We spent more than 30 hours researching dozens of indoor bike-storage stands for small homes and apartments. We assembled and tested the 10 most viable options, leaving our bikes at their mercy for days—and sometimes weeks—on end. Ultimately, we decided that for most people living in small spaces, the Delta Cycle Michelangelo Gravity Stand is the best way to store your bike indoors. The stand takes minimal effort and expertise to install, it’s lightweight and strong, and can accommodate one or two bikes of any variety—mountain, road, hybrid, and even step-through cruisers.
The Michelangelo was easier to assemble than all the other options we tested, requiring only a 4-millimeter Allen key, a drill, and a screwdriver. It’s also low-impact, requiring a grand total of one screw to attach it to the wall—and although the directions strongly recommend attaching the stand to the wall, many people we spoke to didn’t bother at all and never had any problems (mind your earthquakes!). Plus, its ladderlike frame is made of slender but tough steel tubing that keeps the stand from dominating your interior-decorating scheme.
The support arms that hold up the bikes on the Michelangelo are movable, allowing the stand to handle bikes with sloping top tubes or complex full-suspension frames. Repositioning the arms (don’t do this while a bike is on the rack!) is simply a matter of twisting them until they move freely—here, you’ll need no tools at all, which means that this rack is also easier than all the others to adjust once assembled. The Michelangelo even has a couple of extra hooks for accessories, so you have somewhere other than your handlebars to hang your helmet.
Hanging your bike vertically (that is, from its front wheel) lets you fit it in the wall space behind a door, or in a corner. Unlike some of the other vertical-storage options we tried, which require you to lift your bike well off the ground while simultaneously twisting its wheel to get it into a hook, the Steadyrack Classic Rack unfolds from the wall like an old-fashioned ironing board. To get your bike on this rack, you’ll simply tip it back on its rear wheel and roll it forward until the front wheel sits in the rack, which is wide enough to accommodate even mountain-bike tires. In fact, if the Michelangelo, our main pick, is out of stock, this is a nearly-as-good alternative.
If a gravity stand won’t work but you still want to hang your bike parallel to a wall, the Ibera Adjustable Bicycle Wall Hanger is your best bet. It’s highly customizable: You can change the height and width of the support arms via simple ratcheting mechanisms, and the arms are easy to lock into the right configuration. The rack itself is attached to the wall with telescoping tubes so you can also adjust how far it sticks out into the room—another handy feature for small spaces.
If your wall space is entirely occupied by windows, doors, bookcases, and artwork, the Feedback Sports Velo Column, which holds up to two bikes, is likely the best option for you. It can be wedged into place between the floor and ceiling. You don’t need to nail it or screw it into place, so it’s easily moveable if you decide to rearrange the furniture. This column is also solidly constructed, and the support arms can be adjusted easily to fit different kinds of bike frames.
Out of all the racks we tested, the Racor B-1R Solo Vertical Bike Rack was by far the simplest and cheapest option. The Solo is a wall-mounted hook from which you hang your bike by the front wheel. Many reviewers complained that they couldn’t fit bikes with wide wheels or knobby tires onto the C-shaped hook, though, which makes this rack a less practical solution for mountain bikes. However, it should work fine if you need a simple storage solution for a road bike.
For this review, I polled cyclists in San Francisco and New York City—places where bike infrastructure is expanding but individual living spaces are shrinking—about how they keep their bikes both safe and out of the way. I interviewed Chris Hodney, who works with Hacker Architects in Portland (another cycling-mad city) and has made a specialty of evaluating bicycle storage for apartments and office buildings. I read Eben Weiss’s latest book to see what the opinionated Bike Snob NYC (Weiss’s nom de guerre) had to say on the topic. I checked in with Lennard Zinn (a frame builder who literally wrote the book on bike repair), David Kendall at Calfee Design (this shop is the last resort for anyone with a busted-up carbon bike), and Ric Hjertberg at Wheel Fanatyk (where you can find anything you’d need to build wheels, from finely wrought spokes to well-tuned advice) to get their opinions on storage solutions—and to make sure that it is, in fact, okay to hang a bike by its front wheel, even if the rim is made of expensive and easily damaged carbon. (Think twice, though, if you have hydraulic brakes. More on those in a bit.) I also lurked on cycling forums, eavesdropped on conversations about storage, and combed through customer reviews on Amazon and other online retailers for the bike racks I’d heard about.
One of the selling points of my current apartment is the roomy, two-car garage that’s shared with a downstairs neighbor. But once my herd of bicycles started to grow a few years ago, I realized that I needed to install wall-mounted bike racks in the garage so that said neighbor could still get to her car without having to climb over wheels and frames. That was the beginning of my personal research into the topic of bike storage—research that resumed when I started working part-time in my local bike shop, a typically cramped space in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights. I’ve also worked as a magazine editor for nearly 25 years, and I’ve spent many, many hours reviewing commuter bikes and bike tools for the Sweethome.
Although there are half a dozen variations on the indoor bike-storage theme, good storage systems share a few key attributes: An indoor bike rack should be easy to assemble, with well-manufactured parts that fit together securely. It should be sturdy enough that you feel comfortable trusting your bike to it (and anything that your bike might fall on, too). It should be versatile enough to hold many different kinds of bikes. And the rack should also be as unobtrusive as possible, at least when the bike’s not hanging on it—you don’t want your roommate or partner bashing their head on the rack while you’re out for a ride.
Why are there so many different types of indoor bike racks? Ideally, your bike will occupy what might otherwise be wasted space, but that extra space will probably vary according to your living situation. “If you’ve got 12-foot ceilings, go high,” said one of my friends, a cyclist who’s also just renovated his house. “If your front door has two feet of space on the wall next to the hinges, buy a doorstop and hang your bike vertically behind the door.”
For this guide, we looked at all of the variations: wall hooks from which a bike hangs by its front wheel; racks that hold a bike or two horizontally by the top tube, or crossbar, parallel to a wall; and ceiling-mounted hook-and-pulley systems that let you haul the bike up out of the way. We did test one freestanding rack, but in the end, we couldn’t think of any small-space situations where a bike standing in the middle of the room would be helpful, so we didn’t include that variation.
The prices for our racks ranged from about $12 to $160. You can, of course, spend a lot more than $160, if you consider the rack to be as much decoration or sculpture as transportation accessory. Kickstarter, Etsy, Pinterest, and design blogs like Apartment Therapy, MakeSpace, TheCooList and TrendHunter are full of expensive bike racks and stands. Bear in mind, though, that though many of those options are beautiful, they are not always practical. (The elegant Knife & Saw Bike Shelf, which retails for $325, was designed for a bike with a traditionally slim, straight top tube. Many other bike frames won’t fit, or look good in it.) Also, a lot of the bike rack images I saw floating around in the blogosphere turned out to be failed Kickstarter projects or products that hadn’t survived the marketplace and were no longer available.
Along with consulting design blogs and experts, we pored through bike storage listings on Amazon and Overstock, as well as specialty online stores like Performance Bikes and Competitive Cyclist, and home-organization sites like the Container Store and Wayfair. I asked my cycling community for their opinions on the best options we’d found, and for any storage ideas we might have overlooked. I also went down every last aisle of the 2016 Interbike trade show, just to make sure we hadn’t missed any new products.
To start our comparative testing, we eliminated racks that were reported to have serious functionality problems. The colorful Cycloc Solo, for instance, looks great but holds bikes so close to the wall that handlebars wider than 23 inches won’t fit, even with the optional extender kit. Some racks also had conceptual problems: the Clug is meant to hold a bike balanced on its rear wheel by gripping the front tire—but this means you have to choose your Clug depending on whether you have a road bike, a cross or hybrid bike, or a mountain bike … or buy all three.
One pleasant surprise is that our bike experts agreed unanimously that hanging a bike by its front wheel won’t hurt the wheel. “I have been hanging innumerable bikes this way for decades,” Zinn told me, “and have yet to see any damage from it. It is certainly something I worried about long ago, but I’ve never seen any issue with it, and I’ve hung a lot of bikes up by their super-expensive carbon rims. I do make sure that the hook is not leaning against a spoke or a valve stem.” The only bike-storage warning we did get came from Zinn, who pointed out that if you hang a bike with hydraulic brakes upside down, an air bubble could find its way into the rear caliper, and the first time you try to brake, you won’t stop. “But if the brakes have been properly bled and have no leaks,” he added, “then pumping the brake lever a bunch of times should bring the brake function back.” Some of us have experienced this phenomenon with bikes that were hung vertically too, so if you decide to store your bike this way, make sure your brakes work before pedaling off!
Finally, we narrowed our list to the top two candidates in each type of rack—so-called gravity stands, which lean against a wall and hold a bike or two by their top tubes; compression columns, which work like a tension rod wedged between the floor and ceiling and can hold two bikes; wall hooks or vertical mounts, on which a bike hangs from its front wheel; and ceiling-mounted hooks. I called in samples and got to work installing them, serially, in my own apartment, and testing them with a range of bikes: road, hybrid, cyclocross, and full-suspension mountain bike.
Occasionally, a rack would come with a basic Allen key or flat open wrench (stamped out of metal, nothing fancy), but you should have a set of Allen wrenches, a socket wrench, a drill with a range of wood bits, and a hammer and nail (to start drill holes) on hand for assembly. Many Amazon users complained that the hardware included with most of these racks wasn’t up to par: The screws supplied weren’t long enough, the anchors pulled out of drywall too easily, and the threads were easy to strip accidentally. I didn’t have problems with any of the racks when I installed them, but if you’re dealing with drywall, you might want to stop at a hardware store and buy the sturdiest anchors you can find, plus a stud finder. A lot of these racks come with drywall or plaster anchors, but it’s always safer to screw the rack into a stud. And if your building has newfangled metal studs instead of wooden ones, that’s one very good reason to go with our top pick, the gravity stand.
Finally, before you commit to giving your bike pride of place over the couch or the dining room sideboard, consider what Portland architect Hodney had to say: “I have a very nice road bike, but I don’t really want it hanging in my living room. So many times my bike is soaking wet with rain and street oil, and I don’t want to haul it through my home. I know a lot of people feel the opposite—it’s almost as if they consider it a reflection of their individuality, like hanging a guitar on the wall.”
Despite the fact that there are many options—both for possible bike-rack locations in an apartment and types of racks—we believe that the Delta Cycle Michelangelo Gravity Stand is the best choice for most people who need to store one or two bikes in a small apartment. If you have one relatively unobstructed patch of wall that’s wide enough to fit a bike lengthwise (about six feet), this is the rack that you should go with. The stand is simple to set up, it is lightweight yet sturdy, and its arms can be adjusted and repositioned to suit any frame shape. It’s also very low-impact: According to the assembly directions, you have to drill only one hole in the wall.
At first glance, the main components of the stand look barely capable of supporting one bike, let alone two: The steel tubing is a little over an inch in diameter and you connect the segments with simple Allen bolts (a small Allen key is included). The arms aren’t attached with Allen bolts or screws or any hardware at all, though—you slide the twisty end of each arm onto the stand’s frame and once you’ve moved the arm to where you want it, the friction provided by a plastic sleeve and a rubber O-ring (which you snug up beneath the arm) ensures that the arm stays in place. The other end of the arm is flattened and covered in red rubber so your bike’s frame won’t slip or get scratched.
Despite the delicate-seeming tubing and the low-tech method of assembly, this stand is far sturdier than the other gravity stand we tested, the Racor PLB-2R. That bulkier steel bars that make up the PLB-2R don’t fit together securely at all, which makes the whole thing wobble alarmingly. The Michelangelo is also more forgiving than the PLB-2R: It doesn’t need to rest flush against the wall, but the PLB-2R does—which means something like a chair rail would make the PLB-2R unusable.
You can adjust the height of the arms on the Michelangelo when you’re assembling the rack, or after the fact. It’s not hard to figure out how to twist the arms off and on, just remember to reposition the O-ring under the base of the arm once you’re done. One arm can even be higher than the other, which means that you can rest a bike on the rack even if it has a sloping top tube or no top tube at all. The rack also comes with a pair of small accessory hooks that twist onto the rack’s tubing in the same way as the arms. I wouldn’t trust them with anything truly heavy (they tended to fall off whenever I lifted the rack to move it), but they’d be fine for a helmet or lock.
The whole process of setting up the stand took me about 20 minutes, and I wasn’t even giving it my full attention. (Westworld was on.) Doubtful that this design would work, I put the stand in my living room, loaded it with two 30-pound bikes, and left them there for nearly three months—and neither moved an inch.
One note: A notice on the outside of the box reads “Leans against the wall—no attachment required!” This is contradicted by the instructions inside, which insist that you attach the supplied “wall stabilizing chain” to the rack and to the wall to prevent the “accidental toppling of the rack.” (This is that one hole you’ll have to drill.) It’s definitely a good idea to follow those instructions, especially if you have kids or live in earthquake country. To be honest, though, I didn’t bother and never heard so much as a rattle. The rack’s splayed feet kept the combined bikes-and-rack’s center of gravity comfortably close to the wall, even when I tried pulling the top of the rack toward me. It wouldn’t be impossible to pull over, but you’d have to be doing so intentionally, not accidentally knocking into the rack.
Who else liked this stand? The question really is, who didn’t? Its average Amazon score was 4.5 stars (out of five) across 639 reviews, and it was the most recommended rack by far among the cyclists I surveyed.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
According to one very tall Amazon customer, if you ride a large bike (we’re talking 60 centimeters), you might not be able to fit two bikes of that size on this rack. His workaround was to pair one of his bikes with one of his wife’s much smaller bike on the rack. Also, those accessory hooks are easy to dislodge if you’re moving the rack around the room.
If you only have enough wall space to store a bike vertically—that is, not much more space than the width of your bike’s handlebars—your best bet is a wall-mounted rack that allows you to hang your bike from its front wheel, which, as our experts reminded us over and over again, will do your bike no harm whatsoever. Those delicate-looking spokes withstand a lot more tension and compression during even the briefest ride to the store than they do hanging on your wall.
Our pick for the best vertical rack for most people is the Steadyrack Classic Rack. In fact, if the Michelangelo, our main pick, is out of stock, this is a nearly-as-good alternative. Although it’s not as stylishly minimalist as the hook-type vertical racks we tested, the design is far superior. The rack essentially cups the bottom of the front tire, a design that has three major advantages: A wide range of tire sizes can fit into it; the rack swivels, so you can push the bike all the way to the wall to get it out of your way; and it takes very little strength or maneuvering to get the bike onto the rack.
If you can tip your bike back onto its rear wheel (picture a horse rearing), you can roll the front wheel into place. (Alternatively, with the hook-type racks, I had to lift my road bike uncomfortably high to snag the hook with the wheel’s rim. When I tried to hang a cross bike or a mountain bike on the hook, I had to twist the wheel and the whole bike sideways—while lifting them—to squeeze the knobbier tires in. This got tiresome quickly.) You can also fold the Steadyrack almost flat to the wall when you’re not using it, which is a major advantage for small apartments. If you are going to make use of the rack’s swivel-ability, definitely install the (included) rear-wheel stabilizer—it’ll keep the bike vertical and the rear wheel from sliding sideways.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
This rack is, without a doubt, more complicated to install than a hook—you have to lay the rack on the floor and line it up with your bike (which means you may need an assistant to hold the bike up) to figure out how far up on the wall you need to place the rack. It’s very easy to install the rack upside down by mistake—despite the “TOP” clearly marked on the end of the metal base. Also, the base has four fastener holes at each end, but it comes with only four screws. Finally, a bike with fenders won’t fit in the Classic Steadyrack; however, the company recently introduced a slightly more expensive fender-friendly version, as well as a fat-tire version, to address those situations.
A ratcheting mechanism allows you to move the arms when you need to and then lock them into place, which makes this rack particularly good if you’re sharing it with other people or using it for multiple bikes. And the telescoping “hanger beam” (the metal tube that attaches the rack to the wall) lets you vary how far the rack sticks out from the wall. The minimum is 8.5 inches and the maximum is 12 inches, which when you add in the width of the rack itself allows enough room for all but the very widest of mountain-bike handlebars.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
The rack looks complicated, but it’s not difficult to assemble or install—although the directions mistakenly call for a 4-millimeter Allen wrench and you’ll really need a 3-millimeter one. I had no problems with the rack, which I installed in a wooden wall, but some reviewers on Amazon reported that the drywall anchor screws that came with the rack were too short. Also, a few people who used the Ibera for their road bikes mentioned that it didn’t sit as close to the wall as they wanted—there was still a two-inch gap between the handlebars and the wall.
Like the other compression column we tested (Gear Up’s BUA Floor to Ceiling), the Velo Column’s bike-holding arms attach to little plates that slide into channels on either side of the aluminum column. When assembling, you screw the arm’s base and the plate together, and tighten the screws until the arm won’t move. Unlike Gear Up’s column, though, the Velo Column’s sliding plate has little hooks that clasp the base of each arm, so the plate won’t slip down the inside of the channel if you happen to let go of it while you’re juggling the arm, screws and screwdriver during assembly.
This pole also feels more solid than the competition because it’s manufactured as one main piece, with an insert at the top that you can use to adjust the column’s length from 84¾ inches to 121 inches. One other advantage of the Velo is that the top of the column is spring-loaded, so it compresses as you push the column into position and then expands to wedge itself in.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
The instructions included in the box make assembling the column look a lot harder than it is. The physical task took me maybe half an hour—this time, though, I wasn’t multitasking.
Unlike some of the other vertical-hanging hooks available, the Racor includes a cover for the screws you use to attach the hook to a stud. (Some reviewers of other hooks blamed such screws for damaging their bikes’ tires.) When I used the hook to store a relatively lightweight bike with skinny wheels and tires—23 millimeters, that is—I was able to slide the wheel and tire onto the hook easily enough.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
I had trouble holding a relatively heavy mountain bike as high as I needed to for the amount of time it took to maneuver it onto the hook. And although the Racor website says that the hook will work with tires up to 2.35 inches, my 2.1-inch tire was a tight squeeze. If you need an inexpensive way to hang your road or hybrid bike in a corner or behind a door, this hook is a decent option. But if you can afford (in terms of money or space) any of our other picks, go with one of those.
You’re not likely to find yourself in a situation where a hoist, or ropes-and-pulleys system, is the best storage option for your bike. Most of these systems are relatively expensive and harder to install. Plus, hoists are most helpful if you have really high ceilings. For these reasons, we didn’t include a hoist option in our picks—however, if you do find yourself in search of this type of storage, we recommend the Up and Away Deluxe Hoist System from Gear Up.
With a hooks-and-pulleys system like the Up and Away, you install the two ceiling mounts roughly the same distance apart as your handlebars and saddle. Then, one pair of prongs holds the handlebars on either side of the stem and the other pair hooks into the bottom of the saddle. The Up and Away was the best of the hoists we tested because it has a dual-rope design: One rope supports the front of the bike and a separate rope supports the rear, making lifting and lowering the bike easier and keeping the bike level. This also slows the inevitable wear on each rope. The two other ceiling-mounted bike hoists we tested—the Racor Bike Lift and the Rad Easy Bike Lift—had only one rope each, not two, which means bikes won’t stay level while you’re raising them. Also, one consistent complaint by Amazon reviewers about both of these models was that the angle of the hooks’ prongs didn’t grasp their bikes securely enough and they sometimes slipped off. Not good.
The other gravity stand we tested, the Racor Gravity Stand PLB-2R had an “angled section” bar that didn’t fit into the curved base properly, which meant the whole thing wobbled from side to side, with or without a bike. The top section didn’t fit snugly into the “angled section” bar either, leaving a big gap. And unlike the Michelangelo, the Racor must be positioned flush against the wall, which means your wall has to be smooth (no chair rails, for instance). After I’d finished assembling the Racor, the very top of the rack had about six inches of play from left to right, and when I put a bike on the lower pair of support arms, the whole thing tilted forward, away from the wall. I didn’t dare try to hang a second bike on the upper pair of arms. To top it all off, the rubber pads on the hooks at the end of each support arm (they’re meant to cover the screws connecting the hooks to the arms, so they don’t scratch your bike frame) don’t fit properly and fall out almost immediately.
The Delta Cycle Leonardo Single-Bike Storage Rack/Hook is similar in price and concept to the Racor B-1R Solo Vertical Bike Rack, but it’s less well-executed. Although the documentation says the hook will work with tires of up to 2½ inches, dozens of Amazon reviewers reported being unable to use it with anything larger than a 2-inch tire or with deep rims. I found that I could get my mountain bike, which has a 2.1-inch front tire, onto the rack—but I wouldn’t want to do it every time I came back from a ride. Also, the screws on this rack aren’t countersunk, which a few reviewers noted with worry—your bike’s front tire could, in theory, rub against them and become damaged.
The other horizontal single-bike rack we tested, the Feedback Sports Velo Wall Rack, is adjustable. But with this rack—unlike the Ibera—you’ll need tools to do that adjusting. Also, it’s not great for smaller bikes, as the arms don’t adjust side to side—they can only be moved up and down. This brings me to the most perplexing flaw in this rack’s design: As with the Feedback Sports Velo Column, the arms are attached to the base via a channel-and-sliding-rear-plate setup. However, these rear plates lack the hooks on the top and bottom that make the Velo Column such a joy to assemble. It’s very hard to hold the plate in place while you’re holding the arm in place and screwing the two together.
Once assembled and set up, the Gear Up BUA Floor To Ceiling works fine—I’ve lived with one for about 10 years—but it was a bear to put together. As with the Velo Column, you screw the support arms to plates that slide up and down inside channels on either side of the main aluminum pillar. Unlike the plates in the Velo Column, though, these don’t have those helpful little hooks. The BUA also has two feet at the bottom that can be screwed up and down to fine-tune the stand’s fit. They work okay, but not as well as the Velo Column’s spring-loaded system. Finally, the BUA’s main aluminum pillar comes in two pieces (plus an extendable top section) that you screw together, so the whole thing feels less solid than the one-piece (plus extendable top section) Velo Column.