If you follow the rule of n+1, where ‘n’ is the amount of bikes you currently own, and you keep adding to that number – eventually you’re going to need more bike storage. I crossed that bridge a long time ago. Even before my days at Bikerumor, I could have been considered a bicycle hoarder collector, and it’s only gotten worse.

Recently after moving, I found myself in need of a complete redesign for my storage of the fleet. With a new space to fill out, I eagerly researched a number of different bicycle storage products. In spite of numerous options out there, I kept coming back to the humble bicycle storage hook. The simplest solution is usually the best, right?

I’ve used various hooks for years, usually whatever version you could find at the local home center. This time though, I wanted to check out the hooks from Park Tool. Are they noticeably different than those that have dutifully supported my bikes for the past decade? Before I knew it, a box of hooks was on its way from Park Tool to find out.

Why Hooks?

Park Tool Bicycle Storage Hooks vertical bike storage hanging

In terms of storage capacity, simplicity, and cost, the bicycle storage hook simply cannot be beat. If you have a ceiling with sufficient height with a floor above it, you likely already have a built-in mounting system. Most basement ceilings will have floor joists that are spaced at 16″ on center. That’s almost the perfect width to space out a row of bicycle storage hooks. Simply drill a pilot hole in the center of the joist, thread in the hook, and voila, you have bicycle storage. If you use this method, there’s nothing else to buy and no need to build anything. It doesn’t matter if the ceiling is finished or completely exposed – just make sure you’re not drilling into any electrical or plumbing lines, HVAC systems, etc.

I’ve always hung my bikes in an alternating fashion with bar up/bar down. This allows you to cram a bunch of bikes into a smaller space while still allowing your fairly easy access to each individual bike.

Hanging mountain bikes upside down on a storage hook
Shown above: three bikes with handlebar widths of 800mm (including grips). The 16″ on center spacing of the hooks still works well in this scenario.

Even with the wide handlebars of modern mountain bikes, the 16″ spacing works quite well. Again, in terms of efficiency, it’s hard to find a way to store more bikes as effectively and efficiently as this. I do have a hanging rack that fits more bikes into a smaller footprint, but the spacing is too close to allow easy use with mountain bikes. The 12″ spacing is just wide enough to use with many dropbar bikes, but even for wider bars on gravel bikes it can be a challenge to wiggle the bikes in and out.

wheel base considerations with bicycle storage hooks

If you’re limited on ceiling height, don’t forget to think about the wheelbase measurement of various bikes. Some are quite a bit longer than others and require more height to properly hang.

Is it OK to Hang Bikes by the Wheels? Upside Down?

This is a common question, likely because there are a lot of anecdotes floating around about someone who hung their bike upside down and “now the brakes don’t work.” I’ve hung every type of bike in almost every direction for years, and chances are very good that if you look in the back of your local bike shop, you’ll find the same thing.

But to be completely sure, I reached out to a few brake and suspension companies to ask their opinion on the matter – namely, SRAM, Shimano, and Hayes/Manitou. The consensus seems to be that it’s completely OK to hang bikes with hydraulic disc brakes or suspension. Both Shimano and Hayes said that it’s fine to hang them in either direction, but is probably best to hang them with the brakes pointed up just in case there’s any air in the master cylinder.

Shimano MTB Product Manager, Nick Murdick went on to say, “Like other open system hydraulic brakes, Shimano brakes all feature a reservoir of extra fluid above the master cylinder piston.  We take things a step further by using the brake’s architecture to guide air bubbles to the top of this reservoir where they won’t affect brake performance.  This also makes the brakes easier to bleed when the time comes.

It is quite normal to find a small bubble in the top of the reservoir and it’s generally no cause for concern.  If you hang the bike, it’s possible for the bubble to move into the rest of the brake system.  However, the bubble will generally move right back to the top of the reservoir when the bike is taken down for a ride.  Pulling the lever a few times can help get it back where it belongs, essentially self-bleeding the brakes.  If you do that step with a bleed funnel filled with fluid installed, the bubble can even be eliminated completely.
The one thing to avoid would be pulling the brake lever while the bike is hanging.  That can force any bubble into the brake line, making it harder to get it back into the reservoir.”
It was a similar story from Hayes/Manitou, with their engineers stating, “there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way of hanging a bike, at least not from the brake or suspension side of things.

For brakes it shouldn’t matter since there should be no air in the system.  The rider would notice air in the pressure path so if there is any air present it would be in the reservoir.  In that case anywhere between bike horizontal (like it would be on the ground) and front wheel up would allow the air to remain in the reservoir. So if you are due for a bleed, avoid hanging it from the rear wheel.

As for suspension, some of our engineers hang their bikes so the bushings are at the bottom end so the bath oil can get down to the seals. But honestly, without any pressure differential the clearance between the leg and bushing is tight enough that the oil won’t break surface tension and slide down. Same goes for the damper, air shouldn’t migrate past the check valve unless there is sufficient pressure to push it through. If in doubt, the compression adjuster can be set to max before hanging the bike to eliminate the leak path for the air. In the case that air does get past the check valve, a few quick cycles of the fork should take care of bleeding those air bubbles out from under the damper.”

SRAM’s response gave the all clear for either direction, making it an easy decision. Based on all three responses though, it seems like bar up is probably the safest bet for bikes with hydraulic disc brakes, but as long as they’re in good working order, you probably won’t have an issue either way.

But What about Carbon Rims?

can I hang carbon wheels on bicycle storage hooks

This one is a little trickier since there are carbon wheels out there that are likely too fragile to hang from a hook. These seem to be more rare these days, but there were a few wheels that used essentially a carbon ‘fairing’ on top of a standard box section rim to create an aero wheel. I can’t remember off the top of my head, but I vaguely remember one such wheel from my bike shop days that even had a warning sticker on it not to hang it by the rim. But these rims typically feel fragile, and you could physically squeeze the carbon and see it flex. If your wheel feels stronger than that, it’s probably OK – but better to be safe than sorry and consult the manufacturer to be sure.
I’ve had no problems hanging many different carbon wheels over the years – the one thing I would say, is to be mindful of the graphics on the rims and of the valves themselves. It seems universally constant that if you pick up a bike to hang it, the hook will either land directly on the valve stem or on a graphic. Either can be damaged by a hook, so it’s best to find a spot on the rim without either.

What Makes the Park Tool Hooks Different?

Park Took 471 471XX bicycle storage hooks
Tested: Park Tool 471XX and 471 storage hooks.

So hooks are one of the least expensive, most efficient, and easiest ways to store you bike. But why would you want to go with the hooks from Park Tool over those from Home Depot? For starters, Park has a number of different hooks, specifically designed for bikes in different applications.

Park Took bicycle storage hook with machine thread

Park offers two different hook thread options with three different sized hooks for each thread. If you’re not planning on threading the hooks into wood, Park offers hooks with a machine thread so you could attach them to metal plate, C-Channel, or other flat objects. To differentiate the two, the machine thread hooks have a black vinyl coating. Note that only the black hook shown directly above is a Park Tool hook, the other black hooks pictured throughout the story are not from Park Tool. 

The same three hook sizes are also offered with a wood thread, so they can be installed directly into wood once a pilot hole has been drilled. Note that the pilot hole size varies by the hook – the smallest 451 hook recommends using a 1/4″ or 6mm drill bit for the pilot hole. Both the 471 and 471XX recommend using a slightly larger 11/32″ bit due to the larger size of the hook.

Bicycle storage hook sizes park tool regular MTB fat bike

That brings us to the three sizes – the 450/451 (machine thread/wood thread), 470/471, and 470XX/471XX. At the smallest end, the 55mm wide 450/451 is sort of your standard, old school bike hook. If your collection includes nothing but skinny tires, this one should be sufficient. But as soon as you start tracking into modern mountain bike territory, the 75mm wide 470/471 is a better option. It will still work for any road bike, but the wider hook will work with most mountain bikes including many plus bikes. Finally, the 470XX/471XX is the heavyweight of the group with a 125mm wide hook that’s big enough for most fat bikes.

I have a separate rack that I use for bikes with dropbars since the spacing is too narrow for mountain bikes, so I opted for the 471 and 471XX. The 471 is big enough to work with any mountain bike or plus bike I currently have, and the 471XX works with all of my fat bikes. It’s also perfectly acceptable to use a larger hook for smaller wheels and tires, though the bigger hooks are more expensive. Honestly, unless I only planned on hanging road bikes, I would probably skip the 451 in favor of the 471 since it’s more versatile and almost the same price.

Park Tool Storage hook benefits
Park Tool Hooks have a larger opening than most hooks from big box stores for easier entry and exit.

One of the most critical measurements and one of the biggest differences between the Park Hooks and generic hooks, isn’t the width. Instead, it’s the distance from the opening at the tip of the hook to the shoulder (represented above by the blue line). Taller tires with larger tread blocks and bigger volume require a bigger gap here to easily guide the wheel into the hook. Often if this gap is too small, you’ll have to tilt the wheel to guide the rim first into the hook. Depending on the tire and rim combination and whether you’re hanging it by the front or rear wheel, this can become fairly difficult – particularly on a high ceiling.

In the time that I’ve been using the Park hooks, they have proven quite a bit easier to get certain bikes with chunky tires and rims in and out of the hooks. The larger gaps from the tip to the shoulder allow you to effortlessly guide the wheel in from the side without having to tilt it at all in most cases.

My only complaint with the Park Tool hooks? The tags left a lot a sticky residue on the hooks, which required a lot of elbow grease to remove.

Storage hooks for fat bikes

Also, most hooks that you’ll find from the hardware store that are big enough to fit a fat bike wheel are likely meant for ladders or other flat items. That means the hooks usually have a flat bottom.

Ladder hook issues for fat bikes

This works, but the vinyl coating will quickly wear through which risks damage to your rims.

carbon fat bike rim on hook

Since the Park 470/471XX is curved on the bottom, there’s a better chance of having more surface area between the vinyl coating and the rim. I’ll have to wait and see how they hold up in the long term, but theoretically, it should be better than the ladder hooks I’ve used in the past.

Pricing

Fat Bike Storage with Park Tool 471XX
From L to R: 27.5 x 4.0″, 26 x 4.2″, and 26 x 4.8″

The Park Tool hooks are a good bit more expensive than something you’ll find at a big box store, but in the end I think they’re worth it. Compared to other bicycle-specific storage, you could even say these hooks are fairly cheap at $5.45/$5.95/$8.95 a piece (451/471/471XX). But more importantly, they make it easier to load or unload the bikes, and work better with bigger rims and tires. Not to mention the row of Park Tool Blue looks pretty good against the ceiling.

parktool.com

23 COMMENTS

  1. Hooks for deep storage, Feedback Rakk for the regularly ridden.

    Anything to break up the blatant Park Tool ad. You’re welcome. You can leave the cookies at my doorstep.

  2. +1 for the Feedback Rakk, especially if you can’t drill holes in the ceiling (like it was for me through years of apartment living). I tried the stands where the bike hangs from the top tube, but they fell over on me once and damaged the bike. Falling over isn’t a problem with the Rakk since it’s on the floor.

    • No engineered timber beams above. All solid wood. The shadows kind of make the one on the end look like it, but it’s two solid joists side by side.

  3. Only problem I had with hanging bikes is with my Reverb dropper. If I hung my bike from the front wheel (saddle down), it takes a long time for the dropper to start working again. Easy fix though – hang from the rear wheel (saddle up).

    • Dave, sounds like that would get pretty annoying, raising the bikes rear end all the time. I could also see some similar problems happening with hydro brakes…

    • Sounds like you’re in need of dropper or remote service. With 250psi or more in many droppers, there’s no way hanging it can affect it at all. Especially with a Reverb, the floating piston completely separates gas and oil.

  4. Hmm. The one time I let my MTB hang by the rear wheel, I got air in the rear brake line. Which I only discovered when out on the trail.

  5. Thank you for making me feel better about the size of my bike “collection”. I’ll definitely be sharing the first photo in the article with my wife.

    • I agree. I mount them so I just roll the bike up on the rear wheel and hook the front tire in. Then the bike is resting on the rear wheel and not the front rim and fork.

    • Yup, definitely a consideration. Currently, the walls are bare concrete so that wasn’t an option for me. And I want to be able to store tires underneath the bikes for the immediate future, so this was the best option for me currently.

      It’s worth noting that even though the ceiling above is higher than my previous set up, the Park hooks are easier to mount the bikes in, so it’s about a wash.

  6. Zach, if I were you I would try “wondering” whether a shedload of Steadyracks would be an even better solution and seeing if a box full magically turned up on my doorstep. If you’re getting free merch, may as well go for top-shelf instead of just an incremental improvement on what you already have.

    • I actually spoke with Steadyrack prior to this about the possibility of a review and they offered to send some to check out. However, for now I decided against if for a few reasons. First, I just moved into this place and the goal was to get the bikes off the floor and protected as quickly as possible. Right now, the walls are unfinished, so Installing Steadyracks would have required some kind of additional build out to mount them. Then, I need storage space for all the tires we swap out and since the Steadyracks are typically mounted so the rear tire is touching the floor, or somewhere in the middle of the wall, it’s not quite as easy as mounting the bikes to hooks on the ceiling, and stacking the tires underneath. Some day I plan to finish the space, and maybe then I’ll consider it, but the idea here was the simplest, most efficient in terms of space, and cost effective solution. Even before considering the price of the raw materials to frame out the wall to mount the Steadyracks, you’re talking a retail value of $1,349.85 for 15 Steadyracks vs. $104.25 for the hooks.

      I do hope to check out the Steadyracks at some point down the road, as I have some ideas and I love the design. We have some at our local bike trail, and they seem like a great option. But for now with my current needs, the hooks were the perfect solution which is why I specifically requested them from Park.

  7. I like hanging mine by the handlebars and the seat. It takes three hooks for one bike, but the bike is in natural position so there is no question of oil/fluid being out of place. I also get the nicer hooks at Home Depot and they come in various sizes and have a lot better padding than the cheap version (probably still a lot cheaper than park tool). I do the same thing for skis with the flat “hook” on the walls.

    • Hi William, I have read that it’s horrible to pick up a bike with a dropper post by the seat. You might want to consider putting that third hook under the rear end of the top tube or something. If you don’t have a dropper, then forget about my previous statement.

      • I think that is more for when the dropper is lowered, as the weight of the bike is being carried by the dropper’s internals. When a dropper is up, there is no danger, as the seat can’t go any higher. I have been picking up my bike by the raised dropper for years with no effect.

  8. In my garage with 10 foot ceilings I hang them from the ceiling, the least used ones depending on the bike season. Allows dual usage, ie, ceiling and floor. YMMV, btw agree on Park blue colored hooks if going that route, style points.

  9. Great information. thanks! Do you have any advice for using these hooks to hang a hoist/pulley system on the ceiling?

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