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We recently bought a flat in a house (in Northern Europe) with 5 flats in total. It does not have any bicycle storage at the moment. We discussed with the other owners of the flats to build an external bicycle storage on the property of the house.

Right now I am just trying to gather some ideas of what could be potential solutions. I am having a hard time trying to visualise the space requirements for 10 bicycles and coming up with a design that is somewhat space efficient while also making it easy to get the bikes in and out.

The requirements:

  • We are calculating that each flat would store max 2 bikes in it so we need build/(buy?) something that can store 10 bicycles in total.
  • It is important that we can get the bicycles in and out without much trouble because we are using them often.
  • The weather here can be really bad with wind and rain coming from any and all directions so we would like to have a full enclosure.
  • For security it would be great if the bicycles could be locked inside the bike storage, in addition to being able to lock the door to the storage.
  • The bike storage should ideally not be bigger than 15 square meters because that would require getting permission from the city.
  • If possible it would be great if we can move the bicycle storage to a different spot on the property at some point.
  • Cost is obviously a factor but should not limit the discussion. If there is a perfect solution but it costs more than all the other ones then I would seriously consider it.

EDIT: Some users have suggested that my question is a duplicate of this one. It does deal with part of my question but does not focus on the shelter part which is very important where we live.

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    Does this answer your question? Suggestions for outdoor commercial (security/parking) stands Jun 13, 2023 at 16:53
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    I'd say locking bikes inside the shed is more important than the door itself locking - I would not trust the security of my bike to other people needing to remember to shut the door properly. Jun 13, 2023 at 18:57
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    @Criggie We already discussed that everyone would contribute equally, yes. Ideally one space for everyone. No garage at the moment. Cars are parked behind the house, not sheltered. Jun 14, 2023 at 6:12
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    @SaaruLindestøkke Thanks for the suggestion. Some of the answers do have some good information that also relates to my problem but the question is clearly just asking about stands and not sheltered bicycle storage. Jun 14, 2023 at 6:21
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    I never thought I'd actually see literal bikeshedding on SE. Jun 14, 2023 at 15:17

5 Answers 5

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I'm going to assume you've only got to deal with ordinary single-rider diamond frames (despite owning a tandem myself and heavily supporting the use of cargo bikes).

I'll assume the bikes are all parked forwards or backwards into the store, so none is blocking another. Any normal bike is under 2m long*. With 15m² to put 10 bikes in, you have 7.5m of length, or 75cm per bike. That's a wide set of handlebars. So a first estimate suggests that it would be possible. I'd actually trade off a little bike length for overall width - 0.8m width per bike gives 1.875m depth. That calculation means there's no room to move bikes around in the shed.

Commercial toast-rack style hoops sometimes put the bikes closer together than this, but that's a bit fiddly if you only have access from one side. Others are on 0.8m centres. These racks can be bolted down, and provide something secure to lock the bikes to. I'd get as many hoops as I could fit in the space, probably enough for 12-14 bikes nominally, but the end ones might be fiddly.

A fully-enclosed shed built to surround that rack would need one whole long side to be doors (probably 3 pairs of double doors). That might mean a custom build, though I'm seeing hints of modular steel structures that might work if only I could see drawings. Alternatively it might be easier to find 2 sheds of half the size each, as more standard products.

I agree that fully enclosed is better against weather and thieves. However with one fully open long side, you can still get good protection if that opening faces a wall of the building, from about 2m away - the building itself would provide protection on that side, and gates can help with the security. Then it would be easy to just buy a product designed for exactly this job.

You can increase capacity by using double stacker bike racks, but note that not every bike fits in every space - some people struggle to get their bikes onto the top deck, while particularly large bikes like mine can be damaged by the upper rack dropping onto their saddles.

I don't recommend vertical storage in shared spaces, even though it saves space. Not everyone can lift their bike to hang it by the front wheel, and not all tyres fit. Vertical storage resting on the back wheel rarely works for all lengths and has problems with mudguards and lights. I have to use the storage in work upside down with my Genesis for that reason. The locking points are also often badly thought out.


* I have an XL Genesis Tour de Fer, one of the longest normal bikes on the market. It's 1.83m including a mudguard-mounted light. My tandem is 2.4m

All commercial links are UK examples; I haven't dealt with storage on this scale enough to endorse any particular firm.

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    Thanks a lot for including calculation in your answer. That is super helpful to get a better idea of actual space requirements. Your assumption about "ordinary single-rider diamond frames" is actually a very good point. Electric cargo/child transportation bicycles are pretty popular here but space requirements would increase drastically if we planned for those as well. Tricky. Jun 14, 2023 at 6:54
  • The hardest thing about cargo bikes is that you can't even make space for them with double stackers. It might be possible to fit a 4-bike-wide double stacker and a rack of 3-4 hoops in 6x2.5m but it would be tight. Also if possible I suggest putting some outside hoops in at the same time, for visitors, overflow etc. They shouldn't count towards your footprint limit.
    – Chris H
    Jun 14, 2023 at 7:27
  • Yes, hoops for visitors are also a good idea! Jun 14, 2023 at 11:11
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If it needs to be fully enclosed you wind up with a small building of some kind.

Here are some ideas.

Bike lockers
enter image description here
Each flat could have it's own two bike locker or clustered in a group. I don't know if the 15 square meters is per small building or total - it might depend on how they are grouped.
enter image description here

A shed
enter image description here
Different sized sheds offer different options for how many bikes can be stored and how the bikes can be stored in the shed.

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    You can get stacking lockers - you will need five x two rows of lockers. At around 2m2/locker, that is under the 15m2 limit. With individual (or double) lockers, no need for locking of bikes. Loading bikes in and out of a second row of lockers requires a degree of dexterity and strength some riders might not have.
    – mattnz
    Jun 14, 2023 at 0:52
  • Thanks for mentioning a range of solutions. I do not have any experience with bike lockers (first picture). Is it easy to get bikes in and out? Jun 14, 2023 at 6:56
  • @elevendollar Very easy, wide use over the world at public transport stops, so not only easy to use, protects the bike from theft as well as accidental and malicious damage. IMHO, for your use, bike lockers (for 1 or 2 bikes) are probably the best solution. Other solutions require a fairly high degree of trust and cooperation with all owners, which may not always exist.
    – mattnz
    Jun 14, 2023 at 8:20
  • One thing about the bike lockers: They are pretty small. Modern MTBs wont fit in many of them.
    – airace3
    Jun 14, 2023 at 8:22
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    A nice thing about lockers is that assigning one (2-bike) locker per flat helps pre-empt potential conflicts over shared space. I'm thinking of something like a couple with a utility bike each and a fun bike each. So long as other flats don't use their share of the space, there's no problem.. Then occupancy changes... Also lockers allow a bit of flexibility for things like scooters and kids' outdoor stuff that don't work so well in a shared bike shed.
    – Chris H
    Jun 14, 2023 at 12:07
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For security it would be great if the bicycles could be locked inside the bike storage, in addition to being able to lock the door to the storage.

I'd say this is one of the most important things here. If the storage is shared, there will be lots of people having keys there. If the entire storage is not made of concrete, it can be broken into by brute force.

So consider how to lock the bikes. I'd say for everything except a fatbike, what you want is:

  • The smallest U-lock you can find (Kryptonite Evolution Mini)
  • Lock it in this manner: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/lock-strategy.html ... so the lock is around the rear tire plus maybe fender. This works provided that the tire is 40mm width max. So there must be some secure horizontal steel pillar. That pillar must be such that you can't raise the bike over it, stealing it with its lock. So the pillar actually should arch back to the ground. So you have this inverted "U" shaped object you can lock the bike into.

Sometimes when parking a bike for quick shopping at a grocery store I park my bike to a traffic sign pillar. It isn't fully secure, someone can unscrew the traffic sign, raise the bike away from the pillar, and go away. But they can't ride the bike away since the lock is around the rear tire. So they must have some practical van for carrying the bike to the location where they will cut the lock with an angle grinder. However, a proper inverted "U" shape makes it almost impossible to steal the bike. If the "U" is made from a strong steel, it may be harder to cut that "U" than to cut the lock! And if the tube in the "U" is large enough, it may exceed the cutting capacity of practically all battery powered angle grinders sold.

Anything else is bad design. I know there are many bicycle parking spots near my area where there is a chain consisting of links (probably made of quite weak steel) where the last link has a larger hole in it, intended to be used in such a manner that you lock your rear wheel with U-lock and put the last chain link inside the U-lock. Unfortunately, these chains are probably very easy to break with proper tools.

Also many bicycle parking spots have just mechanism for holding the front wheel of the bike. These are mainly useful as kickstand substitutes and are unnecessary. The only way to lock a bike into these is to park it sideways while using the Sheldon Brown locking strategy (so one bike can use maybe 4-5 parking spots, which is rude to other bicyclists), or to use a separate cable you carry with you along with a U-lock. All other ways these can be used are just as a kickstand substitute.

Make the floor of the house from concrete, and install many of these inverted "U":s into the concrete. Make the inverted "U":s from a strong enough steel and thick enough tubes so that they exceed the abilities of battery-powered angle grinders. Of course the tube can't be too thick or else the smallest U-locks can't lock a typical bike rear tire anymore. I'd say about the thickness of a typical traffic sign pillar is optimal, but typical traffic sign pillars are made from very weak steel.

Of course by ensuring that bikes can be locked, you are also ensuring the storage house cannot be moved, because its floor is poured from concrete.

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Lockers are an excellent idea, until its raining.

I would suggest a 10 foot shipping container, ideally in a hightop format for added headroom. This is also known as a "half TEU"

enter image description here

Dimensions are approximately Length 3.1m, Width 2.9m and Height 2.9m

That extra height will let you hang bikes from the front wheel, or construct a "second layer" for those who can lift their bikes.

For security you can weld rings in convenient places for locks to attach. if people don't lock their own bikes then other's aren't at increased risk. You should definitely close and lock the door but that is only one layer of protection. You can also chain the whole container to something immovable.

Positioning is important - you want this off the dirt to prevent rust. Also, the flat roof will allow water to pool so ideally building a low-pitched roof helps the rain to run off and a small overhang at the door.

Downside, they're not cheap, but you can move them about with the right equipment.

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    Shipping containers as storage are banned in many jurisdictions. OP would need to check local rules.
    – mattnz
    Jun 14, 2023 at 8:28
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    What's the problem with lockers and rain?
    – 9769953
    Jun 14, 2023 at 10:39
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    @mattnz I was unaware - also the neighbours may not like the idea for aesthetics.
    – Criggie
    Jun 14, 2023 at 19:34
  • @9769953 lockers are too small to stand inside, so you're trying to manipulate the bike in/out while leaning into the locker. Fine in the sun, less fun in the rain.
    – Criggie
    Jun 14, 2023 at 19:35
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    Yeah, not a fan of the aesthetics but thank you for the suggestion anyway. It's great to see different options. Jun 15, 2023 at 6:19
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I think bike lockers are a good solution here. My first thought was some kind of shed or other dedicated building, but that isn't portable (except for more or less demolition and reconstruction). Lockers fulfill your other requirements pretty well, and it would be possible to move them if needed.

enter image description here

The question of exactly how much security you need is very locale-dependent. Do you need to protect against someone executing a planned heist wielding angle grinders and bolt cutters, or just someone walking down the street and performing an opportunistic theft? Also, if you do go for a shared option where all ten bikes are under one roof, you should consider the trustworthiness of your fellow residents. You also may need to be more careful about your relationship with the residents in that situation--you wouldn't want to piss a neighbor off (regardless of whose fault) and have them damage or steal your bike as a result.

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