Bike Buddy Review: Portable Terra Firma

Bike Buddy Review: Portable Terra Firma

Bike Buddy Review: Portable Terra Firma

The Bike Buddy is the sort of product that Total Motorcycle enjoys reviewing. It’s a simple product that does a simple thing, but it does it in an innovative way. By virtue of their unique take on an otherwise mundane thing, Bike Buddy fundamentally improves on how we use our motorcycles. They provide solutions, create opportunities, and are just plain nice to have. Need Portable Terra Firma? The Original Bike Buddy maybe your answer to a question you never asked.

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With our Bike Buddy review we tried something different and asked 3 different Total Motorcycle reviewers to review the product at the same time to get as wide and unbiased a review as possible for you, our readers. Let’s start with our Utah reviewers, Eric Leaverton:

Bike Buddy Review: Portable Terra F...
Bike Buddy Review: Portable Terra Firma - TotalMotorcycle.com

Eric Leaverton’s Review Snapshot

Bike Buddy – carefully crafted, innovative product with an all-day affordable price tag.

Really, the Bike Buddy solves two problems. The first problem, which we’re all familiar with, is trying to park your bike on soft or unstable surfaces. Parking on grass, gravel, or dirt can be extremely sketchy, especially if your bike isn’t meant for those environments. Really, even if it is, it can still be a trying proposition. Your kickstand foot can sink or skitter around, and enough of that sort of thing will result in a tip-over.

Fortunately, a simple solution exists to solve this problem, and we all probably have one or two of them – a kickstand puck. These are plates or discs made of sturdy plastics or metals or occasionally rubber. You slip one under your kickstand foot, and it disperses the weigh of your bike across a much wider surface.

 

 

At its core, the Bike Buddy is a kickstand puck. It’s a machined aluminum plate measuring (x by x by x), but with a degree of craftsmanship you don’t often see in this niche. It’s embellished with decorative grooves and bevels, and the intricately stylized Bike Buddy logo. Really, it’s so nice it’s almost a shame to toss it on the ground and prop your bike up on it. But you do, and it works well. No surprises – it’s a kickstand puck.

What’s innovative about the Bike Buddy though, is the storage solution.

I don’t know about you, but I have three or four kickstand pucks already. Some basic, some nice, some in-between. And when I find myself in the rare position of needing to park on uneven ground, I play a little mental game with myself. I try to remember where I stashed a kickstand puck last time I used one, usually four or five months ago. Hit or miss on whether I remember, so then I go searching. Tank bag, panniers, jacket pocket, fairing box. If it’s in none of those places, I’m hunting for a bit of wood or a flat stone like every other chump with poor organizational skills.

 

“How many times have you parked your bike on a suspect surface and though “Eehhhhh…it’ll be fine.”? Was it fine?”

 

Enter Bike Buddy. In addition to the actual kickstand puck, the Bike Buddy comes with a storage case that mounts behind your license plate. You remove your plate and mount the Bike Buddy case with your plate in front of it, and now you’ve got this nice discreet slot the puck slides into. It’s spring-loaded with a catch, so it doesn’t vibrate around or come loose, and there’s even two loops you can put the included small padlock through so the plate doesn’t get stolen.

Installation is a snap, takes less than five minutes to do. Bike Buddy comes with tamper-proof square-type bolts with center pins, and the tamper-proof bit driver to go with them. You can use any standard hexagonal bit driver and your choice of wrench or ratchet for the backing nut. Once you’re done, you should probably put the specialty bit in your tool kit where you can find it someday.

 

 

So now, instead of hunting through your stuff every time you need a puck, it’s just right there. It takes up almost no space, and you don’t ever have to remember to pack your puck. So when you find yourself in a rare situation where you have to park on grass, no sweat! And that’s huge right? Because be honest – you’ve risked it before, haven’t you? How many times have you parked your bike on a suspect surface and though “Eehhhhh…it’ll be fine.”? Was it fine? And even if it was, would you have risked it if you’d known exactly where to find your puck and it was easy to get to? That peace of mind, that done-and-done preparation for one more little potential snafu on your weekend adventure, is the real value of Bike Buddy.

And it’s a good thing too, that value, because it comes at a premium. The Bike Buddy retails for $39.95 USD for the Standard model, or $45.95 for the Premium 6062 aluminum plate. Neither of those is very expensive for motorcycle accessories in general, but it is a lot of money for a kickstand puck. About four times the price of the typical offering.

 

 

But that’s not a fair comparison. If you just want the kickstand plate, the Standard is $9.95. The Premium goes for $15.95. This puts the actual puck itself on par with other offerings, in fact, a shade less expensive for machined aluminum. What you’re paying for, and specifically $30.00 for unless my math is off, is the case. The case with its tamper-proof fasteners, rattle-proof construction, and chump-proof reliability. To me, that’s worth plenty, and $30.00 is a bargain. Or, you can always bet your paint or plastics against your memory.

 

The Bike Buddy is a carefully crafted, innovative product with an all-day affordable price tag. For what it is and what it does, I can’t think of any reason not to own one. This is easily an Editor’s Choice product.

 

 

Bruce “High_Side” Ross Review Snapshot

Bike Buddy – another perspective

Bike Buddy: The Answer to the Question not Asked

I’ll be honest, I am skeptical of any need for this product.  Having ridden bikes since I was a kid, I think the last time I tipped over a bike by parking it on soft ground happened around the time I was 11 years old.  Since then, I have been careful where I park and if needed find a rock, empty water-bottle or soda can to slip under the kick stand.

Being fortunate enough to have a few bikes at my disposal, the question was which one would be best suited to try the Bike Buddy? It would initially make sense to put it on my adventure bike, which is often well off-road on soft ground.  The problem however is that the Bike-Buddy weighs over 1 pound.  One pound might not sound like much but cantilevered of the back of an adventure bike on a flimsy lightweight ADV bike fender most likely would have led to stressing and breaking that piece.  A couple of our road-oriented bikes also had lighter weight fenders and the same concerns remain, albeit to a lesser degree than the ADV bike.  I settled on Jennifer’s 2009 CBF1000, which has one of the sturdiest fenders of the lot.

Proprietary anti-theft mounting screws are included as well as the custom screwdriver bit to install them.  I question the need for this, and whether or not one will be able to locate the bit when needed when selling the motorcycle.  On the topic of theft, there is also a tiny padlock included to keep someone from walking off with the bike-buddy plate, which again, seems like overkill.  The lock mount itself is two tiny protruding pieces of plastic the would be removed with one swift kick of a boot, so unless you live in an area where small pieces of steel plate are a high theft item, leave the tiny lock at home.

 

“I had found the answer to a question I had not asked.”

 

Bike Buddy: The Answer to the Question not Asked

 

The opportunity to test the Bike-Buddy came when working on a video project for Total Motorcycle out of town.  The CBF was playing camera mule and at one point I had to park off the edge of a road while we were setting up a shot.  There is convenience in not having to look for a solid piece of ground, rock, or empty water-bottle.  I simply stepped off the bike, and while holding it upright reached back and released the plate.  The bike was securely supported, and I had found the answer to a question I had not asked.

Of important consideration is whether or not you have the physical size and strength to support your bike when on soft ground while you reach back to retrieve the Bike Buddy.  If you happen to have the Bike Buddy locked in place, you will essentially be relying on your kickstand to hold the bike while you fidget with the tiny key in the tiny lock.  If the tiny lock has seen any kind of weather, I am also concerned that dirt and rust may be a factor in its functionality. Another concern of note would be what happens to the receptacle when the Bike Buddy inevitably gets inserted when not clean.  Will dirt affect the long-term functionality?

In then end if you are a gadget type person, you may find joy in busting the Bike-Buddy out in front of your friends, and potentially look like the person who is prepared for every scenario.   For myself, I am not sure that the ~$40 (Canadian) investment is something that I need or can justify.  I would suspect that for far less money, weight, and complexity a solution could be designed that could be a simple flat surface. Or you could just keep it old-school and keep a flattened water bottle handy in your tank bag.

 

Bike Buddy: The Answer to the Question not Asked

 

The Bike Buddy:

On the positive side

  • Is well made with a secure spring-loaded latching system to keep the plate from accidently coming loose and hitting your riding buddy behind you.
  • Provides security and piece of mind when parking on soft ground
  • Placement behind the license plate is quite discreet

On the opportunity side

  • At ~$40 Canadian the Bike Buddy is a pricy solution to a problem I do not commonly have or cannot solve for free using other methods at the side of the road.
  • Related to price the bike buddy includes extras such as the specialized mounting bolts that require you to keep the special tool if and when you ever need to remove it, the tiny padlock and even an upgraded plate is available that looks and weighs about the same as the standard plate. All of these items are frivolous in my opinion and feel like an attempt to add value to the product.  Keeping it simple would both help with the price and make the product even better.
  • As mentioned in my comments, this unit is relatively heavy for the mounting point chosen. For more robustly bikes like cruisers, this may be less of an issue.
  • And finally for the person regularly using it on muddy ground, what happens with the way the plate slides into the holster once there is dirt and mud involved?

Overall, I personally would not buy this product, but if you want the convenience and do not mind the weight or cost for what you get, it might be worth a look.

 

 

Mr. Mike “Total Motorcycle” Le Pard Review Snapshot

Bike Buddy – Want to support local? You found it.

 

 

As Eric said: “Parking on grass, gravel, or dirt can be extremely sketchy, especially if your bike isn’t meant for those environments. Your kickstand foot can sink or skitter around, and enough of that sort of thing will result in a tip-over.”

 

Tip overs in soft soil? Even happens to me and I wish I had a Bike Buddy the day in the photo above. Nothing like having your bike completely on its side in a field in the middle of no-where with the gas pouring out.  The Bike Buddy would have been worth its weight in gold that day!

I think it is really cool myself, I love innovative ideas that come from something practical. Sure, it isn’t a necessity, but it is cool and give you something to talk about with other bikers… call it a conversation piece. The only issue I have with it is its size/weight, I know why they have the heft like that (heavy bikes, big bikes, unknown ground contact, etc) so over engineering it is better than a tin can version. To solve the weight issue I would offer up a solution to make a “lighter version for small bikes” and this version for full sized heavier bikes. Other than that, I like the quality and it’s useful/practical.

What if it doesn’t fit? Bike Buddy says: “We will definitely be working on a universal simple adjustable mounting adapter but as always price point and ascetics are extremely important to us so that is still in the works. Our 14 day return policy was implemented to cover those that buy it and find it doesn’t fit.”

I like the pop-out plate idea, it’s neat and the plate is nicely milled aluminum as well. For those curious we got both the regular and premium plates with the Bike Buddy, there isn’t a lot of difference between them, the premium has it’s edges smoothed and the Bike Buddy logo is laser etched. Either plate will do the same job IMO.

 

Bike Buddy Kickstand Plate review

 

For mounting, I’m in the process of moving so I don’t have my garage tools at hand (they are in storage till July) so all I have is a multi-bit screwdriver and the Bike Buddy specialty bit won’t fit in this one. Which leads me to a suggestion that they change their “secure head bolt” with an Allen key bolt and include an Allen key with it, as I find Allen keys are pretty good for security and you would be able to mount it without a socket set. But I was able to mount it hand-tight without tools to show you is does fit on a retro-Italian bike and what it looks like mounted. I had 3 license plates to try with it with, 2 from Manitoba and 1 from Ontario and I will mount the Bike Buddy up with my Alberta and Texas plates once I have all my boxes arrive.

The issue I saw was: how do you reach around to unlock it, take it out and put it under your kickstand when you are still on the bike? It can be a bit perplexing, I mean, you can’t use your kickstand to park your bike on a soft surface that you need the Bike Buddy for right? Then you would have lower your kickstand, to get off your bike, go to the back, unlock the Bike Buddy and get back on the bike to slide the plate under the kickstand that hopefully didn’t sink down and your bike is on its side… The fix? Is there a way to access the bike buddy while sitting on the bike easier? Does it have to be on the license plate at all? Can it be located somewhere near the front of the bike?

Overall what do I think? It’s neat and I do use kickstand pucks on my garage floors at home to protect them and when I’m out I pay attention to where I park (mostly).  So it’s a mixed bag between the cost, weight and the practicality of use when parked, so I’ll give it a mixed grade.

On a side note, it is great to see a husband and wife team and I just love that as it brings the quality and passion a major manufacturer from China just can’t match. Coming up with a new idea isn’t cheap nor easy and should be applauded. Want to support local? You found it and I think that’s worth it’s weight in gold.

 

Bike Buddy Kickstand Plate review

Manufacturer’s Perspective

Thank you very much for what looks to be a fair review and assessment of our product – Don & Donna Lawrence; Advenco Innovations

 

Most of the questions or negatives are issues I myself have with the design but are inescapable or at least not easily over come with a redesign not causing other more troubling problems.

I have a tendency to over design and over engineer already so keeping it simple and universally functional for as wide a market as possible was a challenge.

In reality I never wanted the pad locking feature whatsoever but with the consumer market being so litigious my team felt we had no choice but to include the feature. We can’t have someone suing us because the unit/puck inadvertently came out for whatever reason.The design already is completely secure and self locking. The pad lock is there for our legal teams peace of mind and in reality I suspect most will never use it.

As for dirt and grime that was taken into consideration when we designed it and a simple rinse with a hose when you wash the bike will keep it working as designed. The inside components are rust proof so no worries there.

The weight? Well that is something I struggled with but in the end I feel it kind of is what it is. I really don’t believe any weight even say half a pound would make everyone happy. This was our first product and my plan was to make it fit as broad a market as possible and at the time bikes hadn’t transitioned to these flimsy plate mounts we find on a lot of bikes now.

If we can get some traction then we will do a smaller lighter version in the very near future.

As for the fasteners again this is an area we struggled with but opted for the security feature thinking it would be a positive not negative. Personally I would have preferred just standard fasteners but the consensus was the extra “security” would be better in the long run.

I would challenge anyone who complains about pricing on domestic made items to do some research into injection molding and mold costs here in North America. It isn’t at all cheap I can tell you.

As for the plate well aluminum isn’t the  cheapest option for a manufacturer to use but it holds more weight and won’t deflect in the heat of the sun on asphalt like some plastics do and is fairly light weight.

If we can get our sales numbers then the price will absolutely come down at least a few dollars here and there. Trust me, I want this to be a success and see a return on what has been a fairly high investment in man hours and money as much as most consumers want to buy lower cost items.

Thank you once again for a fair review.

 

Bike Buddy Kickstand Plate review

The People and History behind the Product. A good family story.

The Bike Buddy concept came to be on a road trip my wife Donna and I took years ago to Tofino on Vancouver Island. On our way, back I stopped at a dealership for a new spark plug. As I pulled in, we noticed they had just laid fresh asphalt in their parking area which as most riders know hot asphalt and a kickstand are not a good combination. I parked in front of the parts department and noticed several divots in the pavement from bikes sinking through already. The shop had cut small pieces of plywood and left them by the entrance for patrons and that is what I used.  We continued on our ride and I continued to think about how much pressure a small kickstand puts to the ground.

Weeks went by and I still had that thought bouncing around in my mind. On my way to work one morning, following a very pretty cruiser with a side mounted plate, I found myself staring at the license plate and it came to me that if we had a support approximately the size of that license plate anyone could park any bike almost anywhere on softer surfaces and never have to think about it.

Bike Buddy Kickstand Plate review

That was a few years ago and now after a year of engineering, dozens of re-designs and a lot of testing with over ten different prototypes we have a convenient, easily accessible product that eliminates the stress of parking your motorcycle on surfaces you normally would not want to.

Bike Buddy Kickstand Plate review

Donna and I founded Advenco Innovations, patented the product and brought the The Original Bike Buddy to market with the intent of keeping engineering, design, manufacturing and production in North America. In fact, we keep production as close to home as possible. This has definitely been a challenge but we believe that it is a more desirable business model in the long term. We have cost concerns and it could be more cost effective to have the product built overseas but at the expense of quality control and product durability. That is not something my wife and I want to do, we are proud to manufacture, assemble and distribute from North America.

Bike Buddy Kickstand Plate review

We handle all final details and assembly then ship directly from our home and plan to continue that for as long as possible. Eventually we are sure we will have to move to larger facility and automate somewhat but we will still carry on our attention to detail and customer service.

Donna and I are extremely excited to share this innovative solution with everyone and will be looking to our product line in the near future.

The Original Bike Buddy designed for peace of mind…Because gravity is not your friend!

 

Bike Buddy Kickstand Plate review

 

Visit the Manufacturer’s Site

The Original Bike Buddy

About Eric Leaverton 41 Articles
Eric Leaverton is a management and labor relations specialist from the city of Harrisville, Utah, United States. He is an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction, and in his spare time enjoys riding motorcycles with his wife and raising their three children. Eric is also a product reviewer and field correspondent for Total Motorcycle Web. For more pictures, stories, and background, you can read his blog in the Total Motorcycle forums here: To Ride An Iron Horse (link opens in new tab)