How To Store A Motorcycle Long Term
Published: September 17, 2023
Discover expert tips and advice in our comprehensive articles on how to store a motorcycle long term. Keep your bike in top condition with our valuable insights.
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Table of Contents
Storing a motorcycle for a long period of time requires careful preparation and maintenance to ensure it remains in optimal condition. Whether you’re storing your motorcycle during the winter months or taking an extended break from riding, proper storage techniques can help prevent damage and maintain the longevity of your beloved bike.
In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the essential steps for storing your motorcycle long term. From choosing the right storage location to preparing your bike and performing regular maintenance during storage, we’ve got you covered.
By following these guidelines, you can have peace of mind knowing that your motorcycle will be well-preserved and ready for the road when the time comes to ride again.
Choosing the Right Storage Location
When it comes to storing your motorcycle long term, it’s crucial to select the right storage location. Ideally, you want a space that is dry, clean, and protected from the elements. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a storage location:
- Indoor Storage: Whenever possible, it’s best to store your motorcycle indoors. A garage, shed, or storage unit provides shelter from rain, snow, and extreme temperatures, minimizing the risk of damage to your bike.
- Climate Control: If you’re opting for indoor storage, try to find a facility that offers climate control. Fluctuating temperatures and humidity can lead to condensation and moisture buildup, which can cause corrosion and other problems. Climate control helps maintain a stable environment for your motorcycle.
- Security: Look for a storage location that prioritizes security. The area should have secure access, surveillance cameras, and proper locks on doors or gates. This will help protect your motorcycle from theft and vandalism.
- Ventilation: Ensure that the storage space has adequate ventilation to prevent the buildup of stagnant air. Good airflow helps prevent musty odors and mildew formation on your bike.
- Cleanliness: Before choosing a storage location, inspect it for cleanliness. Dust, dirt, and debris can accumulate over time, so a clean environment reduces the risk of scratches and damage to your motorcycle.
Remember, your choice of storage location will greatly impact the condition of your motorcycle. Take your time to find a suitable place that meets all the above criteria. It’s worth investing a little extra in storage fees to safeguard your prized possession.
Preparing the Motorcycle for Long-Term Storage
Before storing your motorcycle for an extended period, it’s essential to properly prepare it to minimize any potential damage or deterioration. Follow these steps to ensure your bike remains in optimal condition:
- Give it a thorough cleaning: Start by washing your motorcycle thoroughly, including the exterior, wheels, and undercarriage. Use a mild detergent and a soft sponge or microfiber cloth. Remove any dirt, grime, or insects that may have accumulated on the bike’s surface. Dry it thoroughly to prevent moisture buildup.
- Inspect for any existing damage or issues: Take the time to carefully inspect your motorcycle for any existing damage or issues. Look for dents, scratches, loose bolts, or fluid leaks. Address any necessary repairs before storing the bike.
- Apply a protective coat of wax: After cleaning, apply a layer of wax to your motorcycle. This will help protect the paint and metal surfaces from oxidation and the effects of long-term storage.
- Consider an anti-corrosion treatment: If you live in a humid or coastal area, applying an anti-corrosion treatment to metal surfaces and exposed parts can provide an extra layer of protection against rust and corrosion.
- Remove any personal items: Make sure to remove any personal items, such as saddlebags, GPS units, or cell phone mounts. Leaving these items attached to your motorcycle during storage can cause damage or theft.
- Check and inflate the tires: Before storage, check the tire pressure and inflate them to the manufacturer’s recommended levels. This helps prevent flat spots and maintains tire integrity during the storage period.
- Consider using a fuel stabilizer: If your motorcycle will be in storage for more than a month, consider adding a fuel stabilizer to the gas tank. This prevents the gasoline from deteriorating and causing problems in the fuel system during storage.
By taking the time to properly prepare your motorcycle for long-term storage, you can ensure that it remains in pristine condition, ready for your next ride. A little bit of preventive maintenance now can save you from potentially costly repairs and prevent unnecessary wear and tear on your bike.
Cleaning and Detailing the Motorcycle
Keeping your motorcycle clean and properly detailed is essential for its longevity, even during storage. Dust, dirt, and debris can accumulate over time and cause damage if not addressed. Follow these steps to clean and detail your motorcycle before storing it:
- Wash the exterior: Use a mild detergent, warm water, and a soft sponge or microfiber cloth to wash the entire surface of your motorcycle. Pay close attention to areas prone to dirt buildup, such as the wheels, fenders, and engine. Rinse off all the soap with clean water and dry the bike thoroughly.
- Clean the chain: If your motorcycle has a chain drive, clean and lubricate the chain before storage. Use a chain cleaner to remove any built-up grime and then apply a chain lubricant. This will help prevent rust and corrosion and ensure smooth operation when you’re ready to ride again.
- Clean and polish the chrome: Use a chrome cleaner or a mixture of vinegar and water to clean the chrome parts of your motorcycle. Wipe them gently with a soft cloth to remove any spots or stains. After cleaning, apply a chrome polish to enhance shine and protect against oxidation.
- Protect the paint: Apply a layer of wax or a paint sealant to protect the paint from scratches and fading. This will also make it easier to remove any dirt or grime that may accumulate during storage.
- Clean and condition the seats: If your motorcycle has leather seats, clean them with a leather cleaner and then apply a leather conditioner to keep the material supple and prevent cracking. For fabric or vinyl seats, use a mild detergent and clean them with a soft brush or cloth.
- Polish the exhaust pipes: Use an exhaust pipe cleaner or metal polish to remove any residues or stains from the exhaust pipes. Buff them with a soft cloth to restore shine and protect against corrosion.
By cleaning and detailing your motorcycle before storage, you not only maintain its appearance but also protect it from potential damage. Plus, when it’s time to take your bike out of storage, you’ll be greeted by a gleaming machine ready to hit the road!
Checking and Changing Fluids
Properly checking and changing fluids in your motorcycle is a crucial step in preparing it for long-term storage. Here are the essential fluids to inspect and potentially replace:
- Engine oil: Check the oil level and condition. If the oil appears dirty or close to the recommended oil change interval, it’s best to change it before storing the motorcycle. Fresh oil helps prevent corrosion and keeps the internal engine components lubricated during storage.
- Coolant: Verify the coolant level and condition. If necessary, top it up with the recommended coolant or consider flushing and replacing the coolant if it’s been a long time since the last change. Proper engine cooling is essential even when your bike is not in use.
- Brake fluid: Inspect the brake fluid reservoirs and ensure the fluid level is within the recommended range. If the brake fluid appears dark, it may be time for a change. Fresh brake fluid helps maintain optimal braking performance and prevents corrosion in the brake system.
- Clutch fluid (if applicable): If your motorcycle has a hydraulic clutch system, check the fluid level and condition. Replace the clutch fluid if it appears dirty or has been in use for an extended period of time.
- Fuel: If you won’t be riding your motorcycle for an extended period, it’s recommend to drain the fuel tank or use a fuel stabilizer to prevent fuel degradation. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations and choose the appropriate method for your bike.
- Transmission fluid (if applicable): Some motorcycles have a separate transmission fluid that needs to be checked and changed. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the frequency of transmission fluid changes.
It’s crucial to consult your motorcycle’s owner manual for specific instructions on checking and changing fluids. Following these steps ensures that your bike’s vital fluids are clean and at the appropriate levels, promoting optimal performance and reducing the risk of damage during storage.
Lubricating the Motorcycle
Lubrication plays a vital role in keeping your motorcycle’s moving parts functioning smoothly. Before storing your bike for an extended period, it’s important to properly lubricate certain components to prevent rust, corrosion, and unnecessary wear. Here are the key areas to focus on:
- Chain: If your motorcycle has a chain drive, make sure to clean and lubricate the chain before storage. Apply a high-quality chain lubricant and ensure the entire chain is evenly coated. This prevents rust and corrosion and helps maintain proper chain tension.
- Cables: Lubricate the throttle, clutch, and brake cables to keep them moving smoothly during storage. Use a cable lubricant or a light oil and apply it to the exposed cable ends. Operate the controls a few times to distribute the lubricant evenly.
- Control pivots: Apply a small amount of lubricant to any control pivots, such as the brake and clutch levers, gear shift lever, and kickstand. This prevents them from seizing up and ensures they operate smoothly when you’re ready to ride again.
- Wheel bearings and suspension: Check your motorcycle’s wheel bearings and suspension components for any signs of wear or stiffness. Apply a lubricant recommended by the manufacturer to ensure proper functioning and prevent any damage during storage.
- Locks and hinges: Lubricate the locks, hinges, and any other moving parts on your motorcycle, such as the seat latch and fuel cap. This prevents them from seizing up and makes them easier to operate when you retrieve your bike from storage.
- Exhaust pivots: Apply a heat-resistant lubricant to the exhaust pivots to ensure they move freely. This is particularly important if you have a multi-piece exhaust system that requires flexibility during thermal expansion and contraction.
Remember to use the appropriate lubricants recommended by your motorcycle’s manufacturer. Proper lubrication helps prevent rust, corrosion, and unnecessary friction, ensuring your motorcycle’s components are in excellent condition when it’s time to ride again.
Removing the Battery
When storing your motorcycle for an extended period, it’s advisable to remove the battery to prevent any potential issues. Here’s why and how to remove the battery:
Why remove the battery?
Motorcycle batteries can lose charge over time, especially when not in use. Storing a fully charged battery can lead to a partial discharge, resulting in reduced battery life. Additionally, there’s a risk of electrical drain on the battery from onboard systems or electronics, which can further decrease its charge. Removing the battery ensures it remains in optimal condition and extends its lifespan.
How to remove the battery:
Follow these steps to safely remove the battery from your motorcycle:
- Consult your motorcycle’s owner manual for specific instructions regarding battery removal.
- Make sure the engine is off and the key is removed from the ignition.
- Locate the battery, usually found beneath the seat or in a battery box.
- Use the appropriate tools to loosen and disconnect the battery terminals. Start with the negative (black) terminal and then proceed to the positive (red) terminal. Always remove the negative terminal first to prevent electrical sparks.
- Carefully lift the battery out of its holder, taking care not to drop it or damage the terminals.
How to store the battery:
Proper storage of the battery is essential to maintain its performance and prevent any damage. Follow these guidelines:
- Thoroughly clean the battery terminals using a mixture of baking soda and water to remove any corrosion. Rinse with clean water and dry them completely.
- Charge the battery to a full charge using a suitable battery charger. This ensures it stays in good condition during the storage period.
- Store the battery in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. A temperature-controlled environment is ideal.
- Consider using a battery maintainer or tender to periodically charge and maintain the battery’s charge level during storage. This helps prevent self-discharge and keeps the battery ready for use.
Remember to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for your specific battery model, as some batteries may have different storage requirements.
By removing the battery and storing it properly, you can prolong its lifespan, prevent potential electrical issues, and ensure your motorcycle is ready to start when you’re ready to hit the road again.
Protecting the Tires
Properly protecting the tires of your motorcycle during long-term storage is crucial to ensure they remain in good condition and ready to ride when you take your bike out again. Follow these steps to protect your tires:
- Inflate the tires: Before storing your motorcycle, check the tire pressure and inflate the tires to the manufacturer’s recommended levels. Properly inflated tires help prevent flat spots and maintain their shape during storage.
- Position the bike: If possible, move the motorcycle occasionally during storage to prevent prolonged pressure on one spot of the tires. This can help minimize flat spots from developing over time. If moving the bike is not an option, consider using tire stands or supports to elevate the weight off the tires.
- Protect against UV rays: If your motorcycle is exposed to sunlight during storage, cover the tires or park the bike in a shaded area. Prolonged exposure to UV rays can cause the rubber to deteriorate and age prematurely.
- Use tire protectants: Apply a tire protectant or dressing to the tires before storage. This helps to keep the rubber moisturized and prevents dry rotting or cracking. Be sure to choose a tire protectant that is specifically designed for motorcycle tires.
- Keep the tires clean: Regularly clean the tires during storage to remove any dirt or debris that may accumulate. Use a mild soap or specially formulated tire cleaner and a soft brush or cloth to clean the tires. This prevents any foreign substances from damaging the rubber.
- Rotate the tires: If you have the opportunity and tools, consider rotating the tires during long-term storage. This helps distribute the weight evenly and reduces the chances of developing flat spots.
- Monitor tire pressure: Periodically check the tire pressure during storage to ensure it remains at the recommended levels. Fluctuations in temperature can cause slight changes in tire pressure, so it’s important to keep them properly inflated.
Proper tire maintenance and protection are essential for maintaining their integrity during long-term storage. By following these steps, you can prevent damage, premature aging, and ensure that your motorcycle’s tires are ready for the road when you’re ready to ride again.
Covering the Motorcycle
Covering your motorcycle during long-term storage is an important step to protect it from dust, dirt, and other potential hazards. Here’s how to properly cover your bike:
- Choose the right cover: Invest in a high-quality motorcycle cover that is specifically designed for outdoor use. Look for a cover that is waterproof, UV-resistant, and breathable to prevent moisture buildup and allow proper ventilation.
- Clean and dry the motorcycle: Before covering your bike, ensure that it is clean and dry. Remove any dirt or debris that may have accumulated, and wipe it down with a microfiber cloth. This prevents scratching and keeps your bike in the best possible condition.
- Secure the cover properly: Ensure that the cover fits snugly over your motorcycle. Use any straps, buckles, or tie-downs provided with the cover to secure it in place. This prevents the cover from being blown off by wind or becoming loose.
- Protect exposed areas: If your motorcycle has any exposed areas, such as mirrors, exhaust pipes, or antennas, consider using additional covers or protective sleeves to safeguard them. This provides an extra layer of protection against elements and potential damage.
- Regularly check the cover: Periodically inspect the cover for any signs of wear, tears, or damage. If you notice any issues, replace the cover promptly to ensure continuous protection for your motorcycle.
- Remove the cover for ventilation: If you have the opportunity, periodically remove the cover and allow the bike to get some fresh air. This helps prevent moisture buildup and allows the bike to breathe, reducing the chances of condensation and mold growth.
Covering your motorcycle provides an extra layer of protection against dust, dirt, and other elements that can potentially damage the bike during long-term storage. By following these steps, you can keep your motorcycle clean and well-protected, ensuring it stays in optimal condition until you’re ready to hit the road again.
Keeping the Motorcycle Secure
Ensuring the security of your motorcycle during long-term storage is crucial to prevent theft and vandalism. Here are some measures you can take to keep your bike secure:
- Store in a secure location: Choose a storage facility or garage that provides adequate security measures. Look for a location with secure access, surveillance cameras, and proper locks on doors or gates.
- Use additional locks: Consider using additional locks, such as disc locks or heavy-duty chains, to secure your motorcycle. Attach them to a sturdy object or use them in conjunction with an anchor device to prevent your bike from being easily moved or stolen.
- Install an alarm system: Consider installing a motorcycle alarm system that can deter potential thieves and alert you or others in case of unauthorized access or tampering.
- Remove valuable accessories: If your motorcycle has any valuable accessories or aftermarket parts, remove them and store them separately. This reduces the attractiveness of your bike to thieves and protects your investments.
- Use a motorcycle cover: A cover not only protects your bike from the elements but also adds an additional layer of security by concealing it from prying eyes. Choose a cover that is not transparent to prevent outsiders from easily identifying your valuable motorcycle.
- Keep documentation secure: Store your motorcycle’s registration, insurance papers, and any other important documents in a secure location. Consider having digital copies as a backup in case the originals are lost or stolen.
- Disable the ignition: If possible, consider using a secure ignition lock or immobilizer system to prevent unauthorized use of your motorcycle.
- Inform trusted individuals: Let a trusted friend or family member know about your storage location and provide them with a spare key or access information. This ensures that someone can access or check on your bike in case of an emergency.
- Regularly monitor your storage location: If feasible, periodically visit your storage location to inspect the security, check on your motorcycle, and ensure everything is in order.
By taking these security measures, you can greatly reduce the risk of theft or vandalism and have peace of mind knowing that your motorcycle is safe and secure during long-term storage.
Regularly Maintaining the Motorcycle during Storage
Maintaining your motorcycle during long-term storage is essential to ensure that it remains in good condition and is ready to ride when you retrieve it. Follow these guidelines for regular maintenance:
- Check on the motorcycle periodically: It’s important to inspect your motorcycle regularly, even during storage. Check for any signs of damage, leaks, or pests. Ensure that the storage area remains clean and free from moisture.
- Start the engine: If possible, start the motorcycle’s engine periodically during storage. This helps keep the internal components lubricated and prevents them from drying out. Allow the engine to run for a few minutes and then turn it off. Be sure to follow proper safety precautions when starting the engine indoors.
- Charge the battery: If you have removed the battery, periodically check its charge level and recharge it using a suitable battery charger. This helps maintain the battery’s health and ensures it remains ready for use when you’re ready to ride again.
- Rotate the tires: If you’ve elevated the weight off the tires, periodically rotate the motorcycle to distribute the weight evenly on each wheel. This helps prevent flat spots from forming and ensures the tires maintain their shape.
- Check for fluid leaks: Regularly inspect your motorcycle for any fluid leaks, such as oil, coolant, or fuel. Address any leaks immediately and determine the source to prevent further damage or potential safety hazards.
- Keep it clean: Clean your motorcycle periodically during storage to remove any dust, dirt, or debris that may have accumulated. Use a mild detergent, soft cloth, and brushes to clean the various parts of your bike. Dry it thoroughly to prevent moisture buildup.
- Inspect and tighten bolts and fasteners: Over time, vibrations and other factors can cause bolts and fasteners to become loose. Regularly inspect and tighten them to ensure that everything remains secure and in place.
- Address any maintenance or repair needs: If you notice any maintenance or repair needs during storage, make note of them and address them as soon as possible. This includes things like replacing worn-out parts, performing scheduled maintenance, or completing any necessary repairs.
Regularly maintaining your motorcycle during storage helps preserve its condition and ensures that it’s ready to hit the road when you’re ready to ride again. By following these guidelines, you can minimize potential issues and enjoy a smooth and trouble-free riding experience.
Properly storing a motorcycle for the long term is crucial to maintain its condition and ensure it’s ready for the road when you’re ready to ride again. By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can protect your investment and extend the lifespan of your beloved bike.
Choosing the right storage location, preparing the motorcycle, cleaning and detailing, checking and changing fluids, lubricating moving parts, removing the battery, protecting the tires, covering the motorcycle, keeping it secure, and regularly maintaining it during storage are all key aspects to consider.
Remember to consult your motorcycle’s owner manual for specific instructions and recommendations tailored to your bike’s make and model. This will ensure that you take the necessary steps to properly store your motorcycle for the specific period of time and environmental conditions.
By taking the time to store your motorcycle correctly, you can prevent damage from the elements, minimize the risk of theft or vandalism, and ensure that your bike remains in optimal condition. When the time comes to take it out of storage, you’ll be able to enjoy your motorcycle to the fullest.
Lastly, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional mechanic or motorcycle expert if you have any specific concerns or questions about long-term storage. They can provide additional guidance and ensure that you’re taking the best possible care of your motorcycle.
So, go ahead and apply these storage techniques to keep your motorcycle safe and in top shape during its time off the road. Happy riding!