The vendor amusingly describes as a “5 Bike Wave Rack.”

5 bike wave rack

Since developers often install these just six inches from the building, a more typical capacity might be two bikes at the very most.

Who in the world invented this serpentine style of rack, anyway? Does anybody know?

A typical catalog description claims these racks are compact and space efficient because some moron decided combining multiple “U” racks into a single structure means you can somehow cram more bikes into the same space. With that kind of thinking, we can double the available parking in the parking lot by cutting each space in half with more white stripes!

From this industrial supply catalog, but all of these style of racks are described similarly.


  1. I especially like the image of the bike locked to the rack.

  2. I cannot fathom getting 5 bicycles properly attached to this type of bike rack. There is one in a spot we frequent regularly and my husband and I put one bike through the right side, and back the rear side of the other bike into the middle so that if someone happens along, there is at least one space for them to use, but because the right side is against a wall, that is all that will attach. We’ve actually had someone park next to us too because it’s the only rack around… it would be nice to at least put a couple in a center if the compactness is so important.

  3. 3 bikes face right, 2 face left. From an engineering perspective it theoretically works BUT unless their are signs to explain it OR wheel grooves in the ground it’s unlikely to be used optimally

    It’s critical that the top of the loops are high enough to reverse the bike seat under. The bottom loop should almost touching the ground so the chainring diesn’t get damaged.

    One of the clever things about this rack design is that the middle 3 bikes are well supported and will not fall over

  4. In real life terms most of the bike planners I know count wave rack parking capacity based on the number of curves. As such the 3-curve rack shown above would fit 3 bikes.

    Beyond that, however, wave racks are typically a bike parking fail as they don’t provide 2 points of contact to keep the bike steady while leaning against the rack. Also, if part of the rack is damaged the whole thing has to be trashed. The only worse bike parking rack choice is the still surprisingly common “toaster” rack.

    I’m not sure why the go-to choice isn’t always the simple yet effective square-tubed inverted-U rack. Cheap, easy to install, very strong, the only thing missing is that it places bikes on each side of the rack rather close to one another, sometimes making it a bit difficult to get the second bike locked up with the first already present.

    There are some interesting solutions out there, however, which provide both the 2 points of contact and adequate separation between bikes such as the following (and I apologize in advance for the sparkle sound effects, you may want to turn down your speakers):
    Maybe not quite as strong or cheap as a square-tube U rack, but it gets the job done in a similar footprint.

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