FLIPSTAND! Keep your cargo-laden bike safely upright without a kickstand! Stabilize the front wheel with a Flipstand, then just lean the bike on anything that's rigid, like a tree or post
Here's a digital photo of my unique "Flipstand" which consists of a metal "finger" that hinges from the lower screw on the handlebar stem. It steadies, but does not quite lock, the front wheel of the bike in a straight ahead position. The crucial feature is, this is a break-away design that anticipates the possibility of someone trying to steer the bike with the Flipstand down, i.e., in the park position. The front wheel will offer resistance to steering, but still be able to be steered by bending the Flipstand side to side, preventing the accident that would result if this were a true "lock." There is a "break in" period where you get used to disengaging the Flipstand for riding, and engaging it in its target block each time you are ready to park or store the bike. Metal fatigue from accidentally trying to steer when the Flipstand is in the parked position, bending the finger left or right a few too many times will cause it to break off and need replacing, an inherent and safety aspect of this design. The stem itself must have sufficient clearance between the screw holes and the fork's upper cylinder. I devised this originally on Cannondale’s with their famous head-shock forks, and clearance was not an issue. On my Specialized Epic, I had to replace the factory handlebar stem which had almost no clearance with an Avenir stem which provided plenty of room there for the metal Flipstand finger to pivot. "Promax" brand folding stems also have considerable clearance but it's best to see and evaluate such products before buying them. And I must make a liability disclaimer: rigging up your own personal bike in a way that suits your use of it, is done entirely at your own risk. Neither Weebly nor the author can warrant the suitability of any rig you might create on your bike for your purposes. We cannot accept any liability, expressed or implied, for my own design or any variation on it anyone else may rig. Obviously anything that restricts ability to steer a bike could create a hazard if you fail to make it flexible enough or loose enough to break away if it's left engaged before you or anyone else attempts to ride or even steer the bike in a parking maneuver. I want to add however one of my worst bike accidents ever occurred as I straddled a new bike, motionless with both feet on the ground. Without a Flipstand and without a kickstand, as supplied by a dealer, I discovered the bagger at a grocery had ignored what I said about being on a bike, needing the groceries balanced for weight, and had loaded all the heavy groceries in one sack and all the light ones in another. With the front wheel flipping around unrestricted, the bike keeled over while I straddled it, and I severely sprained my left ankle trying to prevent this; a class 2 sprain that put me on crutches for a month, all because I had not YET rigged a Flipstand on this new bike. The Flipstand creates stability for any bike as long as you find something steady to lean the entire bike on. With the front wheel held steady, the bike will not pitch over and dump, the classic joke of unstable bikes. The target block is made of plastic lumber, shaped to match the frame to accommodate any cables or brake lines and drilled to penetrate with a an outsize hose clamp to clamp the target block to the bike's rigid frame. A slot is cut (with a hacksaw) to park the thin metal finger in the midst of the plastic material. You may also find a style of seat post U-lock caddy which can be modified, with longer screws, to fit around a bike's top tube and will have a seam or a slot already for the metal finger. Bike shops often have a "free" box of such things to rummage and see what you can setup for yours. The concept of "breaking in" includes you, the rider, breaking one of two of these as you get used to your new "Park" position Flipstand. I've become nearly perfect on remembering to disengage it before riding always, but the more difficult ritual is remembering to explain it to guests who might use the bike and bike mechanics who grab or twist the bike to show you something or move it unexpectedly. Don't try and explain this innovation to some kid in a bike shop, just remove the entire Flipstand finger before asking for any ordinary help on the bike at a shop. Challenging the Car Culture: Movie reviews, folding pedals, and support your local bike specialty shop!!! I want to mention another bike part that makes walking the bike and loading it into the back seat of a car or storing it anywhere, much easier, is the folding pedal. Urban errand bicyclists are faced with the reality of often having to walk the bike when in pedestrian zones, and a pedal that folds away from one's shin while walking is a great additional feature of my bikes. In experiences with several brands of folding pedals, I say Dahon makes the best one, in terms of practical design, weight, durability, and availability. (Giant has a maybe better one but refuses to supply it as a part, you must buy one of their folding bikes to get it. The very heavy metal ones Bike Friday shipped me in 2001 ago were horrible AND failed promptly.) Dahon's is two sided and all black plastic but works very nicely and I've had only one or two develop bearing problems, out of about 16 (8 pair) I've put tons of mileage on to date. Dahon is not great at customer support but they are the biggest name in folding bikes and I love the ease with which their folding pedals can be ordered from a Dahon dealer (about $30/pr) and put to daily use. (Casual non-locked parking of any bike is risky, but any jerk that tries to grab and ride off on a bike with a "folded" pedal will likely bust their ass rather than steal a bike, huh!) The lightweight and affordable Dahon pedals WILL wear out eventually, so it's a good idea to inventory a spare pair. This bike blogger has been to see three amazing new movies lately, each by bicycle. "Farenheit 9/11"; "The End of Suburbia"; and "The Corporation." (Folding bikes can incidentally often be coaxed into safe indoor parking where a regular bike is prohibited.) The latter movie I found uplifting especially because local jurisdictions restricting and prohibiting multinational corporations from pillaging and raping towns with their big box surrounded by private cars and asphalt schemes. It's encouraging to see how local communities CAN protect themselves by voting in restrictions. The most important part of this blog is to get you, dear reader and or hacker, to recognize that the single thing that individuals can do, to most free oneself from the yoke and chain of global corporate rule, is to structure your life, and your bicycle, such that you can run most if not all of your errands, and get most if not all of your local transportation needs, met WITHOUT needing your own private multinational corporation manufactured CAR. The sense of freedom and yes, even radicalism, that comes as you regain both physical and mental fitness once lost to accelerator and gas pedals, by using bicycle pedals, gee, I can't even really express this on hacker's screen display. Every turn of the bicycle wheel, one recognizes how deep and true are the feelings that many drivers are, that they are TRAPPED, in and by their cars. The freedom to bolt out of gridlock on a bike, find an alternative route, and spend a little extra time on an errand wheeling into a local park to watch a sunset at the right moment, or soak up some greenery, nature fragrance, or just plain fresh air, away from the tailpipes, is an inspirational, relaxing and reassuring feeling. Gridlock, and the destruction and decline of streetcars that leads to gridlock, meanwhile, seems to have produced a new All-American malady called "Road Rage." People end up shooting each other over turn signals and parking spots. Meanwhile, the few remaining US streetcars get dusty in museums, although it's interesting to note, the cities like San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, that have managed to maintain their streetcar systems, report the LOWEST rate of "Road Rage" incidents in the country. On a bike, one comes to feeling sorry for drivers. In gridlock, drivers are sitting in their air-conditioned and DVD'd monster SUV whose corporation-driven payments, maintenance and upkeep are driving them to the poorhouse. Their "I don't care about anyone but myself, and screw the planet" philosophy is getting zero mpg and creating toxins at idle mixture that each driver behind them breathes in through open window and/or the air intake under the hood next to the adjacent tailpipe. A certain radical hilarity comes from recognizing they may be thinking, gee, look at that poor bicyclist, trying to cope with no bike lanes and the important rule that you should not ride in the "door zone" which of course is where many cities simply stripe a bike lane by default. Cities that devise car-restricted corridors next to gridlocked highways do well to provide amply for bicycling, including still striping a bike lane on the gridlocked streets. Bike lanes, signage and striping is crucial, even on busy traffic corridors, not just so someone on a bike can at least get somewhere, but also as a steady reminder to idiots at the wheel that there are such things as bicyclists around. I want to restate the basic message of this 4th of July Blog: The singular most radical act an individual American can take in daily life, is to use a bicycle and patronize local public transportation in conjunction with using that bicycle. This vastly limits the extent to which your pocket is picked by multinational corporations who provide, of course, the private car, the asphalt and cement paving, the fossil fuel, the insurance and financing needed to be on the list of folks who "use the car for everything." Ignoring the low-tech alternatives of walking and bicycling and using mass transit leads to a deadly dependence on multinationals and the cars they, and Madison Avenue ad agencies, are so good at convincing you "have to" have. Cars can go fast, fast, faster of course, but as the great Gandhi observed, "there is more to life than increasing its speed." Yes, bikers need help badly in winning bike lanes, bike lockers, bike racks, and sensible policies that encourage bicycling in word as well as in deed. There is often a gaping chasm between words and deeds in public policy and sadly even in mass transit options. But by keeping a definition of sharing space and supporting public transit in deed as well as word, the not so ugly truth is, this will provide an individual not only with a sense of freedom and independence, but also health and healing on a personal level. Bicycling everywhere is more strenuous and therefore much more healthy than, say, bicycling on a stationary bike that explodes under you because you bought it from a big profit, er, big box retailer that cuts every possible corner on quality and durability to keep it "cheap." Buy a good quality basic bike and it will pay for itself in the first few weeks, $350 is quite enough to get a good name brand bike, *from a local bike specialty shop*! Don't drive to a COSTCO type auto oriented retailer that's undercutting your neighborhood bike shop with shiny, flashy bike junk, which is all they generally offer. Bikes from SEARS are often in this category, looks nice, weighs a ton, costs "only" $275, and no bike shop will do anything but laugh and show you to the door if you want that weird brand name bike fixed 'cause it broke on the second ride. Support local retailers! Boycott the Big Bucks/Big Box retailers; AND the oil companies, auto companies, insurance companies, and pave the planet syndrome, and get your exercise by bicycling your errands! Support the struggling public transit sector in the US by paying fares once in a while! Sew up the hole of corporate-driven profits sucking out of your pocket, your community, and your life by using a bike every day! Enough bloggin' for now, I'm out chasing a sunset - on a bike!
By James D
Make-it-home-safe MANTRA: When dealing with traffic, it's better to be patient than to become a patient; AND - A Sailboat is to a Polluting Cruise Ship what a bicycle is to a smokin' Hummer. I know bikes are beautiful but I’M not backing off until bikes are bountiful and bikers have greater strength in numbers.