Ceiling-mounted bike lifts are a great solution for freeing up floor space in the garage. But with lots of options on the market, how are they different, and how does the Racor Bike Lift stack up against the competition? Read our full review to find out!
Racor Bike Lift Review
RATING: Highly Recommended
BEST FOR: Garage with minimal floor space. Suitable for all bike sizes, but younger kids will not be able to use the bike hoist themselves.
CAPACITY: Any size bike, but once ceiling brackets are mounted, only bikes of similar size (14″ and 16″ or 20″ and 24″) can fit on the hoist. For example, a hoist that is set up to fit an adult bike will not be able to fit a 12″ bike.
Racor Bike Lift Review – Results of our Testing
To Hoist or not to Hoist?
Ceiling-mounted bike hoists are a great solution for those looking to free up some floor space in the garage, as well as for those who want to keep their expensive adult bikes away from curious little fingers. Hoists can fit all bike sizes (although they are not adjustable once set up) and can also store bikes with child bike seats still attached! Depending on the height of your garage, hoists allow you to store bikes above most cars, which is typically an underutilized space. Besides installation (which isn’t too terrible), hoists are easy to use and require no lifting.
On the downside, ceiling-mounted hoists can be difficult to mount and are too challenging for younger kids to safely operate. Storing bikes can take several minutes to complete, which certainly isn’t a long time, but it does take considerably more time and effort than a simple bike stand.
All in all, like the many other bike storage solutions, there are pros and cons to every solution. The best option for you and your family really depends on your individual needs. If you’re still uncertain as to which bike storage solution is best for you, be sure to check out our rundown of the best bike storage solutions on the market.
Racor and Delta Ceiling-Mounted Lifts
Bike hoists are pretty simple and essentially all the ceiling-mounted hoists on the market are almost identical in design. Knowing that the devil is often in the details not shared on Amazon listings, we purchased the Racor and Delta bike lifts and put them to the test to see how the hoists stacked up. While they are extremely similar, in the end, several minor differences between the two lead us to prefer and recommend the Racor bike hoist over the Delta.
Racor Ceiling Hoists in Action
Racor vs. Delta
Essentially all ceiling hoists consist of 4 main parts – 2 sets of pulleys (one single and one double) and two hooks with pulleys attached. The sets of pulleys attach to the ceiling while the hooks with pulleys attach to the seat and handlebars of the bike. As shown below, the differences between the Delta (silver and red) and Racor (all black) hoists are minimal as they are both used and installed in identical manners. The locking mechanism (explained more below) is also exactly the same. The same design can be found on other popular hoists such as the RAD.
Besides the larger mounting bracket on the Racor, the only other notable difference in their construction is that Racor’s black coating is much thicker (and comes across as more durable) than Delta’s clear coat.
Both the Racor and the Delta system are rated to hold a 50 lb. bike and can be installed to fit any size bike. As described below, the pulleys will simply be mounted closer together on a smaller bike than on a larger bike. As a result, later on down the road, the distances between the pulleys will need to be adjusted if you want to change what size bike you are storing with the hoist.
Installing a ceiling hoist isn’t a walk in the park, but certainly isn’t time intensive. Essentially you just need to screw the two pulley sets into any studs in your ceiling. The distance at which you install the pulleys should be equal to the distance between the seat and handlebars on your bike. As a result, the pulleys will need to be installed closer together for storing a 16″ bike versus an adult bike.
Installation tip: be sure to thread through and tie off the end of the rope to the single pulley bracket before you screw the bracket into the ceiling! Threading and mounting the rope to the bracket is much easier when it is in your hand versus on the ceiling!
While seemingly easy, the location and direction of the studs can certainly create problems with installing the hoists. In our case, the studs were going the wrong direction to allow the bike to sit safety over the car without being hit by the retracted garage door. Our solution was to mount the ceiling hoists to a piece of plywood (shown in the images above) and then mount that piece of plywood into the studs. While this method is not suggested in the instructions, it has held up just fine in the several months the hoists have been up.
One notable difference between the Delta and the Racor was the size of the included mounting screws. The screws on the Racor are longer and wider than the Delta’s. As a result of the plywood solution, we did not use the included screws, but if you were able to mount the pulleys directly into a stud on the ceiling, Racor’s screws are better suited for the job.
How the system works
Once mounted, attach the rope cleat (the metal bracket that holds the excess rope) to a wall stud and then feed the rope through the five different pulleys. Once the rope is ready, hook one set of hooks behind the saddle of the bike and the other on the handlebars and then pull down on the rope. The bike lifts up as you pull down. Once lifted, wrap the extra rope around the metal cleat (shown on the right side of these images).
We tried several different weights of bikes and they were all pretty easy to hoist up and took only about 10 to 15 seconds to reach the ceiling. While the nylon rope is soft for those with sensitive hands, we would recommend keeping a pair of work gloves handy when using the hoist. The locking mechanism on the hoists does prevent the bike from falling in the event that you lost grip on the rope, but a slight rope burn is still possible.
The locking mechanism on the hoists is simple but effective. To prevent accidental falls, the first pulley in the series automatically locks up when the rope experiences tension from the weight of the bike. The lock releases by gently pulling down on the rope. Once released, the bike will begin to descend as you feed the rope through the pulley.
You can then choose to descend the bike slowly by threading the rope directly up into the pulley or faster by standing behind the pulley and threading the rope up at an angle. When threaded at an angle, the locking mechanism will not engage unless you accidentally let go of the rope.
Delta vs. Racor Minor Differences
Two other notable differences showed up between the two brands, which lead us to favor Racor over Delta. We wouldn’t classify these as flaws with Delta’s system as their system performed just fine, but rather minor features that Racor designed better.
First off, many reviewers commented on concerns with the rope fraying. The rope included with both systems is identical, but the small hole through which the ropes travel to activate the locking mechanism is slightly different. The holes are the same in size, but the thicker coating on the Racor system provides a smoother metal edge for the rope to travel over. With a thinner coating, the edge of the hole on the Delta hoist is rougher and more likely to damage the rope with time.
Secondly, the hooks for the bikes are shaped differently. Delta’s are rounder while Racor’s are flatter. There are pros and cons to each design, but in the end, we felt that the flatter hooks of the Racor were better able to grip the back of the bike saddles. With a rounded Delta hook, only the tip of the hook made contact with the bottom of the seat. With the Racor, almost all of the hook made contact with the seat. That being said, we didn’t experience bikes slipping with either of the hook designs.
Both the Delta and Racor ceiling-mounted hoists work great and are essentially the same by design, but we found the Racor system to be better overall than the Delta. With a thicker metal coating, flatter hook designs, and longer mounting screws, the Racor comes out on top.
Both hoists are generally available for under $30 with the Delta typically selling for about $5 cheaper. For the time and expense of getting new mounting screws, we believe the Racor is worth the additional cost.