How to Store your Bike until Next Riding Season
It’s officially the saddest time of the year: time to think about putting your bike into storage. For some of us in the sunniest states, it’s not something you need to worry about. For the rest of us living in a winter wonderland, storing your bike for the winter months is essential. There are a few schools of thought as to the best methods for winterizing a motorcycle. However, not all of these methods work equally well, and we want to dispel the myths. So if you’ve never done it before, or you want to see if you’ve been doing it right, here’s everything you need to know about how to winterize a motorcycle.
Simple Steps for Winterizing Your Motorcycle
Here are a few simple steps for winterizing your motorcycle. Follow along to give your bike the best protection until those temperatures start to rise again.
Keep Exposed Metal Safe – Take it Inside
The best advice will always be to keep your bike inside a temperature-controlled environment like a garage. The main reason for doing so is to protect against condensation. Condensation can cause corrosion and rust that will ruin the integrity of your motorcycle.
Of course, not all of us have access to a temperature-controlled garage. One great alternative is to rent a storage unit for your bike. Many are temperature-controlled. Even if it’s not, your bike is far better off sitting inside a storage unit than parked on the street with a tarp over it.
It’s going to save you from damage caused by condensation and one other thing. One of the biggest enemies to your stored motorcycle is going to be animals like field mice, rats, and more that are looking for a warm place to sleep. Keeping your bike inside doesn’t just keep the cold out, it keeps the critters out, too.
Also, make sure when your bike is ready for storage that you seal it up. Plug up any hole (like your exhaust) with anything you have handy to keep animals from making it their winter getaway.
Fresh Oil, Lube, and a Coat of Wax
Using a motorcycle-specific soap, wash down your bike. Get off all the dirt, bugs, and other debris it’s been collecting this season. This is going to protect the paint while it’s sitting for a while. Make sure you put a fresh layer of wax over the painted surfaces for extra protection.
Likewise, you want to treat any exposed metal surfaces with polish for the same reason. You also want to treat any moving parts with lubricant. If your bike is going to be sitting for a few months, this will help it wake up and get rolling in the spring.
If you’ve got a chain-driven bike, don’t forget about that chain! Take your bike out for one last good ride and get the chain warm. Then when you’re ready to winterize your motorcycle, hit the chain with a fresh layer of lubricant. Doing this while your chain is still warm will help to move the lubricant throughout all of the pieces of the chain. Of course, this results in better protection from rust.
Winterize Your Fuel System
There are two methods for protecting your fuel system. The first is to simply empty your tank entirely. Left sitting for a long time, gasoline can turn into a dense sludge that your bike won’t be able to ignite. It can ruin your fuel tank and potentially your bike.
The second method is to fill your fuel tank and add some fuel stabilizer to the tank. You want to put your motorcycle into storage with the gas tank at about 90% full if you choose this method. This is going to prevent condensation from forming in your tank. Adding a fuel stabilizer and letting it run through your bike’s fuel system will keep your fuel fresh and healthy.
Fresh Oil and Filters
Nothing fancy here. You just want to be prepared for that first spring ride. Along with your fuel, you don’t want your old oil to get stale sitting around for a few months. You can prevent that from happening by changing your oil and filters. This is going to keep the inside of your engine happy and healthy.
Check Your Levels
To give your bike the full treatment, you really want to change your brake fluid, clutch fluid, and transmission fluid if your bike uses them. At the very least, you want to top off those levels to make sure your bike is ready for the first spring ride.
Remove the Battery
This is another simple one. You just want to remove your battery and make sure you store it in a cool, dry place. If you have an older battery, you might want to think about picking up a battery tender. That way you can make sure your battery keeps its charge over winter.
Keep Your Tires Protected From Flat Spots
When you finally winterize your motorcycle, it’s going to be in one place for a long time. During that time you want to take the stress off of your tires. Use a center stand (not your kickstand) to elevate your bike. Getting your tires off the ground will keep them from forming flat spots where it’s been sitting.
If you don’t have a center stand, put a rug or piece of plywood under your tires. This will help prevent those flat spots and will also keep your tires from absorbing moisture from the ground.
Winterizing Your Motorcycle For a Better Spring Ride
Winterizing your motorcycle can take some work. However, don’t focus on the work. Focus on how much easier it’s going to be getting back on the road in spring. If you properly winterize your motorcycle, getting it running when the weather gets warmer will be a snap. If you’re planning on doing a little early riding, make sure you check out our tips for winter riding and stay safe out there!