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What happened to motorcycle centre stands?

Kawasaki Z900RS with radiator guard and centre stand accessories
Kawasaki Z900RS with radiator guard and centre stand

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!

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  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. “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 ?

  7. 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?

  8. 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.


  9. 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.

  10. I bought a z900rs and ordered it with a centre stand. I use it once a month to clean and lube my chain. I use it to clean my bike as its raised and easier to get to everything, not to mention rotating the back wheel to clean it. I also use it to pack my bike ready to travel. Have you ever tried to strap a slippery bag to the seat, only to have to hold it with one hand while trying to strap it on. I also use it to fill my tank level. Honestly, its worth every kg and so easy to use.
    That brings me to a pet hate. Those who can’t use a center stand without a hernia. Your feet do 80% of the work, not the other way round.
    Anyway, its a must have in my books.
    One other thing, I’ve been to a few bike meets and I’ve been told how much they like the look of my bike. 9 times out of 10 its when I use the centre stand.
    Thank you.

  11. Yesi totally agreee FJR1300 has a centre stand ..but hey for 20 years now idiot car makers have not fitted spare wheels to cars either !!! Its time we demanded these items fitted to bikes and car …or line these wankers up against a wall …and offered them a blindfold !

  12. I have had a center stand fitted to my 2008 SV650N which looks much better than the latest SV650N . I wont buy a bike that doesn’t have one fitted or can’t be fitted . Sorry Suzuki , you have lost me. Also , all the modern bikes look ridiculous .

  13. I have been lamenting this lack since I passed my test.I had two 125s and both of those had centre stands. My Honda Rebel, fairly light, is still too heavy for me to use the kick stand I bought that fits under the swing arm. You’re meant to just lift the back end (I do have a sturdy rack that is ideal for that) and then kick the stand under to prop it up. A great idea but I can’t do it myself and I live alone. This along with a lack of space makes a paddock stand impossible. I can’t do basic things like cleaning and lubing my chain by myself. Honda charge £350 for a centre stand!

    1. You can buy a basic cheap paddock stand from amazon like this one:

      Not the greatest quality but as long as you make sure all the bolts on them are tight and theres no play any where then they do the job. Also if you get this type then the bobbings you need to fit to the bike to hook the stand onto also act as crash bobbings. I know you say you dont have room but using one of these really doesnt take up much additional space. Im very restricted on space too & i get on with one of these fine, i use it on my z900 klr 650. Street triple r675, and my fzs fazer 1000 even though the fazer has a centre stand, but sometimes i want more or less hight then the centre stand permits. But they also dont take any effort or strength to use.

  14. Making motorcycles less practical, comfortable or user friendly is not progress.

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