By PAGAN KENNEDY
Published: June 27, 2013
“Like many bike accessories, the kickstand was reinvented various times,” says David V. Herlihy, author of “Bicycle: The History.” Herlihy likes to point to what is surely the world’s first blueprint for a kickstand, drawn by a Frenchman named Alfred Berruyer in 1869.It was designed for an early bicycle, a model whose frame rode high off the ground; Berruyer, lacking a convenient spot to bolt his kickstand, attached it beneath the handlebars. Which meant that the kickstand had to be enormous. In his sketch (see sidebar), it looks as if it might have been two feet long. A contemporary of Berruyer’s praised the invention as perfect for bons vivants who might like to stop and rest on the seats of their bicycles to light a cigar or enjoy the scenery.
In 1926, Eldon Henderson patented another kind of kickstand. Short, discreet and suited to the modern bike, it could flip up and tuck under the frame. This type of kickstand caught on in the decades that followed, as kids cruised around the suburbs on two-wheeled behemoths that might weigh 50 pounds and needed to be propped up.
In the 1970s, with the introduction of the wispy 10-speed racer, the tide turned. Detractors called the kickstand a useless appendage that added extra pounds to the elegant frames. “Riding a bike with a kickstand is like going to a prom in dungarees,” wrote Eugene Sloane, author of a series of popular bike-repair manuals. Many of today’s cyclists grew up in the era of anti-kickstand sentiment and so do not use one, Herlihy says. Besides, most urban neighborhoods now provide racks designed to cradle bikes and hold them upright. The city itself has become an enormous kickstand.
WHEELING AND DEALING
Dan Young is the designer of the Kickstand Desk, a table on stilts that allows you to pedal in place while working.
How did you come up with this idea?My friends and I were talking about treadmill desks — the desks you combine with an exercise machine so that you can walk while you work. And I thought, Wouldn’t it be cool if I could ride a bike at my desk?
You just radically redesigned the kickstand desk. Was there a problem with the first version? When we launched the desks in 2011, I thought the customer would want an opulent desk, and we made it out of premium steel. On the larger desks, you could slide the tabletop out of the way so that you could change gears while keeping your monitor and everything else in position. But those were priced at about $1,700. We were really taken aback by the response that we got — thousands of hits per day to our Web site. The feedback was pretty consistent. It was like, This is a really cool idea, but it’s too expensive, I can’t afford it. So we’ve just redesigned the whole desk, and we’ve dropped the price to $349.
The desk does not include a bike? Right. The desk is for people who already own a bike. And you have to buy your own training stand to hold up the bike and create resistance when you pedal.
Doesn’t your backside hurt after sitting on a bike seat for hours? It can. We recommend that people have different saddles if they’re going to be working on it throughout the course of the day.