A guide to bicycle storage and security at home
A guide to bicycle storage and security at home
On the face of it, keeping your bike stored outside is not the ideal solution. Firstly, it’s not as well protected from the elements, which will affect its long-term reliability and maintenance. Secondly, storing your bike outside could make it easier to spot and therefore more tempting for thieves to steal. However, it may be the case that you really have little choice, and there are some things you can do to at least mitigate the negatives.
More than anything, you need to know that your bike is secure. Even if you keep it in a back garden away from prying eyes, you still need to lock it to something solid, immobile and secure. One option would be to fit a floor anchor, such as motorcycle owners use, and lock your bike to that. If you have any other solid external fixings, such railings, that could be another solution. In all cases, secure your bike using two different gold-standard cycle locks, one through the frame and front wheel; one through the frame and rear wheel. Then protect your bike with a dedicated bicycle cover to try to keep the worst of the weather away. And don’t forget to remove any accessories — lights, computers, etc — when it’s not in use.
Dedicated external cycle storage
If you have a bit of outside space and you’re willing to invest in your bike’s longevity and security, buying a dedicated external storage product is a far more sensible option. These can vary from general use outside storage boxes available at home improvement stores to more purpose-built products, such as a ‘Lockerpod’ a ‘Bike Vault’, a ‘Protect-a-Cycle’, one of Asgard’s cycle storage products, or some other innovation.
Boxes and lockers will prevent poor weather conditions affecting your bike but be aware that just putting your bike out of sight in a box doesn’t make it instantly secure. Bicycle-specific outside storage products often have additional security features built in but if you are using a more general-use product, you will have to make sure you have some kind of locking system directly securing your bike. Simply padlocking a plastic lid isn’t good enough!
Garages and sheds
In fact, simply locking your shed or garage door isn’t really a good enough way to secure your bike or bikes, either. Sheds and garages may be the most popular places for cycle storage but that means criminals also know this and they can easily overcome normal security defences. Add in the fact that most people just chuck their bike up against a shed or garage wall when not in use — ready to be ridden away — and you can see why bike thieves view them as easy pickings.
One initial idea would be to reinforce your shed or garage door security with some additional heavyweight locks, alarms or even security cameras — anything that will put off a potential thief is worth using. Then make sure your bike or bikes are separately secured to a wall or floor anchor inside the shed or garage. Remember to attach any anchor to a strong solid surface — ideally concrete — and definitely not the thin wooden wall of a shed, which can be easily broken off. Just as we suggest above for locking a bike outside, use two gold standard locks with your floor anchor — so even if thieves do get into your property, they may still go away empty handed.
Multiple bike storage
Quite aside from the security implications, just coping with the logistics of storing multiple bikes can be a headache. The simplest and cheapest way to store a number of bikes is to fit wall hooks and then hang them by their wheels. To make the most efficient use of wall space, alternate hanging your bikes by their front and then rear wheels — 'nose to tail' — so that the bars of one bike hang next to the saddle of its neighbour.
Other methods of storing bikes include floor stands, such as you see in bike shops, which are cheap but do take up floor space. Multi-bike floor racks are a slightly more efficiently system but also slightly more expensive and still take up plenty of room. Alternatively upright multi-bike stands will often allow you to store two bikes in a double-decker style tower that holds the bikes horizontally. These can come in a number of options: freestanding; wall supported; or locking between floor and ceiling. Finally, to free up all floor space, you could even go so far as to use a ceiling-mounted bike rack — although you might have to be a little creative when it comes to locking your bikes securely with one of these.
In the home — yes, really!
Of course, you could just think the unthinkable (at least as far as the rest of your family might be concerned). We know storing a bike outside is less than optimal, and even sheds and garages are susceptible to attack, so if you already think of your bike as a member of your family, why not ask it to move in and live with you inside the home. OK, for a lot of people this might be out of the question, but we’re not talking about propping it up in the hallway. Instead, there is an exciting range of almost avant-garde wall-mounted bike storage options available that can turn your bike effectively into a work of art. You bike will be safe, dry, warm and pretty to look out — who could possibly object?
Finally, as you start planning your bike’s security arrangements, if your bikes are insured through a dedicated cycle insurance provider such as one of Cycling UK’s approved policies or even just added to your home insurance, it’s worth checking the exact wording of your insurance documents to make sure any security measures comply with your specific policies. Sometimes storing your bikes in outside buildings such as sheds or detached garages can pose a problem and may invalidate any claim no matter what additional steps you take, whereas integrated garages tend to be viewed by insurance companies as a safer bet. Take a photo of how you lock and store your bikes normally as proof.
Essentially, though, wherever you leave your bike don’t pass on any opportunity to make it even more secure and always have it locked. You may believe that your bike is out of sight and out of mind, but that’s not necessarily the same approach your local bike thieves share.