The BikeStow offers bike storage without the need for fixing to a floor or wall. How did we find it?
The unit is well built and has an appealing ‘thunk’ quality to it that I certainly wouldn’t achieve with a home brewed version of it. Yes, I could spend a few hours (probably days, in reality) hacking and cutting at wood and constructing something that does a similar job, but…well, life is short. If you’ve got a jigsaw, more skill and patience than me, and time for this kind of faff, all well and good. If you’re thinking about buying it, read on.
Available in both a ‘raw’ and laminated version, we were sent the laminate option, in the two-bike variant. It’s also available as four-bike rack. Both sizes fold flat for when they’re not in use, and the two halves of the sandwich board are held together by a couple of magnets. It’s very simple to use: slide up the ‘tyre guillotine’ at the top of the bike slot, put your front or rear tyre in, and then slide the guillotine-like metal slider back into place, securing it by turning the knob to screw the slider so it can’t jostle up and down. Dead simple. There’s no need to drill holes in any walls, the whole thing is free standing and self-supporting.
I had thought it would be good for keeping the bikes stood up in the back of my van, but as it’s a faux-van (A Citroen Berlingo, with rear seats taken out to accommodate bikes), the footwell for the rear passengers rendered this not possible. It is a substantial and stable stand, and while I don’t think it would tip in transit, I do think it might slide sideways if you’re taking bends at speed if you didn’t lash it in place as advised. There are cut outs in each corner of the stand so that you can attach it to cargo loops or seat anchors via bungees or straps. For those who want a racking system for their van that doesn’t need permanent fixings or placements, this is likely a good, if heavyweight, option.
When folded up and not in use – as you might well do with it if you use your van for work or other hauling purposes – it’s worth noting that the middle cross piece does rattle against the main body rather. Perhaps the addition of a rubber bumper – or even a magnet like the one that holds the main body together when folded – would be a good addition to prevent this.
In the garage, the BikeStow feels like it takes up room, although the reality is that when filled with bikes it is storing them very efficiently. The racks come in different sizes, and it’s worth noting that once you’ve used the rack to store one bike, the rest of the rack is taking up a fair amount of space – you can’t fold the unused bit away. If you’re pushed for space, it’s probably better to have a smaller rack than really necessary, rather than have perpetual vacant slots.
Getting the bikes into the rack is reasonably easy, though the clashing of bars (especially wide MTB bars) and getting the wheel up and into the rack can be slightly tricky in an enclosed or cluttered space. You really want some side access, or you can’t lift the bike into the slot, and you can’t reach to secure the ‘guillotines’ in place.
You’ll need to figure out some kind of security system – probably a wall or ground anchor with substantial cable looped through them and all the bikes. There isn’t really an easy way to attach a lock to a bike and then the the rack itself – obviously that’s only ever going to be a deterrent, what with it being made of wood – but for cafes or business who want to use this to offer a bike parking space, I think some kind of individual metal staple for each slot would be welcome. Even an extra hole cut out in the wood might do the trick. Folks looking to use the rack in this way should note that it is not waterproof – so it’s not a year round and wet weather solution. It is however suggested that varnishing would help protect the laminate layers if you did want to give it some protection from rain.
There are some limitations on what will fit: it won’t support smaller than a 26inch wheel, so you can forget using it to hold your kids’ bikes or BMX. The laminated version that we have will take up to 27.5x3in or 29×2.5in, while the ‘raw’ version will apparently take 27.5×2.6in or 29×2.5in. Road bikes fit in no problem, if that’s how you roll.
It’s a substantial and stable bike racking solution, probably best suited to garages with a permanent number of bikes that matches the number of slots, since empty slots make for a very inefficient use of space. For those that want something simple and off the peg that just works and doesn’t need screwing into a wall, this is a pricey but sturdy option, but don’t forget to figure out a security solution.