Have you ever heard of something that was too good to be true, but decided to give it a shot anyway and got pleasantly surprised?
That’s what happened with Harbor Freight’s Cycle Tree
I mentioned last month that I was rebuilding my storage shed to hold 40 years worth of film, clips and prints until I could digitize them. Unfortunately, that’s also where I store my bikes. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to get to stuff on the shelves with bikes hanging from the ceiling and taking up floor space.
Serendipity steps in
S0meone on the Bicycle Lifestyle Google Group was asking about creative bicycle storage in a small space. There were several suggestions, but I liked the one for the Harbor Freight Tools Cycle Tree.
- It was only $49.99 plus $8.99 shipping for a total of $59.98.
- It claimed to hold up to six bicycles in about four square feet of floor space.
- It was on wheels, so I could move it around to access my shelves.
- It was only $49.99 (or did I mention that already?).
How good could it be for less than $60?
Particularly since it came in a light-weight cardboard box packed in Styrofoam that was mostly turning to dust. I was worried when I saw one of the wheels was missing a nut. Fortunately it was rolling around loose in the packing material.
The instruction sheet didn’t inspire much confidence either. The front looked like a bad photocopy. The two inside pages were safety instructions.
- Keep work area clean.
- Dress properly.
- Use the right tool for the job.
- Use eye protection.
- Stay alert. (Do not assemble the Cycle Tree when tired.)
- Do not assemble Cycle Tree if under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
We finally get to real instructions
The last sheet in the package shows a shop drawing of all the pieces / parts with lots of lines and numbers.
I’m not sure the guy who did the drawing followed all of the safety instructions above. They weren’t much help to me. Of course, I’ve been told that I’m instructionally challenged.
Skip the directions; lay out the pieces
Surely there must be some rhyme or reason to the parts.
Gradually, things started taking shape. The only confusing thing was the bolts that were shipped with the Cycle Tree.
Harbor Freight Tools must have gotten a terrific deal on long bolts. I almost went back into the shop to pick up my cordless drill.
The other thing that was a pain was that every combination of bolt and nut seemed to be a different size, requiring numerous trips to the tool box.
Things start looking up.
Once I started tying in the base, wheels and angled braces, I thought, “This puppy might just work after all.”
All of the bolt holes lined up once I conceded that length DOESN’T matter as long as it’s long enough.
I didn’t like the way that the metal bowed in slightly when I cranked down on the nuts, so I used slightly less torque on the rest of them.
The finished product looked pretty good.
The wheels were solid and turned easily. I was tempted to drill a hole to put in an extra bolt to dampen down some lateral movement of the central shaft, but I remembered the safety caution, “Parts replacement or repair should be performed by a qualified technician.” That left me out. Since most of the weight is going to be straight down, I calculated it was unlikely to move to the side much anyway.
Besides, I was starting to get tired and didn’t want to violate the Stay Alert caution.
It was time to put it in the shed
It rolled smoothly down the sidewalk from the carport and just made it under the shed door without having to be tilted. It didn’t take up much space without bikes on it.
Bro Mark’s Spyder was the test bike
Bro Mark’s Spyder was the first one hung.
- It was the weirdest shape, with the flaring handlebars.
- It was heavier than any of the other bikes.
- You can’t hurt anything that’s been under the Mississippi River at least three times.
It didn’t fall over. In fact, it was remarkably stable. The wheels turned easily, too, which is important because you’re supposed to load the bikes from opposite sides to keep it balanced.
Bike two slipped into place with no problem
Wife Lila’s three-speed was next. Despite the wide bars on the Spyder, her bike slipped right into place. Her old Trek Navigator 300 was next, followed by my old Trek 1220 (wow, that bike is light when I strip all the stuff off it).
Up to six bikes means LESS than six bikes
You might be able to get six bikes on the Cycle Tree, but I’m inclined to rate it like a two-man tent: you gotta be REALLY friendly to get two in one. My four bikes occupy a space about four feet by five feet. If the Spyder wasn’t there, it wouldn’t be that wide.
Despite all my niggling complaints, I’m going to say that this is a heck of a buy for $49.99 and shipping. You can put a lot of bikes in a small space and move them around. I’m happy.
I’m sold. Where can I get one?
Where’s the Surly Long Haul Trucker?
Since I use that more than any of the other bikes, I’m going to leave it on the floor where it’s convenient to jump and run.
26 Replies to “Cycle Tree for $49.99 Is Great Way to Store Bikes”
Okay, I’m impressed. From your photos the only thing I can see that I might change is putting caster wheels on it so it rolls smoother. But my guess is you won’t have to roll it around too much now that you can corralled all the bikes into your new storage shed.
I can hardly wait until you get another one and start growing more bikes.
Before you tell me that it HAS caster wheels on it, I should note that I forgot to say BIGGER caster wheels, but it was either drop my toast while typing or continue typing. I saved the toast instead.
Nice ATTEMPTED save, but I hope your toast grab was more successful.
The CASTERS are good so I can move it to get to the shelves that will soon be moved into the room. It’s also necessary for you to be able to move the stand to load the bikes unless you have the ability to walk around it on all sides.
One of the phreds had a question about how high the Cycle Tree is.
It can be set up from 69 to 72 inches tall (measured from the floor). Mine is at 69 inches. Figure out how thick your wheel and tire is; that’s how tall it is.
I’m curious how stable it is with 2 bikes on one branch and 1 on the other.
(and curious just how really stable the cross branch (branches?) is. and if the outer bikes might cause it to sag. I like the roll-able part; this will work well in my garage.
Come by and give it a look. I don’t see why it couldn’t handle a small imbalance like 2-1. I can’t detect any sag with four bikes on it and two of them are heavy.
You’d like it for your garage. It would free up a lot more space than you’d think.
My garage l0oks like your Surly Long Haul Trucker — there’s barely room for me to move around in it any longer.
Something’s got to give! This will help. Throwing out most everything else will, too.
Now just to find a couple of weeks time to do it.
And since you’re so experienced, you’ll put mine together for me, right? : )
Miz Jan, Mam,
I’ve seen your garage and I’ve seen my LHT. There is no comparison. There’s a place for everything on my LHT and everything is in its place.
I’ll trade cupcakes for Cycle Tree construction. In fact, bring it and the cupcakes over to my place. That way I don’t have to drag tools all over the world.
I’ll put the base and the stem together as two pieces. It’ll fit nicely in your car and you’ll only have to put a couple of bolts in when you get home.
That’s not a service I offer to readers Down Under, unless, of course, travel expenses are covered.
Name your flavor.
First, what are my other “best” options for vertical bike storage?
I’ve seen Mark’s pole and am not impressed — it still has too much horizontal in it to be of much use and doesn’t save on space.
And I fully concede stuff in the garage is packed like a seed in a grape, but your bike is what we type people call seriously cluttered.
And inefficient — too many movements to get to the camera, the radio thingie and everything else. I still like my Camelbak mule — has pockets I can reach into for all that jazz you attach with velcro or permanent mounts. You don’t use that air horn every time you ride, do you?
Well – scratch that.
Pilots don’t use the parachute every time they fly, either. But you never hear from the ones who didn’t have it when they needed it.
Wait, no one, and I mean NO ONE is going to let Jan’s comment about seeing my pole and not being impressed just slip by?
I hate to disappoint you, but I wasn’t impressed either.
I read your article about your experinces with the purchase of a bike rack, the “cycletree”.
I wish that I could communicate with you, because I hold the patent for cycletree. and I really thought that your article was great, and I agree with everything you wrote.
please respond , and thank you.
Raul, Congrats on this fabulous patent! Good for you! di
Thank you so much for revisiting this in your “year in review”. I wasn’t following your blog back in March, and never saw it. I have 6 kids. As you can imagine the bike fleet is a bit unwieldy. I have been struggling with the storage problem for a while now, and was considering a second shed just for bikes. But the tree should be just the ticket. I just ordered one and if it works as well as you described, I’ll probably get a second.
BTW, your review also contributed to my recent decision to buy an LHT as my second bike. I’ve got 500 miles on it now and love it.
Glad to be of service. That’s one of the reasons for the year-end review of reviews. I thought it would be nice to tie this stuff all together and to have an easy place to link to in the future.
That, and the fact that I caught Turkey Flu on Thanksgiving and have been fighting off a sore throat and general miseries. The reviews were a way to keep some content coming.
Glad you like the Surly. It’s a great bike for the price.
I got the same rack from my cousin but it’s all in parts. Do you know where can I get the instuctions to put it together? I’d appreciate it very much if you could help me. It’s easier for me to visualize the picture when assembling parts :P Thanks!!!
Laura, what you see is pretty much what I have. If you click on Raul’s name in a comment above your comment, it’ll take you to the web site for the Cycle Tree.
He has instructions there. They aren’t much good, but they may help.
The best advice I can give is to lay out the pieces, look at my pictures, and start putting it together. After a few minutes, it’ll start making sense.
If you call my toll free line , I can be of help to assemble the rack, Im glad you bought one
Do you think this thing would flip over with only one bike on it? I’ve just got one and need a way to store it vertically without putting holes in the wall or ceiling.
I’ve had as many as five bikes on it and as few as one. Right now, it has one on it and it’s just as stable as when it’s fully loaded.
You can’t beat it for the price.
I have two touring bikes, 1 MTB, 1 comfort bike , 2 beach cruisers and two rare completely rebuild heavy 1954 Hamilton roadster and 1938 Zbrojovka Brno bicycle made for Wehrmacht. I did made slight modification to Cycle tree, I did use better quality wheels, two wheels have brakes – it will make life when you hang bikes on rack much eazy. I also use some used spacers I cut from old metal pipe on corners when essembly base so metal do not bow under bolt torque and bicycle rack will feel more solid. Bicycle rack work nicely for me, it is good idea tu put some material between bikes to prevent scratches on bikes and prevent metal to metal contact when you have to move loaded bicycle rack, I use floor sound insulation material from Rona and for pedals to prevent scratches old socks. Cycle tree if you know how will accomondate longer bicycle like my Electra Rat Fink, you need just bungee cord to secure fork , handle bar and front wheel from turning – hanging point will be frame and not front wheel.
Storing bikes vertically definitely saves a lot of space.
Hello Raul Gutierrez,
If you are the patent holder of the CycleTree, congratulations. Great idea but the execution is poor.
1. I am on my second package of cycle tree that I got from Harbor Freight. First one had missing hardware, casters falling apart, scratches, etc. I was surprised to find that the hardware was not even in a plastic bag.
2. I just started putting together the second one and found the 4 washers don’t fit the bolt on top of the casters, its missing one of the rubber end caps and the other end cap is cracked. Lots of scratches in the paint finish seems to be the norm.
3. It s always a good idea to include an extra washer(s) so people don’t have to run out to a hardware store just for that.
So, after two tries, I am yet to put it together and see if it will even work for me. I am not getting a good sense of the quality.
Comments are closed.