Bikes are a great form of transportation for fun and fitness, but can be difficult to store- especially for families.
As a family of four, we have multiple bikes and in the winter we need the garage space for our car so bikes must find a new home.
We have an external bulkhead on the house which gives us good access to the basement. However in the winter, this gets closed off outside and is covered by snow. Inside it is closed off to prevent heat loss. The space inside the bulkhead is empty space which was wasted. It's cold storage with steps so is a difficult space to use.
However this space works great for bicycles.
This quick an easy tutorial will show you how to quickly convert your bulkhead into storage for up to 4 bicycles. Total project time is between 1-2hrs.
For this project you'll need
- Sewing machine / needles and thread
- Knife / scissors
- Pipe cutter (optional)
- Lighter/ matches for singing (optional)
- Brass or Iron Bar/ Pipe
- Carabiners (= number of bikes)
- 1/4" Rope
- 1" canvas webbing/ strap (18"-20" per bike)
- Ladder locks or back pack clips
Please note, many of the pictures in this tutorial have the bulkhead open when hanging the bikes, this is for the purposes of lighting only. You should close and lock the bulkhead prior to hanging the bikes because once you have a few hung, you will have great difficulty reaching the locks.
Step 1: Bulkhead Rack Prep
To get your bulkhead ready for your bikes, you'll install the bar and add some loops.
Measure the width of your bulkhead at the top of each side. This is the width of the top of the wall inside the metal doors or enclosure.
I used brass pipe which I salvaged when swapping out some water pipes. You can get iron or other pipe at the hardware store which I suspect would work just as well.
Using your pipe cutter cut your bar to this length or have it cut to length at the store.
Set the bar on top of the wall and it should span the width with very little play side to side. You want the bar as tight as possible in this space so that it doesn't slide to one side and fall.
Take 24 inches of rope and make a loop, knotting the two ends together
Make one loop for each of bikes you have
Slide onto one end of your pipe and put pipe back in place.
Step 2: Bike Straps
The bike straps can be made in a couple ways. Ultimately, it's a loop with a clip. I went a little more complex as I use these every year, but if you're unsure, you could go simple to start.
You can do the hanging strap in a few different ways, from just another loop of rope tied around the bike to what I describe below. If you don't want to sew, you can also buy already assembled backpacking straps.
Rather than a straight loop with a clip, I add another loop specifically for the carabiner so that it won't slide as I tightened the strap with one hand.
Regardless of using a ladder lock or backpack clip the process is the same.
Cut: Cut 36-48" of webbing off your roll.(You can always tighten the strap if it's too long, but you're out of luck if it's too short).
Put one end of the webbing through the first loop in your lock or buckle going from top to bottom. Pull through 3 inches and lay flat against the strap
Stitch: You're going to make 2 stitches, one next to the buckle or lock and another at the other end of the piece you pulled through. This will leave a small slot between your stitches to put your carabiner.
The Benefit: By doing this, when you hang the bike, you can hold the bike weight with one hand and tighten the strap with your other without the strap sliding through the caribiner (see the gif on the next step). It's a little more work, but worth doing. I also go top to bottom to create the smaller loop (for the carabiner) so that the larger outside loop is holding the weight of the bike, not your stitching.
Add Caribiner: Whether you added this little loop or not, clip your caribiner to the strap now.
Step 3: Put It Together
Put your bikes inside the basement and close and lock the bulkhead door. After you hang the bikes, it'll be very difficult to reach the latches inside the bulkhead.
Put strap on bike
Put the strap around the top tube and slide towards the head tube by the handlebars.
Clip to Pipe
Starting with your largest bike, lift the bike with one hand while holding the carabiner. Clip carabiner to the rope hanging from your pipe.See gif
When you put on your first bike, you'll likely have to move both the pipe and the strap to get the bike to fit inside the bulkhead properly. Move the pipe forward (away from the basement) and tighten the strap until the bike sits completely inside the bulkhead. Some of the weight of the bike will be sitting on the stairs of the bulkhead.
Once adjusted, slide the bike to one side of the bulkhead.
Add the straps and hang the rest of your bikes.
Step 4: Wrap-up / Notes
So there you have it, the bikes are in and you can close up the bulkhead for the winter. The bikes are out of the way and the bulkhead is now being used.
- Do this the last thing before you close up the bulkhead before winter because you won't be able to get in or out easily after they're hung.
- If you're using synthetic webbing or rope, you'll want to singe the end of them to prevent fraying. Do this only after you've constructed your straps though, otherwise it may not fit through your clips.
- Put the heaviest bikes on the outside of your pipe, towards the walls. This will help reduce the chance of the pipe bending.
- Ladder lock v. backpack clip: It's really a matter of choice. Ladder locks are cheaper than clips. Both work fine as long as they don't let the strap slide when pulled taught (you'll want to test them before hand- some of mine didn't hold).
Enjoy your winter!