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How To Choose A Bike Rack



Ground Control Systems applied our 30+ years of experience in the bike rack business to create a series of witty but informative videos for choosing lasting bike parking for your projects. Who would have thought density, security, ease of use and cost were as amusing as this?

Before we begin, here’s a quick rundown of what makes a good Class II bike rack:


If there’s one catch-all phrase for what is right in the bike world, it’s organization. Organized racks keep bikes upright and comfy by separating them slightly, so they can’t scrape against each other or fall to the ground. By preventing falling or slipping (and the resulting headaches and cursing), the rack controls the bike footprint. Believe it or not this organized separation gets more bikes in an area than other racks, so you get more bang for your buck. Look for bike docks to keep wheels in place or can offset handlebars.

Bicycle Friendliness

If a bike could talk, what would it want? Besides a cushioned seat cover, that is. It would scream “DON’T LEAVE ME” at low-security racks; mumble expletives as it falls to the ground at a chaotic rack; and cringe at the cosmetic damage of scraping metal against metal. Look for bike racks that have protective coatings to prevent the frame from scratching against metal racks, and organized racks that are compatible with U-locks.


There’s only so much space to park bikes, yet cycling is more popular than ever. We feel your pain. Bike racks that have high-density parking make the most of valuable real estate, but this is where Organized comes into play again. Without an organized controlled footprint, an 8-bike rack turns into a 4-bike rack; at that point, why even bother? Look for organized racks with flexible layout possibilities to get as many bikes into an area – and plan to add more for the inevitable upswing of cyclists.


Bicycle theft may seem like a boogie man argument, but it happens all too often. True, a determined thief could steal anything, but thieves usually avoid snatching bikes from racks that present a challenge. Look for stronger materials like steel, avoid round hollow tubing, and the rack must allow a U-lock to wrap around the bike frame, a wheel, and the rack simultaneously.


Price is always a concern when it comes to bicycle parking projects, but without taking into account the value of what you’re getting in return, you may not choose the most optimal rack. From features that are important for function to those that simply just add to the cost with no real benefit, it’s important to find the right balance of price and quality.

Which You Should Avoid – Don’t Buy These Bike Racks

Grid Racks

The Grid style rack allows the front or back tire to be inserted between two thin welded bars to lock the wheel to the rack. The Grid Rack is notorious among cyclists as a low-security “wheel bender.” Without a way to lock the frame AND wheel to the Grid, bikes tend to vanish, leaving one sad, bent wheel behind.

Features to Consider
  • Front or back tire locking only – frame cannot be locked to the rack, unless improperly used
  • Hollow tubing can be easily cut and scratches bike frames.
  • Handlebar conflict from poor spacing between bikes.
  • Tires can become bent from being in between the racks slots where bikes can topple.

Wave Racks

The Wave Rack has a serpentine shape that creates a series of U tubed slots for bikes to be parked. The Wave is a favorite of landscape architects for the price tag and the curvy good looks. However, the U shapes that of the Wave Rack are extremely difficult to properly lock bikes against, causing conflict and chaos.

Features to Consider
  • Round tubing is susceptible to cutting.
  • Only the frame and one wheel can be locked to the rack.
  • Handlebar conflict occurs from poor spacing between bikes.
  • Bikes are easily tipped over due to lack of a stabilizing wheel trough.

Which are OK – Secure, but Not Bike Friendly or Organized

Ornamental bike racks come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and prices. Ornamental racks can be custom designed to match a theme/logo or highly modern/architectural. Despite the flashy appeal, Ornamental racks often neglect organization, density, and security, so they only look good when empty.

Features to Consider
  • Round tubing is susceptible to cutting.
  • Only the frame and one wheel can be locked to the rack.
  • Handlebar conflict occurs from poor spacing between bikes.
  • Bikes are easily tipped over due to lack of a stabilizing wheel trough.

The Inverted-U is intended for bikes to be parked parallel to the rack and can be locked multiple ways. It offers parking for two, offers some general security, and available in several different styles. Despite the popularity of the Inverted-U, marks against it include bikes regularly scraping against each other frequently sliding and falling.

Features to Consider
  • Allows the frame and one or both wheels to be locked to the rack with proper locks.
  • Square tubing is recommended as it resists cutting more so than round tubing.
  • Lack of a wheel trough causes bikes to slide and fall.
  • Space between bikes is small and bikes can become cluttered

Which to Choose and Buy – Provide Only the Best Bike Racks

Bike Docks allow for the front or back tire to be contained in a wheel trough while the frame and tire can be locked to the locking loop with a U lock.

Features to Consider
  • Wheel troughs contain the wheel creating stability.
  • Provides 3 points of contact. U lock easily fits around bike frame, wheel, and rack’s locking loop.
  • High-security, case-hardened locking loops are difficult to cut.
  • Evenly spaced wings and offset wheel pockets prevent handlebar conflict and keep bikes upright.
  • Gel-coated bumper guards cushion bikes from metal-to-metal contact.