The foot of most side stands is pretty small, and when you lean 500-plus pounds onto it, the pressure can rise to a surprisingly high level. Now, make the surface that you’ve placed that foot on something soft, like hot asphalt or loose dirt or sand, and you’ve created a prime environment for returning to your bike to find it lying on its side. Most of us would not be too happy about this. If you remember your high school physics class, you know that the same weight distributed over a larger area will lower the pressure delivered from your bike to the ground. Various companies have used this a a great marketing tool by giving away logo-emblazoned squares of plastic at riding events.
But if you’re not at a riding event to grab this piece of swag, it’s time to get creative. A crushed aluminum can will do the trick quite nicely. Center your side stand on it, enjoy your time off the bike, comfortable with the knowledge that it’ll remain upright on its stand instead of sinking into the earth while you’re gone. Even simpler, a wide and flat rock will often suffice. Other creative items that achieve the same purpose which we’ve seen in our travels are: a wallet, a plastic water bottle, and even a helmet (which wore a “This helmet worn under protest” sticker and certainly belonged to someone who doesn’t care that they’re ruining the helmet’s ability to absorb an impact).