Is It Bad To Store A Bike Upside Down? (Hydraulic Brakes)

If you have limited space, it can be a challenge figuring out where and how to store multiple bicycles. Luckily, there are several wall hooks and mounts available, but is it bad to store a bike upside down?

Be sure to check out our helpful bike storage page to help you find the right solution for your bicycle.

Is It Bad To Store A Bike Upside Down?

If a bicycle has hydraulic disc brakes (Shimano XT, SRAM Guide or etc) you shouldn’t hang it upside down or vertically. Hanging the bike upside down causes air bubbles inside the reservoir tank or the cables.

This can affect the performance of the brakes until the air returns to the top of the reservoir.

In other words, if you enjoy having working brakes on your mountain bike, you should find a different way to store it.

Let’s take a look at the best way to store a bicycle with hydraulic brakes.

But first, to better understand why it’s bad to hang a bike with hydraulic bike from the wheels, you need to understand the different ways to hang a bike.

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Vertical vs Horizontal

Vertical

This is the preferred method for people who live in small apartments or homes, as this method takes less space to store a bike. Here’s how to store a bike in an apartment.

You can buy a basic hook that easily screws or plugs into a wooden wall post or ceiling beam, and hang the bike up from the front or rear wheel.

I recommend using something like the Bike Nook Bicycle Stand that comes with an adjustable height which makes it easy to hang your bicycle indoors.

Horizontal

Horizontal bike racks allow you to hang your bike parallel to the floor. This is perfect for people who have plenty of room to store their bikes, and it doesn’t intrude very far into the room.

The Ibera Horizontal Bicycle Wall Hanger comes allows you to adjust the angles up to 45 degrees to help keep your bike parallel to the floor.

Can You Hang A Bike Upside Down?

If your bike uses rim brakes, hanging it upside down is no problem. It only becomes a problem when your bike uses hydraulic brakes. There are literally tons of different ways to hang a bike.

Many people have complained of “squishy brakes” after hanging it vertically by one wheel. To get rid of the “squish” you’ll have to learn how to bleed your bike. If you don’t know how to do this, you need to take your bike to the repair shop to have it done correctly, before your brakes will function properly.

What Are Hydraulic Brakes?

Hydraulic bicycle brakes are found on the more expensive bicycles. This braking system consists of hoses and reservoirs that contain special hydraulic fluid that makes the brakes operable.

They are very accurate, which is why cars and motorcycles utilize this braking system. The hydraulic system on a bicycle consist of a lever, hose, and a caliper.

The closed system is filled with oil. When you squeeze the lever, the hydraulic fluid flows into the hoses and caliper where the pads are pushed onto the rotor, causing the bike to stop. (source)

There are many pros and cons to hydraulic brakes versus regular rim brakes.

Why Do You Need To Bleed Hydraulic Bike Brakes?

There are many reasons you may need to bleed your brakes, it could be from improper storage, the system has been “opened” and contaminated, normal wear and tear, or it has a leak.

Maybe you didn’t know that hanging a bike vertically was bad for the hydraulic brakes and now you’re wondering how do you tell if they need bleeding?

What Is Brake Bleeding?

This is the process of removing air bubbles from the brake fluid used in hydraulic braking systems. If left untreated, the air can be deadly, as you’ll have little to no stopping power.

For example, you could be going downhill at a high rate of speed and when you activate your brakes, nothing happens. This is because the air that is trapped inside, is making your brakes useless.

How Do I Know If I Have Air Inside My Brakes?

This will depend on the brand and the model of the braking system you have, but they all work on the same principle.

Brakes Are Fine

The first thing to check for is how the brakes feel. Pull your brake lever in and it should feel nice and solid when it comes into contact with the rotor. It should also feel consistent every time you pull the lever.

Brakes Need Bleeding

When you pull the lever in, the lever will almost tough the handlebar grip. If you continue pulling it, the lever may not come in as far as when you first pulled it.

Inspecting The Brakes

The brake lever should be nice and straight without any friction. Pull the cable cover off the brakes to ensure there is no oil underneath. The cable covers don’t usually come off easily, but if you’ve had a crash, you may have knocked them loose. Some braking systems like Shimano have a bleed screw on the top, check it to make sure it’s not leaking any oil.

Inspect the brakes, caliper, and cables to see if you see any leaks.

How To Bleed Hydraulic Bike Brakes?

If you’re a DIY biker that likes taking care of all your bike maintenance, you’re in luck. There are literally tons of YouTube videos that will walk you through step by step on how to properly bleed your hydraulic brakes.

That being said, if you’re not a bike professional or have some level of understanding of how bikes work, it can be challenging to understand how to bleed a bicycle.

What you’ll need:

  • Allen keys
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • 7mm Open-end wrench
  • Bleed block
  • Bleed kit
  • Fast-drying contact cleaner
  • Hydraulic mineral oil
  • Shop towels

Brake Lever

Make sure the brake lever is nice and flat, to aid air in the system as it comes through the system.

Remove Brake Pads

Use the Allen key to remove the brake pad screws and place them in a safe place. To reduce the risk of contamination and ensure your brakes last longer, make sure your hands are clean and you don’t touch the backplates.

Use The Pad Spacer

Don’t use it as a lever, instead, use the flat hand side to press the disc brake in, this is to make the bleed block fit easily. The bleed block should fit easily inside, with just a little bit of slack.

Put the retaining bolt back in and tighten it with the Allen wrench. This will enable you to get a nice consistent bleed.

Use The Bleed Kit

Before using the bleed kit, make sure it is completely clean. A clean bleed kit will ensure you don’t contaminate the braking system.

Pour a small amount of oil in the bleed bucket and with the plunger in the bucket, thread it to the top of the lever.

Caliper

Spray it down and ensure that it is completely clean. Once clean, fill the bleed syringe with some oil. This will push the oil through the entire system.

Attach the syringe to the caliper. Start pushing the fluid into the bleed bucket by pressing down on the syringe.

Watch the video below for a step-by-step process of bleeding Shimano disc brakes. This procedure will be similar for any type of hydraulic brake systems.

Is It Ok To Store Bikes Horizontally?

This is the preferred method for storing a mountain bike with hydraulic bikes. The downside is horizontal racks can be challenging if you’re storing multiple bikes.

You may have to do some research before deciding which wall mount you want to use. Your decision will be based on the amount of living space you have.

Many people in small spaces prefer horizontal mounts because it’s not only practical, but it also turns their bicycle into a piece of art on the wall.

Final Word

There are many ways to store a bicycle, the method you choose will depend on the type of bicycle you have. If your bicycle has rim brakes, you can choose to hang it vertically or horizontally.

For those of you with expensive hydraulic brakes, you’ll want to hang it horizontally to prevent any brake issues the next time you ride.