It started with just a mountain bike, then I added a commuter bike, and then a road bike. Then I moved in with my SO who had a commuter bike and a road bike of her own. We recently added a mountain bike for her and now we are a 6-bike household in a small apartment. Where to park all these bikes!?
A rented storage unit is too expensive ($1,200/yr for a 5×5) and too far away to be handy. There’s no way that my apartment management would consider installing bike lockers, and the bike racks that exist on the property are cluttered piles of department store bikes rusting into the ground. Adding insult to injury is the fact that my property allows one free parking space per unit. Too bad I can’t put a Home Depot storage shed in a parking space. But then I realised I had another option that was nearly as good… the Cargo Van Bike Garage!
I searched craigslist and found a used contractor van with no back windows and a steel bulkhead separating the driver’s compartment from the storage area. It’s a high-mileage vehicle with a few mechanical problems, but I got it to pass the emissions inspection, bolted an enormous lock on the rear doors, secured the sliding side door from the inside, and voilà! Instant bike garage. Since it’s already an old vehicle and pretty much fully depreciated, I expect to be able to sell it whenever I no longer need it for the same (or close) to what I paid for it. The monthly liability insurance and amortized registration/inspection fee/etc works out to still be cheaper than a mini-storage unit, and of course, it’s right outside my door rather than halfway across the city. An additional benefit that the cargo van bike garage has over an actual storage shed is that I can use it to take my mountain bike out to the trails, or take our road bikes out somewhere for a scenic ride. It’s also more secure on roadtrips than a trunk rack on a rental car. I used about $30 of lumber and hardware to make supports for 4 bikes in the back, so now we only have to find room for 2 bikes inside our little apartment. Much more manageable!