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Bike Storage for Tiny Homes

Recently, a reader emailed me and asked:

I was wondering about bike storage in/on a tiny house. I’ve thought about installing bike hooks on one side of the house and locking the bike to it, but the weather in the northwest is often hard on a bike.

I even thought about trying to make a space above the porch and under the roof, with a pulley system to get the bike up under protected cover. But I’m not sure if it will fit. Is the answer a tiny garage or storage shed to go with the tiny house? Any thoughts on that?

We’ve considered…

1. Mounting the bikes on the tiny house.
2. Building a tiny shed for the bikes.
3. Or storing the bikes in a neighbor’s garage.

Bike storage concerns aren’t a problem right now. Luckily our new apartment has bike storage in the basement. Now we don’t have to drag the bikes up and down the stairs. But I’m afraid storing the bikes in our future tiny house will be difficult.

What are your thoughts on this topic? And do you have any creative design ideas?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Matt February 11, 2010, 11:03 am

    I’m not a tiny house person (though I’m intrigued by those who are!), but I know that if I don’t have proper space to store and maintain my bicycles, they become dirty and neglected.

    If you have sufficient space in the house to work on the bike though (and a work stand… right? Like Park Tools PCS-9, for example), then storage is the big problem. I’d suggest perhaps a bike locker-sized bump-out on the side or back of the house if you want to keep things small (a small shed would work too, but might be an invitation for accumulating more Stuff). It would only need to be slightly bigger than the bike(s), and would probably look a lot like those little areas for storing firewood or trash cans (heck, you could model it after that too and have both and moving door and a moving roof if you wanted). You could probably integrate some nice storage into that for any other bike/outdoorsy stuff as well.

    Mounting the bikes on the house doesn’t seem nice to the bikes, and it seems like hanging them on the walls of a tiny house would sort of dominate your living area. Storing them in a neighbor’s house seems inconvenient (and presumes a nice neighbor) – it also makes it seem (to me) like you’d be giving in a bit – sort of saying that a tiny house works for you, EXCEPT for bike storage. Which just doesn’t seem right to me. If you’re going to do this, you should be doing it so that it works COMPLETELY.

    So that was way longer than I meant it to be, but hey it’s what you get on my lunch break.

    • Tammy February 11, 2010, 12:09 pm

      @Matt – I disagree with your take on storing bikes at a neighbors house. For me part of living small means seeking out community and realizing I don’t have to do everything myself. So I don’t think storing the bikes at a neighbors house would be a bad thing. But that is also assuming we would have a good relationship with our future neighbors and we would also give them gifts in return. If a neighbor was kind enough to let us store our bikes at their home, I would love to do something good for them. And that might mean cooking them a weekly dinner, watching their kids or helping maintain their yard.

      I think you’re right on about making sure the bikes are maintained and stored. We have a work stand and that would fit in our future tiny home. And I really like the idea of the bike locker or some type of shed. It’s really fun thinking all this through.

      Thanks for your input. I appreciate it. πŸ™‚

      • TerryDarc August 8, 2010, 11:38 am

        Nice thots on community, Tammy! I like the idea of being interdependent. Think someone once said that receiving is often the kindest/nicest thing you can do.

        How about underneath the trailer part of your tiny home – assuming it’s on wheels.

        Best wishes from Ashland,
        Terry

  • David February 11, 2010, 11:42 am

    Since most tiny houses have pitched roofs and lofts that do not cover the entire living space, why not put some bike hooks into the rafters? There are also bike hangers that have pulleys so you could raise them that way to a height out of your way if lifting the bike by hand is burdensome. That way, you can take the bikes inside and store them out of your way, but have them accessible whenever you need them. Amazon has one on sale for $12.85–order two and the shipping is free:

    • Tammy February 11, 2010, 12:11 pm

      @David – great suggestions. The idea of a pulley system is intriguing. I’ll have to check out the contraption on Amazon. Thanks for reading the blog! πŸ™‚

  • Liz February 11, 2010, 1:06 pm

    Glenn & I are having this very same issue. He already has two bikes and has ANOTHER TWO being built right now lol. I think in one of your posts you had pictures of your home and a stand-up bike rack? I had been meaning to ask where you got it.

    • Tammy February 11, 2010, 1:12 pm

      TWO more! Why so many?!

      Yes we had a great bike stand for our place in Sacramento. It was a huge space saver. But you have to be careful with the bikes against the wall – it’s really easy to scuff the paint. ): I think we ordered the bike stand from amazon.com.

      If you google bike storage, you’ll find a lot of cool stuff. I’ll ask Logan where he ordered our stand. πŸ™‚

  • keeping up with the kozlowskis February 11, 2010, 1:09 pm

    Hello Tammy love the photo, we are planning on living in our caravan (house trailer for you Americans) this summer. Our caravan is on wheels and has 4 wheels in the centre. When we are off the road it is very important that we raise the caravan on to blocks so there is no weight on the tyres. If you don’t take the weight of the tyres they go flat and can explode really easily when you’re on the road. Your tiny house is on wheels as well do you have to do the same raise it on to blocks? Well we found that under our caravan was a great place for keeping our bikes and other things out of the way?

    • Tammy February 11, 2010, 1:16 pm

      We don’t own a tiny home yet. Right now we are in a small apartment and have bike storage on site, which is a really nice bonus!

      Logan and I were just talking about how we could store some of our extra stuff under the tiny home. My friend Dee has a tiny home on wheels and I think she raises it because of the tire issue. I’ll have to talk with her about that in more detail. πŸ™‚

      Thanks for leaving a comment and good luck on your summer adventure!

  • Matt February 11, 2010, 1:19 pm

    @ Liz –
    Amazon list of indoor bike racks

    @ Tammy –
    Bikes are awesome πŸ™‚ There’s always a good reason to get another one… if it wasn’t for financial constraints I’d have more than I do now! (3) I confess I’m slightly puzzled by getting two AT ONCE (and having someone else build them for you). I prefer to space my bike acquisitions out…

  • Ted February 11, 2010, 3:27 pm

    Will you really need a ridgid enclosure for your bikes? If you’re not planning to build your house in a high-crime area a rack or ‘hitching post’ to lock your bikes to should be sufficient. This rack should be secured in concrete so while you’re mixing the concrete (or have the truck there) you might want to pour a pad around the rack large enough to park the bikes on. You might also want to put some small anchors (small eye bolts will work) around the perimeter of the slab. These would be handy for securing a tarp or bike covers to protect your bikes from the weather.

    • Tammy February 12, 2010, 10:41 am

      @Ted – I’m not sure. I’d prefer not to live in a high crime area. Plus we can’t start building the little house until Logan is done with school.

      I wouldn’t mind securing the bikes to a rack, but I’m concerned about the weather. More than likely we’re going to end up staying in Portland. If we left the bikes out in the rain, it’s likely they would get rusted. But the tarp idea is a good one! We’ll have to consider that. πŸ™‚

      Thanks for your input!

  • Tina Smith February 11, 2010, 4:11 pm

    I know next to nothing about architecture (but I do know two of them close and personal…so if you guys ever want to bounce ideas off of two who absolutely love the small house movement and are very supportive of it – let me know and I can get you in contact with both of them – they might give some in-site (sp?) on the bike storage issue).

    My idea – which is probably not workable in the real world…but hey we’re dreamin’ here right? Bike hooks on the back of the house, attached an extension on the back of the house using hinges(box shaped and just big enough for two bikes). This would make the extension removable for travel and you can also put a lock on it too for safety. If you did it right you could make it really cute or not even noticeable having it blend in with the overall design. I imagine one that opens up in the middle with hinges on either side and a place for a lock in the middle.

    • Tammy February 12, 2010, 10:38 am

      @Tina – Sweet! I’ll have to chat with your 2 friends about architecture. I’m also curious to hear what Dee and Katy have to say about bike storage and tiny homes.

      I like your idea, but I have no idea how I would set up that kind of contraption. I’ll assign Logan that task. πŸ™‚ Teehee.

  • Logan February 11, 2010, 7:30 pm

    @ Liz

    The rack is made by Delta Designs. Its called the Michelangelo. It leans against the wall so there is no mounting that needs to be done. Its rather convienent. Although Tammy thought it was awkward to lift heavy bikes way up so make the tall person in the household use the upper deck. πŸ˜‰

    http://www.theartofstorage.com/Bike_and_Sport_Storage_Racks

    Cheers,

  • Justin February 12, 2010, 1:33 am

    I’ve been pondering this since I started designing my own tiny house. As the living space of my little house will have an open cathedral ceiling, I originally thought of having a couple of pulleys on the rafters and ropes with hooks, that way I could just lift it up out of the way. The downside of this is when you’ve just ridden home in the rain and the bike is now wet and dirty, which will drip all over your nice clean floor.

    I’m already going to build a small bumpout on the back of the house which will house the batteries for the solar electric system and the small hot water tank for the solar hot water, along with ancillaries such as pump and filter for the water system, tool storage etc. Not really enough room for a bike in there, so I’m going to mount hooks on the outside of the bumpout to hang the bike on, with through bolts that a lock can go through. A heavy tarp will be attached to the top of the bumpout and drop down covering the bike, a bungee in each corner of the tarp and hook eyes on the bottom corner of the bumpout will keep the tarp tensions over the bike and prevent it flapping. This way the bike is protected from the weather, away from prying eyes but not taking up precious room inside the house or making it dirty.

    J.

    • Tammy February 12, 2010, 10:43 am

      @Justin! Awesome idea! I can’t wait to see photos (once you’re done building). πŸ™‚

  • keeping up with the kozlowskis February 12, 2010, 1:58 am

    We find that because our wheels are in the centre we raise the caravan onto a stand somthing like a bike stand but we also but blocks or or chopped wood under the caravan, at each end of the caravan as it makes the whole caravan much more stable and less wobblely. We find it really makes a difference when you are living in a mobile home. I can’t wait for the weather to clear so we can go live in our tiny home.

  • Matt February 12, 2010, 8:06 am

    @ Tammy –

    I’ve been thinking about your comments on seeking out community etc. I think you do have a point, but I also think that if a bike is (one of) your primary means of transportation, you don’t really want it at a neighbor’s house – you want it very easily accessible (so there’s no barrier to use – especially if you also have a car!). If you had, say, a kayak or canoe, storing it at a neighbor’s house would be fine – you probably don’t need it that often, and it’s more for recreation than transportation. However, a bike that’s used for transportation should be something you have on your property.

    @ Justin –

    That sounds like a pretty neat suggestion, though it may be better or worse depending on your location. If you live in an area that gets a lot of precipitation/fog/dampness, moisture will still get under the tarp and will eat away at drivetrain components, etc.

    Overall I’m coming at this as more of a bike addict than a tiny house lover, so you can take that into consideration πŸ™‚

  • Loganenator February 12, 2010, 11:53 am

    From my understanding of bike maintenance I believe sun and rain exposure are the biggest causes of damage due to outdoor storage. I really like some of these ideas however I think to keep things minimal and simple we will probably end up with a detachable awning on the side of the house to provide overhead sun and water protection and secure mounting brackets with a ladder type configuration (one bike over the other) similar to our Delta Design bike rack to lock them up (http://www.theartofstorage.com/Bike_and_Sport_Storage_Racks). A custom bike cover, similar to car covers would work but I think we would just find it ugly and pain to take on an off.

    The trick to this simple idea is to make it beautiful, easily usable, secure, and portable. πŸ™‚

  • Loganenator February 12, 2010, 12:09 pm

    As a side note, if anyone stores their bikes outside in the rain or snow currently, rust can form from water sitting in the recesses of the bolts. Consider buying some bee’s wax and filling the recesses of all the bolts with it. It works both to keep water out and for a deterrent to potential bike thieves. If a thief tries to disassemble your bike he will have to pick out the wax first and when its dark out they will probably get frustrated, worry about the extra time, and leave the hassle of stealing your bike to pursue an easier target. Some folks also bury a small ball bearing in the recess of the bolt with wax for added protection. For maintenance the wax is quick and easy to remove by turning the bike upside down and using a lighter to liquify the wax and gravity to drain it out. We have been using this frugal method with great success. πŸ™‚

    Cheers,

  • Sherri February 12, 2010, 10:56 pm

    I think you could build a little bike stable at the side of back of the house. Like a little wing off the side of the house. Just enough for the pair of bike or something, and I like what someone said about making it blend into the house nicely. Something about storing them at a neighbors or whatever, that sounds a little off. If it’s part of your lifestyle and all, you should be able to make room for it in your home. You could even make it somewhat collapsable, like a Murphy Bed of sorts, so when you move your home, you can tuck the bikes inside the home, fold down the little shed and roll. Like something from Ikea, or those shelves that you sort of open up and fold down the actual shelf and it all fits together nicely. πŸ™‚ Hope that’s clear enough….

    • Tammy February 14, 2010, 9:56 am

      @Sherri – thanks for the suggestions! I know we’ll come up with something that works well for our situation. It’s been great hearing from so many readers on this topic.

      It’s fun to dream about all of these ideas. But first we need to build our little home. I really hope we can make that dream happen soon. But in the meantime, I love our new little apartment and neighborhood. There is so much to be grateful for.

      Thanks for reading RowdyKittens.

  • 2whls3spds February 14, 2010, 3:57 pm

    Interesting suggestions and solutions. We live small but not tiny. Current house is ~ 940sf. For bike storage and repair I have a shipping container (conex) it is around 320sf, the actual repair shop part is 112sf. I think if I were to go tiny house and needed bike storage I would go with some type of lean to. Perhaps with a clear roof to allow natural light. The biggest problem with using a tarp to cover the bikes is the moisture that will come up from the bare ground. Very few bikes will tolerate outside storage without rusting. For repairs a pop up tent type shelter that could be stored in the corner of the bike lean to would be my first choice, or perhaps build a tiny garage to match the house, just make it bike sized rather than car sized. Another possibility for secure storage could be bike lockers. They are readily available and can be weather proof as well as very theft resistant, but don’t do much for repair space.

    I have this odd dream in the back of my mind to get an acre somewhere and build and entire neighborhood of tiny houses, putting in a community building (think a 2 car garage sized building), community garden, etc. I would want it to be a fun place to live, somewhere a car would not be needed. Perhaps a small community truck or van could be included. For some reason I think doing in co-op fashion would be the best way to go.

    Aaron

  • Max February 26, 2010, 6:09 pm

    I have a smaller house and like some others a collection of bicycles (it’s a mountain, touring, grocery shopper and then some loaners) anyway, I’ve been looking for storage solutions and while I would rather build something this was interesting.
    http://www.shelter-systems.com/bikeshed.html

    Though what I think I’m going to do is just mount a bike rack in some old sidewalk I’ve got then mount a short roof mounted to a fence on sturdy hinges. The roof would just be framed with 2×4’s and ‘roofed’ with corrugated steel.

    Since bicycles are my main source of transportation having them somewhere else other than my house would not be an option . . .commercial bike storage units mentioned by the above person start at about $300 which seems a bit much too me.

    • Tammy February 27, 2010, 8:17 am

      @Hey Max – thanks for leaving a comment. Bike lockers are expensive, but like Aaron said they are necessary in some areas. πŸ™‚

      $300 is a lot of money. On the other hand, that kind of investment is fairly inexpensive. Especially considering all the costs associated with cars. For now, I’m content with our little apartment and bike storage in the basement.

  • 2whls3spds February 27, 2010, 4:19 am

    @Max,
    I agree that the storage lockers are expensive. However I have lived in several areas where the security of them would have been necessary.

    Interesting structures in your link. But at ~$200 it isn’t cheap and would be temporary at best.

    Aaron

  • susanna eve March 26, 2010, 5:54 pm

    For regular transportation and getting around/city use, folding bikes are great too and don’t take up near as much room to store.

  • max2 September 16, 2010, 11:24 pm

    cheap inspiration – I think a sheet of plywood wold be cheaper than the t&g http://www.petesodyssey.org/hacking/bikeshelter

  • Judy February 7, 2011, 10:27 pm

    I’m about 80% complete on my tiny house. I designed my house with the door at an end of a long side for several reasons. Pertinent to this discussion is that I can add a “bike-rack” shed on the back. Some tiny houses have a porch here, but I decided to make use of the porch space inside the house, and have plans for a small deck along the long side to compliment my stairs.

    Regarding under-the-trailer storage, I made a creeper on casters from half a 4’x8′ sheet of plywood. At present it keeps building materials off the ground. However, I can say that handle bars could be caught by the trailer axle. [My house is up on cinder blocks and the trailer wheels can be turned.] For me this storage area will be reserved for items I will not want too often or bulk dry food storage.

    • Tammy February 8, 2011, 7:03 am

      Judy – Congratulations on being 80% complete with your little house and thanks for the tips!

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