In the last 10 years, the Cycle Storage industry has seen an influx of two-tier bike racks offering assistance for the upper tier of two-tier bike racks in the form of a gas-strut. Some of the claims against these products are more convincing than others.
After reading the article below, you should be better informed to decide which rack is best for you.
Over 10 years ago, the industry had just 2 or 3 gas-assisted two-tier racks available on the market, but now there are over 15 available and we do not think that all these products genuinely offer assistance. Knowing which ones are worth the money can be difficult to spot.
The issues with low-cost examples
When the idea of a gas-assisted rack was a new idea, many architects were quick to specify this new 'user friendly' version of the two-tier rack. This in-turn led to cycle storage suppliers asking their suppliers to provide a product that would fill this gap in their product range. In answer to this request, many manufacturers especially the Chinese began manufacturing a gas-assisted two-tier cycle parking product. On paper these products looked great, and often came with a pleasing price tag. Some of these costed less than £80 per cycle space while other manufacturers were charging £180+ per bike space. These new low-cost alternatives sold fast and there are hundreds of examples all over major cities in the UK.
Sadly, these low-cost alternatives were poorly made and often failed with 12-24 months of being installed. As the gas-strut seals begin to fail, the strut becomes more of a hinderance than a help meaning that these racks became difficult to use, or in some cases unusable. In one case, this is rumoured to have been the major cause of a company becoming liquidated.
So, are gas-struts a bad thing on cycle racks?
NO. These can be a great way to aid the cyclist. Some users of two-tier racks can find the upper tiers heavy to use especially when trying to lift an e-bike into position. The key point here is to ensure that you pick one of the few good quality gas-assisted cycle racks on the market. We think there are 2-3 of them out there and because of the additional components required we believe that this rack should cost at least £180 per cycle space at the time of writing (December 2021)
Examples of issues
12 years ago, when we received a tender enquiry from a major railway station in London, we recommended that they avoid gas-assisted cycle racks for the location because of the strenuous usage that we knew that these racks would get. (People in a hurry for a train often give a bike rack an unreasonable amount of abuse!)
We had our own gas-assisted rack to offer to the station, and although we strongly believed in this product, we knew that the most robust product would be best suited to the location.
We secured the contract, and installed our manual two-tier cycle racks, and to date they have had nothing more than the occasional bit of vandalism to our racks.
More recently they decided to add an additional 300 cycle spaces to the location, however we did not secure this contract. They chose a mid-range two-tier product with gas assistance that costed around £140 per cycle space.
When speaking to a member of the facilities team recently, he expressed sincere disappointment in their latest purchase of cycle racks with a competitor. The main complaint was parts coming loose, and failure of gas-struts.
Sometimes simpler is better
Our product is simple and effective. Without the need to reach down to the ground, the lifting position is not strenuous. When our rack is loaded, part of the bike is beyond the pivot point acting as a counterbalance and we have received plenty of praise for this design over the years. We are of course biased, but we believe that our product is the perfect balance of simplicity, reliability and value.
Below is a link to our two tier product
Our recommendation and verdict
Gas-struts can be a great addition to the two-tier rack, but because of low-cost poor-quality examples that have flooded the market, many companies believe that there is a 'cheap' alternative. A good quality two tier-rack with gas assistance should cost at least £180 per bike space (more commonly over £200). If you do not have the budget for this, then we would advise you to avoid a gas-assisted product and all the additional components and maintenance that comes with these products.