I’m an expert on how not to store your bike in a garage.
One of my prized play toys was a used Yeti mountain bike I had been able to buy for a shockingly low $1800. It outlived my used 1972 Ford Pinto, my used 1987 Chevy Caprice, and my once-new 1995 Oldsmobile. It was a breeze to maintain. It was fun to ride.
I would probably still be riding that bike today, except one night I left the garage door up and my awesome Yeti disappeared, never to be seen again. Even worse, my homeowner’s policy didn’t cover it. Of course, since this was in Winslow, Arizona, it could have been an alien abduction. Some extraterrestrial mountain bike fans could have beamed it up and away forever.
This article is all about how to store your bike in a garage better than I did. Let’s start with the reason it’s always a good idea to store your bike in your garage.
An inevitable reality when you own a bike is that you will eventually have to store it. No matter how much you enjoy your bike, no matter how long your bike rides, sooner or later you have to put your bike somewhere.
It’s not a great idea to lean your bike against a tree in your yard, even though that approach worked just fine in sitcoms of the 1950s and 1960s like Leave It To Beaver and the Andy Griffith Show. It’s not enough that there’s no one around to steal your bike left unattended in the open. Exposing your ride to the weather can damage its components and shorten its useful life.
Chances also are that you really don’t want to carry your bike into the living area of your home, especially if you live in a tiny apartment. Bike tires carry grit and grime from the pavement that can ruin floors, and it’s hard to avoid collisions with furniture, pets, and people.
For most of us, the obvious indoor storage space for our bikes in the garage. What’s not so obvious is how to store our bikes in the garage. Do we just prop them up on the kickstand in a corner or do we display them on the wall as if they were art? The fact is that variations in the ways you can store your bicycle in the garage abound. Let’s take a look at bicycle storage solutions that work.
Bicycle Storage Considerations
No matter where you store your bicycle, there are certain considerations that come over and over again. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
No matter where you store your bike, the optimal storage solution will depend on available space. This is true whether you store your bike in your garage or in a storage shed or inside your house or apartment. Racks that let you store your bicycle vertically in a corner with wheels perpendicular to one wall and parallel to the adjoining wall take up the smallest space.
There are also wall mounts that don’t require you to store your bike in a corner. If you don’t have a low ceiling, and the mount is high enough, storing your bike on mounts on the wall won’t interfere with other activities in your garage, like getting in and out of your car.
There are taller vertical racks that lean against a wall that makes a great solution for more than one bike. These racks can lean against a wall, or, if you have enough space, can be set out free standing anywhere you like in the garage.
And if you can find the joists in your ceiling (don’t hang this kind of storage device by anchoring it just to sheetrock), you can install a more elaborate storage device involving pulley racks or hooks.
Just be sure to consider the room you need to clear the handlebars when you park near or walk around your bike. There are mounts that have brackets that fold in against the wall when you are not using them. This is a working solution if your garage is a tight fit for everything you need to store in it.
When you mount a rack to the wall to store your bike in the garage, you don’t want both rack and bike to come crashing down. You need to consider the quality of your wall and the weight of your bicycle when choosing the rack for hanging your bike.
Renters may need prior permission from landlords to attach any kind of equipment to walls or ceilings.
Is your garage door visible from the street? Do people passing by have easy access to it? If the answers to these questions are in the affirmative, you should find a wall mount that comes with a lock for added protection against theft.
Protecting walls and floors
The garage is probably the one room in your home where you can tolerate bike dirt and grease on walls and floors. But even in your garage bike dirt and grease can become intolerable during long stretches of wet weather.
You can protect walls and floors with racks that come outfitted with small plastic housings to hold both wheels so tires don’t touch the floor or the walls. There are also racks with wide plates underneath the wheels. Racks that extend out from the wall also keep grease, dirt, and mud off the wall and floor.
Narrow racks will not hold fat tires. It is important to make sure that the rack you choose will hold your bike. Especially if your bike has 700c or 622 mm ISO (inside rim diameter) wheels, commonly called 29″ wheels, it’s important to check whether the wheel wells in the rack can hold tires of the width you will use on your bike.
The kinds of bicycles with 29er wheels include cyclo-cross, road-racing, touring, trekking, and hybrid bicycles. You need to consider wheel size whenever you use a rack that uses wheels as the central anchor, whether they rest on the floor or they are mounted to a wall.
Types of Bike Storage Racks
There are many variations in storage racks for bicycles. Some bike owners prefer stylish wall mounts. Others like the look of a ceiling-mounted storage rack. And some bike owners make do with a kickstand.
The goal of every kind of storage rack is to keep your bicycle off the floor so it won’t get scratched or dirty. The storage rack keeps your bike safe from getting knocked over, which could damage the fork, spokes, or derailleur. This also prevents injuries to pets and people.
There is no more basic storage option than a kickstand. They are an easy way to keep a road bike upright in your garage Serious cyclists usually buy bikes without kickstands to save weight. However, if you use your bike for errands, commuting, or road trips, you may find a kickstand very helpful for parking a fully loaded bike.
Floorstands are basically a metal bar with vertical slats. They are a lot like the bicycle stands you can still see at schools and in parks. The difference between a floorstand you would use in your garage and a floorstand you would see at a school is that a home-use floorstand is designed to hold just one bike, not a bunch of bikes.
A floorstand is a great option if you have floor space in your garage. They also work in mudrooms and front hallways. Just pop your back or front wheel into the floorstand and you are parked. Floorstands protect people, pets, and the bike itself from problems that can occur when the bike is tipped over.
A freestanding rack is something like a coat rack for bikes. It’s a good choice for garages, especially if you can’t mount a rack on a wall. Freestanding racks are often designed to hold multiple bikes, two, three, and sometimes more. They are easy to move around for cleaning or rearranging your garage. They are also a good choice for people who move frequently.
Gravity stands are designed to lean against a flat section of the wall. They make use of the weight of your bicycle to keep it stable. There’s no need to drill into the wall to use a gravity stand. Most gravity stands can hold two or more bicycles.
Wall mounts are the best choice for people who have limited garage space and want to keep their bikes off the floor. There is a huge variety of wall-mounted racks for bikes in the consumer market.
You can buy a wall mount with a single hook. There are wall mounts with a hook and tray. Some wall mounts rest on hinges. There are horizontal wall mounts. It’s not easy to store a mountain bike on the top tube, but there are models that have arms that move up and down to fit your bike.
If you are especially proud of your bike, there are wall mounts with designer options for an artwork look. This wall mounted storage racks can store your bikes vertically so you can line them up in a row. Or you can store them horizontally by their top tube. There are even wall mounted bike racks with track lighting to illuminate your bicycle for display.
Hanging your bike against the wall like a piece of art takes up more wall space, but it takes less floor space than having wheels extending out over the floor.
Many cyclists who store their bikes in the garage use ceiling mounts. They are a great option if you have multiple bikes, or if you have unused space at the ceiling of your garage.
There are two important considerations in choosing and using ceiling mounts. You don’t want to go with a ceiling mount if your bike is too heavy to lift. And you don’t want to use ceiling mounts if the construction of your ceiling can’t support the weight of your bike or bikes. Nobody wants their bikes to come crashing down on cars or people.
If you are going to use a ceiling mount on a regular basis, you need to make sure that your bike hangs down low enough that you can safely grab it by the frame to take it down. If you have more than one bike to store from a ceiling mount, you can alternate rear and front-wheel hanging so the handlebars don’t get tangled together.
If your garage ceiling is so high you would need a ladder to reach a ceiling-mounted bike, you still might want a ceiling mount for off-season storage.
Hoist bike storage
If your garage ceiling is so high you can’t easily reach your bike on a standard mount of a hook, you may want hoist bike storage. Hoists lift your bike up and out of the way to free up space on your garage floor. They use pulley systems to help you with lifting and lowering your bike. But before you go shopping, measure the height of your bike. Some hoist bike storage units only accommodate ceiling heights up to 12 feet.
More Considerations for Long-Term Storage of Your Bike in Your Garage
It is not enough to find a place to store your bike in your garage. If you are storing your bike in your garage during your off-season, you may also want to invest in a bike cover. Bicycle covers are designed to keep your bike free from dirt and grime, and most covers also protect plastics on your bike from UV rays of sunlight.
Full bike covers are easy to use. You don’t have to disassemble your bike to use a full bike cover. Most full bike covers are contoured to fit your bike. Full bike covers are made from durable materials.
Waterproof seat covers keep your saddle dry. They offer protection from the elements when you have to lock up your bike outdoors, and they protect the seat in high-humidity environments. You just want to place a few packets of a silica drying gel in a loose paper towel before you put the waterproof seat cover on your bike saddle.
Don’t forget to clean and dry your bike saddle before sitting on it. You can carry the seat cover in a one-gallon plastic bag in your pack.
If users of your garage are accident-prone, and you need to store your bike in the garage long-term, consider a bike travel case. Soft- and hard-shell bike travel cases are great for protecting a bike when you travel by plane, train, or ferry, and they offer serious protection for your bike if you need to store it against the wall of your garage.
Soft-shell bike cases usually consist of durable, waterproof fabric around an aluminum frame. They come with serious internal padding to absorb impacts that would otherwise amount to a fender bender while your bike was parked in your garage. The best models have wheel pockets to keep your spokes safe during accidental impact. Soft-shell cases fold down so they require less space in your garage.
Hard-shell bike cases are mini-fortresses that are usually manufactured from durable plastic with a plethora of pockets to help you secure your disassembled bike. There will be specific places for your frame, handlebar, and wheels. Some hard-shell cases even provide storage for your helmet, shoes, and bike clothes. They are a considerable investment of time and money, but they may be exactly what you need to store a premium mountain bike long-term in your garage.