Bike storage can be a real problem for some cyclists, either because they live in a small apartment, or their bike collection has outgrown their home.
One solution to the bike storage conundrum is to hang bikes by their wheels, either on a wall or on a ceiling.
Making use of vertical space is a common way to solve storage problems, but with bicycles there’s always the worry that you’re placing undue stress on focused points of the wheel rims. Is it even okay to have a bike dangling vertically or upside-down?
These troubling things shall be examined in this article.
Does Hanging A Bike By The Wheel Damage It?
The short answer to this is no.
Many cyclists from casual cruisers to WorldTour pros have been hanging their bikes up this way for years. Consider, too, that many train services stow bikes by hanging them vertically via the wheels.
Do train operators care about your wheels? Probably not. Do they care about claims for damage? Probably. If vertical storage habitually caused damage, it would not be frequently found on public transport.
Having given the answer above, there are still some outstanding questions to address. Not all bikes are the same.
Video: How To Hang Bikes From The Ceiling
Can I Hang Carbon Wheels?
If you’ve spent over $1,000 on wheels, you might justifiably be nervous at the thought of them being hoisted up by a hook.
Most wheels are going to be okay supporting the weight of the bike, but you might want to improvise some padding with metal hooks or use a rubber-coated hook.
You’re better off avoiding hanging a bike by the wheels if they have aluminum rims with thin carbon fairings, which are added for aerodynamic effect. On some wheels, these fairings are on the flimsy side whereas structural carbon fiber is robust.
Hanging With Hydraulic Brakes
Hanging a bike with hydraulic brakes is fine ordinarily because the fluid is sealed in the system and cannot leak fluid or take in air. If the brake system is in poor condition, however, you may encounter problems when hanging a bike up.
Should I Hang A Bike From The Front Or Rear Wheel?
Consensus says you can hang a bike by its front or rear wheel and even alternate if you have multiple bikes.
Some people find it easier to hang a bike by the front wheel, but in doing that you do place sustained pressure on the headset and fork. This is alleviated if you can get the rear wheel resting on the floor
If you were going to err one way or another, hanging a bike by its rear wheel has less theoretical scope for causing wear.
Why Do Some Bike Hangers Hang By The Wheel?
Hanging bikes by the wheel is a common way to hang bikes. More so than by the frame. But why?
Intuitively, it’s easy to believe that wheels are more delicate items than bike frames. However, wheels are designed to withstand the bike’s weight and your weight combined as you bounce over all manner of bumps and debris on the trail or road.
The top tube of a frame, particularly some carbon frames, is relatively fragile and not designed to withstand clamping forces or undue stress. Think of a bike repair stand. There’s a reason why you’re meant to attach your bike by the seat post.
You can hang a bike by a frame provided you don’t apply excessive force to the top tube. Carbon top tubes that are not circular in circumference are particularly susceptible to edge damage by clamping. Hanging the frame without force is fine.
If you have multiple bikes to store, like a bike shop or a train, hanging bikes by the wheel is the only way to go. They can be closely grouped together in large numbers. It is also common to see this at the workplace, forcing commuters to hang by the wheel.
Read more: Commuter bike wheel guide
Hanging bikes flat against a wall by either frame or wheels makes a lot of sense in an apartment, where you wouldn’t want bikes to intrude on floor space.
Read more: Guide to bike wheel lights
Alternative Bike Storage Solutions
Below, you’ll find various bike storage solutions, each with their own pros and cons. Choosing the right one for you will hinge very much on your living space—the room you have available and the number of bikes you want to store.
Floor stands are a practical solution to bike storage, whether inside the home or in a garage. One appealing benefit is the lack of DIY required, particularly in homes with near-impenetrable walls.
Provided the bikes in question aren’t filthy, floor stands can even look quite arty in a modern apartment. The Delta Cycle Adjustable Floor Stand is one example of this kind of product.
- Easy to install without drilling and fixing
- No need to lean the bike (especially handy in decorated apartments)
- Easy to insert and remove the bike – no lifting required
- Not ideal if floor space is in short supply
Horizontal Wall Storage
Horizontal wall clamps or hooks are ideal if you only have one or two bikes, especially if you have no garage or shed to install them in.
The award-winning Hiplok AIRLOK Secure Bicycle Storage Hanger hangs your bike horizontally and locks it securely at the same time. No clamp is used, so it’s ideal for expensive carbon frames.
- Preserves valuable floor space by holding your bike flat against a wall
- Keeps the bike upright – no concern over hydraulic brake compatibility
- May incentivize you to clean your bike (!)
- Can be hard to install (check before buying)
Vertical Wall Storage
Hanging a bike vertically can be useful in busy environments such as shops or workshops, where wall space may be at more of a premium than floor space.
A popular example of this is the Topeak Swing-Up DX Bike Holder, which allows you to store your bike at an angle as well as vertically.
- Ideal if you have multiple bikes, as it takes up less wall space
- Installs into tight spaces
- Compatible with most wheel sizes (unlike some stands)
- Needs installing firmly into wall
- Might cause problems with hydraulic disc brakes
Video: Topeak Swing-Up Bike Holder
If you have a home with high ceilings or short occupants, ceiling storage may be an option for your bike(s). A bit like horizontal wall storage, this doesn’t intrude on your floor space.
- Doesn’t intrude at all on living space (or shouldn’t)
- Ideal for multiple bikes
- Various price points to suit different budgets
- Tricky to install for DIY non-enthusiasts
Metal Bike Sheds
For outdoor storage, metal bike sheds are an expensive but effective solution. You can bolster their built-in security with exterior measures like robust gate locks, PIR lights and CCTV.
An example of this type of product is the Hanover Backyard Bike Shed in the U.S. or the Asgard Access E Plus Bike Storage Unit in the U.K.
- Handy storage solution for homes with outdoor space
- Holds 2 to 4 bikes
- Built-in locking systems
- Can be time-consuming to assemble
- Outdoor storage is more vulnerable to theft (use deterrents alongside it)
We’re Not Going To Leave You Hangin’ – Conclusion
The right storage for your bike should leave you plenty of space to live in whilst also keeping your bike secure. It’ll give you peace of mind.
We hope this article answered some of your questions on this topic. Please feel free to leave comments, relate your own experiences or share.
A good bike-storage solution might even incentivize you to do more miles. The easier it is to grab your bike, hop on and go for a ride, the better!