Whether your motorcycle has a side stand or a center stand, the kickstand is an essential piece of equipment.
Your motorcycle kickstand has to be strong enough to hold the bike up, even at an angle, but can you sit on a motorcycle with the kickstand down?
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Here’s the Short Answer to Whether You Can Sit on a Motorcycle With Kickstand Down:
You can sit on most motorcycles with the kickstand down as long as the kickstand’s integrity hasn’t been compromised by damage. That said, kickstands do have weight limits; how much gear you have strapped to the bike and whether or not you have a passenger are a few variables to consider.
How Much Weight can Kickstands Typically Hold?
A motorcycle kickstand can typically hold between 50 and 500 lbs, depending on the type of motorcycle, make, and year model. Most motorcycle kickstands hold a minimum of 200-250 lbs. That said, a kickstand will hold less if it’s been compromised by damage.
I myself had slept on my motorcycle for a rest stop nap while traveling, only to kick the side stand back up and hit the road when I was finished as nothing happened.
I’ve also sat on the bike for days at a time during moto camping trips, chopper shows, music festivals, etc.
That said, I ride an Indian Chieftain—a touring bike that weighs 750 pounds bone dry. The kickstand on my bike is engineered to withstand the weight of the motorcycle, plus two hard bags and a trunk load of gear.
In most cases, your motorcycle’s kickstand can support your added weight while parked. Still, we suggest you put the bike in gear first so it doesn’t roll forward while you’re on it, as most kickstands retract automatically once the bike is in motion.
Still, it varies according to the type of motorcycle and year model to year model.
For example, specific year model Ducati Monsters have a kickstand that is mounted straight onto the bike’s motor. I’m not sure precisely what Ducati suggests, but I personally wouldn’t feel too keen on putting my weight on the motorcycle’s engine.
Additionally, the difference between small bikes and dirtbikes seems to be a more drastic model to model. On some dirtbikes, the kickstand is so rigged you can stand up on the bike and kickstart it with all your force.
On others, the side stand is less sturdy and only intended to hold the small bike up with no additional gear, never mind with you sitting on it.
Cruisers and touring bikes, like my bike mentioned earlier, tend to have much more rigged kickstands, partially because the bikes are heavier and intended to support extra luggage and partially because the bikes are more expensive.
You can also usually sit on sportbikes while the kickstand is extended, as these machines tend to house state-of-the-art technology and equipment covered under warranty—it’s cheaper to put a hefty side stand on your bike than it is to replace the damage.
That said, competition, racing, and performance-oriented sportbikes shed pounds any way they can, and this sometimes includes installing a more lightweight kickstand than average. These stands are designed only to hold the total weight limit of the bike.
In short, if the lean angle is ideal, the stand only holds up a third of the total weight of the motorcycle, sharing the burden with the bike’s tires. This means the rider can sit on the motorcycle while the kickstand is down as long as their weight plus a third of the bike’s weight is less than the total weight of the motorcycle.
Still, there are different styles of motorcycle kickstands that support and distribute weight differently.
The two most common motorcycle kickstand designs are side stands and center stands.
How Much Weight Can Motorcycle Center Stands Hold?
As the name implies, a center stand is a type of motorcycle kickstand that holds the bike up from its fulcrum point rather than by leaning it over on its side.
Center stands do provide a more dependable and consistent balance since they lift the bike up by the bottom center of the frame.
And because less of the burden of a center stand is shared with the tires than with its counterpart, the side stand-style kickstand, the center stands tend to be more rugged, bearing a higher weight capacity.
Still, we suggest consulting your bike owner’s manual for the specific limitations of its weight capacity, even if it has a center stand.
How Much Weight Can Motorcycle Side Stands Hold?
The amount of weight a motorcycle side stand holds varies more from bike to bike than a center stand, depending on the material the stand was fabricated from, how tall and wide the stand is, and the angle of the side stand’s lean.
Typically, Harley-Davidsons, Indians, and most touring motorcycles and cruisers are designed in anticipation of supporting the parked bike even while it’s loaded with luggage to put it a few hundred pounds over the bike’s usual weight.
As I said, many of us take naps on our cruisers and tour bikes, throwing our legs over the gas tank and stretching our weight across both the rider and passenger seat.
On the other hand, sportbikes often come with side stands engineered to be lightweight for racing functionality. As we mentioned in the first section, these side stands are designed to hold the entire weight of the motorcycle and nothing more.
To compensate for their lighter side stands, sport bikes often position their kickstands closer to the moto’s body so that the tires take on more weight than the stand.
Conversely, some manufacturers and riders alike choose to implement a side stand-styled kickstand that leans harder than usual. You see this a lot on choppers and custom builds.
A hard-leaning motorcycle might look spiffy, but its side stand is taking on more of the weight than the tires, reducing the amount of extra gear and rider weight the kickstand can hold.
Finally, dual-sport and off-road motorcycles sometimes have stands that hold little to no extra weight, especially if the bike is bagged up with luggage.
How Can I Know How Much Weight My Kickstand Can Hold?
Your motorcycle’s service manual should tell you how much weight your stock kickstand can hold. Generally, the kickstands are designed to hold the total weight of the bike.
Since the support burden is shared between the wheels and stand, it’s only holding a third of that weight while parked.
So, if the total amount of extra rider or luggage weight plus a third of the motorcycle doesn’t exceed the total weight of the bike, you should be safe, providing the bike’s lean angle is ideal so that the weight is evenly distributed between the three points of ground contact,
That said, once again, the bike’s lean angle is a factor—the more lean the motorcycle has while parked, the more its weight pressure is on the stand.
The angle of the ground on which the moto is parked is also a factor in how much weight the kickstand is responsible for.
If the motorcycle is parked on a hill, for example, with the kickstand facing down a slope, it may not, even if it usually holds its weight just fine.
Can Kids Sit on a Motorcycle with the Kickstand Down?
Kids can sit on most motorcycles with the kickstands down, as kids weigh less than the 250-lb. average a motorcycle kickstand holds. Still, the weight varies from bike to bike. Other factors include kickstand condition, the bike’s lean angle, and the ground angle it’s parked on.
In reality, only about a third of the bike’s total weight is put on the kickstand while it’s parked, although the exact distribution ratio has to do with the motorcycle’s lean angle.
Additionally, most kickstands are built to support a bike that weighs 400-900 pounds, making the weight difference your child adds inconsequential in most cases.
Furthermore, I know riders who use their kickstands to spin their bikes 180 degrees, effectively putting all the bike’s weight on the stand. If you’re able to do this, there’s a good chance the stand will support your child’s weight.
Still, consult your owner’s manual for the specific weight limit of your make and year model moto’s kickstand before letting your children sit on the parked motorcycle.
That said, when it comes to letting children use your motorcycle like a jungle gym, that’s a whole different story:
- Where on the motorcycle your kid is sitting changes the weight distribution; keep them in the seat for the safe scenario.
- Physics and gravity also play a part, as the motorcycle’s weight distribution depends on the general lean angle the bike’s kickstand rests at and the lean angle caused by the ground the bike is parked on.
- If the kickstand’s lean angle is ideal, your kickstand is taking less than a third of the bike’s weight while it’s parked, as the front and rear wheels share the burden.
What Happens If You Put Too Much Weight on the Kickstand?
If you exceed your motorcycle kickstand’s weight limit, the stand can bend or rip off the bike frame, or the frame itself can warp. It’s rare for a stock motorcycle kickstand to break completely, although it happens on cheap aftermarket kickstands from time to time.
The amount needed to snap a kickstand is immense enough to damage other parts of the motorcycle before the kickstand brakes clean off.
Conversely, if a motorcycle kickstand is already damaged, bent, corroded, or compromised, overloading the kickstand will exacerbate the damage.
A busted kickstand can break in time, but it’s likely a slow process of bending more and more until it finally gives out.
In short, we suggest replacing your motorcycle kickstand at the first sign of bending, corrosion, or damage to avoid overloading and eventually breaking it.