bikes … but don’t get me started on that!

10 Comments

  1. With the latest idea of exhaust can minimisation by putting the exhaust box directly under the motor, there is simply no way to fit a stand assembly and allow for the curve of travel needed.
    Mass centralisation or a centre stand, designers have the choice it seem’s.

  2. Beside normal maintenance requiring the bike to be level when working on it, without a center stand changing tires becomes a nightmare. I have had several occasions where I have had to remove a wheel in order to get a tire repaired while doing multiple day rides and a long way from home, how I would have achieved that without a center stand is beyond me. When you are paying tens of thousands of dollars for motorcycles these days, who is going to feel happy about laying their bike on its side to change a tire, not this little black duck. I think a center stand should be a requirement, not an optional extra, carrying alternative jacks and other devices instead of having a engineered center stand seems ludicrous to me.

    Regards

  3. Had a centre stand fitted as a priority to my Triumph Bonneville Street Twin. Makes cleaning, oil inspection and chain maintenance so much easier. And you’re right Mark, cost is a bit eye watering – not just the cost of the stand but the fitment. Triumph specify ‘X number of minutes’ to perform certain tasks but the dealer doesn’t work in ‘Triumph minutes’ – they charge minimum 1/2 hours so for those considering centre stands etc the actual final cost could be a little higher than anticipated. But in the end a centre stand is worth every cent and when it is a part of the original design won’t detract from the overall appearance of the bike. In terms of performance loss I suggest that if that is the deal breaker then you probably should be riding a racing bike on the race track because the performance loss is negligible and probably could be countered by the rider losing weight – a few less pies each week?

  4. “In days of olde, when knights were bold” etc, bikes had centre stands as well as a front mudguard stay which could be swung under the front wheel to get it off the ground to assist fixing punctures on the road. Think about it today. How many (big) bikes have shaft drive, have belt drive over chain drive and how often do you raise the back wheel to service the chain anyway? Think about how many bikes you see pulled up with a flat tyre on the road these days. (You can carry a puncture plug and Co2 cylinders if you are distance travelling and would normally lay the bike on it’s side to find and fix the puncture) So, if you have a side stand, how many times in a year’s riding do you really need a centre stand ? So are you just carrying it around wherever you go for the rest of the time ?
    JMB
    JMB

  5. the lack of center stand also creates a weird situation checking oil levels…
    the manual for my bike says I should check the oil “while the bike is level” yet with only a side stand … it’s kinda hard!
    would be simpler to have a dipstick simply calibrated for side-stand if that’s all they fit

  6. There is one more reason why give it to you ready on the bike when they can sell it to you because your going to need it anyway on a big touring at the end of the day and not only on big bikes but even middle weight bikes if you want to travel with them, and they are many people wich travel with middle weight bikes and some even with smaller bikes and at the end of the day they all will need center stand

  7. I won’t purchase a chain driven bike without a centre stand.. And I know I am not alone. The newer H2 SL SE has one so have made up my mind already.

  8. One reason larger bike don’t have centre stands is unless the stand is designed really well it is almost impossible to lift the bike enough to put it on the centre stand. However you are correct in asking why more bikes don’t have them, I think they are so handy.
    How about a stand designed around a hydraulic lift which works at the press of a button? But the weight factor would kill it.

  9. My Ducati sport 750 from the mid 70 only came with a centre stand, (and kick start only) try starting that when you stall it at the lights.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.