CT Recommends: Best indoor bike storage solutions
Let’s face it, bikes are an awkward item to store. They’re prone to toppling over, require space and there’s often more than one to worry about. In this installment of CT Recommends, we’ll be looking at the best indoor (or outdoor, if you’re that way inclined?) bike storage products and solutions.
Some of our staff have dedicated bike storage areas with carefully planned layouts, while others simply rely on floor space. Tech writer Dave Rome, along with input from the CT team, covers this topic.
As someone who has always had too many bikes and too little space, I’ve learned that the best way to store your bike/s is dependant on your available space, living situation and how much you believe in N+1. Hanging bikes vertically from the wall may be one of the most space efficient ways, but it’s hardly an option if you’re renting an apartment. Likewise, racks that store bikes horizontally above the ground require wall or floor space, something that will only work for those with room to spare.
Given this, this article is broken down into ways to store bikes, with favoured products for each method. Certainly, there are more ways to handle storing a bike, so please share what works for you in the comments section.
Lots of bike, little space: Vertically hung
Got some free wall space and a little depth to play with? Hanging bikes vertically from a wheel is arguably the most space-efficient way and it’s what you’ll find the majority of bike stores around the world do within their repair departments. It’s also what our global tech editor, James Huang, does with his hilarious number of test bikes.
Joining James, Neal Rogers, Caley Fretz and Matt Wikstrom all store their bikes with bike hooks sold at hardware stores. These are a cost-effective way to store multiple bikes, and can either be mounted directly into masonry with a wall plug or threaded into wood. If the former, I’ve found it easiest to first mount a piece of 2×4 timber, and then mount your hooks into that.
I’ve had a fair amount of experience using the methods above and as long as you have the depth to keep the bikes perpendicular to the wall, my preference is to use Park Tool’s bike storage hooks over those commonly sold at hardware stores. The low-cost hooks sold by hardware stores (or at least those sold in Australia) are typically small, limiting you in the type of tyre or rim depth that can be stored. Likewise, the plastic-dipped coating has a habit of splintering (likely due to the snug fit from being too small), leaving a metal surface to scour your rims.
By contrast, the Park Tool hooks are available in three sizes: skip the smallest and go the middle “471 Oversized” option (pictured above, left), unless you have a fat bike. They’re super strong and really not all that expensive. Being able to store a bike with 50mm deep carbon rims (be careful about deep rims which have a non-structural fairing) or 29er mountain bike with 2.4in rubber in the same spot is why I selected the Park Tool hooks for my Most Loved Products of 2017.
Do you have the wall space, but not the depth? There are options which let you safely swing the bike to sit at an angle to the wall. This is exactly what our community manager, Andy van Bergen, did with his bike storage. His preference is to use the Australian-designed Steadyracks, the original swinging rack of its type. As Andy explains, “They fold and swing so you can stack your bikes like pages in a book.” No doubt, it certainly looks neat. I too have one of these, and if it weren’t for the high price, all my bikes would be hung on them.
While the SteadyRack is the easiest, most effective to use (once setup) and best choice if you have rims with a carbon fairing (such as HED), there are other options for swinging wall racks.
“I really like the Feedback Sports Velo Hinge,” says James, who has his bikes hanging with a collection of both Velo Hinges and hardware store hooks. “It works for both road and mountain bikes (the latter with an optional oversized hook), and the design lets you fold the bikes up against the wall to save space. If you’re really careful with how the bikes are placed, and the order in which they’re hung, you can space the hooks really close together. I’ve managed 14” (about 36cm) spacing.”
To add another option to James’s suggestion, Topeak’s Swing-Up bike holder is worth a look, too.
And yes, you can swing a bike sideways in a regular hook. Our editor-in-chief Caley Fretz does just this with his bikes squeezed within a small closet. The risk is that the fixed hooks won’t support the wheel as well in a sideways position, and you’re greatly relying on tyre traction to prevent the bike from falling out. Even Caley admits that he’d pick the SteadyRack if he had a more permanent space.
Lots of products in this space work well, but I must warn against getting the really cool looking products that simply grasp the whole bike by pressing the tyre into it (such as a product called Clug). I’ve tried these, and they’re hypersensitive to chosen tyre width, and if they do work, a slow tyre leak will likely see your bike fallout. When it comes to hanging your bike, pick function over form.
Flat to the wall and on display: Horizontally hung
Got plenty of wall space, fewer bikes and not much depth from the wall to play with? Hanging the bikes horizontally and parallel to the wall could be the way. With this method, the bike will only stick out to the width of your handlebars and pedals. And as a side benefit, it’s a good way to turn your prides and joy into showpieces.
Like the vertical hanging solutions above, there are plenty of options in this space. My pick is for a rack with some level of adjustability to fit with a variety of frame shapes – a product like the Feedback Sports Velo Wall Rack 2D is a solid option and simply holds the bike by the toptube. Topeak offer a similar, albeit less stylish, product too.
If you’re after something a little more designer, there are plenty of options if you look around. One such option is the Cycloc, which is a contemporary designed rack available in various colours. It’s not the easiest thing to install and needs adjustment specific to each bike it’s holding. I’ve used them in bike shops before, they do work once setup, but easier and cheaper options exist where form isn’t important.
Those options all hold the bike via the top tube, but James likes an alternative which sees the bike held by the pedal at a 25-degree angle to the wall.
“Another thing I’ve tried is the DaHanger Dan Pedal Hanger. It takes up more space (compared to vertical hanging), but works well and looks neat,” he said. “They also come in multiple colours, and the design is refreshingly whimsical. I’d say this is almost more suitable for indoor use, since the bikes end up basically on display for everyone to see — driveside out and everything.”
The brand claims that you can fit three bikes on a 2.5m high wall, meaning they’re more space efficient than other horizontal hanging solutions.
Ceiling: Only spare space is above
Got a garage with spare space in the rafters? There are a number of companies that make bike hoists (commonly sold at hardware stores), allowing you to tether your bike by the bars and saddle and then hoist it up about head height. Frankly, no one in our team uses such a thing, but I’ve trialed a few and they do work once the painful install is complete. Just watch out for those tangles!
Personally, if you’re going to take this approach, you should take a clue from the crazy French mountain biker Yohan Barelli (EWS racer for Commencal). His electric-winch based rack system is seriously cool:
Freestanding: I rent or simply can’t be bothered installing anything
So those walls have to stay pristine, eh? Thankfully there are a few options to store multiple bikes in the effective space of one.
Mitch Wells, head of the CyclingTips Emporium, is in this exact position.
“Having the ability to move a tripod style storage system is important to me,” he said. “As a renter I don’t have the freedom to install permanent storage options. I would also rather not spend money installing and then removing a system in a place I don’t own. So the dual bike system from BikeHand works well for me.
“The system is easy to setup, with a number of quick-release-type fixtures that slide up or down, rotate or extend to provide the ideal storage solution for any type of bike. The horizontal fixtures adjust to your top tube angle — for those who have a little OCD like me, having both bikes wheels parallel to the ground is a nice detail. The wide tripod base is stable and I have never had any concern about instability and have avoided any near-disasters.
“The whole thing collapses into a sleek 1m long tube shape, which makes it easy to travel with if needed.”
This BikeHand rack is effectively a generic option, and again, Feedback Sports offers a stylish (albeit more expensive) alternative. Bike-Tree is another company to offer both free-standing or wall-leaning options, while Delta does too. I’ve only briefly played with the Bike-Tree products, but have used the Delta stuff in the past and know friends that have had the products for more than a decade without issue. A solid choice.
If you’ve got a reasonably solid ceiling in place (or a beam), then a floor to ceiling extending pole is my pick over a free-standing product that takes up more space. I use the Feedback Sports Velo Column to store two bikes in a horizontal position on an adjacent wall to a few vertically hung bikes, and my previous place had this product inside the home. The Velo Column is the most stylish version I’ve come across and offers a huge amount of adjustment. However, it does rely on spring pressure to stay in place, and so precise setup is required for secure holding.
For more secure holding, I can recommend the Topeak Dual Touch. This features a large foot pad which levers the pole into a locked position. You can buy additional brackets, allowing up to four bikes to be hung from a single pole. It’s not nearly as stylish as the Feedback, but it is an effective and proven pick.
Grounded: Want to store your bikes on the floor? How boring.
If space isn’t an issue, then simply leaning bikes against walls or with saddle hung over rafters is going to work just fine too.
However, if you want your bike on the ground, but away from the wall, you’ll require a stand. Assuming it’s to hold a rim brake bike, I’ve had good success with the simple wheel stands from PRO (sold by other brands too). I use one of these to photograph many test and pro bikes. However, they don’t always play nice with disc-equipped bikes, and so something like the Feedback Sports RAKK or Topeak’s copy version — which support the bike by the outside of the tyre — may be a better option.
If you want to store multiple bikes, I’d suggest simply getting multiple single-bike stands. Cheaper multiple bike stands do exist but they’re often poorly spaced and so you can’t comfortably fit in as many bikes as they claim. Additionally, rim damage may be a concern with those multiple bike racks as they were never designed to be used with modern wheels that are wider than the mounted tyre.
And if you’ve got one, a workstand or similar repair stand is fine to store your bike with too. In the past where it has been an option, I’ll just keep a bike hanging over the workstand’s arm by the saddle nose. As long as it’s not at risk of being bumped, it’ll be fine.
What products do you use to store your bikes? What have you used before and didn’t like? What product would you love to use? Or do you just use the floor like a monster?