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Motorcycle Tour & Cruiser
Product review by Laura Brengelman

Bike Barn


Wandering around the annual Powersports trade show in Indianapolis this year, I saw a lot of great products. But I didn't find all that much that I'd call truly innovative. That is until I turned a corner and saw my first Bike Barn.

In some ways, a Bike Barn is similar to a temporary tent erected for a special event. Its metal skeleton is made of round, galvanized steel poles, which insert into each other. The poles run through sleeves in the sturdy, synthetic canvas cover, which also attaches with Velcro. Treated for water resistance, the cover has two vents.

The ingenious difference is that the ends of the U-shaped supports bolt to a central area in the rectangular base on either side. From there, they rotate up, opening the shelter like an old-fashioned, roll-top desk and revealing the perfect-sized storage enclosure for a motorcycle.

Bike Barns come in three sizes: a Sport model ($279, plus shipping and handling) suitable for small sport and dirt bikes, a Standard size ($349) that will fit most cruisers, and a Tourer that's big enough for a full-sized dresser. Billed as a non-contact motorcycle enclosure, the beauty of it is that you pull your bike in, park it, and close the Bike Barn over it. And nothing comes in contact with your bike's paint, plastic, or chrome.

Since my BMW has a tall windshield and Givi back case (and I bring home various test bikes), I ordered the larger Tourer Bike Barn model. Given a choice, I would have asked for a green cover (to blend into the shrubbery), but this size only comes in a rich burgundy.

I'd like to be able to tell you that the eight pages of directions and diagrams provided were flawless and that I put my Bike Barn together in under an hour. In fact, I struggled determinedly in my driveway for a good, long time, until my husband arrived home and came to my rescue. This is a job for two people.

My dad taught me to unpack a kit carefully and check the packing slip to ensure that all the parts are there (A). The Bike Barn Hardware Description List clearly showed a selection of 20 bolts and four rubber feet. After counting my bounty, I came up with only 16 bolts and no feet (B).

Off I went in search of a metric ruler to determine what was what and what was missing, also grabbing our box of metric hardware to see if we had the right-sized spares. After all this, I discovered that some kind soul in British Columbia had simply saved me a step, using the four 'missing' bolts to attach the four 'missing' rubber feet to the base pieces. (The directions have since been revised to include this change.)

According to the diagram, I first laid out the sturdier, back part of the base frame and the two side pieces. Next, I tried to figure out which upright mounted in which hole. It took me awhile to figure this out, and later measuring revealed that the diagrams are not proportionate. (Happily, the company now stamps numbers on the bigger parts.)


Working from the back, the trick is to connect the shortest support in the first hole, then the longer support with the extra hole, and then two plain, long supports. On the second plain support, reverse the bolt, don't use a plastic washer on the outside, and leave it loose for the time being. In the last hole, bolt on the sides of the front frame with the two rubber feet towards the ground.

Each bolt (with the exception of the one you reversed) gets two plastic washers (on either side of the hole in the base pole) and a locknut (at the other side of the upright pole). I started by fitting the pieces together by hand (C). To tighten each bolt, I used 13mm sockets on a 3/8" ratchet, along with a crescent wrench (D). When my husband came along, I was less than halfway done. He showed me the neat trick of using a battery-operated drill, fitted with a 3/8" socket driver (E).

After all the uprights are attached (F), use a 10mm socket to attach the short support pieces (the ones with holes at both ends) from the extra holes in the side of the base to the holes in the second upright. Next, put the cover in position; 'The Bike Barn' logo goes in the front. Use the large Velcro strip at the back bottom edge of the cover to secure it to the base.

Working your way up to the front, insert each of the straight crosspieces in the sleeves inside the tent. (This is where that second pair of hands comes in handy.) Use a mallet or hammer to attach each end of the crosspiece to an elbow, and connect each elbow to the corresponding upright. Note that the elbows have an oval and a round end and will only fit one way. Be careful not to catch the fabric cover in the joints.

When the structure is complete, use the small Velcro strips inside to secure the rest of the bottom edges. On the outside, fasten the grommet at each side of the cover to the fourth bottom bolt (the one you inserted in reverse) and tighten it down.

While a Bike Barn isn't as secure as storing your bike indoors, it does provide protection from straying eyes - passersby are less likely to peek inside this pseudo-shed than under a fitted cover. For added security, locking hardware and a plate for securing the frame to the ground is provided. And once this thing's locked up, it wouldn't be easy to get a motorcycle out unobtrusively.

Most of all, I like it for the convenience. For someone who rides every day, getting a bike into our shed is a major production involving crossing the yard, negotiating uneven flagstones, unlocking the arsenal, and lowering a heavy ramp. Now, I just ride up to the top of the driveway, open my Bike Barn, and put the bike away. And it's right where I want it the next morning. I think these Canadians are onto a good thing. (MT&C)

  This article to appear in the October 2000 issue. All text copyright Motorcycle Tour & Cruiser
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