Many motorcycle owners may be surprised when they find out that their motorcycle’s kickstand can actually sink into the asphalt on particularly hot days during the summer.
In most cases, this will not be a pleasant surprise, and some questions will be raised after seeing how your motorcycle’s kickstand may be carrying and leaving bits of asphalt.
A motorcycle kickstand will sink into hot asphalt during the particularly sunny and hot days. The heavier the motorcycle, the warmer the weather, and the smaller the kickstand’s surface area, the easier it will be for the kickstand to sink into the asphalt.
Below I share with you more in-depth information about why and how do motorcycle kickstands sink into the asphalt and what you can do to prevent it.
At what temperature can a motorcycle kickstand sink into the asphalt?
In layman’s terms, asphalt is a viscous fluid that will soften up and melt at certain temperatures depending on its performance grade (PG). Highways and interstates will usually be made of a higher PG grade asphalt compared to other roads.
Oftentimes parking lots may be of even lower PG-rating. (There have been cases where parking lot asphalt has been melting into car’s tires.)
During warmer days, asphalt can start to soften up. Asphalt will start to soften around 122°F. However, this does not mean that the ambient temperature needs to go up to 122°F as even particularly sunny days of around 70°F can heat up the asphalt up to 122°F causing it to soften.
The longer the asphalt has been exposed to the direct sunlight, the warmer it will get as it absorbs the heat.
As the asphalt softens up, it will become stickier and more pliable. It will be susceptible to warping under heavier loads, and sharper objects will be able to penetrate it.
In certain areas, it gets so hot that even your shoes can sink into the tar that is used to patch asphalt cracks.
As the temperatures go back to normal, the asphalt will harden up and return to its original strength.
One way to prevent the asphalt from softening during the summer and particularly hot days is through using winter service vehicles to spread sand and granite dust, which will stabilize and harden asphalt.
That being said, not all types and sections of asphalt will be the same. Some will vary in their chemistry and durability. Darker asphalts will usually warm up more than lighter ones, for example.
There are also some modified types of asphalt that may be able to withstand higher temperatures without softening; however, these are usually not widely used and can only be found in particularly high traffic roads.
Another thing that can make asphalt softer and stickier is gasoline or other petroleum derivatives. If you overfill your motorcycle’s gas tank and spill lots of gas all over the asphalt, it will get softer as gas will dissolve it.
Why do motorcycle kickstands sink into hot asphalt?
As the temperatures go up and the asphalt gets hotter and softer, it will be more susceptible to the kickstand sinking in it.
Two main problems will affect how likely it will be for the kickstand to sink into the hot asphalt.
The weight of the motorcycle
Motorcycles vary in weight a lot. Motorcycles can weigh between 150 lbs and more than 1,000 lbs—and this is the dry weight.
Not all the weight of the motorcycle is transferred to the kickstand—about no more than 1/3 of the weight of the motorcycle is distributed to the kickstand.
If we take into account fuel, luggage, the rider, and other possible things that can further increase the total weight of the motorcycle, we can see that the asphalt under the motorcycle’s kickstand can end up being subjected to a lot of pressure.
The heavier the motorcycle, the higher the odds of the kickstand sinking into the asphalt.
The kickstand’s surface area
The main problem stems from the fact that kickstands have a very small, somewhat sharp, surface area.
What happens because of that is very straightforward. A smaller, sharper object will have an easier time to penetrate and sink into a hot asphalt that has softened.
See article: How much weight can a motorcycle kickstand hold?
Is it bad for the motorcycle’s kickstand to sink into the asphalt?
A motorcycle’s kickstand that has sunk into the asphalt may not seem like a big deal at first, however, it can lead to some unpleasant consequences.
When the kickstand sinks into the asphalt, bits of the asphalt will attach to it. This means that the kickstand will be leaving small bits of asphalt as you ride your motorcycle. These bits will not just make a mess in your garage but can also dry up and harden around the kickstand.
The kickstand can also get stuck into the asphalt. If the motorcycle’s kickstand sinks into the asphalt and then the asphalt hardens up (during the evening or night), it may be almost impossible to pull it up.
And lastly, and possibly the most significant downside is that as the motorcycle’s kickstand sinks into the asphalt, this can tip over the motorcycle.
Can the motorcycle center stand also sink into the hot asphalt?
The motorcycle’s center stand will be carrying a lot more weight than a kickstand, and since it is not much different than a normal kickstand, it too can sink into the asphalt.
Motorcycle’s center stands may have a slightly bigger surface area. However, this does not make a lot of difference due to the more weight being transferred to it.
How to prevent a motorcycle kickstand from sinking into the hot asphalt
Although you may not be able to do much about the hot weather or the motorcycle’s weight, there is one thing that you can do to keep the odds of the kickstand sinking into the asphalt low.
Increase the kickstand’s surface area
The best way to keep the kickstand from sinking into the hot asphalt is by increasing the kickstand’s surface area; that way, you will spread the load.
This is best achieved by placing something flat and tough under your kickstand. (More on that in a bit.)
Do not park your motorcycle on hot asphalt
The least you can do is avoid parking your motorcycle on areas of the asphalt that have been exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time. However, the asphalt in even shady areas can still be soft enough for the kickstand to sink in.
In this case, you may want to park your motorcycle on areas where there is dirt instead.
Use the kickstand parking strips
Depending on where you live and where you park your motorcycle, you may be lucky enough to have metal or brick parking strips built-in into the parking lot.
Not everybody may have access to such parking lots, however, I thought about raising awareness as some riders may accidentally ignore those.
What to put under motorcycle kickstand?
There are several things that you can put under your kickstand like:
- A motorcycle kickstand pad.
- A small block of wood or a piece of plywood.
- A flat rock.
- A flattened soft drink can.
- A hockey puck.
- A jar’s lid.
- A round or square metal plate.
- A metal strip.
- An electrical junction box cover.
Those objects can be kept under the rear seat, tank bag, or in the saddlebag.
Regardless of what you will be using, make sure to have something with rounded edges, or alternatively, you can wrap it with some duct tape so that you don’t scratch the things you have in your saddlebag.
Also, you may want to attach a piece of string around your kickstand pad and tie it to your handlebar so that you can easily retrieve the kickstand pad and not forget it.
With that being said, there are also kickstand pads that have been specially designed for that purpose. They are usually cheap—about $10, or so—and can be easily kept in your saddlebag.