By Jim Langley
My friend John bought a new house recently and asked for bike storage advice. The new place has a two-car garage with a wall he can devote to bike-hanging. So it’s a relatively easy project. I get asked this question a lot, so I thought I’d share the basic plans.
First, understand that there are as many ways to store bikes as there are home and garage floor plans. The important thing is to find a way to keep your nice road bikes inside and out of the weather or else they’ll age fast. I also recommend locking them even when they’re hanging in your garage or storage area. Bike theft is on the rise.
Also, don’t miss our complete guide to other indoor bicycle storage options!
The amazing “bike hook”
An inexpensive, highly versatile and easy-to-use bike-hanging device is the bike hook. The photo shows the two commonly available types of bike hooks. The ones I prefer and buy at The Home Depot for about $3 each, are the oversized ones on the left in the photo. They’re taller, wider and more thickly coated than the smaller ones available at almost all hardware stores for about $2 each (the hook on the right). Both support any bicycle easily.
These hooks can be screwed into anything that will hold the weight of a bicycle. You can hang a bike from its front or rear wheel on one hook. Or hang a bicycle upside down from both wheels with two hooks.
The rubber coating on the hooks prevents any damage to your wheels, whether the rims are steel, aluminum or carbon. However, if there are stickers on the rims – even a maker’s logo decal – it’s best not to rest the decal on the hook. The weight of the bike can scrunch or tear some decals. But it won’t hurt the wheels otherwise.
Tip: If you’re interested in something more advanced than the simple bike hook – for example, a hanger that lets you swing your bikes almost flat against the wall – a company with many versatile options is Delta Cycle.
Locating the hooks
To hang bikes on walls with typical 16-inch spaced 2 x 4 lumber framing, all you do is screw the hooks into the 2 x 4 studs. You want the hooks high enough so that the wheel hanging down doesn’t touch the ground. But you don’t want the hooks so high that it’s hard for you to stand the bike up and lift its top wheel onto the hook. Placing the bottom of the hooks about 70 inches (178 cm) above the floor works well.
Experiment with one hook to find out the best height for you and then mark that height on the wall at the stud location for each bike hook. To finish the job, simply drill holes for your hooks and screw them into the studs. With the hooks spaced 16 inches apart, you’ll invert every other bike to use every hook. In other words, the first bike will be handlebars up, the next bars down, and so on.
If you don’t have a stud wall
If it’s hard to find or access the studs in your wall to screw the hooks into – or you don’t have a stud wall – you can usually put up a hook board. This is a piece of 2 x 4 lumber (or any piece thick enough to screw the hooks into and long enough for the number of bikes you plan to hang).
You screw the bike hooks to this piece of lumber. Since you’re not forced to follow the stud spacing, you can use narrower spacing and perhaps fit one more bike. Use 14 inches (36 cm) between hooks. Once the hooks are in place, simply attach the hook board to the wall at the preferred height, and you’re good to go.
Protecting the wall
Whether you screwed the hooks into studs or put up a hook board, once your bike hangers are in place, you might want to protect the wall from tire scuff marks since the bottom wheels will rest against it. For this, you can place a second 2 x 4 across the wall at the right height and the tires will rest on it instead of the wall.
Using the rafters or joists
Another way to hang bikes is by placing hooks or a hook board overhead. That might be easier than dealing with a cement wall or another wall not easy to screw hooks into or attach things to.
It’s the same design as the wall hook board, only it’s screwed into the ceiling framing. Be sure the board is mounted parallel to the wall, with the hooks about 15 inches (38 cm) away from the wall. If the hooks are too far away from the wall you can end up with the rear wheel not reaching the wall and that can let bikes swing around and bump into each other.
Hanging by both wheels
In my two-car garage I have exposed framing overhead; however, there isn’t enough room to park cars and hang bikes above them. To solve this problem, I screwed four 2 x 4 upright posts to the rafters 8 feet apart. I then made two 8-foot 2 x 4 hook boards. I attached the hook boards on top of the uprights with the hooks facing down. This gave a place to hang the bikes upside down overhead just barely clearing the car roof. The two boards with the hooks are placed 40 inches (102 cm) apart, which places the hooks in the center of the inverted bicycles’ front and rear wheels.
If you build bike hangers like this, first try lifting bikes to the height of the hooks to make sure you can do it. You have to be able to hold the bike overhead long enough to get at least one wheel on a hook and then push the other one in place. If this is hard to do, don’t use this type of bike rack or you could drop a bike and hurt yourself, the bike or the car.
Clean the bike before storing it
When bikes are stored by hanging them, it’s not unheard of for sweat left uncleaned to “roll down” tubes and cables and gunk up the works. If sweat gets into a cable housing, for instance, it can corrode the cable and seriously affect braking or shifting performance. Plus, it’s extremely hard to figure out as the source of the problem.
So, if you choose to hang your bike(s), wipe them down or clean them thoroughly after sweaty rides – before storage. This will help keep your bikes running smoothly, and be ready to roll next time out.
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.