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I often carry gear in a pannier on my bike rack, as in the photo below (not my bike, but same pannier design. My actual bike frame is very different; I'll upload my own picture tomrrow):

I have two panniers, but typically only use one because I usually have to carry the bag around with me at my destination, and carrying more than one bag becomes cumbersome.

The problem I run into is that when fully loaded (not beyond capacity, but close to it), my bike tips over when I prop it up with the kickstand. I always put the pannier on the same side as my kickstand, as I've learned that it tips over easier when on the opposite side.

my bike

What can I do to prevent my bike from tipping over when the pannier is too full? The easiest solution would be to distribute the load between two panniers, but that's impractical because of the challenges with lugging around two bags once I'm at my destination.

Do there exist kickstands with some sort of platform on the bottom to help stabilize them? Is my kickstand not positioned/attached correctly? Or is there some better way to balance things out so that my bike won't tip over?

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Wow, that is a wild rack... if you have it loaded up so much that it can tip the bike over, doesn't it sway around a lot when you ride? –  Ward Nov 27 '11 at 6:07
    
Well again, that image isn't of my bike. It doesn't present much of a problem when riding - I've adjusted to it, and probably lean a wee bit to the right naturally to offset it. I think it's more that my kickstand might be off-balance or something... it shouldn't tip over for that much weight (I think). –  nhinkle Nov 27 '11 at 6:18
2  
Lean it against something. I don't even have a kickstand, and most of the time I ride with one pannier. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 27 '11 at 13:36
    
(But you can sometimes improve the stability of the bike by using a bungee to hold the front wheel straight.) –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 27 '11 at 13:38

5 Answers 5

You have a few options here.

You can get a two-legged kickstand. These are primarily used with heavy touring loads, but they will help stabilize the bike when parking with an uneven load. The two legs fold up into each other when you disengage the kickstand. You generally cut these with a hacksaw to shorten them to the appropriate length. I used one for a while:

bike with two leg kickstand

However, that may be overkill. You might look into what's sometimes called a brake-band by the maker of the Click-Stand, an add-on for a parking stand for touring bikes. (The stand itself - a kind of tent-pole-like thing with a rest on the end that the bike leans into - would likely be overkill for am everyday use like this.)

This'll hold the brakes on while the bike is parked, and stop the bike from rolling while parked. (You can purchase them from the click-stand site, or just make your own with pieces of velcro.) Here they are, hanging on the side of my bike in between uses:

brake bands and click-stand

Finally, if you're not too picky about your paint job, you can simply decide to go without a kickstand and just lean your bike against a wall or a pole, or lay it on the ground.

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You can also use a lonely toe cage strap for either a wheel strap or a brake strap as well. These are pretty cheap at bike coops, or possibly available for tip at a bike shop. –  memnoch_proxy Dec 2 '11 at 15:55

Further to my comment on that being an amazing rack, maybe it's contributing to the problem? It's hard to tell from the picture (and you say it's not your bike, but you have a similar rack), but it looks like the pannier is held farther from the wheel than it would be with a conventional rack that has stays that bolt to braze-ons near the rear dropouts.

Another idea is that if you put the pannier on the opposite side to the kickstand, when the bike is tilted towards the stand, the weight will be closer to centered and the bike should be less likely to tip.

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I have a pannier which unclips easily from the rack, and which I then take to use as a bag. I don't leave it on the bike, full, when the bike is parked (I take it with me). Even if I did leave it on the bike that wouldn't tip the bike: because the bike has no kick-stand, I park it locked to an upright bike stand or post.

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I used to roll with single kickstands and I went for a very frugal solution using a lid to a salsa jar under my kickstand. This prevents "lawn suck" where my kickstand would pathetically drown in my boggy front lawn, tipping over even when unloaded. I would also adjust the angle of my front tire such that it felt more stable when stopped.

jar lid

Distributing your load across parts of your bicycle is desirable, Ward and Niel have good suggestions. I put a Sunlight two footed kickstand on both my wife's and my own bicycles, and it is more affordable than a Civia or Plesher two footed kickstand.

sunlite kick stand

That said, our bikes still tip over, and these are often the reasons:

  • too much weight on the left or right rear
  • too much weight on the top of the rack (like a milk crate full of textbooks)
  • uneven parking area, bike rolling (use a brake strap or improvise a chalk block)
  • slippery parking area (wet grass, frost)
  • load too tall, try keeping the center of gravity as low as you can with your load

Basically, like Neil points out, you can adapt your habits. I tend to pack my panniers on the bike close to the same time, on the sidewalk or a paved path and not on a lawn whenever possible. I invested in a Pakbak pannier rack with low top rails that give a slightly lower center of gravity.

pakbak rack

There is also the option of using a folding aluminum pole as a bicycle stand, you would lean your top-tube or seat post against it, and it would be able to (in conjunction with the brake strap) support a heavily loaded bike on more varied terrain.

It is worth pointing out that if you're saving for some kind of upgrade, a used trailer is not a bad option, either, that gives you about the lowest center of gravity. Craigslist or kids clothes consignment shops often have them.

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You say that putting the pannier on the opposite side of the bike makes the problem worse. This makes me think the bike isn't well balanced on the stand.

The stand may be too short for the bike, so that the bike leans too much. Try putting a block of wood under the stand. If that helps, get a stand with a longer arm (or leg, what is that part called?).

The stand may be angled too much to the front. This would allow the load to pull the bike so it pivots around the stand until it falls. A stand that is angled back may help.

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Good tip - I'll try the experiment with the wood block when I get a chance. It's finals week right now, so it'll be a little while til I have time to try. –  nhinkle Dec 6 '11 at 3:35
    
I checked this, and indeed, it helped the problem a lot. Do you know if there's generally any way to reattach a kickstand so the bike won't tip over as much, like rotating it? Or will I just need a new kickstand that's a bit longer? –  nhinkle Dec 14 '11 at 0:54

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