I never really looked into safely storing my bikes until I had multiple bikes, some of them quite expensive. That’s when you start thinking about not only how to store them but store them safely. If something goes wrong, the bikes get damaged or something, the cost of repairs really adds up when you have several of them. Thinking about all the possible ways to store a bike, a question arose. A question that many people ask is, is it bad to hang a bike by its wheel?
No, it is not unless you have fairing carbon wheels on a road bike, or your wheels aren’t trued with the proper spoke tension. Unlike the popular opinion, it isn’t bad for the hydraulic brakes, too, if properly bled.
Why Is It Important to Store a Bike Inside?
Winds carry salts and other minerals that cause corrosion. Even if you live thousands of miles far from the sea, there are still rock salts present in the air. All of those salts, together with humidity, will corrode some key parts of your bike, like derailleurs, cables, spokes, and so on. You can protect most parts with stuff like Muc Off Bike Protect and Muc Off MO-94, but eventually, the weather takes its toll.
I think I don’t need to stress how important protecting your bike from getting stolen is. It’s not the same in every part of the world or even a single country, but I know that bikes are getting stolen all the time around my area. You can have the best lock in the world, but no lock is safe in today’s world when you can learn how to unlock anything from Youtube. Having the ability to store your bike in a garage or even an apartment will have you sleep relaxed at night.
Tires and paint degrading
This depends a lot on how many sunny days there are. Sun rays will slowly brighten the pain and make rubber hard. Tires are made to be flexible, and once the rubber gets hard, it starts to break.
Things to Consider When Storing a Bike Inside
- Are you the homeowner?
Depending upon if you are the homeowner or not, there are plenty of different limitations and options for you to choose from. Some indoor solutions to store your bike depend on bolting hooks or stands into walls and ceilings. If the home isn’t yours, I would ask for permission from a landlord before drilling any holes in the walls. If any of those solutions aren’t available to you, I will mention some of the best alternative indoor bike storage solutions that do not require any drilling.
- Are you storing multiple bikes?
You may be alone in your home with only one bike, but it’s worth taking into consideration that you may add another bicycle to your collection in time. Maybe you have a friend who visits by bike and needs a place to store it. In my opinion, it’s always worth having one extra place for a bike if the only option to store it is indoors.
- Take into account the bike’s wheel size and weight.
Some bike racks and even some wall-mounted bike hooks won’t be able to take some oversized wheels and tires. Especially those plus size or fat tires, they take up a lot of space and need a bike rack with wide gaps or bigger hooks on the wall. Bike racks and hooks can carry a lot of weight, in fact, much more than any bike weighs. However, if you are mounting hooks on the wall or ceiling, you might want to check how tough those walls are. I’d suggest mounting hooks on a brick wall that can hold the weight of an e-bike. It’s safer even for lightweight bikes.
- How good is your indoor security?
Storing a bike inside doesn’t make it automatically secure. An expensive bike can make your home a good target for burglars if it’s visible from the outside. I would stray away from mounting bike racks or wall hooks near windows.
- How often would you need to clean your bike?
Storing a bike inside kind of depends on it being clean at all times. If we are talking about a mountain bike that you are often riding on trails, you may consider that you would have to clean it every time you want to bring it in. You can mitigate this by having an additional protection surface for a bike rack or a wall if it’s mounted on wall hooks.
7 Different Ways to Store a Bike Indoors
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- Gravity stands or free-standing racks These stands are a good option if you don’t have much floor space and don’t want to mount any hooks into walls. However, they do require quite a big empty wall surface. They are standing by themselves and keep the bikes in the air, so it’s a good option for not-so-clean bikes. There is a catch; after all, you need to be careful not to tip them over.
- Vertical wall hook mount – A vertical wall hook mount stores your bike vertically, with the front wheel being up and the rear wheel down. It’s my favorite mount to store multiple bikes because if you turn every other bike with the rear wheel up, you can really squeeze all the bikes together. Mounts will be closer to each other, and you can put a lot of bikes in a small amount of space.
- Horizontal wall hook/shelf mount – Visually, it’s a great option for an apartment but requires drilling into a wall. I like gravity stands a lot more since they do the same thing and can be moved at any time.
- Bicycles with kickstands Kickstands aren’t standard equipment on bicycles these days. I don’t know that they ever were. It depends more on the type of bicycle. Personally, I don’t like kickstands on sport bikes, only on city bikes. However, a kickstand can be a perfect cheap solution to keep the bike upright and bring it into an apartment or a garage.
- Ceiling hoist system A bike hanging from the ceiling is probably the most space-saving solution. Depending on how tall your ceilings are, you can install simple hooks or a hoist system. A hoist system will let you pull your bike up and down using pulleys. It is, however, a good idea to get the measurement of your ceiling height before buying.
- Classic bike rack A classic bike rack is something you can find in many places outdoors. Its simplicity is great because it’s very easy to store and take the bike each time you want. However, a drawback is that it takes a lot of floor space, especially if it’s for more than one bike. An advantage of having a classic bike rack is that you don’t need to bolt it to the floor, and you can take it outside at any time. A decent alternative for smaller spaces is a single bike floor rack.
- Bike Shelf – A bike shelf is different than what I mentioned above with a horizontal shelf mount. This is a complete shelf compartment with several storage areas for smaller stuff and one big part where a bicycle can be kept. I’ve seen this once, and my conclusion is that it looks amazing, but it’s high maintenance and probably has to be custom-made.
Is It Bad to Hang a Bike by Its Wheel?
There are still some people who believe that if you hang a bike by its wheel, you will damage the wheel. Dozens of experts said over the years that it’s completely safe, which in my experience, is true. I’ve been hanging bikes this way at home and at the bike shop where I work for years. However, I noticed some small issues which I want to talk about in detail.
Can the Rim Get Damaged When a Bike is Hung by Its Wheel?
I’ve seen claims that hanging a bike this way is bad because all the weight is on a single point of the rim. That is completely false. That would be correct if we didn’t have tensioned spokes. The sole purpose of spokes is to get rid of tension applied to the rim and transfer it all to the spokes. That’s why unless we hit the rim really, really hard, it’s always spokes that break before the rim does. And we are talking about forces that would equal 500 pounds of weight while the average bike is around 30 pounds.
Your average wheel, in normal circumstances, absolutely can’t be damaged by hanging the bike by its wheels. However, we can’t strictly claim that it can’t get damaged when there is one situation when it actually can, which I know from experience. There is also a wheel type that shouldn’t even be hung like this.
I had some old bike hanging which was due to be rebuilt with completely new parts. The wheel spokes were quite loose, and when I tried to true them back into alignment, I wasn’t able to do so properly. Then I realized the rim was actually bent out of shape by hanging for some time. So, the only way hanging a bike by its wheel can damage it is if the spoke tension is terribly low.
I’ve had other bikes with proper spoke tension hang like that for way longer than the bike it got damaged was, and they are completely fine. So unless your wheel spoke tension is bad, you have nothing to worry about.
When it comes to some unorthodox wheel types, there is a type of rim used in road bikes that must never be hung this way. We are talking about fairing carbon wheels. These are the wheels that are mostly aluminum but have those big rim profiles made out of thin carbon. You can check this by squeezing it. If it’s a fairing carbon, then it will bend, and it can get damaged by hanging a bike by its wheel. If it doesn’t bend, then it’s a one-piece rim with a thick carbon structure, and you have nothing to worry about.
Problems With Fork Lockout
There are occasional issues I encountered when taking a bike down from the hooks. One of those is fork lockout on some forks wouldn’t work for some time after being put back on the ground. I’m no expert on forks but an expert told me it’s because the oil moves in places where it shouldn’t. So that’s obviously a fault in the fork design. I’m guessing that’s the reason it never occurred on better forks, only cheaper ones.
Will Hydraulic Brakes Suffer If You Hang a Bike by Its Wheel Bad?
Hanging a bike in a vertical position shouldn’t affect the hydraulic brakes unless you squeeze the brake lever while in that position or the brakes are not properly bled in the first place. The air is distributed in the system so it can’t get to places that would cause the brake to stop working. However, when you squeeze the brake lever in this position, if there is no excess oil in the system, a bit of air can get sucked into the hydraulic hose. If this happens by any chance, just squeeze the brake lever a few times when you put the bike on the ground and it will pull the air back out and the brake will start working again.
Hanging a bike upside down isn’t dangerous for the hydraulic brakes as well, but if the previous scenario with squeezing the brake lever happens, it’s a bit more difficult to get it working again, and it may require bleeding the brakes.
Final Word on Whether to Hang a Bike By Its Wheel
I find hanging a bike by its wheel the best out of all options, especially if we are talking about more than two bikes. All the problems associated with a storage method in which you hang a bike by its wheel aren’t actually problems of the hanging itself. Meaning if anything bad happens, it’s actually because there was something wrong with the wheel or hydraulic brakes.
If your bike is properly serviced, you have absolutely nothing to worry about!