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Read this Before Storing Your Family’s Bicycles

Bikes are large and awkward, and they really hog up the garage floor. Creating good storage for your family’s bicycles buys you back a lot of garage space. However, some solutions that are easy for older kids might be impossible for younger ones to use.

The type of bike storage you choose for your family partly depends on your kids’ ages. The littlest kids might need to hog the garage space with kickstands and easy access. The older kids can transition into wall racks, ceiling storage, outdoor bike covers, and bike sheds. Family bicycle storage solutions include:

  • kickstands
  • floor stands
  • wall racks
  • wall hooks
  • hoists
  • lifts
  • ceiling hooks
  • covers
  • sheds

Before you choose a bike storage method, look at the bicycle brakes, tire size and fenders. When a bike storage solution doesn’t work, it’s often because the fenders or tires are too wide, or the brakes stick out farther than you had realized.

Measure Your Bikes’ Tire Sizes

Most floor and wall racks limit bike tire widths they’ll accept. Only some bike tires will fit in some of these racks. The bike industry doesn’t have a standardized vocabulary for tire width ranges. Check floor and wall mount widths against your tire inventory. “Children’s tires,” “adult tires” and even “fat tires” aren’t standardized ranges. Here are some rough tire-width guidelines:

  • Smaller children’s bike tires are any width up to 2.3 in. wide.
  • Adult bike tire widths are 1.9 to 2.6 in.
  • “Fat tire” widths are 2.8 to 4 in.
Fat tire bike
Fat tire bike

Measure Bicycle Disc Breaks

Disc brakes make the wheel hub wider than normal. Some bicycle storage solutions work with disc brakes, and some do not. The tire might fit, but the disc assembly mounted on the hub might not. Check that the solution you want will work with your bikes’ disc brakes.

Bicycle disc brake caliper

Measure Bicycle Tire Fenders

A fender adds inches to the bike tire diameter. A bike tire that fits a wall mount or floor mount might not accept the fender too. Check if your bikes’ fenders will work with the solution you want to buy.

Bike fender
Bike fender

Will One Bike Storage Solution Work for Every Age Kid?

Older children can maneuver wall and ceiling storage that smaller children cannot. Kickstands and floor stands use lots of garage floor space, but give children easy access to their bikes. Wall stands might work for older kids, and buy you back some of your garage floor. The best bike organizers for your family will give you the garage floor space you need, while sacrificing the least amount of convenience. The best bike storage depends on whether you need to save garage floor space, and whether you have smaller kids. You will want to ask yourself:

  • How much garage space do you want to devote to your family’s bike storage?
  • Do children need floor-level access to their bicycles?
  • Does a child need a kickstand despite that taking up a lot of garage floor room?
  • Can a child easily get to the bike and release it from storage?
  • Can a child easily get to storage and mount the bike?
  • Is the child able to reach a wall mount solution without danger?
An older kid can use a wall mount where a smaller child cannot.
An older kid can use a wall mount where a smaller child cannot.

The Right Kind of Bike Storage for Families

You can choose multiple solutions for different ages, or go with one type of storage for everyone in the family. Your choices are:

  • Attach a kickstand to a bicycle to keep the bike upright. This solution takes the most garage space of all storage types. A kickstand is easiest for everyone, and often the only type a small child can use.
  • A horizontal floor stand holds the bicycle tire upright. Horizontal floor stands take up as much storage space as kickstands, without the convenience of having a kickstand when away from the garage. The horizontal floor stand is easy for small children to use, and is a good solution for bikes that do not have kickstands.
  • A vertical floor stand stores the bike so that the front tire is in the air, and the bottom tire is on the floor. This storage type saves garage floor space, and is only easy for bigger kids, not small ones.
  • A wall rack holds the bike on the wall. Depending on the design, the bike will be at a 90 deg., 45 deg. or 0 deg. angle from the wall. The closer to the wall the bike is, the more floor space you free up. Wall racks are only for older kids and adults.
  • A wall hook is the simplest of wall mounts. It usually comes with a screw head you hand-tighten into a wall stud. It saves space, as the bike is closer to the wall. A wall hook is not kid-friendly.
  • A hoist or pulley is a gear and rope allowing you to pull a bike from the floor into the air. This saves 100% of the floor space underneath. The hoist to the ceiling while the part you pull is near the ground. You tie it off once it lifts the bicycle, and untie it to let the bike down. The rider must secure the bike before lifting it, ensuring it does not fall on people or garage contents. The area under the bike must be open to allow the bike to come down to an accessible spot. Therefore, you save space, but you must free that space up for the bike when putting it away and taking it out.
  • An electric hoist or winch is a powered version of the hoist/pulley. It requires access to a 110 v. outlet. The rest of the hoist facts apply. It’s probably not kid-friendly, but it does save significant space.
  • An elevator lift is an automated platform attached to the ceiling that requires access to a 110 v. outlet. You put the bike on the platform and lift it toward the ceiling. The platform frees up floor space under the bike, but you need that space to access the bike when putting it away and taking it down. You must firmly secure the bike to the platform to avoid accidents.
  • A ceiling hook is the same as a wall hook, except you secure it into a ceiling joist. You save garage floor space but must be able to access the bike too. A ceiling hook is an awkward and potentially dangerous solution, but it’s also very cheap.
  • A bike cover frees the garage from the bike altogether. To store a bike under a cover, you still want a kickstand so the bike stays upright. Whether a child can maneuver a bike cover depends on the child’s abilities and the cover’s design. Bike covers can be thief magnets, so lock your bikes to the house.
  • A bicycle shed also frees the garage of the bike, but is a more permanent and solid structure. Bike sheds have doors, and these doors often accept locks. You need kickstands or horizontal floor stands to keep the bikes upright in the shed. Little children do very well with kickstands or floor stands in bike sheds.
This rack really does hold 8 bicycles.
This rack really does hold 8 bicycles.

Bicycle Kickstands and Floor Stands for Families

Floor storage includes kickstands and floor stands. The kickstand stores the bikes in the normal upright position. Floor stands store the bikes upright, with two tires on the floor, or vertically, with one tire on the floor and the other in the air.

Kickstands are the easiest solution for smaller children’s bikes. A kid who can ride a bike can also operate a kickstand. If you want your little ones to put their own bikes away, then kickstands are the best solution.

This kickstand adjusts to 12, 14, 16, 18 or 20 inches long.
This kickstand adjusts to 12, 14, 16, 18 or 20 inches long.

A horizontal floor stand can be more convenient than a kickstand. You put the front tire in the slot to hold the bike upright. This ends up taking more room than the kickstand solution.

Vertical floor stands hold bikes upright so that one tire is in the air and one is on the floor. Vertical floor stands end up taking up a little less room than kickstands. There needs to be enough room to get the bike out of the stand too.

Bicycle floor stand
Horizontal bicycle floor stand, all wheels are on the floor

Smaller kids need kickstands or horizontal floor stands. Bigger kids can handle vertical solutions that save garage floor space. Never expect a small child to lift a bicycle.

While tire size, disc brakes and fenders don’t affect kickstand solutions, they definitely can affect floor stand solutions. These depend on you putting the bicycle tire into a slot. That slot must be wide enough to handle the bike’s tire and extras, but not so wide that the bike falls to the side.

Vertical bike floor stand
Vertical bike floor stand

Kickstands and floor stands do not free up floor space. If you have little ones who can work only with horizontal storage, you might get a bike shed to gain back garage floor real estate. If you also have bigger kids, they might use wall or ceiling storage in the garage, or use the bike shed too.

If re-claiming garage floor space is not a goal, then put a kickstand on everyone’s bikes. It’s the most convenient solution for adults (aside from a floor stand). It’s the easiest for smaller kids to use. Kickstands are cost-effective. They come in handy when parking the bike away from the home.

Older kids can use kickstands, horizontal floor stands, cover storage and shed storage. They might do well with vertical floor stands, wall mounts, wall hooks, ceiling winches, ceiling hooks and electric platforms.

Bicycle Wall Mounts for Families

A wall mount or rack allows you to store the bicycle on the wall. Depending on the design, the bike will stick all the way into the room, partly into the room, or will be mostly flush to the wall. Also depending on the design, the bike will be horizontal or vertical to the floor.

Horizontal bicycle wall mount
Horizontal bicycle wall mount

To put a bike into a one-wheel mount, you pivot the bike onto its back tire and place the front tire into the mounting hardware.

Wall racks do help save garage floor space, but they also reduce convenience. The flatter the bike is against the wall, the more garage floor space it saves. Little kids cannot use wall mounts.

Vertical bike wall mount
Vertical bike wall mount

Bicycle Wall Hooks for Families

Bike hooks are simplified wall racks. A good bike hook is very strong and covered in vinyl to prevent scratching the bike. The hook has a screw at one end and a rounded opening hook at the other. A good bike hook has a wide enough hook to hold the bike frame or wheel.

Wall bike hook. Can also be used in the ceiling.
Wall bike hook. Can also be used in the ceiling.

A bike hook allows you to store a bicycle horizontally and flat against the wall. Use two parallel hooks for horizontal storage. The horizontal storage is the easiest to dismount. The flat storage takes the least amount of garage space.

Another option is to store the bike vertically, but this is harder to dismount. Be careful when storing a bike from a wheel as the weight of the bike can affect the wheel shape over time.

This bike hook is part of a storage track solution. The specialized hooks lock into the track.
This bike hook is part of a storage track solution. The specialized hooks lock into the track.

I’ve reviewed a number of bicycle hooks and found that many bike hooks have rubber issues. The rubber coating comes off after a few uses. Note that bike hooks aren’t a good solution for smaller kids. You have to lift the bikes onto the hooks. However, they do save garage floor space when bike hooks hang your bikes against the wall.

Bicycle Ceiling Hooks for Families

Ceiling hooks are the ceiling version of the bike hooks we discussed. They are rubber-coated, wide mouth hooks. The screw end goes into a joist. The mouth accepts a tire. The bike hangs vertically from the ceiling. Hooks don’t work on tall ceilings if the height makes it too hard to put away and retrieve the bike. It can be too hard to reach. Even with lower ceilings, it can be awkward to hook a bike over your head.

Ceiling hooks are not for kids. Ceiling hooks are good at saving garage floor space. The rubber-coated hooks are a cost-effective ceiling hook solution.

Bicycle Pulleys for Families

A pulley is a ceiling-mounted rope that you hook to the bike to lift it into the air. A bike pulley should have at least two hooks to attach to the bike, as one hook would allow the bike to swing in the air. The pulley works like a window shade on a string. You pull the rope to lift the bike, and allow the rope to go higher to lower the bike.

None of the manual bike pulleys I've analyzed are safe. NOT recommended
None of the manual bike pulleys I’ve analyzed are safe. NOT recommended

To mount a bike to a pulley, attach hooks to the seat and the handlebars. Each lift carries one bike. A good pulley is easy to use, cost-effective, and works for all bike sizes. You should not have issues with disk brakes, fenders or tire sizes when using a pulley solution.

However, a good pulley is almost impossible to find. You are much better off re-purposing a kayak pulley than buying a dedicated bike pulley. Bike pulley manufacturers have cheapened a good idea. All bike pulleys I reviewed had weak ropes. There are no bike pulleys in the product recommendations.

Although it’s a good concept, none of the manufacturers invest in their offers. Wide hooks are a common problem. The hooks don’t stay under the handlebars and bike seat. The hooks can’t hold the bikes in the air. Many customers report that ropes fray, or come loose from the pulley tracks. Putting bikes over your family’s heads should be safe. When a high-quality pulley comes out, I’ll let you know. Moreover, of course, pulleys are not good solution for little kids.

Motorized Bicycle Pulleys for Families

A motorized bike lift combines a ceiling winch and hooks. You mount the hooks onto the bike’s frame. The winch pulls the bike up to the ceiling.

Most winches modified into “bike lifts” are not worth buying. They have the same engineering and quality issues that the manual pulleys have. You are better off getting a good winch to hold your bike in the air.

I’m not recommending any bicycle-dedicated motorized lifts. In my opinion, manufacturers should OVER engineer ceiling storage solutions. I do like one winch in particular; you can read about it in the recommended bicycle storage solutions.

I couldn't find any worthwhile automated pulleys dedicated to lifting bikes. The idea is good but the execution is bad. To illustrate a good solution, this is a Harken pulley that hoists the top off a jeep.
I couldn’t find any worthwhile automated pulleys dedicated to lifting bikes. The idea is good but the execution is bad. To illustrate a good solution, this is a Harken pulley that hoists the top off a jeep.

Bicycle Elevators for Families

A garage elevator is a platform attached to a ceiling winch. You press the control to send it up and down. Consumer models plug into standard electrical outlets.

Many elevator lifts are too dangerous to recommend. I found only one brand worth considering when I first wrote this article, but I have removed it due to customer stories about it breaking. You can read more about the good, bad and ugly on the recommend bike solutions page.

You must secure the bike to the platform. As you can see, even a big platform might be too small for a bicycle.
You must secure the bike to the platform. As you can see, even a big platform might be too small for a bicycle.

Bicycle Covers for Families

Bike covers come in many sizes. Use kickstands to keep the bikes upright.
Bike covers come in many sizes. Use kickstands to keep the bikes upright.

A bike cover is a fabric designed to protect bicycles from rain, snow, and sun. A good cover is sturdy, durable and weatherproof. It should be UV coated.

This solution allows you to get the bicycles out of the garage and into the yard. Little kids might be able to use covers if the bikes are upright on floor stands or kickstands while under the cover. It will depend on the setup and the kid’s abilities. If you use a bike cover solution, you might have to put bikes away for the little ones.

Many bike covers have cable pass-throughs so you can lock the bikes and cover to the house. An outdoor bike cover might be an easy target for a thief. A locked bike cover isn’t as secure as a locked garage.

Outdoor bicycle cover.
Outdoor bicycle cover.

Bicycle Sheds for Families

I love bike sheds. I also love garden sheds, car sheds, and tree forts. Any place dedicated to storing specific items just delights the part of me that wants to be a truly organized human being.

7 ft. x 7 ft. polyresin shed
7 ft. x 7 ft. polyresin shed

A bike shed is secure, weather-protected, and frees up the garage floor where the bikes now sit. Bike sheds are a great solution to

Picture the bicycles in the shed. Will everyone have proper access?
Picture the bicycles in the shed. Will everyone have proper access?

storing the family’s bikes. Even little ones can use them so long as you get the right design. That means doors that open from the front rather than from up top.

You might find that the smaller children need a floor stand in the shed as well. The kickstand is still a good idea for when they’re parking their bikes away from home.

You might put a floor stand up front to hold the bikes upright.
You might put a floor stand up front to hold the bikes upright.

In a wider shed, use kickstands or a floor rack. Unless you are willing to pull the bikes from the back, you need to leave space next to the bikes. Imagine storing and removing the bikes in the space allowed. Will you feel crowded? Will you hit your ankle when trying to get your bike out? Will the children be comfortable getting their bikes in the space allotted?

Shed dimensions determine how many bikes the shed will hold. Tall, narrow sheds can get annoying to maneuver. No one ever said, “Gee I wish I had gotten a smaller shed.” Yes, they’re an investment, but they’re worth it.

We store our little boat and antique truck in a popup shed. If you go this route, think about security. Are the contents of the shed safe?
We store our little boat and antique truck in a popup shed. If you go this route, think about security. Are the contents of the shed safe?

Sheds make bikes accessible while protecting them from theft and weather. A large shed is like a garage. You just need kickstands or floor stands. However, for a smaller shed, only a taller shed with wall mounts makes sense. This will make everyone’s bike easy to unrack. Leave the little kids’ bikes on the floor using kickstands or floor stands.

I studied the features and comments on over twenty bike sheds, and settled on just one. Read more on the recommended bike storage solutions page.

People Also Ask

Is it OK to store a bike outside? Temperature changes can create condensation (water) on your bike, which can lead to rim rust. If you store your bike outside, check it often for moisture. Wipe it down until it’s completely dry.

How do I size a bicycle for my child or me? Bike Guider wrote an excellent tutorial you should read!

 

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