When you’re not riding your bicycle, you’re going to have to find a place to store it. If there is limited room in your house or garage, hanging your bike can be an excellent space-saving solution.
Before you hang your bike, you might wonder which wheel you should hang it by. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as there are instances where either choice might work best. However…
In most cases it is better to hang your bicycle by the back wheel as opposed to hanging if from the front wheel. This will mean there is less wear and tear on moving parts, and also the bike won’t move around as much while hanging.
However, there are many instances which are exceptions to the rule, and I’m going to dive into lots of these shortly.
I’ll show you why in general hanging your bike by the back wheel makes more sense, and throw some light on what to do with all the many specific types of bicycles out there.
First, let’s take a look at the reasons for hanging your bike from the back wheel…
It Will Be Easier To Hang
As anyone who has ever hung a bike in a tall garage can attest, it is much easier to lift the bike up rear-end first. This is because you won’t have to contend with a floppy front wheel and spinning handlebars. If you’ve never experienced the pain of getting smacked in the face by a rogue handlebar when lifting a bike front first, consider yourself lucky.
Less Wear On Moving Parts
Because the rear part of the frame on most bicycles is a fixed, solid piece, (except for full suspension mountain bikes and folding bikes), hanging the bike by the back wheel won’t put any undue pressure on bearings or fork seals.
On the contrary, hanging a bike by its front wheel can potentially put pressure on the headset and fork. Both of these components are made up of numerous small parts that allow them to function properly. While it’s true that bicycles are designed to experience rapid, compressive forces, these components are not meant to be under sustained, tensile force. This can lead to premature wear on these parts over time.
This of course will have a detrimental effect on your cycling performance. (Source)
It Won’t Move Around As Much
Because the steerer tube (the long, cylindrical piece of the fork that runs through the frame and connects to the stem and handlebars) is the primary point of movement on a bicycle’s frame, a bike hanging from its front wheel runs a higher risk of rotating and swinging into something than a bike hanging by its rear wheel.
Keep this in mind if there are objects in the vicinity that would cause damage to your bike were it to swing into and hit it. The last thing you want to explain to your riding buddies is that the scratch on your new carbon road bike is from an unfortunate encounter with the table saw you have sitting in your garage.
Exceptions: When You May Want to Hang Your Bike By The Front Wheel
Despite the back wheel being the better choice in many situations, there are times you may actually want to hang your bike from its front wheel.
You can place the Rear Wheel on the Ground
If you’re able to mount your hook low enough so that the rear wheel rests on the ground, then you may prefer to hang the bike from the front wheel. This will make hanging a simple process, as all you will have to do is roll your bike back onto its rear wheel and onto the hook. As a bonus, you’ll have more space for on-the-ground storage than you would if the bike were upside down.
This may be the case when you are hanging your bike temporarily on public transport. (Source)
You’re Hanging Multiple Bikes
If you’re trying to fit more than one bike into a small space, then you may choose to hang one from its rear wheel, and the other from its front wheel. This will allow you to fit the two bikes closer to one another than if you tried to hang them both facing the same direction. You will often see this at bike shops, where many bikes in a repair room are hung nose to tail to create as much storage space as possible.
Tips For Safely Hanging Your Bike
Now that we’ve established the best way to hang a bike by its wheel, let’s dive a bit deeper into some best practices.
Be Gentle When Hanging It
Whether you use your bike for transportation, fitness, or simply for fun, your bike deserves to be treated with respect. Don’t throw it up on the hook aggressively, which could cause the rim or spokes to be bent or scratched.
Use A Rubber Coated Hook
Never hang your bike by a metal hook or mount, as that can easily scratch or dent your wheel. A rubber hook will allow your bike to remain still as it hangs, with less chance of scuffing the rim. Pro Tip: Wrap the hook with an old innertube to increase thickness and reduce the wear on the hook’s rubber coating. You’ll get more life out of your hook, since you’ll be creating a wider contact point for the bike’s rim.
Make Sure Hooks Are Secure
When installing your bike hooks, make sure to fasten them securely. Always make sure hooks are mounted into wall studs or to some other solid attachment point. There’s nothing worse than being awoken in the middle of the night to the sound of your bike crashing to the floor and taking a big chunk of drywall with it.
Check To Make Sure Axles Are Tight
Hanging your bike is a great time to check and make sure that the axles on your bike are tightened down correctly. Not only will this ensure your bike doesn’t come unattached when you hang it, but as a bonus, consider it a mini safety-check before you go on your next ride.
When Not To Hang A Bike By Its Wheel
While most bikes will be just fine if left hanging, there are some instances when it is best to avoid hanging for longer than a few days, or even all together. The following types of bicycles should not be hung by either wheel for an extended period of time:
Bikes with Carbon-Fairing Wheels
Bikes with carbon-fairing rims should not be hung. With this type of wheel, the carbon is non-structural, and the spokes actually attach to an inner aluminum rim. This can make the wheel more brittle under tensile loads, and there are reports of this type of rim sustaining damage from being hung.
Bikes with Hydraulic Disc Brakes
It is not uncommon for a bike with hydraulic disc brakes to have a bit of air trapped in the tubing. If a bike is hung from a wheel (in this case it could be front or rear), air bubbles can move from the housing, and into the calipers. This can make the brakes feel spongy and soft. It can also cause damage to the brake caliper if the air remains trapped in them.
If you do hang a bike with hydraulic disc brakes and you notice a significant lack of grab next time you go to ride it, it may be a sign that it’s time to bleed your brakes.
Excessively Heavy Bikes
Bikes that are very heavy in proportion to their wheels should not be hung. Many bike hooks and racks have limits, and many don’t recommend using them with bikes in excess of 40 pounds.
Not only do many electric bikes exceed the weight limit for many bike hooks and racks, but many come with “do not hang” warnings from the manufacturer. This is primarily because of the distribution of weight within an electric bicycle is different from that of regular bikes: Most e-bikes have heavy batteries and drive motors, which concentrate a high-percentage of the bike’s overall weight into its downtube or rear-hub. E-bikes should always be stored upright and standing on both wheels.
If you are unsure if your bike should be hung by its wheel, it is always a good idea to check with the manufacturer if they recommend storing the bike in a hanging position.
Other Options For Hanging Your Bicycle
Hanging a bike by one of its wheels isn’t the only option when it comes to bike storage. There are several racks on the market that mount the bike from the frame. There are even floor stands that will hold your bike vertical, while bracing your bike upright by the rear.
As you can see, there are plenty of options for safely storing your bicycle, so chances are you’ll be able to find something that works for you.