Motorcycle facing down a winding autumn road
Vehicle Storage

The Dos and Don’ts of Motorcycle Storage

Cooler temperatures and shorter days means it’s time to put away your bike for the season. These are some motorcycle storage do’s and don’ts.

Motorcycle facing down a winding autumn road

The days are getting shorter, the temperatures are getting colder, and it’s time to start thinking about winterizing your motorcycle and putting it into storage for the next five or six months. Preparing to store your motorcycle for the season does not have to be complicated. We’ve laid out some dos and don’ts of how to prepare your motorcycle for storage below.

If you are one of those lucky bikers who live in a climate that allows for year-long rides, you are probably thinking about hopping off your computer and hopping on your bike right now. But you might learn a thing or two if you stick around – you never know when you may need a bike storage solution for a period of time.

Motorcycle Storage Dos:

Freshen up your fluids.

Before putting your motorcycle into storage for the season, be sure to change all bike fluids. That includes motor oil, clutch, brake, and coolant. Changing fluids regularly is an essential part of motorcycle maintenance because bike fluids may contain contaminants from regular usage. Those contaminants become corrosive over time and can destroy rubber seals and cause damage to your bike.

Change your oil.

A bit repetitive to the tip above, but it’s worth saying again. Changing your oil regularly is a vital step in the maintenance of any automobile, but doing so before storing your bike for the season can prevent you from having to fork over cash for repairs down the road. You will be kicking yourself if your bike doesn’t start up on the first warm spring day, all because it sat idle all winter, filled with contaminated oil.

Wax and lubricate your bike’s chain.

In addition to cleaning, waxing, and lubricating your motorcycle chain throughout the season, you can extend the life of your chain by treating it before putting your bike into storage. Consider warming up the chain (five miles or so of riding) before lubing and waxing. This allows the lube to dissolve quicker and enter the O-Ring chain for maximum lubrication. It is always wise to refer to your owner’s manual before performing maintenance. 

Invest in a good-quality motorcycle cover.

It’s essential to purchase a cover for your motorcycle. It protects your bike from dust, dirt, moisture, scratches, and any changes in temperature. A high-quality, breathable motorcycle cover is worth investing in and may save you money down the line. Do not use a tarp in place of a true motorcycle cover, as it can scratch the paint and ruin the finish on your bike.

Discover Motorcycle Storage Options Near You.

Many ask, “can you store a motorcycle in a storage unit?” The answer is yes! For those motorcyclists who are not blessed with a motorcycle storage shed or garage space to store their bikes, renting a storage unit is a great option. Prime Storage has storage facilities all around the country with affordable vehicle storage solutions at select locations to help keep your beloved bike(s) in top shape throughout the winter months or whenever you need to take it off the road.

Closeup of a motorcycle dashboard while it's on
Photo by x.anto_xavier__

Motorcycle Storage Don’ts:

Don’t start your bike up every week.

While regular use is good for your bike, idling it in a garage or storage unit does not count as regular use. A cold start is hard on the motor, and if you don’t get the bike up to full operating temperature by riding it, moisture condenses out of the air into places where water does not belong.

Don’t drain your tank.

Contrary to a lot of the information out there, you will be better off keeping your tank full (with a fuel stabilizer additive) rather than emptying it out before storing your motorcycle for the season. An empty tank is susceptible to corrosion and dried-out seals.

If you have an older, multi-cylinder bike, you may consider draining the tank – the more carbs you have, the more potential failure points in the fuel system. But for most modern fuel-injected motorcycles and carb bikes in good condition, leave the tank full, and your bike will fire right up come spring.

Don’t remove your battery.

In most cases, removing your battery before putting your motorcycle in storage is not necessary. If you are one to err on the side of caution, plug in a battery maintainer near your bike (as long as it’s not in a storage unit). Electrolytes in a fully charged battery won’t freeze until temperatures dip below -92°F. According to the U.S. Antarctic Program, the average winter monthly temperature at South Pole Station is −76°F – so even if you stored your motorcycle outdoors in the South Pole, your battery would still be ok.

Don’t store a dirty bike.

Many hardcore motorcyclists clean their bikes and gear after every ride. Road dirt, gravel, and bugs will damage the finish of your bike if left there for too long. And if you live somewhere where they salt the roads, that can cause damage to metal and rubber parts if not cleaned off. Be sure to give your bike a thorough wash and wax before you put it into storage, and it will help to keep it looking like the day you bought it for years to come.

Don’t overinflate your tires.

Wondering how long motorcycle tires last in storage? The answer is about five years if properly stored. Contrary to some opinions, there is no need to overinflate your tires to compensate for weight when putting your bike into storage for the season. You can place cardboard, plywood, or carpet squares under your tires for extra protection to give you peace of mind, but modern motorcycle tires have superior rubber compounds and construction to prevent flat spots and breakdowns.

There are a lot of myths about motorcycle winter storage out there and everyone has their own methods for caring for their bike(s). By following all the dos of proper winterization and motorcycle storage, and avoiding the don’ts, you’re more likely to keep your bike in tip-top riding shape season after season.

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