One of the questions we get asked a lot, is if it’s safe to store a bike with hydraulic bikes in a vertical bike rack, like a Steadyrack. A quick Google will yield several pages of cycling forums and blog posts debating this issue, so we wanted to set the record straight.
First things first, what are hydraulic brakes? Hydraulic brakes feature a closed system of hoses and reservoirs containing hydraulic fluid to operate the brakes. When the brake lever is activated, a plunger pushes the fluid through the hoses and into the brake caliper, stopping the bike. These are the brakes of choice for many avid riders.
Whether you’re a devoted cyclist, a casual commuter, or a weekend-only cyclist - your bike will need regular maintenance to keep it in top form. For obvious reasons, the brakes are one of the most important parts of a bike service. A well-maintained bike will have its hydraulic brakes bled often. Depending on how much you ride, experts recommend having this done every 6 months (irrespective of how you store your bike).
If not used and maintained, hydraulic brakes can become ‘spongy’ or loose/soft. If the lever needs to be pulled a good distance before you feel the brake engage, this is a good indication that there are air bubbles in the brake system. If your bike has air bubbles in the brake line, then storing your bike vertically can transfer the air bubbles closer to the brake lever -leading to that spongy feeling. This will only occur if there are already air bubbles in the brake line.
If you notice that your brakes do become spongy or soft at any time, this is a sign that they need to be serviced. Different bikes will have different recommendations on how best to bleed the brakes, so it’s worth popping to your local bike store if you’re not sure what’s best for your bike.
We’d always recommend pumping your brake lever a few times after removing it from your bike rack, especially if it’s been stored for a while, before setting off on a ride.
At the end of the day, as long as your bike is serviced regularly, and your brakes are bled often you can store your bike vertically.
However, if you want to make your bike storage easy so that you can focus on testing out those brakes on the trails, look no further than a Steadyrack.
Don’t just take our word for it, we asked major bike manufacturers SRAM and FOX if there was any risk to hydraulic brakes when storing your bike vertically - and here's what they had to say.
"Storing the bike vertically should not create any harm to the brakes. The only issue the customer might face is the bubble created if the bike or hydraulic lines moves. A bleeding of the brakes should take care of that." - SRAM
"When it comes to FOX products you would not need to worry about hanging it vertically. All of our forks and shocks are sealed so it wouldn't cause any harm to the product by doing this!" - FOX
We also asked pro rider and Steadyrack ambassador Rémy Metailler to give us the lowdown on all things storage when it comes to hydraulic brakes. He gives us his thoughts below: