Apartment Living with Bicycles

“Naturally at Bicycling we believe bikes are the best way to get around a city, but our advice on caring for them often excludes city-dwellers for one reason—they live in apartments. After all, without a hose, our step-by-step guide to cleaning your ride gets a little…sticky. And without a garage, setting up a home shop for repairs requires next-level feats of space management—and a small amount of gambling with your security deposit.

But at some point most of us have faced the challenges of apartment-living with bikes—taking showers with our cyclocross wheels, wiping grease stains off linoleum, or in my case, solo-schlepping a tandem up four flights of stairs with nary a scuff. Here are the tricks we’ve picked up along the way.

Cleaning your bike: When you don’t have access to a hose, you can still get a pressurized clean outside with a handheld sprayer. Both this Zoro sprayer ($30) and this RL Flo-Master ($18) are tried and tested by our staff. If you’re stuck inside, just throw your bike in the shower and clean it off there.  Pedro’s Bike Lust works pretty well for normal bike cleaning (not drivetrain cleaning). Just spray it on and wipe to get that nice shine. Watch out for overspray, and remember—if you DEgrease it, you need to REgrease it. In general, good old diluted Dawn and some brushes will serve you better than a powerful degreaser.  These heavy duty wipes are also handy for occasional spot degreasing and cleaning.

Keeping your security deposit: Get a cheap carpet remnant, tarp, or runner to protect your floors from grease and mud. This also makes it possible to lube or lightly clean your chain inside when it’s cold out. An extra-large pet crate guard like this can also catch the grime so you don’t ruin your floors.  When soap and water won’t do the job, Magic Erasers work wonders for wall scuffs.

Storing your bike: A good rack system can make a big difference in a small apartment. The Feedback Rakk is great because you can put it anywhere, without the need to anchor it to walls or ceiling.  If your apartment complex has storage closets, use garage hooks to hang bikes from the ceiling for extra capacity. Just make sure you line the hooks up with studs so they don’t pull through the drywall. It’s an easy spackle job to fill in the holes when you move out.  A foldable repair stand and a tool roll make a portable workshop for a patio, deck, or sidewalk repair setup.

Organizing everything: A small apartment means everything has to be well-organized, so spend a little extra time shopping for sufficient drawers and shelves to manage all your gear—especially small items like gloves, hats, and bike parts.  Don’t hoard all the stuff you’re not using—get rid of it. Check out our list of the best places to sell your used bike gear.  Consider storing off-season equipment in a buddy’s garage or rent a small storage locker if you have a lot of stuff.

Take advantage of high ceilings when you can, and hang less frequently used items like wheels and tires on the wall out of the way. Here’s how to make your own DIY racks for bikes or parts.

Unless you have a huge apartment—or an iron-clad resistance to accumulating n+1 bikes—chances are your place is going to feel a bit like bicycles are taking over. Instead of trying to hide your bikes, why not just run with the theme? Etsy has a bunch of space-saving racks that turn your bikes into wall art, and this site features cool décor projects to make with spare parts.”

Source: Bicycling (www.bicycling.com)

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