As any motorcycle owner knows, the winter can take a lot out of a bike. If you live somewhere with mild winters, you can pretty much ride year-round. For those in colder states where winter can be downright vicious, its best to store your motorcycle until things thaw out again. When it comes to motorcycle storage, these 10 tips are sure to help protect the life of your favorite ride for many seasons to come.
1. Clean it
The biggest step prior to putting your bike away for the season is to make sure it's clean, dry, and waxed. This step in motorcycle storage helps prevent rust, corrosion, buildup, and other nasty outcomes of a dirty bike. If you put your bike away dirty, you not only leave it vulnerable to more damage accumulating during the offseason, but you also make more work for yourself when you try to clean it after it's been sitting there for weeks or even months.
To clean your motorcycle, you will need a cleaning solution and warm water. You should only use cleaner designated for motorcycles or at the very least for cars to avoid damaging the paint job on your bike. Using a sponge or cloth and soapy water, scrub gently to remove any dirt or buildup. For areas prone to excessive buildup such as the chain or any bolts, you can use a grunge brush and an O-ring safe degreaser to remove the buildup. After properly cleaning all the important areas of your bike, make sure you thoroughly dry the bike. Moisture is the enemy of metal and can lead to corrosion and rust. Finally, apply your favorite wax to important areas for a nice barrier from potential damage.
2. Tend to the fluids and filter
The engine is the heart of your machine so taking a few steps to safeguard is just a no brainer. The performance of the engine and bike in general is closely related to having proper fluids and clean, working filters. It is important to check your oil levels and the condition of your air filter before storing your bike. You want to make sure you have proper levels of all the essentials such as oil, coolant, clutch, and brake. This is a good time to clean dirty filters or replace worn out ones to help protect the engine and make sure you are ready to ride when the winter ends.
3. Prepare the fuel system and exhaust for storage
The fuel system needs a little TLC before you store your bike for the season. The fuel tank needs a quality fuel stabilizer to prevent damage during the offseason. If you have a fuel injection system, you want to add the fuel stabilizers and turn the bike on for a few minutes to allow it to properly circulate through the system before storing it away. This will stop the fuel from going bad so to speak while helping to protect against the accumulation of moisture which can be detrimental to the bike.
Likewise, the exhaust will need some attention. Make sure you clean the exhaust pipes and apply a water displacement solution to prevent moisture buildup which can lead to rusted pipes. You can also put a plastic bag inside the pipe when you are done to help prevent critters from climbing inside while also protecting even further from moisture concerns.
4. Take care of the battery
Another important element of proper motorcycle storage is to tend to the battery. If you leave the battery unused for a few months, it will most likely lose some of its juice. You want to remove the battery and hook it up to a trickle charger which will keep it primed and ready for when riding season comes back around. This is also a good time to clean your terminals of any buildup as an extra step prior to storage.
5. Tend to the chain
The chain is one of the most important parts of a bike and it's also one of the most exposed which leaves it especially vulnerable to damages. You want to make sure the chain is free from gunk or buildup and completely dry to avoid rust. You should then apply a lubricant to the chain. A good rule of thumb is to run the bike for a few minutes to get the chain warm enough to help the lubricant reach the O-rings and properly coat the entirety of the chain with more ease.
6. Check the tires
If you put a bike away with not enough air in the tires, you run into tires that will inevitably lose their shape and flatten out. Make sure you top off your tire pressure to the recommended level before storing so you have one less thing to worry about at the start of the next riding season.
7. Cover it
One of the more overlooked aspects of motorcycle storage is the use of an actual cover. Many riders falsely assume that because they are storing the bike inside a garage or storage unit that the cover is optional, but a cover is absolutely necessary. It creates a better barrier from air and moisture.
8. Secure it
You want your motorcycle to still be there in the spring when the weather is ideal for riding again. If you can't afford a storage unit or simply don't have the space in your garage, you might have to store it outside. Don't leave your bike outside without taking extra measures to secure it somehow. If this means removing important fuses to make it undrivable or chaining it up, do whatever you need to, but make sure you secure it against theft.
9. Keep it indoors if possible
It really is best to store your bike indoors somehow. Whether this is a garage, storage unit, or shed, an indoor location will not only help minimize the chance of theft, but it will also protect it more from the winter and outdoor elements. If you don't have room or money for an indoor unit, maybe check with a relative or buddy with more room to store it for the winter.
10. Check for critters
Finally, check for critters from time to time while the bike is stored. Animals looking for a warm place to sleep are notorious for burrowing their way into a garage and nesting in pipes and engines. If you find critters in your bike, take care to remove them and re-secure your bike to prevent them nesting again. When the new riding season starts up, always check for critters before starting the bike up!