Having a bike on board is almost a necessity - but where to store them? The roof is an obvious choice, but lifting a bike up and down can be tiring, and is often dangerous. If you have a cruiser stern on your narrowboat then you may have room to keep your bike on there, but most people will have to find other solutions.

Bike carriers for cars

Sometimes bike carriers designed for cars can be fitted easily to your boat. There are mainly two type of bike carriers for cars:

Hang on Racks on which you hang your bike. These generally have some kind of straps which are designed to clip over the car hatchback - these can be easily modified or tied on to the side of your boat.

Wheel Support Racks are basically metal gutters in which the bike wheels sit, often supported by straps to a hinged bar or upright. These come in two basic types - roof rack and tow ball fitted. You may find that you can position the gutters across your narrowboat roof, or for the tow ball type perhaps you can weld or bolt a fitting on to the back of your counter deck.

DIY bike carriers

If you Do It Yourself (take a design to the local fabricator, or scout around in metal reclamation yards for likely looking bits of scrap) are likely to be cheaper and more likely to fit the boater's needs. A common design is to have a square profile steel tube in a Y-shaped fork - it can be slotted into square profile tube welded or bolted on to the back deck. The bikes hang off the back.

Folding Bikes

Folding bikes are an option worth thinking about. The Brompton is very popular, and folds particularly small and has the benefit of a basic rear suspension system for riding on the towpaths. It comes with up to 6 gears. A full suspension folder like the Birdy is possibly even better and comes with up to 24 gears. Neither are cheap, but are well worth the investment if you're going to ride regularly. The added benefit of the folder is that you can keep it indoors away from potential thieves and the elements.

If Bromptons and Birdys are too expensive for your wallet then look out for shopper-style bikes in car boot sales etc - 20" fat wheels, three speeds and normally folding for easy storage. The gear ratios are fine for towpaths, and the wideish tyres are ideal for them. Far less nickable, and yours for about a tenner. ;-)

Have you got a bike on your boat - upload your photos here so we can see how you did it.


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Folding Bikes

A mechanically good folding bike that is nearly half the price of the equivalent Brompton is the Dahon Vitesse. It takes 45-60 seconds to fold so not quite as good as a Brompton for everyday train commuting (which takes 15 secs to fold) but that is not really an issue for boaters