Storing a Motorcycle for the Winter

Unless you are lucky enough to live in a state where a motorcycle can be ridden 12 months a year, you are going to have to store it for an extended period of time during the winter months. Many people like to drive their bikes year-round, but others prefer to stick to their cars in the winter to be safer and of course warmer when traveling around. If you are looking into motorcycle storage, there are a few things you should take care of in October and November when placing into a self storage unit to ensure your bike is ready to go when spring rolls back around.

  1. Give your bike a bath. A good cleaning will remove any residual bug guts and road grime, both of which can corrode your paint and finish. Make sure your fully dry it as well. A fresh coat of wax is also a good precautionary measure.
  2. After washing your bike, give your chain a good cleaning and lubing. You don’t want your chain to get rusty from sitting dry all winter.
  3. Get your tires off the ground. If you have a center stand, use it. If not, look at purchasing front and rear “paddock” style stands. If neither of these options are available, be sure to move the bike periodically to avoid getting flat spots on your tires.
  4. Cover your exhaust outlet. If you have an exhaust plug, use it. A plastic bag wrapped around the muffler will work just as well though. This will keep any vermin from crawling in and nesting while it sits idle.
  5. Be sure your gas tank is full and add fuel stabilizer. Fuel can break down and cause problems if left sitting for too long. Be sure to turn the motorcycle on and let it run for a few seconds to let the fuel mixture circulate throughout the system. If your bike has a carburetor, be sure to turn your petcock to the “off” position after circulating the fuel.
  6. Keep your battery juiced. You never want to let your battery sit unattended during the winter without it being connected to a charger. There are a wide variety of “smart” style trickle chargers that are perfect for motorcycle batteries. You just simply hook your battery up to the charger and it will automatically switch to a trickle charge to maintain the battery for the duration of storage. If you don’t have one of these, visit your storage unit every few weeks and turn your bike on and let it run for a few minutes, then turn it off. This also recharges the battery to keep it fresh.
  7. Get a good fitting cover. A cover will keep dust off of your motorcycle and help protect against scratches if you are in and out of your storage unit – especially if you have other items in there as well.
  8. There are some rules to follow when storing titled property at a self storage property. You need to have valid insurance, current registration and it needs to be in good working condition. Plus, the name on the rental agreement needs to match the name on the vehicle registration.

These are the precautionary measures that I take when storing my motorcycle for the winter. Making a plan and ensuring your motorcycle stays safe while in storage is a good idea. Taking these steps will make your first ride a lot more enjoyable when the weather gets nice again. If you have other tips you want to share about how you store your motorcycle, please share them in the comments below. And if you need to get your motorcycle into storage before the first big snow hits, you can rent a storage unit online now and get moving.