Introduction: Bike Rack / Bike Storage for the Home or Apartment

Picture of Bike Rack / Bike Storage for the Home or Apartment

On a typical morning - after a bowl of oats and a cup of green tea - I head out the door and bike to work.  Well, I try to head for the door.  Usually I'll get to about spitting distance before stumbling over a Specialized or a Giant.  I'll move those to the side and get about 2 more steps.  Then i'll be in the thick of it.  To my left is the formidable fortress of Fuji's.  To my right - the towering tangle of Trek.  Dead ahead - stupendous snarl of Surly.  And underfoot - you guessed it - Univega.  After about 10 minutes of snagged up pedals, chains and spokes i've got my ride out.  whew!  Then I enjoy a peaceful ride to work.  Of course when I get home later and open the front door i'm met by a rickety roadblock of Raleigh's.   grr.  Of course we tried keeping the bikes in other places - the garage, the backyard in the summer, on the porch.  But that was just moving the problem from one department to another.  Things were getting ridiculous!  If you're like me you've got 11 bikes.  And your housemate has 6.  And your other housemate has 3.  And that girl couchsurfing is fixing up 2.  Well, luckily enough for you the 2009 Momentum Reader Survey says only 20% of you are like me (5 or more bikes).  Which is good, because if you've got 22 bikes in your house you'd best just start worshipping the golden chainring - not much else is going to save you.  But back to the other 80% of you with less than 5 bikes apiece.  You've got some hope. 

So I set about to thinking - maybe I can make some kind of storage rack for these things?  My engineering instinct kicked in.  What's the most compact way to store bikes anyway?  Probably an atomic compactor.  Oh wait, we still need to use those bikes again.  Eventually I devised a 2-level hanging rack.  It's easy to build with a minimum of tools, and stores almost twice as many bikes in the same space as a standard single-level hanging rack.  The bikes are still easy to get in and out, and this rack can work in a garage, foyer, porch, or yard.  You just need a wall or some posts.

The rack system shown is very easy and inexpensive to build, and i believe it is the most compact, tangle-free storage possible for 4 or more bikes. for 2-3 bikes its still a good rack but will use about the same space as some other options.

This article is brought to you by MonkeyLectric and Momentum magazine.  

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need
First - Measure the width of the wall you plan to use.  You need 1 foot (300mm) per bike, plus another 1 foot (300mm).  So, 4 bikes will need 5 feet (1.5 meters) at the widest point (for those keeping score - i challenge you to find a more efficient and easy to build storage system!)  If you only have road bikes with narrow handlebars you can get away with a little less - maybe 11 inches (270mm) per bike.  Once you've figured out how long the rack will be, you need 2 pieces of wood (2x4's) of that length.  The big home improvement stores often can cut the wood to length for you, or cut it yourself if you have a saw.
  • two wood two-by-fours as long as your rack will be
  • drill
  • saw if you need to cut the 2x4's
  • wood screws between 3.5" and 4" long (8 to 10cm)
  • large metal screw-in hooks (available from most home improvement stores - the ones i found were helpfully called "bike hooks")
  • plastic tubing that will fit over the metal hooks (i used 7/16" tubing with 5/16" ID (8mm)).  or some old innertubes.
  • tape measure
  • pencil
  • stud sensor (or you can make one by hanging a magnet from a piece of string)
  • optional - thick plastic or thin plywood sheet the full size of the rack (width and height) if you want to protect the wall from tire marks

Step 2: Dimensions Are the Key

Picture of Dimensions Are the Key

OK.  this whole setup is totally simple.  The only trick to the double-level rack is to get the correct spacing of the bikes both horizontally and vertically.

- In order to not have the bottom row of bikes flop all around the rear wheel MUST be off the ground.

- The bottom row of hooks should be 65" (1.65m) off the ground. 

- The top row of hooks should be 14" (350mm) higher than the bottom row - this keeps the handlebars and cranks of the top row clear of the bottom row.

- spacing between hooks at the same level: 24 inches (600mm).  This gives you 11 or 12-inch overall bike spacing.

- you can reduce the spacing a little, the more you reduce the more tangling you will have trying to get the bikes in and out. at 24-inches the handlebars on mountain-bikes will be just next to each other. if you only have road-bikes you can do 22 inch spacing.

Step 3: Just in Case You Are Worried About Your Rims

Picture of Just in Case You Are Worried About Your Rims
I've gotten a couple of emails since i posted this project from people that were concerned about damaging their bike rims.  There are 2 potential concerns:

(1) Using a metal hook could scrape up your fancy aluminum rim.  As shown in the project, I recommend covering your hooks in vinyl tubing or innertube wrap, this will create a thick and tough rubberized surface to protect the rim

(2) Too much leverage on the hook will deform the rim itself.  This is not possible if you use metal hooks that extend at least 4" from the wall, like in all the project photos.  The only way you could risk deformation is by using a much smaller metal hook, however a hook small enough to deform your rim would also make hooking the bike on and off the wall very difficult in the first place.

Here's the math on this just in case you are not convinced:

(2a) how strong is your rim?  very strong!  it is designed to handle at least a 200 lbs person riding over the edge of a curb or pothole.  at very slow riding speed you could estimate that the contact area of a pothole corner is similar to the hook we are using.  fortunately, when you bike is hanging from the rack it is only supporting itself (25 lbs), and not 200 lbs.  and your rim can handle that pothole at speed too...

(2b) how much leverage do we have?  as shown in the photo, the weight of the bike "X" is pulling down at the hub.  this sets up a torque around point A.  if i recall my high school physics properly this means:
  • torque = force x distance
  • since there is no motion, there must be equal and opposite torques applied around A
So, the force at the hook Y = (L1 / L2) * X

(2c)  the hook point B is about 5" from the wall.  this sets the distance L2 nearly as long as L1.  that means the force at Y is only slightly more than the weight of the bike.  no chance of deforming your rim!

(2d)  lets say you used a really small hook that only extended 2" from the wall and hooked at point C.  first off, it would be fairly tricky to even get your bike on and off this hook.  but, you do get a leverage ratio of perhaps 5:1.  even that is not likely to be able to deform the rim from the bike weight alone.  perhaps then your buddy is drinking some beers while you are cleaning up from a long ride, and he stumbles, flails about and catches his entire drunken weight on the hanging bike!  now you've got 200 lbs at a 5:1 leverage.  based on some unrelated experience trying to hang a large sculpture from my ceiling, if you used the same 1/4" steel hooks that i did you still won't bend your rims, instead the hook is going to un-bend until the bike unhooks itself and falls off.  if you did happen to use some industrial grade hooks here, and they don't rip out of the wall - then perhaps your rim is toast.

Step 4: Find Your Studs and Measure Them

Picture of Find Your Studs and Measure Them

In a house or garage your rack needs to have firm support - it needs to be screwed into the "studs" (the vertical frame timbers of the house).  You can use a stud sensor or a magnet hanging from a string to find these.  Measure up from the floor  and mark the spots you will attach the two pieces of wood for the rack - each end of each piece should be screwed into a stud.

Step 5: Drill the Wood and Screw It On

Picture of Drill the Wood and Screw It On

Find a drill bit a little less than the diameter of the screws you are using (try to match the screw 'body' with the drill bit).  We'll use this to make a 'pilot hole' into the wood - the screws go in easier and they won't split the wood.  Have a friend hold the first piece of your rack onto the wall in the correct spot.  At each stud, drill two pilot holes through the rack and into the wall.  Remove the rack and drill the holes in the wall deeper in.  Next hold your rack back onto the wall and screw in the wood screws all the way.  You need to attach the wood to 2 different studs so it doesn't tip or rip out.

Step 6: Prepare the Hooks

Picture of Prepare the Hooks

Once you've got both of the wood pieces firmly secured, its time to add the hooks that hold the bikes.  All the home improvement stores around here seem to stock the identical "bike hook" - its a large metal hook with a thin rubbery coating.  The hook part is fine but I always find that the rubbery coating gets ripped up after a short time.  You don't want a bare metal hook scraping up your rims, so here's an easy way to fix it:  you can wrap the hook with an old innertube, or you can get some flexible plastic tubing at your home improvement store - just remove the crappy coating and slip the plastic tubing over the metal hook.

Step 7: Put in the Hooks

Picture of Put in the Hooks

Now drill pilot holes for your hooks into the rack.  On the bottom row, space the hooks 2 feet (600mm) apart.  On the top row, offset by 1 foot (300mm), and again put the hooks 2 feet (600mm) apart.

Step 8: You're Done!

Picture of You're Done!

and your mess of bikes is history.  Note that your bike tires will leave some marks on the wall - if you want to keep things "nice" i'd recommend putting a thin sheet of plywood across the whole wall before attaching the rack.


JamesG359 made it! (author)2017-01-24

Thanks for the inspiration, the 300mm spacing works a treat, already planning on expanding it to hang another 3 bikes.

Silverwraith made it! (author)2016-09-10

how could you not leave room for expansion!?
Thank you for the simple and, I think, relatively elegant design. I really needed the space in my garage. Lowes had some bike hangers with relatively low tire clearance. I had to trim the hooks and re glue the rubber that was pre applied to the hooks.

jimmychion made it! (author)2016-07-30

thanks for the inspiration and dimension suggestions

alan0493 (author)2016-06-19

i run a bike library ,part of the get yorkshire biking campaign ,and this is ideal for storing our 40+ cycles ,ive trawled the internet for hours till i found it ,have all the supplies and starting the build tomorrow. will post pics when done.

thank you

BicycleBlueBook (author)2016-06-13

We use something very similar to this in one of our shops! We use different hooks to signify different characteristics (special accessories, etc.) about our used bicycle for quick reference. It helps us see the bike value, easily.

chrisman13 made it! (author)2016-03-13

This saved me at least a hundred bucks. I bought a 12' 2x4 at lowes for $4.42, and had them cut it into a 5' and 7' sections. picked up a box of #10 3 3/4" screws for 5.87.I got red bicycle hooks at Wal-Mart for $0.87 a piece, and a black "heavy duty" hook for my 27.5 for $1.87 all of this for a total of $17.18 including the screws.

CameronRobertson (author)2016-02-21

I have always been storing my bikes in the kitchen as the garage is full of other things. At times, it could get inconvenient as the bikes are often toppled over in the midst of working around the kitchen. Hence, in my mission of maximizing storage space in the kitchen, I am building this wall rack for the bikes next to the refrigerator to at least secure the bikes safely.

cphorvath made it! (author)2016-01-25

Came out great, my housemate loves the extra space in the garage now too! I also sealed off the open area at the same time with some polycarbonate sheeting into the wooden beam and brick. Thanks for the great guide!

KirbyK (author)2016-01-17

Thanks for the guide! Our 4 bikes & 4 kick scooters are off the floor (and my wife is off my back! ;P)

sawboman made it! (author)2016-01-10

Thanks for the guide. I had the space so went all along one row

chucspe made it! (author)2015-10-04

Brilliant because of the simplicity.

MarkSindone (author)2015-09-11

This looks like a simple and easy storage rack to put up for bikes! Now to figure out how to finetune the idea and make it so that the bikes are a lot more compact together…

Batmaniak (author)2015-05-05

I did the same thing, but had to have 7 bikes in a tighter space. I found alternating bars up, bars down allowed the bikes to be place closer together. Nice work!

stuocs (author)2015-04-15

Great project! I will have to consider this to store my family's 7 bikes. The only issue is that I will have to somehow adapt it for a concrete wall deal and consider the implications of having it installed in a narrow storage room. Do you find you need lots of space behind you to take the bikes on and off the wall?

EricB12 (author)2015-02-12

That looks like a great storage solution for bicycles in the room. I have a similar setup in my home, the only difference is, mine was fashioned from an old storage rack I purchased a few years ago. I removed the middle shelves and replaced them with a bike rack accessory that I purchased from our local hardware store, the same place i purchased the shelves.

Eric |

SamS7 (author)2014-11-24

Cool idea. Thanks.

ccot (author)2014-08-28

Thanks for the instructions. Super easy, and great results!

SirBikes-a-Lot made it! (author)2014-02-17

I got some reclaimed wood and mounted two 64" 2x8 planks with bike hooks spaced 14" apart in a staggered pattern. The planks were anchored into 4 studs, so it's pretty solid. Thanks for the great instructions!

Nemesis201077 (author)2013-09-22

Just found this as I need a storage solution for our growing bike collection. I have an MTB and roadie, my two flatmates have roadies too. Having 4 hand vertically in my utility seems an excellent Idea. I may cut some PVC waste pipe in half and fit this to the walls where the front and rear tyres would sit to protect the wall and keep the bikes inline.

shika805 (author)2013-07-13


shika805 (author)2013-07-13

The designed worked great in my little corner of my garage. I was able to fit 4 bikes in the area I had. Thanks! The only thing that I did different was I placed a foam around the hook to have extra cushioning for my wheels, I didnt want them to be scuffed or scratched. Great write up! measurements were perfect!

luckyduc (author)2013-07-12


jshin4 (author)2013-06-14

Do you have any suggestions for a lockable version of this vertical bike rack? I'd like to build one on our covered porch, however theft is of a concern.

embochner (author)2013-05-10

Do the hooks penetrate the wood and go into the wall? or is just that the wood is attached to the wall, and the hook is attached to the wood?

domm_plix (author)2013-01-13

Today I built a slightly adapted version, fixing the pieces of wood vertical instead of horizontal:

WriterChick (author)2012-12-15

I actually managed to make this without either smashing or amputating a thumb. My bike and I both thank you.

carl.myhill (author)2012-02-14

This inspired me to sign up to instructables so I could say thanks. I built this today. Very cool instructions. The wall of my shed was quite weak and only the central stud was easy to locate. So I added a couple of supporting legs to it either end. Fantastic - very happy with the result. Thanks very much.

MiKOTRON (author)2012-01-17

I really like this instructable. The one thing that I really took from it was the magnet hanging from a string technique to find the steel "studs". When I was hanging some shelves in my house a knocked on the wall to "hear" and "feel" where the studs were. That knocking technique created lots of unwanted holes in the drywall. LOL. My wife just loved having 7 or 8 little holes in her walls. I think that your magnet technique will save my marriage. :)

rbingham (author)2011-11-29

Fully awesome. Did this in my basement last weekend, used tapcon screws to mount to brick – took about an hour and a half, and now I have 4 bikes neatly stowed for the winter in a bit of dead space in my basement beside the furnace.
Simple, brilliant, cheap.

AbbieX (author)2011-10-01

Built this today.....great!

SciReach (author)2011-09-24

I tried to buy them but couldn't. It looks cool. But how do you buy it?

nate_009 (author)2011-09-18

Hi I was wondering if anyone knew if this would work if I drilled into brick and used anchors in the brick. Would the weight be pulling downwards and therefore be fine if using anchors or would the weight be pulling outwards from the wall too much?

thanks for your help.

SciReach (author)nate_0092011-09-24

If your anchors are done right it will be fine if not better then a standard wall. I would use some Liquid Nails on the anchors or Gorilla Glue to take any of the wiggles out. check youtube for the how to fasten an anchor.

SciReach (author)2011-09-24

I love this idea! Its simple. Its great engineering. Its cheap simple and is going to work great for my needs.

onrust (author)2011-07-23

peppy and cheap

chinkeyes (author)2011-07-12

We are quite the bike riding family with 5 adult sized bikes. We built the rack in the garage and it freed up so much space! We also built ours a little higher off the ground, adding even more room beneath the bikes for storage tubs to hold helmets and other bike essentials. Thanks for this great instructable!

jonathansmith68 (author)2011-02-13

I just completed this in my room and absolutely love it! Thanks for the simple, yet incredibly helpful tutorial!

Just thought I'd share a few things that I discovered when putting mine together. First off, I went one inch higher (66" vs. 65") for the first row of hooks and I am happy that I did. My Surly Karate Monkey (Single-speed 29'er Mountain Bike) with a wheel-base of 1046mm (41.18") and 29"x2.3" tires just barely clears the ground (less than an inch) when hanging from the bottom row of hooks. This obviously wouldn't be an issue if I used the top row of hooks but this is where I discovered the second important thing to note.

My top row of hooks is 8.25" (20.955cm) down from the ceiling and I am UNABLE to mount the front tire of my Surly Karate Monkey (with 29"x2.3" tires) in the top row of hooks. However, my other 700c bikes (including a Cross bike with a wider 700x32c tire) appear to fit fine in the top row of hooks with such a tight ceiling clearance. I have found that if you wanted to mount a 29'er mountain bike in the top row of hooks, you'll want to shoot for AT LEAST 10.5" (26.67cm) of clearance from the ceiling to the top row of hooks.

See some more pictures of my set-up here:

dan (author)jonathansmith682011-06-21

oh, good info! it looks like your ceiling is a bit lower than mine.

d0gma (author)2011-06-20

Was wondering if the rear wheels of the bikes on the lower hooks could touch the floor if there was some sort of wheel tray (2x8 w/ routered trough) to keep the bikes in line? This would make it alot easier to store heavier bikes, kids bikes, etc.

kissiltur (author)2009-06-24

Just a quick note to thank you for this instructable - the space I have for bikes isn't good for wall hanging, but this at least inspired me to finally hang bikes from the ceiling to get them out of the way a bit.

nicocart (author)kissiltur2011-02-12

I have been wanting to hang my bike from the ceiling for as long as I can remember and have looked into different systems but am nervous to actually do it becaue I've never actually seen it done with my own eyes. How did you do it?

TRANSLTR (author)2010-10-05

Its this kind of thing that makes Instructables my favourite web site in the world. Ever.

jslag (author)2010-10-02

Great project, thanks! Built this the other weekend in my apartment, and very happy with how it worked out.

I happened to have a full 8' of wall space available, so rather than trim down the 2x4s, I left them at full length so that the extra space can be used to hold up our bike trailer & other stuff.

wilderness (author)2010-09-29

Just a point about the rims and the physics...

As far as I can tell, the weight of the bike pulling against the hook exerts its force against the inside of the rim, ie away from the hub.

Wheels are built to withstand force exerted on them from the other direction (ie towards the hub) - think of the relative load-bearing capacities of a dome and a bowl.

So the load-bearing capacity of a wheel rim on collision with a pothole edge isn't a very good indicator of its load-bearing capacity as a hanging device.

Of course, if your empirical experience is that bikes stored this way don't show signs of long-term damage, then that's a pretty good indicator that it's safe...

curiousmonk (author)2010-05-23

 Great instructable!  Built this last night and finally got the tangle of bikes off the floor.

This instructable maximizes bike-on-wall density while minimizing tangling.  If you have a bit more wall and want to maximize spacing, rather than cutting the 2x4 (which is x inches long) in half you can cut it  into two lengths where the bottom row (for three bikes) would be y inches long, where

y = (x-3)/1.5

For example:
Cut a 120" 2x4 into a 78" piece (bottom, three bikes) and a 42" piece (top, two bikes) per the equation above.  

Mount the outside bottom board bikes 3" in from the end of the 78" board.  Mount the middle bottom bike centered between them.  You get a same-row bike separation of 36".

Mount the top board centered above the bottom board.  Put the bike hooks 3" in from each end of the top board.  This gives a 36" same-row separation.

So this way you get a 36" same-row separation and an 18" adjacent-row separation.

Pedalit (author)2009-09-20

In my garage, I simply used a stud finder to find the 18" on center studs and put hooks in them, all at the same height. I can put road bikes beside each other, right side up, but the cruisers and mtn bikes have to be alternated. Your idea is simpler if your dwelling isn't wood framed. I haven't had any wheel problems in two years, not even on the cheap 50lb. cruisers (bruisers).

evad (author)Pedalit2009-09-24

Just a bit more information than anyone probably needs: If you live in the US, the distance between studs in a wall is 16" (Not 18") on center IF the house was built after the mid to late 20's and uses "platform" or " stick" construction. My house was built in 1923, uses balloon construction, and the studs are 22" -24" on center. The spacing on timber built houses will vary with the whim of the original builder. Moral: Believe your stud finder, not your ruler. (author)2006-10-20

Looks almost identical to what i put in our garage four months ago. One addition, particularly for a rental property: Add some clear plastic between the bike tires and walls so as to keep the wall from getting marked up. You can get rolls of thick plastic, or use the plastic that is sold for in cheap-inceiling flourescents, either way, protect the paint and just hold it up with a couple of staples, or even between your 2x4s and the wall. Not having to paint it when you're done will be a plus.

corriean (author)jsf.online2009-01-20

or! take advantage of all those plastic bags under your sink and create a large 'fused plastic bag' sheet to hang on the wall, under the tires :)

leebryuk (author)2008-03-31

Not a problem. Many a bike shop do there displays like this. It saves a lot of space. You have to remember that static forces are easy to deal with. The dynamic forces are far more challenging. Every time you double your speed you increase the force exerted by 4 times. And then there are the lateral and compressive forces to deal with. So the last thing to worry about is the headset being strained.

About This Instructable




Bio: Dan Goldwater is a co-founder of Instructables. Currently he operates MonkeyLectric where he develops revolutionary bike lighting products.
More by dan:Giant Xylophone made from Bed SlatsEasy Mothers Day Fudge (with small child)Mosaic Tile Pixel Art Car
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