South Africa’s outdoors lifestyle lends itself to the accumulation of all kinds of gear – from camping to sporting. That accumulation leads inexorably to the next step: how to store all this stuff, particularly in a society gravitating towards space-intensive cluster housing.
Cyclists are more challenged than most when it comes to storing their machines. Bulky and often mucky (the bikes, that is, not the riders), they are usually banished to an outbuilding or garage, where they lurk waiting to stain clothing or scratch vehicle paintwork. Hardcore riders have it even worse: they tend to have more than one bike – one for the road, another for the trail, and so on. And then there are multi-bike households.
How to get all this hardware out of the way safely, securely and neatly?
KZN-based Ryan Chapman saw a solution in a clever combination of a hoist, a tow-hitch and a bike rack. The Lift Guy provides a standard wall-mounted tow-hitch bracket that accepts a typical bike rack and hoists it up and out of harm’s way.
“It was really one of those ideas that grew out of seeing problems that people were having storing bikes in their garages,” Chapman says.
Although practical and elegant, the Lift Guy is hardly inexpensive. There are, naturally, cheaper ways of storing bikes.
Hanging them from hooks is the most obvious. “That’s simple, but bikes will take up most of the garage wall,” Chapman counters. “Also, it’s not easy for some ladies and guys to easily lift the bike to the hooks.”
There’s a possibly unforeseen downside of hook storage: “Replacing the suspension on a decent bike. Shocks were not designed to take a constant pulling force.”
And then there’s the question of what to do with the bike carrier itself. “What can happen is that people actually park their cars outside as the bikes take up the garage space. In some complexes, residents run the risk of a fine for not parking in a garage.”
Chapman’s solution to all of this incorporates several features that avoid some obvious pitfalls and aid its versatility. For example, the Lift Guy’s wall brackets have oblong holes to make levelling easier. For convenience, the lower bracket can be placed at any height, though he recommends placing it at a height similar to that of the vehicle’s tow hitch. “No one wants to have to secure the bikes to the carriers while it is resting on the floor,” he says.
With possibly three bikes aboard weighing 50 to 60 kg alone – plus the carrier – safety is justifiably a concern. That applies just as well to the mechanical and electrical aspects of the design.
For a start, the unit as a whole has a 250 kg capacity. Chapman says that the 25 mm galvanised poles specifically pass through the wall brackets and rest on the floor. As a result, weight-bearing capacity is not reliant solely on the brackets.
“Safety pins (R-clips) go into the main poles to ensure that bikes and carrier stay up when the unit is not in use,” he adds. On the electrical side, the hoist has an adjustable-limit off switch. That’s to prevent the operator from damaging the bikes accidentally by going too high and hitting a roof truss.
Another advantage for those who like to do their own maintenance is that the bike can be positioned at the ideal height for being worked on or washed.
The Lift Guy is supplied as a full DIY kit with all components supplied, including a PV250 hoist with attachments and towball with its associated componentry. It weighs a total of 23 kg and costs R3 490 for the standard version and R3 990 in stainless steel. Visit www.thegarageguy.co.za to find out more.
- Weight: 23 kg
- Capacity: 250 kg
- Height from floor: 210 cm
- Max distance from wall, excluding carrier/rack: 28 cm
- Width, fully assembled: 38 cm
- Mild steel wall brackets: 4 mm
- Optional stainless steel brackets: 3 mm