December 19, 2022
Cycle Storage Guides

Not All Two-Tier Bike Racks Are Made Equal

By Jonathan Oldaker

What’s the answer to parking and storing hundreds, if not thousands, of bicycles in one secure place? It is a big challenge for urban environments the world round, but what we do know is that using a portion of double stacked, or two-tiered bike racks, within a parking facility is a must.

Two-tier bike racks vastly reduce the total footprint of stored bikes. We can achieve this by better utilising vertical height, along with a high-low stagger to reduce horizontal space.

However, there is a misunderstanding that these racks are hard to use, unsafe, and not durable. This is true, but only for a certain type of two-tier rack. You see, not all two-tier bike racks are made equal. In fact, some are certainly hard to use, while others are simply unsafe. The best two-tier racks are available for use for the widest number of people and bicycle types.

Here are the key differences that every specifier, architect, and planner needs to know.


The difference between gas-assisted and non-gas two-tier bike racks

Similar to what you might find on a car boot, a gas-strut supports the upper tier of a two-tier rack, helping the user safely lower and raise the bike without supporting its weight.

Without this gas-strut to aid the lifting of the upper tier, the system becomes not only very hard to use, but incredibly unsafe.

These are not lightweight racks, and expecting the user to bear the weight of their bicycle plus the weight of the system means there is a chance of the rack crashing to the ground, or the user not being able to lift the rack and unfortunately injuring themselves.

Above all else, having a gas-strut ensures that the user comes first and we are able to make sure as many people as possible are able to use the racks.

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

Spacing, clearances and loading distance

Ensuring the rack is gas-assisted and easy to use should be your first priority. Following this, you’ll need to ensure that the layout and spacing of your system is conducive to a good user experience.

Between each parking space within the rack, we recommend a minimum spacing of 375mm, with 400mm preferred if possible. This will provide enough clearance, with the high-low stagger, to avoid either the handlebars or pedals of adjacent cycles from clashing.

Designing your bike store or facility so that users can easily navigate aisles is equally important. As is access to the racks. For two-tier racks we would recommend a minimum aisle width of 1800-2000mm to safely load and unload bicycles.

A poorly designed facility, even with good quality racks, will suffer if users can’t safely navigate and park their bicycles.


Location, Location, Location!

With all cycle parking, the context of the building or public space should be at the heart of planning. Not every space requires two-tier racks, and on the flip-side, many facilities and public spaces could benefit from two-tiers. Here are a selection of case studies which display their correct and successful application:


Case Study: Rotterdam Centraal

Rotterdam Centraal is the primary rail station in the city, and with the majority of Dutch residents choosing to cycle, that means a lot of bicycles need storing. The typical cycle commuter in Rotterdam will cycle to the station, park their bicycle, and hire another bike the other end.

Seen here, the two-tier racks provide hundreds of spaces to park all within one secure area right next to the station. If they were all Sheffield stands, not only would the area be twice the size, but navigating the facility would be much trickier.With rows upon rows of double stacked bicycles, it is easy to see why the Dutch prefer the two-tier system at all major transport interchanges.

Case Study: Eccleston Yards

Eccleston Yards is a collection of cafes and workspaces in Victoria, London. The cycle parking here needs to be open to public access, as well as serving those working within the space.

Here, using two-tier racks means all bicycles can be safely and secured parked in one place, under a single larger canopy.

With regular short-term use, the racks have been going strong for over five years, showing no signs of wear.

Case Study: St George’s Fields

A residential apartment complex with no basement space in West London, St George’s Fields requires an innovative solution for keeping bicycles out of corridors and stairwells.

Using two-tier racks here enables you to create twice the parking spaces within single shelters. Three individual Cubic shelters, one for each block of flats, creates space for 52 bicycles.

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