This is how my kickstand looked at the end of our last motorcycle trip. I am now a firm believer in gorilla tape. No, the bike didn't break - my hack fix for BMW's odd design choice did.
This is how my R1150GS Adventure sat on its side stand, when it arrived after purchase. By some quick Keynote-protractor sketching, that's a 24° lean. That doesn't sound like a high number, but at this bike's weight, it's too far over for me to be able to get it upright while sitting on it.1 Setting it back onto the sidestand after it was upright was panic inducing - "Oh no, did I forget to put the stand down?!"
The internet disagrees on whether these rolled off the factory line like this, or whether previous owners are to blame. But they agree on the fix: 10-20mm of material stuck under the stand's footpad. One German company makes a nice billet aluminum product that clamps around the footpad. If you can get it shipped to the US, it's $50. Every forum knows of a cheaper, easier fix: a hockey puck.2
I had trouble believing it. An inch under the kickstand would make that much difference? So I hacked up a temporary, non-destructive test. It works! A bit of pipe strap and a few nuts and bolts got us almost all the way to Boston.3 A bit of pipe strap, a few nuts and bolts, and a wad of gorilla tape got us the rest of the way, and back. On and off the side stand easily over a hundred times.
I almost ordered the professional, billet aluminum foot pad extension when we got home. But when I griped to Amanda about the price, she read my mind - "That will buy how many hockey pucks?" That was actually a trick question. Fifty bucks will buy a bag of a dozen at the sporting goods store, but the two I had gotten to experiment with were free. We live in hockey country, and quick "buy nothing" post found us two that kids were throwing out.
While the tattered gorilla tape does offer a rugged "ratted-out" vibe that is not out of place for an Adventure motorcycle, I thought it might be nice to have something a little sleeker. I'm sticking to hockey pucks, but since I'm convinced that this is a good solution now, I'm going to allow some permanent modification. No more pipe strapping. I'm putting the bolts straight through the footpad.
I bought some cap head M5 bolts, flange washers, and nylock nuts at the hardware store. I set the washers in place, and found positions where the full washer would be in contact with the footplate. I drilled 7/32in. holes. They're larger than the bolt, but that means I can tolerate a little imperfection in the holes coming through the awkward puck material.
I drilled 3/16in. holes through the puck. This is just slightly undersize for an M5 bolt. But that means that the bolt is well-supported, and shouldn't twist or tilt under (much) load.
I also countersunk the bottom side, to allow a washer and the head of the bolt to sit below the puck surface. That surface will wear away over time, and then either the parking lot or my bolt heads will erode. I gave them an extra 1/8in. or so of depth, so I should have a few ons and offs before then.
My small hand-drill press did a good enough job on the puck holes that the bolts slipped through the footpad without any trouble. I tightened down the nuts, and then cut off 3/8in. or so of excess length.
It's subtle in photographs. More Keynote sketching suggests I cut off six degrees, to get down to an 18° lean. That's still farther than I'd normally choose (3-5° farther than the V-Strom, even), but I can stand it up while sitting on it now! And that last six degrees seems to have been where all of the panic was when setting it back down as well.
Want math to prove it? It's hard for me to subjectively judge the correctness of this, because the task literally went from impossible to possible, but the general idea should be that we're dealing with the sin of the angle, because that will be the component of gravitational force pivoting the bike to the side. At 24°, 40.7% (=sin(24)) of the bike's weight is providing torque I have to fight to stand it up. At 18°, that drops to 30.9%. That's a 24.1% (=(40.7-30.9)/40.7) reduction in the force I have to apply to get the bike upright. I'm going to stop at percentages, because the actual torque/force at the handlebars depends on their position relative to the center of mass, but know that we're talking about a reported curb weight of 550lbs.
Thoughts? Questions? 💬 Join the conversation the the Couch. 🛋️
1 I should say "at this bike's weight and seat height". I can get it off the unmodified side stand while standing next to it with only a minor grunt. Indeed, I've lifted it from laying all the way on its side, kickstand retracted, without assistance (though slightly more grunting). But my 32in. inseam doesn't give me a lot of leverage when straddling the 34in. high seat.⤣
2 An inch-thick hockey puck is 25mm thick - 5mm over the recommended 20mm maximum. But it's also rubber that squishes a bit when the bike leans on it.⤣
3 By the way, it wasn't that sketchy pipe strap that broke. Once screw got pulled through the puck, and another started breaking through the side. The former was due to poor drilling technique, allowing the countersinking bit to dig far deeper than it should have. The latter was due to positioning the screws to the side of the footpad, leaving little puck matterial to the side of the screw.⤣
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