How To Choose A Bike Rack


How To Choose a Bike Rack Comparison Chart

Ground Control Systems applied our 25+ 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:

Organized Bicycle ParkingOrganized

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.


Secure High Security Bike ParkingSecure

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.


High Density Controlled Bicycle RacksHigh-Density

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 Friendly Bike ParkingBicycle 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.



Wave Racks – What not to buy


How it Works

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.

Wave Bike Rack How To Choose


Grid Racks – What not to buy


How it Works

The Grid Style rack allows for the front or back tire to be inserted between two thin welded bars so the wheel to can be locked to the rack. The Grid Rack has been around for a long time, and is used as an inexpensive parking quick fix. The Grid Rack has a notorious reputation 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 – the frame cannot be locked to the rack, unless bike is sideways or hoisted and saddled over the top
  • The hollow tubing can easily be cut and scratches bike frames.
  • Handlebar conflict occurs from poor spacing between bikes.
  • Tires can become bent from being in between the racks slots where bikes can topple.

Grid Bike Rack How To Choose





Ornamental bike racks come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and prices. Depending on what you’re looking for, Ornamental racks can be custom designed to match a theme or logo (like a banana shaped rack in front of a smoothie shop) or they can be highly architectural and modern. With Ornamental racks, the form is more important than function, to the point that cyclists might not even recognize them as a bike rack (what poor person just trying to get a smoothie would recognize a banana as a bike rack?). Despite the flashy appeal, Ornamental racks often neglect organization, density, and security, so they only look good when empty.

  • Multiple shapes and styles to match the environment.
  • Wide range of prices depending on the style.
  • Decorative tubing can be easily cut.
  • Lack of a wheel trough can cause bikes to slide and fall.

Inverted U Racks – What you could buy


How it Works

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 is available in several different styles. Despite the popularity of the Inverted U, marks against it include bikes regularly scraping against each other and frequent 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 recommend as it resists cutting more so than round tubing.
  • Lack of a wheel trough can cause bikes to slide and  fall.
  • Space between bikes is small and bikes can become cluttered

Inverted U Rating How To Choose


Bike Docks – What to buy


How it Works

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. A U lock can easily lock around the bike’s frame, the wheel, and the rack’s locking loop.
  • High-security, case-hardened locking loops are difficult to cut.
  • Evenly spaced wings and offset wheel cradles prevent handlebar conflict and keep bikes in a controlled footprint.
  • Gel-coated bumper guards cushion bikes from leaning directly against the metal bike rack.

Bike Dock How To Choose