So you went through the process of deciding what type of bike storage is best for your family. You have four to six bicycles to store. You want them off the floor, so you’re getting a multi-bicycle wall rack. What answers do you need to get the right multi-bike wall rack for you?
To get the right bike rack, ask questions such as: “Does the rack hold the right quantity of bikes?” Think about dismounting the bikes: “Is there room to get the bike down from a full rack?” Think about the bike widths: “Are the hooks adjustable so you can move the bikes left to right within the rack space?” Think about the bike tires: “Do you need a rack that can handle fat tires, kids’ bikes, or several heavy bikes?”
Answer these questions 6 more to more to find the perfect bike rack for four to six bikes at a time. Of course quality is important, but so is the angle of the bike hooks. There’s a right way and a wrong way to let a hook hold a wheel rim: one way is fine, and the other warps the rim.
1. Does the Bike Rack Have Enough Room for Wider Bikes?
Your bike rack storage solution is going to get annoying if the bikes are too crowded. When bikes are parked on kickstands, you stand on the side of the bike to engage and go. When you want a bike from the middle of a pile, you want the bikes to have sufficient room not to get hung up on each other.
If you’re hanging one bike at a time, you need a hook arrangement wide enough to handle your bike’s tire, be that road size or a fat tire. But with multiple bikes hanging at once, you also need to think about the space between the bikes. Will you be able to pull the third bike from the rack without getting hung up on the other bicycles?
Adjustable hooks allow you to slide the bike’s hanging spot along the rack from left to right. If the bike hooks are fixed on the mounted rack, the bikes will be fixed in place as well. You can give one bike more room, and a smaller bike less room. If you have various size bikes and tires, picture yourself trying to get bikes down from a full rack. An adjustable hook system can solve the problem of the bikes being too close together.
2. Does the Bike Rack REALLY Have Enough Room for All the Bikes?
If a bike rack doesn’t have adjustable hooks and/or it has a narrow width, you might find yourself unable to store as many bikes as the rack manufacturer says you can. At least one rack I reviewed below consistently got demerits in reviews for being good for storing four bikes but not being able to store the six bikes the manufacturer claimed it could.
Visualize your bikes on each hook and look at the width of the rack to pre-determine if the rack will really hold the quantity of bikes you’re storing. Note that several of these racks come in shorter pieces that string together. For example, a 48 inch rack might arrive as two 24 inch racks. In this case, you need to see if the rack pieces depend on each other for support, or if you can mount them with some space between them. That space will give you some breathing room when hanging the entire set of bikes.
3. Are the Bike Hooks Going to Bend the Wheel Rim?
If you hook a front tire into a ceiling hook and leave the bike there for some time, you could easily come back to a rim that’s bent out of shape. When a hook holds the bike’s weight in one concentrated spot on the rim, that part of the wheel carries the entire weight of the bike. But when you use an angled hook, you can distributed the bike’s weight across more surface area. That saves the rim from gravity pulling it out of shape.
Bike racks with properly-built hooks allow you to put more hook into the rim area and then allow the tire to touch the wall. That’s important, because the rubber hitting the wall lightens the load on the bike rim itself. Anything that reduces the pull on one spot distributes weight and is safer for the bike parts doing the work. Two hooks will always be better than one, and an angled hook will always be better than a straight hook.
4. Are the Bike Hooks Going to Scratch the Frame Paint or Rim Finish?
Older bike racks often failed to have a vinyl or rubber coating on their hooks. The steel or iron of the hook rubbing on the aluminum wheel or painted frame could easily hurt the bike’s finish. Most if not all bike racks anymore have protective coatings where the rack parts meet the bike parts. Both rubber and vinyl protect the bike and also had grip force to the hook’s ability to hold up the bike.
5.Are There Hooks for Your Gear?
I like to store equipment an tools with the main toy I’m storing. If I’m storing a bike, I want my air pump and helmet stored with the bike. If you want to use a hook for your helmet, then you need to double the number of hooks on your rack: A four bike rack gets four hooks for bikes and four hooks for helmets. Very few if any have a one to one ratio of bike hooks to helmet hooks, but some have more equipment hooks than others.
While some multi-bike racks include helmet hooks, another option is to store the helmet and safety gear on the bike itself. You could use a strap or bag system to keep the equipment on a bike bar or behind the seat. Then you don’t need extra hooks on your bike rack for non-bike items.
6. Are the Hooks Large Enough for Your Tires?
Fat tires are 2.4 to 3 inches wide in most cases, and this extra width is often a deal-breaker in deciding which bike storage system to get. The hook size is an all-or-nothing measurement. If your bikes have fat tires then you have to get a rack with fat tire hooks.
7. Is the Bike Rack Hardware Solid Enough?
The bike rack hardware is both the screws as well as the rack itself. In some reviews of multi-bicycle wall racks, customers complained about flimsy hardware that came with a few the racks. If this is the case for you, it’s best to replace that hardware with your own.
But when the flimsy hardware is on the rack assembly or its hanging hooks, then I marked that rack “not recommended.” Two of the racks I reviewed had complaints that the hooks bent under the weight of the hanging bicycle. Unless these customers were abusing the hook’s weight limit — hanging two heavy bikes from one rack — that’s unacceptable.
8. Does the Bike Rack Mounting Align with Your Wall’s Stud Distances?
I saw one bike rack review berating the manufacturer for making a bad product when the customer had installed the new bike rack into drywall but not into the wall studs. That’s just asking for failure. Bike racks hold 200 to 450 lb. Drywall cannot hold that much weight.
The vertical beams (studs) behind the wall are usually 16 in. apart, often 24 in. apart, and then any random number nearby these targets, depending on the building codes and craftsman’s skills. Use a stud finder to determine exactly where you are going to mount your bike rack before buying the rack. Then look for mounting hole patterns that match your wall’s studs. If there’s no match, you will need to drill through the rack to make a new mounting point that matches the wall stud distance.
9. Is the Bike Rack Easy to Assemble?
Every rack I report on below has easy assembly according to the vendor, the customers, or just my opinion. One was just not clear, and I mention that one in the bike rack comparison table. “Easy” is subjective, so your mileage may vary.
10. Does the Bike Rack Pivot to Save Space?
When a bike rack has a pivot feature, you can swing the bike toward the wall after mounting. Rather than having the bike jut out into the room, it rests at an angle, closer to the wall. This frees up space. Multi-bike wall racks do not pivot to save space. They use solid hooks to grab the front tire rim. If this pivoted, it would endanger the balance of the rim on the hook, potentially warping the wheel.
To get a pivoting solution for multiple bikes, you can mount several one-bike-per-mount racks with the pivot feature. Steadyrack builds strong yet elegant single-bike racks that are probably the highest quality you can buy of this design. It is capable of swinging all the way to the wall, saving maximum space.
Are You Still Deciding on a Bike Storage Solution?
In case you read this before deciding on a bicycle storage solution, here is some more information to help you decide.
You might also like: Bicycle Storage