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I park my bike at work in a rack like this:

enter image description here

At the moment I have 26 x 1.9" knobbly tyres and the wheel just squeaks into the rack. However I'd like to replace these with 26 x 2" Schwalbe Marathons for a smoother ride and better puncture resistance, and these almost certainly won't fit.

What's the best way of putting my bike in this rack if the tyres won't fit, preferably without annoying colleagues by taking up more than one space? So far I've thought of:

  • using the lock cable to 'tie' the wheel to the side of the rack - possible but a bit of a faff
  • fitting the bike with a kick stand so it doesn't need the rack to hold it upright - not ideal
  • getting the 26 x 1.75" tyres instead - would work but I'd prefer the wider ones for best grip as my ride is partly on offroad paths and a cobbled street (and nothing to do with thinking the wider ones look better, honest).

But are there any other techniques or products I haven't thought of?

(Security of this type of rack is not a big concern, incidentally, as the rack is inside a shed with a code lock.)

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    Whatever you do will be a compromise. That type of bike rack is far from ideal, and is probably responsible for a lot of wheel damage. – Daniel R Hicks Nov 7 '16 at 1:02
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    I am not convinced that a 2" smooth tyre will be wider than a 1.9" knobbly in practice. Also, a proper 2 leg stand will probably work better than a kickstand - with a kickstand yours will be the one bike in the row that's leaning to the side. – Móż Nov 7 '16 at 1:08
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    I had a wheel bent by one of those terrible racks when I was a kid. Personally, I'd look for somewhere else to park the bike. – rclocher3 Nov 7 '16 at 1:50
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    Find somewhere else to park. The only way to park securely is to lock the frame of your bike to an immovable object. That kind of bike rack doesn't permit that, and also will damage your wheel if somebody bumps into your bike while it's parked. Explain to your employer that they should install proper bike racks, which is probably a waste of breath but is the only real solution. – David Richerby Nov 7 '16 at 8:58
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    It's worth noting that with that style of rack you should back the bike in, so that the rear tire engages. This is much more stable, plus if you lock just the back wheel the bike is still pretty hard to steal. – Daniel R Hicks Nov 7 '16 at 20:04
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The solution in my particular case turns out to be that the 2" Marathons are actually no wider than the 1.9" knobblies - when fitted on my wheels and at my current inflation pressure of about 3 bar, at least - so the bike still fits in the rack.

This won't help anyone whose tyres actually are too wide to fit in a narrow bike rack, but it may help someone in a similar position to know that tyres may be slightly narrower than their nominal width.

In a year of riding on the Marathons, incidentally, I've had one puncture, compared to about one a month on the standard tyres. I also found the difference in rolling resistance compared to knobbly tyres was surprisingly noticeable.

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    Thank you for the completion. Do consider accepting this answer, because its what worked for you. – Criggie Dec 15 '16 at 19:18
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You can either put the back wheel outside the rails and use your lock or a velcro strap to hold it in place.

If someone has a real need, consider using a jack or two crowbars to spread the rails of one parking space and leave that one for those with wide tyres. They can still be used by narrow wheels too.

  • Upvoted for audacity! – nekomatic Jan 3 '17 at 9:13
  • @nekomatic "ask forgiveness, not permission" – Criggie Jul 15 '17 at 8:04
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If your current tyres are knobbly right out to the shoulders and your new ones much smoother you might get away with it. But you won't know until you try it by which point you've bought at least one tyre.

Other options:

  • an equivalent tyre from a different brand may be available in a 1.9 or even 1.95
  • fit a 1. 75 on one wheel and a 2 on the other; slot in the narrower wheel. There are a few questions here about running different size tyres in various circumstances.

While these racks aren't ideal (including for security as you can't lock the frame to anything with a solid lock) they're often all that's avaliable. The same width slot is often used in double stacker racks where it's not the only support for the bike and the risk of damaging anything is much less.

I occasionally put one of my bikes in a rack narrow enough that it takes some pulling to get it out. The bike (including tyres) doesn't appear to have suffered at all.

Update 2017: I've now tried to park a bike with even wider tyres in the same rack and the only solution is to put the front wheel next to where it's supposed to be, which means the locks have to hold the bike upright and access to unlock is tricky is the next slot is occupied. If I only had a mountain bike for commuting I'd run a commuting wheelset; as it is I can generally choose another bike.

  • Thanks. The 1.9" tyre is indeed 1.9" (48 mm) wide across the knobbles so I'm assuming a 2" tyre will be 2" (51 mm) wide across the sidewalls, and I've measured the rack at 47-48 mm. – nekomatic Nov 7 '16 at 11:25
  • You may be able to measure an inflated tyre on a rim of similar width to yours. I've got marathon plus in much narrower sizes (700x28 and 700x32) but could measure them later. Perhaps if someone has 2" marathons they could quickly measure. It's worth a try as the rubber is much thicker under the tread than on the sidewalls on marathon series, which may affect the usual width measurement. – Chris H Nov 7 '16 at 12:09
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I cannot comment but here is an idea: did you ask your workplace to install a more versatile bikerack? I know it is far fetched but sometimes people surprise your if you ask nicely.

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Try to use the end position of the rack, your wheel outside the rack and your bike on its own stand, idealy leaning over the rack.

I have to do this with my own bike often, as my mudguard is getting damaged with a lot of the standard bike racks.
In some cases I can also do it in the middle of a rack, but only if just every other space is used. (As so often happens these days when bikes are wider than the racks allow for.)

If you can not angle the bike, you might consider a two legged stand, which will keep your bike upright. Again, an end position will be ideal and you will still need to keep your wheel outside the rack, but you will not bother your co-workers.

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