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A bicycle parking rack, usually shortened to bike rack and also called a bicycle stand, is a device to which bicycles can be securely attached for parking purposes.

A bike rack may be free standing or it may be securely attached to the ground or some stationary object such as a building. Indoor bike racks are commonly used for private bicycle parking, while outdoor bike racks are often used in commercial areas. General styles of racks include the Inverted U, Serpentine, Bollard, Grid, and Decorative. The most effective and secure bike racks are those that can secure both wheels and the frame of the bicycle, using a bicycle lock.

Bike racks can be constructed from a number of different materials. Durability, weather resistance, appearance, and functionality are extremely important variables of the material of the bike rack. Construction materials include stainless steel, steel, recycled plastic, or thermoplastic. Each material has advantages and disadvantages, and each is unique in appearance from the others.

The visibility of the bike rack, adequate spacing from automobile parking and pedestrian traffic, weather coverage, and proximity to destinations are all important factors determining usefulness of a bicycle rack. These factors will help increase usage of the bike rack, and assure cyclists their bike is securely parked.

Early models tend to offer a means of securing one wheel: these can be a grooved piece of concrete in the ground, a forked piece of metal into which a wheel of the bicycle is pushed, or a horizontal "ladder" providing positions for the front wheel of many bicycles. These are not very effective, since a thief need only detach the wheel in question from the bicycle to free the rest of the bicycle. They also do not offer much support, and a row of bicycles in this type of stand are susceptible to all being toppled in a domino effect. These types of stand are known as "wheel benders" among cyclists.

Sheffield racks

A modern version is known as the "Sheffield rack" or "Sheffield stand" after the city of Sheffield in England where these were pioneered. These consist of a thick metal bar or tube bent into the shape of a square arch. The top part is about level with the top bar of the bicycle frame, and thus supports the bicycle and allows the frame to be secured. The origin of the racks was when the frugal citizens of Sheffield had to decide what to do with some old gas piping.

Local cyclists suggested the cycle rack idea and two simple bends later, and a little concrete in the ground, the rack was born. At the time this was a revolution in a world of 'single-point holders' that bent wheels and offered little lockability for frames. A version of this design feature a second, lower horizontal bar to support smaller bikes, and are coated to reduce their surface hardness and to not scratch the bike's paintwork.

Ladder type in Germany

Since 1984 the City of Toronto has installed post and ring bicycle racks consisting of a steel bollard or post topped by a cast aluminium ring. In August 2006, it became publicly known that these stands could be defeated by prying the ring off with a two-by-four.

In Amsterdam two-tiered bicycle stands are ubiquitous. Bikes can be parked in a smaller area as the handlebars of every other one is at a different height. These racks are made of steel and have a large bar to which the frame may be easily locked. Most Dutch bicycles have a rear wheel lock, so that wheel need not be locked.

Bike Parking Classes

Bike parking needs vary from environment to environment.

Class I

Some locations require Class I standards or otherwise known as, long-term bike parking. Class I parking regulations are implemented when bicycles will be parked for hours at a time. Examples of these environments are office buildings, elementary schools, libraries, etc. When implementing Class I bike racks, installers should also incorporate some form of weather protection for the racks and bikes.

Class II

More commonly seen in public areas are Class II bike racks. These bike racks are needed when cyclists will be leaving their bikes unattended for less than two hours. Weather protection is not as important for this class, however proximity to main attractions and public visibility should be considered to encourage usage and enhance security. Class II bike racks can be implemented near restaurants, parks, picnic areas, or other similar places.

Many different styles of bike rack are available to match any environment. Specific details such as bolt size, tubing diameter, tubing style (square or round), height, length, and many other things vary with manufacturer, but typically, there are six general styles of commercial bike rack.

U-rack Staple, Sheffield rack Basic bike rack that is used in urban areas because it can be placed along sidewalks without taking too much space away from pedestrians.
A tube of black-painted metal bent into a tall U shape and bolted at both ends to a concrete slab, in front of a brick pathway and iron railings.

U-rack bolted to the ground. Unknown location.
View from high elevation of four ranks of dozens of U-racks set in concrete in front of a glass-fronted building, with disabled car parking spaces in the foreground.

The wave is an extension of the U-Rack. Waves accommodate more bicycles than the single U-rack, but only support a bicycle frame at one point (as opposed to two points with a U-rack), resulting in a greater chance of the bicycle falling over when parked in the rack.

Ground-level view of a black-painted metal square tube bent into a curved M shape and bolted to concrete by a road. In the background are two cars parked in front of a long building.

A white-painted round metal tube bent into a double M shape and set in concrete in front of a grassy verge and a brick wall.

Bollards are short vertical posts most commonly used as traffic or parking barriers. Bollard style bike racks add one or two arms to which bikes may be secured. Post-and-ring racks are a North American variant on the bollard type.

A ring with a stylized bicycle inside, with riveted to a post (running through the ring), all of galvanized metal. It is set in a concrete slab in front of a brick wall.

Bollard-style rack in Seattle, Washington, United States
Unpainted steel rings, each welded to a steel post (running through it), set in concrete slabs. A cyclist is passing by from left to right on the cycle path behind.

Ladder The grid consists of vertical bars that connect larger upper and lower metal tubing that accept bikes on one or both sides of the rack. Grid style racks can be left freestanding or anchored to the ground with permanent or temporary anchors. This rack does not allow both the wheel and frame of the bike to be locked, allowing for potential theft of the bicycle.

A rusty metal A-frame with horizontal bars at the top and bottom joined by eleven vertical bars. It stands free on concrete in front of a join between a brick wall and a plaster wall.

Innovative designs incorporate both utility and style. Many bike rack engineers have made small alterations to basic bike racks to improve functionality and appearance.

An array of sixteen or so parking spots for bicycles. Each is a square metal bar angled at 45 degrees from the ground with a parallel loop of thinner round tubing at the top. They are set in a row with the bars pointing in alternating directions. A pink ladies' bicycle with a shipping basket is parked in one. Another row of them is mostly out of frame to the left with a mountain bike parked in it. In the background is a car park with trees.

An innovative type of bicycle rack in Davis, California
An open A-frame of thick steel tubing. Attached underneath the crossbar is a spiral of thinner metal tubing. It is painted blue, but much of the paint has flaked off, leaving rust. A mountain bike and a child's bike are parked in it and two abandoned D-locks hang from it. In the background is a brick-and-plaster building and behind the rack, to the right, is a car parking space.

In response to the often unique nature of commercial areas, some environments require a more decorative bike rack. For example, a public aquarium or zoo may prefer a shark shaped bike rack over a traditional style bike rack.

A bike rack shaped like a stylized bicycle with a rider with hair streaming in the wind. It is painted yellow and set in tarmac at the edge of a road between two large concrete plant pots. A folded bicycle is parked there and an abandoned chain hangs from it. Behind, two women walk past on the sidewalk in front of black iron railings.

Decorative bike rack in downtown Brooklyn, New York City
The outline of a silhouette of a naked woman leaning back, in galvanized steel, on a street curb. It has a bicycle with a shopping basket chained to it.

A Two-tier bike racks can be used to increase bicycle storage capacity in a fixed space. In order to easily maneuver a bicycle onto the top tier, some double deck bike racks incorporate hydraulic pistons to lift the bike into the rack after the user has locked it.

In-ground: The base of the bike rack is planted into the ground, and secured by a perpendicular anchor pin for stability. These stable mounts are most secure from theft or vandalism.

Surface: Flanges extending outwards from the base of the bike rack are secured into existing concrete with lag bolts. For added support, surface mounts can also include triangular brackets, also referred to as gusset plates, to reinforce the connection between the flange and tubing. Surface mounts with this extra support are called gusset mounts. Surface and gusset mounts are used to secure a bike rack into an existing piece of concrete.

Rail mounts: Some bike rack units can be connected with rails. This type allows using single bike racks, while limiting the number of mounts be implemented. Rail mounts are mostly used to connect multiple ‘U’ Racks so each rack need not be mounted, saving labor costs and limiting the number of holes in the surface.

Wall Mounts: Certain bike racks are designed to be mounted to the wall using bolts to connect flanges of the rack onto existing walls. These conserve floor space and are most useful for long-term storage.

Removable Mounts: Some models of bike stands and bike bollards can be installed with mounting systems that allow them to become temporarily removable. Removable mountings are used in areas where removing the bike stand or bike bollard could permit temporary access to emergency, delivery and maintenance vehicles.

A free-standing bike rack, consisting of galvanized steel tubing bent into multiple square loops set at 45 degrees, on concrete slabs in front of a concrete wall.

Two bicycle racks shaped like stylized bicycles, in metal with a gloss black finish, each set in a rectangle of concrete within a floor of small ceramic tiles, in front of a white-painted concrete block wall. The one in the background has a mountain bike chained to it.

Commercial bike racks can be constructed with a variety of different materials. Some of the most important factors to consider when choosing a finishing material are the weather conditions the bike rack will need to endure, the overall style and look of the atmosphere, the volume of bikes the rack will be holding, and environmental issues.

Galvanized: Galvanized bike racks are the best value finish. They are inexpensive, and provide a thin layer of zinc for corrosion protection. The appearance is a dull gray color, with little to no shine.

Powder-coat: This finish is usually available in a wide range of colors. It is achieved by a dry-powder coat that provides a durable outer layer that has a high gloss appearance and excellent weather resistance.

Thermoplastic-coated: This polyethylene matte finish is usually available in a wide range of colors as well. The powder coating, applied for corrosion protection, can easily match existing surroundings, and creates a finish without runs or drips.

Recycled plastic: Recycled plastic bike racks are composed of recycled materials, up to 96% recycled. It does not splinter or crack, is more fire-safe than wood, and does not emit harmful chemicals into the environment.

Stainless steel: Stainless steel is the most durable material for a bike rack. It has maximum corrosion protection, is antimicrobial, and has a glossy appearance that is easy to clean and maintain.

eSteel: The eSteel process produces a durable and uniform finish. The process is environmentally friendly, and is compliant with regulations of the US OSHA and EPA agencies.

Where a bike rack is installed is just as important as how safe and useful it is. The better the location, the more use the bike rack will encourage. Bike racks should be installed in an area that is highly visible to the public. By avoiding isolated areas and hidden spaces, cyclists will feel safe enough to lock their bikes there.

Crowded locations will also deter bike thieves from stealing bicycles. Also, by placing bike racks in a highly visible area, the location will most likely be near common places of interest, making it more convenient for people to ride their bike to their destinations.

However, while a bike rack should be implemented in a visible area, it is important that the bike rack have adequate spacing away from pedestrians and other traffic. Bike riders will need ample space to maneuver their bike around and into the rack, without hitting other parked bikes, cars, or people. It is also important to place bike racks far enough away from doorways, sidewalks, or paths where it may obstruct traffic flow.

Another important factor to consider is weather protection. If bike racks are being used for long-term parking, the bike rack should be placed under some form of weather protection. This will not only help protect the bike rack from corrosion, but also encourage bike riders to store their bikes there for extended periods of time.

Although the primary use for a bicycle stand is for parking, it is useful at times to use it for adjustments. While it is difficult to spin a rear wheel while making derailleur adjustments, if a stand were high enough to support the rear of the bike by the saddle nose, then this problem could be solved. Generally speaking, stands are not high enough for this and quite often have bracings and other obstructions in their construction that would prevent such use.

Replacing in a garage, a single car parking place, by a set of U-rack parking spots.

  • Bicycle parking, general topic of parking bicycles.
  • Bicycle tree, automated bicycle storage device.
  • Bicycle locker, a similar device, that can offer even more security.
  • Bicycle parking station, a purpose-built building or structure for the secure parking of bicycles.
  • Sucker Pole: a term referring to insecure poles from which parked bicycles get stolen easily.
  • Bicycle lock, a device to secure a bicycle to a bike rack.
  • Work stand, a device for holding a bicycle still to facilitate working on it.

The term bike rack can also refer to:

Bicycle Carrier, a device attached to a car, bus or other vehicle which is used to transport bicycles.

Luggage carrier, a frame or device attached to a bicycle to facilitate carrying loads, usually by attaching panniers or baskets to them.