Storing your bicycle, whether it is a slim and sleek road one or a bit hefty electric, can be a bit of a problem when you are limited by the available space.
For many people hanging them vertically is a space-saving solution. But is it OK to store bikes vertically?
If your bike has mechanical brakes and mechanical suspension, it doesn’t matter do you store it vertically, horizontally, diagonally, or at an angle in all three dimensions. But if they have hydraulic components certain already existing problems could become evident.
Let’s get into the details.
Is it OK to store bikes vertically?
As I’ve said above whether the said bike has mechanical brakes and suspension or hydraulic plays a role. For mechanical components, it just doesn’t matter how the bike is oriented in storage.
While for bikes with hydraulic components, certain “pre-existing conditions” can become obvious after storing it vertically.
For many people, the concern is that many systems for vertical storage are consisting of a hook you hang the front wheel on.
They worry that the rim could bend out of shape. When hanging, depending on the weight of the bike, there is up to 45lbs of static force acting on the rim. Which is actually nothing compared to the hundreds of pounds the rim can withstand when riding.
The bottom line is, it’s perfectly safe to store a bike vertically, except if there is already a certain problem with it. Which I will cover later on.
Read also >> Bike Noise When Pedaling (6 Reasons Why)
Why store bikes vertically?
First and foremost, it saves space, especially floor space and if you have more than one bike. Yes, there are things like floor bike racks, that can help keep storage organized and neat. But, if you have several bikes of different types, racks can be a problem.
Spacing for tires can be an unsurmountable problem as some racks are for the road and others are for mountain bikes.
Then, there are always chances of actually scraping your front fork on the rack itself, snagging brake or transmission cables, and so on. Accidents easily happen.
Is it OK for bikes with hydraulic brakes?
You can find a lot of articles and questions related to hanging vertically bikes with hydraulic brakes. People generally worry about how the hydraulic fluid in brakes will behave when a bike is in a position that is not the one in which it is intended to be used.
Such concerns are valid, but most of the time unfounded.
Hydraulic brakes are a closed system, and everything is properly closed and sealed and the oil should not leak from them. The only possible problem can be if your brakes already have air in them and are in need of bleeding.
The air in the brake system will move close to the brake bars, and they will be spongy and unresponsive after storing your bike vertically.
But, this sponginess is actually just a temporary problem, when you put the bike in a horizontal position and squeeze brakes repeatedly for a while it will go away.
But it also serves the function of reminding you that you haven’t bled your brakes. And being embarrassed that you have failed to perform regular maintenance of the brakes is the worst thing that can happen.
Is it OK for bikes with hydraulic suspension?
When it comes to bikes with hydraulic suspension you can read a lot of warnings about how hanging them vertically can ruin the seals of the hydraulic cylinder.
And those warnings are without merits, but there are some very important things to know. So, what is the actual situation?
When riding on very rough terrain, hydraulic suspension travels very fast up and down on impacts. This is known to create air bubbles in their cylinder. If a bike is stored horizontally, these bubbles travel upward and collect around the cylinder rubber seal.
Because the rubber is thus exposed to air, it will start drying and deteriorating.
This will certainly happen if the bike is left standing around unused for at least 2 years. Yep, you read it right, years.
So, storing horizontally a bike with hydraulic suspension over winter is safe. But, now you are asking, what’s with storing vertically?
In that case, the oil flows into the upper part of the hydraulic shocks, soaking the seals and protecting them from the air that might be present in the shocks, and so protecting them.
How to know that brakes need bleeding?
Unbaled hydraulic brakes are the only thing that could lead to any kind of problem when storing a bike vertically. Air bubbles will travel near the brake lever and will cause them to be spongy and not brake properly.
This air prevents the lever motion to build hydraulic pressure in the brake line that activates the brake, because the air is compressible, as opposed to brake fluid.
The general recommendation is to bleed your brake once a year, so if 12 months or 52 weeks have passed since you did it last time, that is a sure sign you should do it.
But a sure sign that they need bleeding is when you start noticing a different feeling of pulling the brake lever.
For example, there could be a difference in resistance between levers when you pull them, and also one could return to starting position slower than the other after being released. Another sign is the uneven brake feel when depressing them.
As winter is approaching, many people wonder if it is OK to store bikes vertically, especially those that have hydraulic components.
The bottom line is that it is more than OK. If your hydraulic brakes are regularly bled, there will be no problems with them.
Hydraulic suspension, because of the construction actually has benefits if the bike is long-term stored vertically. If there is any air in them, in such a position the most important component, rubber seals, will be protected from it.
While for bikes with mechanical components, it just doesn’t matter.