April 24, 2024
Cycle Storage Guides

Everything You Need To Know About Two-Tier Bike Racks

By Jonathan Oldaker

Two-tier bike racks create a clever way to park and store more bikes, and originate from the de facto European cycling capital, the Netherlands. But understanding how to specify and install them properly makes a big difference.

We’ve talked to people who don’t realise how a two-tier bike rack works. We’ve also talked to people for hours about the optimal pressure for the gas spring inside the rack.

So whether you’re an expert in two-tier cycle parking, or you’re just discovering they exist, we have put together some guidance on the most important things to know.

What are two-tier bike racks?

In a nutshell, two-tier bike racks exist to help efficiently park and store more bicycles.

The way they work is first stacking two levels of parking on top of each other, while also staggering the heights of the bikes to fit bikes closer together without clashing.

Combining these space saving methods, it is possible to store twice the amount of bikes in the same footprint compared with Sheffield stands and other single-tier bike racks.

The first major benefit is that under one shelter, more bicycles can be securely parked, locked, and protected from the weather in a two-tier system. Likewise, in one secure basement of a high rise building, more bicycles can be protected.

Two-tier bike racks also help train stations, schools, and football stadiums provide many more short-term secure bicycle parking spaces for the public during peak rush hour.

two-tier bike racks inside wooden cycle shelter

How do I park my bike on the upper tier?

The process of loading and unloading your bike onto the upper tier is a straightforward process for most users. Note that without a gas-spring, parking a bike becomes much harder, but more on that later.

Step 1: Using the handle, pull out the upper tray, and lower the rack. You’ll feel the gas-strut kick in as you lower the front of the rack to the ground.

Step 2: Lift the front wheel on to the end of the lowered tray, then roll the bike fully into the tray.

Step 3: Lock your bike to the rack. Now you can raise the rack. The gas-strut will support the lifting.

Step 4: Once level, push the upper tray along its rollers and back into the original position.

two-tier bike racks green gas spring cover

What does the gas spring do?

Gas springs support the upper tiers of two-tier bike racks, helping the user safely lower and raise their bicycle.

Without gas-assisted lifting on two-tier racks, the upper tier becomes not only difficult to use, but a hazard to both users and passers by.

A typical bike can weigh anywhere between 8-30kg. Taking into account this weight, in combination with the weight of the rack, a non-gas rack presents an injury risk during its operation.

Above all else, a gas spring ensures that the user comes first and as many people as possible are able to use the racks, minimising the strength needed to lift and load a bike. 

For any bike store or facility, in any instance, we only recommend specifying gas-assisted two-tier bike racks.

Understanding loading distances and ceiling heights

In most cases two-tier bike racks are used within enclosed, busy areas. Naturally the racks are designed to park as many bicycles closer together in an efficient manner, so space is always at a premium.

However, there have to be limits to how closely bikes are parked to keep the racks easy and welcoming for people to use, as well as keeping walkways clear for pedestrians.

We have to be mindful of correct loading distances, aisle widths, and ceiling heights around the racks to ensure that all the bike spaces in the racks can be used, with no ceiling clashes or interference with services.

It is also important to consider the centre-to-centre distances of the parked bikes, otherwise known as the spacing. We recommend 400mm spacing between each parked bike to eliminate handlebar clashes, however 375mm is still workable in tighter spaces.

For total height clearance, we suggest rooms or shelters at no less than 2600mm, ideally 2700mm. This follows all nationwide guidance, including the Bicycle Association, and the London Cycling Design Standards from TfL.

The minimum required aisle width (between two rows of two-tier racks facing each other) should be 2000mm, as should the loading distance to a wall or the perimeter of a shelter or fencing. This ensures safe loading and unloading of bikes while keeping the aisleway free for pedestrians and other cyclists. 

Both loading distances and height clearances are governed by typical bike dimensions, with 1200mm the ‘standard’ bicycle height. Therefore, accounting for the high-low offset stagger, no two-tier bike rack will safely operate under 2600mm ceiling height.

two-tier backs in basement office building

Where should two-tier bike racks be installed?

Two-tier cycle parking is ideally suited to high traffic cycle areas, like office buildings, train stations, public event spaces like football grounds, and any enclosed space that requires more bike storage capacity.

Note that to ensure that cycle parking facilities are usable by the widest range of people and bikes, we would always recommend including designated accessible and non-standard cycle parking. 

Using two-tier racks for the bulk of cycle parking, supplemented by Sheffield stands to cover larger bicycles and parking for disabled people, is the best combination to ensure that space is maximised while remaining accessible for everyone.

Two-tier bike racks are suitable for indoor cycle parking, within outdoor shelters and canopies, and also as standalone parking outdoors. If the racks aren’t within a lockable space – such as basements or access-controlled shelters – we would recommend specifying extra locking bars for added security.

Small changes that make a real difference

Presuming two-tier bike racks have gas-assisted lifting, and are correctly spaced with the proper clearances, we can meet the minimum core requirements for usable and practical two-tier parking.

However, there are a range of extra features in two-tier parking which can continue to improve both the longevity of the racks, and enhance the usability.

The operation of some two-tier racks can be noisy and disruptive, especially within residential areas. With better quality two-tier racks, the noise can be reduced in the upper tray by housing the rollers between the tray and rack. 

With a more durable and robust frame design, two-tier racks are less likely to move around when used, further reducing the noise, and improving the longevity of the rack.

Other small touches like ergonomic handles make the upper tray easier to operate and hold. Similarly, rubber coverings where the rack is in contact with bikes can help reduce scratching the bike frames and forks.

Finally, two-tier bike racks don’t need to be an eyesore. With powder coating and different colour gas spring covers, racks can form a part of a wider design scheme. As bike racks are often one of the first things a visitor will see, it makes sense to keep them as welcoming and aesthetically pleasing as possible.

We’ve installed thousands of two-tier bike racks all over the UK and Ireland. We help developers, architects, and contractors to finalise all layouts and plans, with our installation teams ensuring the best possible finish.

Get in touch with us today for more information.

Turvec are accredited by

Turvec Solutions is accredited with a number of industry certifications in relation to Health and Safety, competence and security. We are registered on all major procurement websites.