Motorcycle winter storage isn’t something to take lightly. If you’ve invested in a bike, you want to make sure to perform all the proper maintenance when you’re unable to ride it regularly.
Some of these steps will vary depending on how long you need to store your motorcycle and the harshness of the winter. You’ll also need to take extra precautions if you want to store a motorcycle outside for the winter.
If you don’t have a way to store your motorcycle for the off-season at home, we recommend choosing a storage location that is dry and out of the elements. Keep reading to learn the basics of winterizing a motorcycle for winter storage.
1. Clean all exterior surfaces of dirt and debris.
First, thoroughly clean and dry all surfaces of the bike. This step seems like an obvious one, but the importance of it cannot be emphasized enough. Cleaning a bike that won’t be on the road sounds like a thankless job, but it’s one that will save you time and headache in the long run. Any dried on bugs, dust, or spotting will only become harder to get off once it’s been seasoned through a long winter.
2. Make sure all moving parts are well lubricated.
If your bike will be stored for more than a few months, make sure you cover essential internal components with a light coat of oil to prevent unwanted moisture buildup.
One way to do this is to remove the spark plugs, then put about a tablespoon of oil into the holes. Turn the engine over and coat the cylinder walls by spinning the rear tire while the bike is in gear. Then make sure to add back spark plugs.
Everything that is usually lubricated on a bike should be done immediately before storage. Check the chain, cables, and controls to be sure everything is freshly lubed up to withstand the cold and dry winter air.
3. Top off the fuel tank and add a fuel stabilizer.
Stop by a gas station that is closest to your storage location and top off the fuel. Once the fuel is topped off, add a touch more. A full tank is essential for keeping moisture down on the tank walls.
After the tank is full, add a fuel stabilizer and then take the motorcycle for a short drive to the storage destination. Don’t add the fuel stabilizer at the storage location because then the fuel stabilizer won’t have the proper chance to mix into the fuel system.
Another option worth mentioning for long-term motorcycle storage is to drain the tank of fuel completely. If you do this, you will need to line the tank with a fogging oil to prevent rust. We recommend this method if you plan on storing your motorcycle for six months or more.
4. Change the oil and replace the filter.
Old oil that sits in storage can quickly corrode engine components and is not ideal for any motorcycle storage longer than a month. After you took the motorcycle for one last ride and topped off the fuel, change the oil and replace the filter.
Opt to purchase an oil that is primarily for winter use and follow the instructions.
While you’re at it, add the appropriate amount of antifreeze to your coolant system, which is an especially important step for winter motorcycle storage.
5. Remove the battery and hook it up to a trickle charger.
You can either remove the battery entirely or for shorter-term winter storage, keep it on the bike. If you opt to keep the battery on, make sure you turn the bike on every month or so to charge the battery. The more optimal method is to remove the battery and store it in an entirely different location that won’t have fluctuations in temperature.
Once the battery is disconnected, and the electrodes are cleaned, hook it up to a trickle charger all winter long.
6. Take the weight off the tires to avoid flat spots.
The best way to store a motorcycle is with all the weight off the tires. This weight relief can be accomplished by using motorcycle stands, which will prevent uneven tire wear or flat-spotting.
If a stand is not an option, try to hoist the bike up on the front tire and alleviate the weight from the back tire. Make sure to rotate the front tire every few weeks.
If your only option is to leave the bike on the ground, fill the tires to the maximum PSI. Next, line the floor with carpet or plywood to act as a barrier from moisture. Lastly, make sure to rotate the tires by rolling the motorcycle every so often.
7. Stuff the air intake and exhaust pipes with muffler plugs.
Make sure to fill any open section of the bike to prevent rodents or pests from taking up residence inside. This step is critical if you are storing your motorcycle outside or in a barn.
There are muffler covers and other items you can buy for this purpose, but some people have success using plastic bags. Just make sure that you don’t forget to remove these items when you start up your bike in the spring!
8. Wax the exterior surfaces and invest in a quality motorcycle cover.
One of the last steps after you do all this prep work is to wipe down the bike and give it a good coat of wax. Wax will act as a barrier against unwanted moisture, which will help prevent premature rusting. Spray down all exposed metal with a coating like WD-40, which will do the same as the wax to prevent moisture build-up.
We suggest investing in a motorcycle cover that is specially fitted to your model bike. Even if you’re storing your bike inside for the winter, this cover will be appropriately sized to let the bike breathe, but it will also further protect it from dust, debris, rodents and unwanted dings or scratches.
9. Pick a storage location that makes sense for you.
Sometimes you have easy access to free motorcycle storage at home. However, many people need to rent a storage unit for the winter for their bike. The cost of motorcycle winter storage depends on what storage unit deals are in your area at the time.
If you need help finding a storage spot that’s right for you, learn more about our motorcycle storage options near you.