Bike Storage Ideas
We all need to store our bikes somewhere when we're not riding them! And for our bike storage system to be a success we need to strike a balance between two things: security and practicality.
And this is a really important balance. If we get it wrong we can ruin our home comforts, reduce the time we spend using our bikes, or even worse: lose our bikes to theft!
So our bikes should obviously be stored securely. But they should also be quick and easy to access (for the kids as well). They should create as little mess and dirt as possible. And they shouldn't infringe too much on the other ways we use our spaces.
It's a difficult balance to get right! So it's worth taking a good bit of time to consider our options. And the great thing is: these days, there are loads of storage solutions available to us...
Floor stands, horizontal wall racks, vertical wall racks, ceiling racks, pulley systems, hooks, pedal shelves and free standing columns. There's a dizzying array of bicycle storage ideas. And don't worry: I'll cover them all here.
I have tried to concentrate on practical, real world solutions that you can buy in the shops for a reasonable price rather than the aspirational, far out ideas you might see on Pinterest!
But before we talk about specific storage methods, let's take a quick look at where you're going to store your bike.
How safe is your storage space?
Now, maybe you already know where you want to store your bike and are just looking for ideas about how to store it in that place. But where you choose to store your bike will have the biggest impact on how secure it is, so please take a minute to review the options. Here's why...
Over 50% of stolen bikes are taken from the owners home. Now, in this statistic "owners home" includes front and back gardens, sheds and garages as well as from inside apartments and houses. But still, it's perhaps surprising that your bike is more likely to be stolen from your home than it is from out in the street!
Generally speaking, there'll be a maximum of 5 possible places we can store our bikes at home (if you can think of anymore let me know!) And the truth is that probably only one or two of these options will be viable for most people:
- inside your own house or flat
- inside a communal space in a flat or house
- inside your garage
- inside a shed in your garden
- outside in your front or back garden
The safest place to store your bike will be inside your house. Next best is your garage. Then in your shed. And the least safe place will either be your front or back garden (usually the front as it's more accessible, but it will depend on your set up).
This ranking is dependent on all other things being equal. But a locked bike in your back garden may be safer than an unlocked bike in your garage.
And any space that's communal (accessible by people other than your family) is also at far higher risk. So shared space inside a house could actually be less safe than private space outside the house.
Indoors vs Outdoors
Ideally we wouldn't want to keep bikes inside our homes. We only use them outside. They take up lots of room inside. They bring water and dirt into places we're trying to keep dry and clean.
Even worse: homes without garages or gardens, (where we're forced to bring our bikes inside) tend to be smaller. So there's even less room inside to use!
But the fact is that our bikes will be safer indoors.
So which should you choose, indoor or outdoor storage? Well it's all about finding the balance between security and practicality that works for you.
For example, I didn't think it would be practical to store my bike inside. Until had two successive bikes stolen from the back garden. Suddenly I found a way to store the next one inside! I could have increased my outside security, but I found a workable balance inside instead.
Ultimately, wherever you choose to keep your bike, there are storage options that will make it practical and security measures that will keep it safe. It's just a case of finding the right ones for you.
Most of the options in this article will work inside the home and in the garage or shed. Generally speaking we can divide them into 5 categories:
- floor racks
- vertical wall racks
- horizontal wall racks
- ceiling racks
- free standing racks
Floor racks provide the most basic kind of bike storage and they're really only one step up from a kickstand! However there are lots of reasons to like them...
First of all, there's nothing to install: you just chuck them on the floor! This also means that they're really easy to move to a new space should you wish. They keep the bike upright and stationary much better than a kickstand! And they're easy to use for kids as well as adults.
Most importantly: they also provide the easiest and quickest access of all the bike storage options. So they're fantastic for kids.
There are some disadvantages with floor racks though. They take up valuable floor space which is what many people are trying to avoid. And some of them aren't compatible with smaller bikes (< 20") wheels or with bikes that use disk breaks. They're often not the most stable option either.
Floor racks are generally best for families with children and bikes that are used daily. Also somewhere with plenty of room and where floor space isn't an issue!
There are loads of different floor stands ranging from low tech metal racks to more advanced spring loaded cradles...
These are the sort of stands you find outside primary schools and rural information kiosks! They are generally made for multiple bikes and because this makes them quite big, they are best used in yards or garages.
The spaces for your wheels are fixed which means very wide wheels may not fit and very narrow wheels are likely to lean over and make your bike less stable.
At the low end of the price range (and quality) we have racks like the Simple Houseware 5 Bike Floor Rack [Amazon], which is cheap and functional. It's easy for the smallest kids to use, works with all wheel sizes (> 12") and it's modular so it can be shortened or expanded to fit less or more bikes.
However, it's made from cheap steel that bends easily and the wheel supports are not very tall. This means your bikes won't be super stable. It's certainly not recommended for windy outside areas. And I'm not sure how long it will last under heavy use.
It's also worth noting that although it's sold as a 5 bike rack, 5 adult bikes won't fit next to each other: you would need to alternate with children's bikes or have bikes on each side.
There are loads of variations of this kind of budget metal rack available on Amazon and they all suffer from the same cheap quality and limited stability issues. But this Simple Houseware one does seem to be the best.
And for families with various bikes, (from kids to adults sizes), plenty of space (ideally inside a garage) and a problem with regularly used bikes left all over the floor, this is a practical and cost effective solution!
However there are much better quality (and more costly) metal bike racks also available. Global Industrial [Amazon] make a series of heavy duty steel bike racks that are designed to hold five, ten and eighteen bikes.
These are made from super strong, galvanized steel and are fully protected for outdoor use. They are extremely heavy (the 5 bike rack weighs over 50 lb) and completely stable.
Unlike the cheaper options, your bikes will be stable (whatever the weather conditions) and the stands will be durable (whatever the weather conditions!).
Obviously they take up more room and will be more difficult to move. And of course they're more expensive! But if you have the budget and the space and you don't want to be replacing your rack after a couple of years, the'y're a great upgrade.
Designed for individual bikes (although they can often be linked together to store multiple bikes), these racks work inside the home just as well as in yards and garages.
The stands are often small, lightweight and foldable, making them easy to move between spaces and store away if not in use. Unfortunately this can also make them unstable.
So it's important that you choose one that will grip your wheel and keep the bike stable. Since bike wheels come in all sorts of widths and heights this means the rack needs to be adjustable.
And the truth is: there aren't many adjustable racks available, which means they often get a bad reputation. But here's three that are adjustable and will therefore keep your bike stable...
The Delta Cycle Shop Rack [Amazon] is a super simple bike rack which can be adjusted to fit any tire width. The arms can be moved as close or as far a way as you like to adequately support your wheel.
The Delta racks are sold individually for single bikes. But if you also buy some connectors [Amazon] that allow you to join up to 5 racks together.
Although they will support any tire width, they're pretty much limited to wheels taller than 16".
The ability to custom fit the rack for any tire width makes a huge difference to stability and as a consequence the Delta Rack is probably the best floor rack currently available!
However, there are two other adjustable cradles, and both work by changing the height rather than the width.
The Bikehand Floor Rack [Amazon] has two adjustable pulleys, one for the top and one for the bottom of the tire. You can adjust the pulleys so that once the bike is in the rack they grip the tire and hold the wheel in place. In this way it will snugly hold wheels of 24 - 29".
The advantage of this system is that it's only the tire that's ever in contact with the rack, so there's no chance of the frame, your disc breaks or derailleur ever getting damaged.
However since the the width is not adjustable, the maximum tire width it will support is 3" (which to be fair is still pretty generous!). Also you can't link multiple Bikehand Racks together.
The CyclingDeal Foor Rack [Amazon] is also adjustable; the top part can slide down (and up) to grip (and release) the top of your tire. It can accommodate a bigger range of wheel heights (20" - 29") but a slightly lower maximum tire width (2.8") than the Bikehand Rack.
And unlike the Bikehand Rack, this one is modular so you can fit multiple racks together in various ways.
I think these three are the best simple floor stands currently available. I like the DeltaCycle Rack [Amazon] best because of it's simplicity. However if you're looking for a solution that only comes into contact with your tires then the other two are great choices.
Spring Loaded Cradles
Another step up in complexity (but not necessarily in price) are spring loaded stands. They're a bit like the simple racks, but with a cradle that you roll the wheel into and which then tips the bike forward to rest against a spring loaded support.
There's a couple of advantages with these floor cradles. First of all you don't need to lift the wheel onto the rack. Simply rolling it into the cradle should be enough to get the wheel in place. This is a big advantage for kids or people with heavier bikes.
Secondly, once the wheel is in the cradle it sits much deeper in the rack so is more supported, which should lead to a stabler bike!
The best spring loaded bike rack seems is from Bikehand [Amazon]. It supports bikes with wheels from 20 - 29". And while the standard model will support tires up to 2.4" wide, they do have an alternative model for tires up to 5" [Amazon]!
Again, only the tire comes into contact with the stand so this is a good option for people with disc breaks and those worried about the stand interfering with their derailleurs, spokes or frames.
Horizontal Wall Storage
Horizontal bike racks allow you to store your bike parallel to the floor by hanging them along a wall. There are several advantages of horizontal racks...
Horizontal Wall Storage
First of all the bikes don't intrude very far into the room, so they take up very little room space.
Secondly (for one bike at least), you don't have to do much maneuvering of the bike: you just wheel it in and lift it slightly off the floor to get it on the rack. Unlike other racks you can probably get the bike in the house and on the rack without touching the floor!
Thirdly, while some require fixing to the wall, others will just lean against the wall, making them ideal for renters / those with DIY aversions and apartments with unsuitable walls.
And finally they are the best option if you want to display your bike like a work of art!
However there are disadvantages with horizontal racks too. While they don't take up room space they do take up a huge amount of wall space (at least as long as your bike).
Also, each one is limited to carrying 2 bikes and while the first will go on easily, the second one will need to be lifted above it, which could be tricky, especially for kids.
I'd say horizontal bike racks are best for one or two adult bikes in small areas with a significant amount of empty wall space.
No Installation Necessary!
The most popular horizontal bike stand is the Delta Cycle Michelangelo [Amazon]. And there's a lot to like about it! The best thing that you don't have to "install" anything! You just put the pieces together and lean it against the wall.
So it's great for renters who don't want to damage their walls, for those that dislike any form of DIY and for homes with walls that aren't strong enough to support the weight of a couple of bicycles!
The arms that support the bike frames aren't fixed in place with screws so they can be moved up or down and twisted around to make an infinite number of configurations. This means you should be able to position them to support any bike geometry.
The basic model is for two bikes. But they also make a free standing model [Amazon] (no contact with the wall) that can support up to four bikes!
Although Delta Cycle claims that the two bike stand will support up to 80lbs (35kgs), I think that it's more suited to lighter bikes. And to be honest, whether it's heavy or light, getting the second bike up there is always going to be a bit of an effort!
Also, since it leans on the wall, mountain bikes with particularly wide handlebars may actually touch the wall.
But if your're looking for an easy to set up, one or two bike, wall based storage solution at a very reasonable price then the Michelangelo is worth trying. If it doesn't work out, you can send it back without having messed up your walls!
If you're looking for something more permanent then there's a ton of bike racks that you properly fix to your wall...
A Hanger with Built In Security
My favorite is obviously the Hiplok Airlok [Amazon], since it has a built in lock and is the only bicycle storage solution that's rated Sold Secure Gold! You'll only get the full security benefits of the Airlok if you install it on a brick or concrete wall.
But if that option is available to you then I'd highly recommend this device. You can even get it colour matched to your decor!
A Budget Friendly Hanger
The Airlok isn't cheap though! So if you're looking for a budget option then how about the Ibera Horizontal Wall Hanger [Amazon]? It's much cheaper and if you can find the stud supports, it will work with a drywall, (unlike the Airlok).
The frame grips are infinitely adjustable, so you should be able to find a position that works for your bike geometry. And the main beam is extendable from 8.5" to 12", giving a maximum of 14.8" between the frame holders and the wall for wider handlebars.
It also comes with a velcro strap that will stop your front wheel swinging into the wall. You'll need one of these with any horizontal wall mount if you want to avoid marking the wall. So it's nice that it's already included with the Ibera Rack.
The Pedal Rack
Another great horizontal storage option is the Gootus Pedal Rack [Amazon]. This one hooks onto your pedal rather than your frame and with your wheels sitting on small shelf supports, your bike leans out into the room.
It sounds a bit weird, but there's several advantages to this solution. First of all, it doesn't need to make compromises for loads of different frame sizes. All pedals are more or less the same (and are found in the same central position!).
This means the one simple design will support every type of bike and they'll all be balanced.
Secondly, since the hook holds the bike at a 25 degree angle to the wall, it allows other hooks and bikes to be staggered either above or below. So in theory it's a better use of space, allowing 3 bikes to be hung on an 8 foot wall.
In practice, whether that would be practical, I'm not sure. I'd imagine getting the higher bikes on and off could be challenging!
Thirdly since the bike is effectively held to the wall in three places this is a very stable storage solution. It's very unlikely that your bike could be knocked off!
Of course you have the added effort of attaching two extra hooks to the wall and you won't be able to use this on a drywall unless they're all fixed into the studs. Also you'll need to be extra careful that the tires don't mark your walls with this rack.
But this is a very stable and very practical horizontal bike storage solution at a cracking price!
Vertical Wall Storage
With vertical bike racks you lift your bike up (as if you were doing a wheelie) and then hang it from it's front wheel so that the bike sticks out into the room. There are advantages to these racks too...
Vertical Wall Storage
Firstly, they take up less wall room, so you can fit them on smaller wall spaces (or fit several bikes next to each other on larger wall spaces). Indeed, they're probably the most space efficient way of storing larger numbers of bikes.
Secondly, (unlike horizontal racks) each bike is as easy to hang and remove as the next. And they also tend to work with most wheel sizes.
But there are some disadvantages with vertical racks. Usually the bikes stick out into the room, so while they take up less wall space, they take up much more room space.
Because you have to lift up the front wheel, there's also a lot of maneuvering involved and again this can be difficult for kids. And it's tricky to avoid putting the rear wheel on the floor.
So I'd say that vertical bike racks are generally best for larger numbers of bikes in larger spaces.
The Rule Breaker
The most popular vertical storage solution is the Steadyrack Classic Bike Rack [Amazon]. Why do so many people like it? Because it fixes many of the disadvantages that I talk about above!
So while lifting and maneuvering your bike onto most vertical racks can be quite tricky (if not impossible for kids), with the Steadyrack it's super easy (as long as you can get the bike up onto it's back wheel)...
You simply wheel the bike forwards until the front wheel is cupped by the metal cradle, which then supports the wheel in place. The cradle fits wheels from 20 - 29" and tires up to 2.4" wide.
Also, while most vertical racks leave the bike sticking out into the room and taking up a huge amount of space, with the Steadyrack you have the option of swiveling it towards the wall so it's much less intrusive.
You can get the bike pretty close to the wall which is a massive bonus in small rooms. And if you've got multiple bikes it's easy to stagger them, much like a vertical version of the Gootus Pedal Rack.
There is also a rear wheel stabilizer that cradles the back tire, keeping the bike straight (even when it's swiveled) and the wall clean and mark free!
When it's not in use the Steadyrack folds up so that it's almost flat to the wall, which is also really helpful in small spaces. And while fat tires and bikes with mudguards won't fit the the classic Steadyrack, they produce one specially for tires up to 5" [Amazon] and another one for bikes with fenders [Amazon]!
So if vertical bike storage is what you're after then the Steadyrack is by far the best option. However it's not super cheap. If you're on a budget or you need to store many bikes, then there are more economical alternatives!
All you really need to hang a bike vertically is a hook! And basic bike hooks can be very cheap.
But simple hooks can be frustrating to use, so it's wise to proceed with caution. Different wheel sizes call for different hook designs but unfortunately this is often ignored, with a "one size fits all" approach prevalent.
Luckily DeltaCycle make two sizes of their cheap and functional Leonardo Da Vinci bike hooks. The standard size [Amazon] is best for road bikes and hybrids with thin tires. While the Fat Tire version [Amazon] is best for anything wider, from mountain bike tires up to 5" wide, fat bikes tires.
Each hook comes in two parts: a top plate with the hook onto which you hang your wheel and a bottom plate into which you rest the bottom tire. Simple.
The plates will protect your walls from dirt and marks as long as you're careful when loading and unloading. And they'll support bikes up to 40 lb (18 kg).
Ceiling bike racks allow you to store your bikes above your head. Usually they involve a pulley system that allows you to hoist your bike up by the handlebars and seat. However they can also be tracks that hang your bike upside down.
Ceiling racks have several advantages. Your bikes won't take any floor or wall space at all, so they're great in small areas. It won't cost much physical effort to get your bike up there. And they're usually compatible with lots of different types and sizes of bikes.
However there are disadvantages too. Installing racks on the ceiling is more difficult than on the walls. While it won't cost much physical effort, it will take longer to get the bikes up and take them down. It's more of a hassle. And the kids won't be able to use them.
Ceiling bike storage is usually best in really tight spaces where there aren't really any other options. And specifically for bikes that are not used regularly!
The Vertical Pulley System
Racor make a reasonably priced ceiling mounted pulley system [Amazon] that can be configured to fit any size bike.
All these pulley systems work in the same way with the same basic elements. But the quality of the Racor components are slightly higher and the finish a little better than it's competitors. Which is important if your bike is hanging above your car!
With any ceiling rack, installation will always be slightly more tricky than the other solutions (simply because the ceiling is more difficult to access). But in reality it's just a case of screwing the two pulley sets into your studs.
Then you simply attach one hook to your seat and the other to your handlebars and hoist up the bike with the cable. There's a safety lock to prevent accidental release and the system will hold bikes up to 50 kg (23 kg).
For sure, while getting bikes up and down is not physically difficult, it does take a bit of time. And it certainly shouldn't be operated by small children! Plus once it's configured for one bike size you would need to re-install it to use it with other sizes.
But its a very cost effective system of keeping bikes completely out of the way and is a great choice where there's no wall or floor space available.
The Horizontal Pulley System
But what if you don't have ceilings that are high enough to accommodate vertically hanging bikes?
Luckily Floaterhoist [Amazon] make a a great pulley system that hoists your bike up so that it's flat against the ceiling rather than hanging down!
However, pulley systems aren't the only way to get your bikes stored on your ceiling!
Saris make a rack that allows you to hang multiple bikes from your ceiling. It's not a cheap option [Amazon] but it's good value when you consider it will support up to 4 bikes.
Again, the kids won't be able to use it themselves, but with with multiple sliding supports it's a breeze for an adult to use and it's a really practical way of storing multiple bikes out of the way.
There are also two other racks that will store your bike horizontally along the ceiling. But both use hydraulic arms to effortlessly lift one bike up to lie against the ceiling.
Free Standing Storage
Free standing bike racks don't use walls for support. Usually they work with horizontally hung bikes. And just like the other racks, there are several advantages with free standing solutions...
Free Standing Storage
The most obvious is that they're not dependent on a wall! So if you don't have wall space, your walls are not strong enough to support a rack or you just don't want to mark or damage your walls, these are a great choice. Like floor racks, they are easy to install and are just as easy to move to new spaces.
However, just like horizontal wall racks, the upper bike may be difficult to hang and they're tricky for the kids to use alone.
Free standing bike racks are best used for one or two bikes, when you don't have any suitable wall space but have plenty of space inside the room. Or for whatever reasons you don't want to (or can't) attach anything to your walls.
Floor to Ceiling Columns
The most common free standing rack is the floor to ceiling column. These may not work with super high ceilings. But because they're fixed between the floor and the ceiling they're usually very stable.
Feedback Sports [Amazon] make a great floor to ceiling column which can support up to four bikes. It's basically a spring loaded aluminium tubing system which wedges between the ceiling and the floor to create a completely stable storage solution.
The arms which cradle the bikes are infinitely adjustable so they should be able to fit any bike geometry. However you only get 2 with the column: if you want to store 4 bikes, you'll need to buy the expansion pack.
Both ends of the column have soft rubber contact points to protect your floor and ceiling. And it's adjustable to fit ceilings between 7’-10’ (2.1 - 3.0 m) high.
Each cradle will support a bike that weighs up to 40 lbs (18 kg) so that's 160 lb (73 kg) in total.
True: it's not one of the cheapest option. But whether you have free wall space or not, the extra stability and unintrusive design make this floor to ceiling column that's definitely worth considering.
And if your ceiling is too high for the floor to ceiling column, Feedback Sports have a version with a stand [Amazon] at the bottom. It won't quite be as stable but it should do the job OK.
A final word on security
Hopefully this article has given you some useful bike storage ideas! But whichever solution you ultimately go for, you should think carefully about how to secure your bicycle in that space.
Yes: even if you store your bicycle indoors, you should take some measures to protect it from theft. If you're burgled, an unlocked bike is not only a desirable prize, it's a perfect get away vehicle!
Inside your home it may be enough to simply immobilize your bike by attaching your regular lock through the wheel to stop it being ridden away. But if your bike is stored in a communal area you should do much more than that...
Even indoors, if you store your bike in a communal area which is accessible to people other than your immediate family, you should secure it as if it's in the street. This isn't because these people are likely to steal your bike. More that they may not be as careful about the security of that space as you are. And this may allow thieves to enter and do their business!
So in communal areas lock your bike to a immovable object. It can sometimes be difficult to find a secure immovable object in these spaces (wooden stair banisters are not secure!). So check out my "homemade concrete anchor idea" on the how to lock your bike properly page.
If you decide to store your bike in your garage, then you need to be careful. A locked garage is far less safe than inside your home...
You might be able to get away with locking the wheel to stop it being ridden away. Or simply chaining several bikes together could work too. Even better, it's fairly easy to install a ground or wall anchor to a concrete or brick surface in a garage and this will provide the best protection.
Don't worry, I have plenty more detailed information on how to lock your bike properly wherever you store it!
When you're deciding on a bike storage idea it's important to balance security with practicality. If the solution you choose makes it more difficult to access your bike, you'll use it less, which is the worst!
But equally, if you choose a solution that compromises the way you use the space where the bike's stored then you've failed as well.
The perfect solution for you will depend on how many bikes you have, how many people use them, how often they're used, what sort of spaces you have available and how safe your area is in terms of bike theft.
I'd say that (much like a bike lock), it's worth spending a little more than you'd ideally like to spend, just to make sure you get something that's decent quality and that won't be incredibly frustrating to use!
I've tried to find the options available here, but if you have any other bike storage ideas that you think I should include, let me know below...
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