As much as we hate to think about it, for some of us the time is rapidly approaching when we will have to put our beloved steeds away for their winter hibernation. When the time does actually arrive you have two choices:
- Pay someone (Dealer/ Bike Shop) to store the bike for you
- Store it your self
Paying someone to store your bike is a good option if you do not have the time or the proper space to store your motorcycle. The advantages of this option are:
- Your bike will be stored in a warm place
- Someone else does the work for you
There are some disadvantages associated with this option however:
- Price: Storing your bike for the winter months (3-6 ), could be somewhat pricey
- Accessibility: You will not have total access to your motorcycle, since the shop will not be open 24/7
- Drop off/ Pick up: It may be difficult to find a convenient time to drop off your bike in the fall, as well as pick it up in the spring/ summer, meaning you may miss some great riding opportunities
If you are the do-it-yourself type or you do not want to pay to store your bike, then your other option is to store your bike yourself. If you do decide to store the motorcycle yourself, you cannot just park it and forget about it for the winter. There is work to be done!
Steps for storing your motorcycle
Clean It! - The first thing that you should do is wash your motorcycle. The last thing that you want to do is let your bike sit for months with dirt, bugs and road grime on it. Come spring you will have a tough time getting it off. Trust me!
Chain: - Once the bike is cleaned then you want to thoroughly clean and lube your chain.
Lube It! – As well as the chain all other parts that are prone to rust and corrosion, this would include the bolts, cables, and switches. (WD40 or another rust inhibitor will work here).
Oil: - It is a good idea to change your engine oil. Used oil has contaminants in it that can adhere to parts of an engine. Changing your oil will remove these materials. It is important that once you change you oil, you do not run the engine for a long period of time, this will just contaminate the oil again!! Starting it for a brief period will lubricate the parts in the engine. Don't go for a ride however.
Gas Tank: - I have heard that it is recommended that you drain your gas tank. This is not a good idea as it allows condensation to form. The tank should be filled to prevent condensation. Once the tank if full you will need to add fuel-stabilizer to keep the gas for going stale. You can purchase fuel-stabilizer at your local bike shop.
Carburetors: - If your bike has carburetors then you will need to drain the fuel contained in the float bowls. Fuel left in side them will become stale, and turn into varnish gumming up the inner workings of the carburetors. This will require disassembly and cleaning. To drain the float bowls there are screws located near the bottom of each carburetor, check your owner's manual.
Battery: - Remove the battery and place it on a charger. The best kind of charger is a 12 volt charger, which will charge a battery to full (14.4 volts) capacity and then automatically switch to (float/ maintain) insuring that the battery will not be overcharged. A regular charger will also work, but you will have to take care that the batter will no be over charged. If you leave your battery in your motorcycle over the winter, by spring time it will not have a charge.
Tires: - Having your motorcycle sitting in one spot for extended periods of time can create flat spots in your tires. The best solution for this is to elevate both wheels off the ground with front and rear stands. If you do not have a set of stands and do not want to spend that kind of money, your other choice is to periodically, (a couple times a month will do) move your bike around so that it is not sitting on the same part of the tires all winter long.
- I would also recommend that you do an inspection of your tires, making sure that they do not have any punctures
- You should also add some extra air (5psi or so) to your tires for storing, because there will be some air loss over that time
Taking the time now to properly store your motorcycle will not only protect it for the ravages of time and Mother Nature, it also makes it easier to get your bike up and running again when the warm weather returns in the spring.
See you on the road next spring,
~ Marlon Pollock