Bike Storage Solutions
Inside storage—in your house, apartment, garage, or gear shed—is preferable. From there, variations abound, from stylish wall mounts that let you display your bike as art to a simple kickstand.
Beyond finding a place for your bike to rest, you also can explore storage options like bike covers that protect your bike during long-term storage and transport on top of your vehicle.
If you plan to travel by plane, train or boat with your bike, consider investing in a hard- or soft-shell travel case. For travel by car, see our article, Car Racks: How to Choose.
Bike Storage Considerations
The ideal storage solution will depend on your available space: garage, house, apartment or storage shed. Each has different applications, but in general, racks that let you store your bike vertically, wheels perpendicular to the wall, ideally positioned in a corner, take up the least space.
Other wall mounts let you store the bike on the wall, so that the wheels run parallel with the wall. If your mount is high enough—and your ceiling is sufficiently high—it might not even interfere with other elements of your living space. These solutions are ideal for apartment dwellers.
The taller vertical racks that lean against a wall or are freestanding are also a great solution for more than one bike as most models lets you stack up to two bikes on the mount.
Cyclists with garages, larger houses, or gear sheds can benefit from slightly more elaborate options by using the ceilings via hooks or pulley racks.
Don’t forget to take into account the clearance space you need to navigate around the bike (e.g. handlebars) or to open doors. Some mounts have brackets that fold flat against the wall when not in use—a nice space-saver in close quarters.
If you are storing a bike in your apartment or house and want to mount a rack to the wall, take into account the bike weight and wall quality—you don’t want the bike to come crashing down.
If you’re a tenant, you may need to seek permission from your landlord if you intend to fix equipment to the walls or ceilings.
Will your bike be stored in a spot that other people have access to? Some wall mounts come with a lock for added safety in a setting that could be potentially more vulnerable to theft.
Wall and Floor Protection
If you’re storing your bike in your living room, consider models that offer protection for your wall and floors from bike dirt and grease, especially in wet weather. This includes racks that come equipped with small plastic housings to accommodate both wheels so the tires don’t touch the floor or walls, as well as those with wide plates underneath the wheel touch points. Racks that extend out from the wall will also help keep you from getting dirt, grease, or mud on the floor or wall.
Make sure the intended rack will accommodate your bike; if you're looking to store a mountain bike in a floor stand, double check that the wheel wells in the rack can accommodate your tire width. The same principle applies if you have 29er wheels. Wheel size applies to all racks where wheels are used as the central anchor, which includes both wall and floor models.
Types of Bike Storage Racks
Storage rack variations abound, from stylish wall mounts, to freestanding racks, to ceiling mounts. The goal is the same: keep your bike off the ground to avoid getting it scratched or dirty, and position it so that it can’t be knocked over, potentially damaging the derailleur, spokes or fork (or injuring a young child or animal).
Kickstands are one of the most basic storage options and are a great way to keep your recreational road bike upright in your garage. Serious road cyclists typically forgo the kickstand to save weight. However, bike tourers may find them useful for parking a fully loaded bike.
Floor stands are like the bike rack you used in grade school; basically a long metal bar with vertical slats, only configured to hold one bike, not a bunch. They are ideal if you have the floor space because they're so simple. They are great for garages or even front hallways. You just pop in your front or back wheel and you’re done.
Freestanding racks are like coat racks for bikes and are ideal for garages or places where you can’t mount a rack on the walls. These are often designed to hold two bikes, sometimes more, and are easy to relocate for cleaning, rearranging your garage or changing apartments or houses.
Gravity stands are designed to lean against a flat section of wall and use the weight of your bike to stabilize the setup. They don't require drilling the wall. Usually they can hold two bikes.
Wall mounts are best for people who have limited space and want to get their bikes off the floor. These versatile racks offer the most variety in the market. Choices include a simple hook; a hook and tray; hinges; or horizontal wall mounts. Mountain bikes are a bit hard to store via the top tube since it is aggressively angled, but some wall-mount racks have arms that move up and down to accommodate your bike’s specific geometry.
There are lots of designer options for the in-apartment artwork look. These can either store your bikes vertically by one wheel so you can line them up in a row, or horizontally by the top tube—and some even have integrated lights to help illuminate your ride, much like track lighting for a painting.
If you hang your bike flat against the wall like a piece of art, it takes up more wall space, but it's much lower profile than having the wheels sticking out into the room.
Ceiling mounts are a great option for garage or gear rooms if you have multiple bikes. These easy-to-set-up storage racks take up unused space at the top of a garage and get bikes out of the way. The only real challenge is if your bike is too heavy for you to lift, or if the ceiling is so high that you need a ladder. If you are using the ceiling rack for off-season storage, these are not insurmountable issues; just enlist a friend or family member to help.
For everyday use, make sure that the bike hangs down far enough that you can safely grab it by the frame to take it down. If you have multiple bikes and are hanging them by the wheels, you can alternate front and rear wheel hanging so the handlebars don’t get in the way of each other.
Hoist bike storage is a nice alternative to the standard ceiling rack, and ideal for high ceilings when you can’t easily reach your bike on a standard hook or mount. Hoists raise your bike up and out of the way so you can free up space in your garage, loft or walk-in closet. They involve efficient pulley systems that assist you in lifting and lowering your bikes. Before you start shopping, measure your ceiling height; some only accommodate heights up to 12 feet.
Types of Bike Travel Cases
If you plan to travel with your bike by plane, train or boat, consider investing in a travel case. Far better than merely retrofitting a bike’s cardboard box, these hard- and soft-shell cases employ integrated wheels to help move the bike around, and they offer serious protection against baggage carriers' bumps and jostles.
Using these bike cases requires some mechanical skill—most are configured to hold your bike in various states of disassembly, including removing the handlebar and wheels. Be sure you know how to reassemble your bike when you reach your destination.
Hard-shell cases are the most rugged, thus the most secure option for traveling with your bike. These mini-fortresses are typically constructed of durable plastic with a host of internal organization pockets to help secure your unassembled bike, with specific places for your wheels, frame and detached handlebar. Some even provide storage for shoes, helmet and bike clothes.
The added weight of the hard shell may push the total weight of your case and bike over most airline’s standard 50-pound luggage limit, so check with your carrier before you travel. Also, be aware that many airlines charge an additional fee to transport your bike.
Soft-shell cases are typically constructed of rugged, weatherproof fabric (often wrapped around a lightweight aluminum frame) with serious internal padding that can handle most of the impacts associated with traveling.
Like hard cases, these generally come with
wheels to help with transportation and have a host of internal organization options to keep bike parts and accessories in place.
Look for models that have dedicated wheel pockets to keep your spokes safe from incidental impact against the rest of the bike during transport. Naturally the soft-shell cases aren't as protective as the hard-shell cases, but they do collapse down more than the hard shells, making them a good option for apartment dwellers and people with nominal storage space.
Types of Bike Covers
Full bike covers are ideal for longer-term bike storage. Most models don't require that you disassemble anything; they are contoured, and feature durable material with elastic straps at the bottom to secure around your bike.
A bike cover is intended to keep your bike dust-and grime-free, and most are also water- and UV-proof, so you can store your bike outside or in a garage. They provide added protection from accidental scratching or scraping of the bike.
Vehicle bike covers are designed to keep bugs and other debris from spattering across your frame while your bike is on a vehicle roof rack. These stretchy covers generally offer protection for your handlebar, front fork, top tube and seat.
Waterproof seat covers are typically used to keep your saddle dry and protected from the elements. These are ideal for people who ride regularly and need to lock the bike up outside.
Using a seat cover, which slips over the seat and is secured via elastic or a drawstring, will also extend the life of the saddle. They are especially important if your bike seat is made of leather, nylon or plastic, which will age prematurely if exposed to harsh sun and foul weather.
Remember to take off your seat cover before you hop back on the bike so you don’t get muddy or wet. Some come with convenient storage pouches, or you can keep a gallon-sized plastic bag in your pack; just remember to clean and dry the seat cover between uses.