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Storage space is hard to come by, especially if you live in the city and share living space. Hanging your bike from a deck or basement ceiling is a quick fix, and may be the best solution if your household has several bikes to store.
But will hanging your bike from the wheel damage it? Concerned cyclists have pondered this question since the rise of bike theft and the decline of secure storage space for bikes.
In short, the answer is no. Hanging your bike by its wheel will not damage it. At least, it won’t hinder your bicycle’s performance, with a few minor exceptions.
Your bike wheel will retain its shape
Hanging your bike by the wheel will not cause the bike wheel to become misshapen. Bicycles are designed to carry the weight of the rider and absorb the impact of riding over bumpy roads. So the weight of the frame itself doesn’t even come close.
Most people seem to worry that the bike weight concentrated on a singular point might cause the wheel to bend, but this just isn’t the case. Most bike shops, including the one I work at, hang their display models from hooks. None have been broken or damaged by doing this.
If you still aren’t convinced, you can always arrange to hang your bike by two points of contact to spread the weight out evenly. You could accomplish this by installing two mounting hooks, or by resting the bottom tire on the ground.
The whole point is to make the most of limited space, so if you decide to hang your bike you should hang it by the front wheel. This way, your handle bars are up high, giving you more floor space to store things beneath your bike.
However, if you have a number of bikes to store it might make more sense for you to store them in an alternating pattern of front wheels up/rear wheels down, rear wheels up/front wheels down, which will allow you easier access. As long as you leave enough room to mount and dismount them safely, you won’t run into any issues.
Can you hang any bike?
If you ride a bike with hydraulic disc brakes, it’s best not to hang it upside down—especially if your bike is due for a bleed. It’s normal to find an air bubble at the top of the reservoir, and it’s usually no cause for concern. But hanging your hydraulic bike by the back wheel is more likely to cause this bubble to get stuck in the brake line. This is not always the case. If it does occur, you can bleed them and replace the fluid yourself.
If you decide to hang your hydraulic brake bike, avoid pulling the lever while the bike is hanging, because this can force the bubble into the brake line and make it much harder to get it back to the reservoir.
Hanging a bike with hydraulic disc brakes is a little risky if you’re not sure which signs to look for. Why create extra steps and a possibly dangerous situation for yourself when you’re ready to jump on the bike?
Another instance in which to avoid hanging your bike is if it has carbon or aluminum rims. These materials are more fragile and can be easily damaged through repeated and careless hanging.
Once you finish riding your bike, be sure to clean off your wheel before you hang it up. This will help you avoid getting dirt and sand all over the hooks, which in turn could scratch your bike’s rims.
Inspect your bike after each ride and perform routine maintenance regularly, or take it into your local bike shop to keep it in peak condition and ensure that it lasts longer.
Precautions to take when hanging your bike
Take care how you place and remove your bike from the hook. To help avoid slamming it down when you’re exhausted from a long ride, be sure to practice safe lifting techniques.
I learned the safest way to place and remove a heavy bike from a hook while on the job at the bike shop. Position your body facing the side of your bike, almost underneath it. Grip the lower portion of the down tube with one hand, and the lower portion of the seat stay with your other hand, then push up. If you need to lift it a bit higher, try again but grab the chain stay instead of the seat stay. This will require a bit more muscle, but should get you the elevation you need.
When lowering it to the ground, first pull your arms down, swivel the bike so it’s perpendicular to the floor, then lower it the rest of the way by bending your knees while keeping your back straight. This will be much easier with a light road bike, but more important with a heavy mountain bike.
If the finish on your hook starts to wear off, try wrapping layers of inner-tube around it to avoid marking your rims.
If you store your bicycle outside, make sure to keep it covered to prevent weather damage, corrosion and rust. Tarps work great but there are also more fitted bike cover options. And don’t forget to keep your bike locked up!
The right hook and where to put it
You can find hooks at most big box stores, but you’ll want to ensure they are safe and suitable for your needs and storage space. Make sure you get vinyl hooks that won’t scratch your bike’s rims.
Mottez hooks are cheap, effective and widely available. However some models, the cheapest ones, are not specifically designed for hanging bikes. Try to get one with a coating and make sure it will fit your bicycle.
Impresa hooks are a lot more durable. They have a soft coating to protect your bike and are made from galvanized steel. They can hold up to 100 pounds, so bike weight won’t be an issue. They also have a wider mouth, making them more universally compatible.
Park Tools, the trusted industry standard when it comes to bike tools, also sells bike hooks. If you’re looking for a bike hook to match your gear, this is the way to go. Park Tools has a few options to choose from, two different hook threads to install into either wood or a metal plate. Their hooks also come in three sizes to accommodate tire widths of 55mm, 75mm and 125mm.
Installing bike hooks
Installing your new bike hook correctly is also a big factor in keeping your bike protected.
They are easy enough to install, requiring just a drill and a couple of screws. But you will want to make sure that you fasten it to a stud that can support the weight of your bike.
If you are installing more than one hook, make sure to give yourself between 16 and 20 inches between them so you won’t risk damaging the other bike or making them too difficult to remove. Studs in a wall are typically 16 inches apart anyway.
By now, you should feel good about hanging your bike by the wheel, assuming you don’t have hydraulic brakes or carbon rims.
Install the hook properly, clean your bike before storing it, and hang and unhook it with care. Keep up your regular inspection and maintenance, and you will be sure to extend the life of your bicycle.
But be warned: the longer your bikes last, the larger your collection will grow and the more hooks you’ll need to support the hobby you’re hooked on!
Image at top: © erniezballz | Reddit