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So you’re a fair weather cyclist. That’s OK. We’re not judging.
Plenty of people dust off the bike in the spring, ride into the fall as long as they can, and then just tuck the wheels away until next year. And that’s fine, because every little bit helps both for your health and for the environment.
But when it comes time to put your bike away for a while, you might not have the luxury of keeping it in a dry, indoor space. If your bike must stay outdoors for an extended period of time, it’s important to know your outdoor bike storage options.
For backyard bike storage a standard garden shed can get the job done. If you have one, then maybe you’re all set. If not, then fortunately there are more bike-specific solutions out there. We’ll go over them here.
3 ways to store your bike outdoors
It can be a challenge to safely store your bike outdoors. Inclement weather and thieves are common problems when storing bikes outdoors. Here are three of the more common options for external cycle storage:
1. Bike storage shed
Bike storage sheds are strong, compact, weatherproof structures usually made of metal, wood or plastic. A bicycle shed usually doesn’t usually offer a lot of head room, so it might be more accurate to call it a bike storage box. Whatever you call it, it can protect bikes from both thieves and bad weather.
Bike storage sheds can be locked securely and hold several bikes. They usually have simple designs that are easy to clean and maintain. You can quickly and easily assemble them with just a few tools.
- small enough to fit most yards
- protects bikes
- allows easy access
- highly visible and tempting to thieves
- still exposes bikes to extreme changes in temperature
- can be expensive
Our metal bike shed recommendationCheck availability
The Hanover Galvanized Steel Bicycle Storage Shed is a great bike shed for four bikes. It’s strong, durable, attractive, secure, and has the size and floor space for a full family of bikes. This galvanized steel bike storage unit is 80.4 inches long, 80.4 inches wide and 63.6 inches tall, which should also hold some supplies. It has an efficient, low-profile design and it resists fire, water, rust , mildew and rot.
Our wooden bike shed recommendation
A wooden bike shed is not too hard to put together yourself, given the relatively simple design. Most of these kits are intended for bikes, garden tools and lawn mowers, so they’re quite a bit more spacious than the Hanover shed described above.
You have to buy the lumber yourself, but it’s nothing fancy—just a lot of 2x4s and particle board. The kit comes with all the steel brackets and other hardware you’ll need, and easy-to-follow instructions. If you have a saw and a drill, you’re good to go.
This Custom Shed Kit from 2x4basics is a great example:Check availability
Our plastic bike shed recommendation
A plastic bike storage shed like this Rubbermaid unit is your third option. The major benefit of plastic is that it will not rot like wood, and it won’t rust like metal. On the other hand, it will be the least stable of the three if you’re in an area that encounters high winds.Check availability
In terms of security, a metal bike shed would be most secure because they usually have reinforced hinges and often a protective hood covering the lock. Vulnerable doors on wooden sheds make them the least secure, while plastic probably falls somewhere in the middle.
2. Bike storage tent
Bike storage tents are portable, durable, inexpensive temporary bike shelters that are easy to assemble and disassemble. Typically they’re made from heavy-duty vinyl and polyester. Bike storage tents can protect bikes from the weather (except the cold, of course!) and keep them clean and dry. They can usually hold two bikes. It’s an inexpensive bike storage solution.
- weather resistant to keep bikes safe from rain, snow, hail, dirt and mud
- quickly assembled and disassembled with few tools
- holds at least two bikes
- ineffective against thieves
- can catch a strong wind and topple, potentially damaging bikes inside
Our bike tent recommendationCheck availability
The Leeworks Bike Storage Tent has heavy-duty construction and is made of durable weatherproof material. It’s 72 inches long, 65 inches tall and 32 inches wide, with room for two bikes and their accessories. This bike storage tent is affordable and versatile enough for use at home or on the road. It has zippers along the top and bottom of the door, allowing for a good seal that will keep water, snow, mud and moisture out. It can be assembled and disassembled in 10 minutes, needing no more skill or tools than you would need for a camping tent. A travel case makes transporting and storing it a breeze.
3. Bike storage covers
Bike covers are made of durable Oxford, tarpaulin or nylon-polyester blend. You just place it over your bicycles and then just zip, buckle or fasten it to keep your bike clean and protect it from the weather and prying eyes. They protect against UV rays, water, wind, dust, snow or hail.
Quality bike storage covers have double-stitched seams, adjustable buckles, metal lock holes and drawstrings for tightening at the bike’s base to keep it more snugly protected.
- easy to use
- can carry them while you ride
- set up in seconds
- don’t provide much protection from thieves
- can catch wind like a sail and send bikes tumbling
- many can’t be used on car bike racks
Our bike cover recommendationCheck availability
The Puroma XL Bike Cover keeps rain, UV rays, dust, wind and debris off bikes when they are parked. These extra large covers are made from waterproof, superior PU and UV coated polyester, and 190T Oxford cloth which is UV-proof up to 50+. Its secure, practical design features a double-stitched elastic hem, specially designed buckles to provide a snug, secure fit on windy days, and a lock-hole design for locking the bike with the cover on it. With dimensions of 78.7 x 43.3 x 27.5 inches, it can fit bikes with wheels up to 29 inches.
4. Outdoor bike storage accessories
Bike stands are a popular and useful bike storage accessory. They help keep bicycles upright, stable, secure and safe when used in combination with outdoor protective sheds, tents and covers. They are typically made of metal or heavy duty plastic. Many are small and lightweight enough to carry with you when you ride.
Bike stands can be free-standing or attached to the ground, the floor of a bike shed, or to stationary objects like poles or buildings. Locking a bike to stand in a protective shelter can help prevent strong winds from knocking the bike over. It can also thwart thieves.
Our bike stand recommendationCheck availability
The BIKEHAND Bicycle Parking Rack Stand is a great choice for parking, securing and storing road and mountain bikes indoors in garages, or outdoors in protective bike shelters. Made from high quality, durable, heat-treated steel, it has a simple push-in design that’s effortless to use. It can hold almost any bike with 2.4-inch tires or smaller, using three touchpoints for stability. It’s lightweight, foldable and portable enough to carry on rides.
No matter which storage solution you choose, you can add another layer of security by using a standard bike lock in combination with it.
You shouldn’t have to buy a separate lock for storing your bike than you use for everyday use, so we’ll recommend two that work just fine for both. Take them with you when you ride, or lock your bike up with them for the entire offseason.
Our bike lock recommendations
The Hiplok Gold Chain is a chain lock that will hold up well over long periods. It’s designed to be worn around your waist when you ride, so that solves the problem of where to put your lock while cycling.Check availability
The Abus Bordo Granit X Plus 6500 is a folding lock with a design that is very frustrating for would-be thieves. The flexible pivot points all around the lock make it very difficult for tools to get any traction when trying to breach it. Plus, they allow the lock to fold nicely into a carrying case for easy transport in a backpack or pannier.Check availability
What happens when you store your bike outside
When bikes are stored outdoors with no shelter, their components like gears and brakes begin to degrade. If they are exposed to rain, hot sun and humidity, these parts can rust and corrode. If the weather is bad enough, within a week visible signs of deterioration begin to appear on important parts of even the best bicycles.
Moisture quickly makes the chain begin to rust. Prolonged exposure to hot sun makes plastic and rubber parts become brittle and degrade. The paint begins to fade. Bolts and bearings will rust, corrode and seize up. Oxide will form on steel brake and gear cables, making shifting and braking difficult. The outer cable housing will rot and crack, and the wires inside degrade further.
How to prepare your bike for outdoor storage
To store your bike outside without rusting requires a little planning, time and money.
First, clean and dry the bike thoroughly. Covering a bike while it’s wet can cause corrosion.
Put waterproof grease on the chain, gears, bolts, bearings, pin bushings, fasteners and cables. The grease provides a barrier against water and moisture.
Use a wet lube that won’t wash off easily and provides lasting protection from corrosion on the frame, fenders, seat post and other exposed metal.
Store your bike standing up. Put something between the tires and the ground or take off the wheels to prevent the tires from being in direct contact with the wet ground for weeks at a time. This can cause them to deteriorate.
Securing your bike outdoors
Bikes stored outside are easy for thieves to spot and plot to steal. Bike sheds, tents and covers can hide your bike from the prying eyes of thieves, but getting into them and gaining access to your bike is relatively easy.
When storing your bike outdoors, chain and lock it to strong permanent structures. Don’t put pictures of your expensive new bike and its storage space on social media. If possible, store your bike somewhere you can monitor it.
Get the strongest storage enclosure you can afford. Try to get one with no windows. Reinforce the door hinges, add hasps and padlocks and fit an inexpensive alarm to it. Some basic security measures can dissuade all but the most determined bike thieves.
If you live in an apartment, see our post on how to store your bike in or around an apartment.
Featured image: Henry Burrows | Creative Commons