So what is a Wheelbender, and why all the fuss about them? Isn’t a bike rack just a bike rack? Isn’t any bike rack better than none? Good questions indeed.
What is a wheel bender?
Put simply it is a bike rack that only supports the parked bike via part of the wheel. Without support for the frame of the bike, all the bikes weight rests on the wheel rim and spokes. These are sometimes called ‘old school’ bike racks, and they may have worked better when bikes were made of steel and everyone had the same size wheels, and probably didn’t worry too much about locking their bike.
What’s the fuss?
Any movement in the bike can result in the spokes being broken and/or a bent rim. It also makes LOCKING your bike SECURELY harder, because to lock you bike securely you need to pass the lock through an immovable object (the rack) and a non removable part of your bike (the frame). To prevent wheel theft you may also wish to pass your lock through the wheels as well.
“Now in evaluating bike racks, the cycling community often gives either a simple “Pass” or “Fail” based on one absolutely undesirable characteristic: “Is it a wheel-bender?”– Does it hold the bike with at least TWO different points of support, or does it hold the bike up ENTIRELY by PART of a wheel?” Source Reimagine RLB
Even though bike users are a canny lot, and often find improvised bike parking, the problem is they may end up parking their bikes in places that don’t work for pedestrian or staff safety.
What makes a GOOD bike rack?
- It supports the frame (not just the wheels)
- The bike is well supported in more than one point of contact (so it doesn’t ‘dance’ around it’s support)
- There are no hard edges that could scratch the bike frame
- It enables secure locking (of frame to immovable object)
- There is enough space between bikes (for access and avoiding damage)
- There is enough parking provided
- It doesn’t obstruct or impact the safety of other users of the space
- It is an area with passive or active surveillance (to avoid theft of accessories/bikes)
- It is convenient (you can just rock up, find it, and park your bike)
- It looks like bike parking (so not so artistic that it can’t be recognised!)
Here are some resources to get you on your way to better bike parking.
How do you find good bike racks?
Great question. Check out these suppliers. Remember if you are going to invest in bike parking, do it once and do it right. Else you might be disappointed when it is not used or complained about…. wheel benders are kind of like giving dead flowers. It might be the thought that counts…. but it won’t win you any love.