Cold weather is approaching for most of the United States, and unless you are immune to the cold and hypothermia, it’s time to put your motorcycle into storage mode for a few months. Your motorcycle is a precious and costly investment, so here are some guidelines you should follow when storing your “baby” for an extended period.
Cold weather affects your motorcycle, specifically your engine, transmission, and fuel system. Used oil laying idle in your bike’s crankcase starts to act as a corrosive over time, and the cold weather increases this corrosive power due to water added through condensation. You should change your oils and filters anytime you plan to let your bike sit for extended periods of time to help prevent this destructive process.
Always top off your fuel tank and add fuel stabilizer just before you park your bike for the winter. Riding your bike home from the station will mix the stabilizer in the fuel tank and allow for the protected fuel mixture to reach your carburetor or injectors to also protect them. Some people empty their tanks completely of any gasonline, but with the new fuel stablilizers, it isn't necessary.
Remember that partially-filled fuel tanks in any type of vehicle that sit in cold weather will allow condensation to form, adding water to your fuel and rust to your metal parts. Failure to take the proper preventive measures for your fuel system may also mean a trip to the repair shop next spring due to gunk in your fuel system. These precautions may not be as important if you have a heated garage (or maybe a heated basement) for motorcycle storage. However, the motorcycle will still be sitting idle for long periods of time, so it is still wise to change your oils and top off your fuel.
How about your tires? If possible, you should park your motorcycle on something other than concrete or blacktop, like a piece of plywood or heavy cardboard. Some motorcyclists purchase a motorcycle lift to lift the wheels completely off the ground during the winter months.
Imagine gearing your motorcycle up for the first warm day in April or May just to find out that your battery is dead? Charging the battery when this happens often rejuvenates it (at least for a while), but why take the chance? Battery tenders are an efficient and economical way to prevent your battery from discharging to the point of ruin and should be used anytime your motorcycle is in storage for extended periods of time, whether it’s hot or cold. Unlike traditional battery chargers, these chargers only charge the battery when it needs it, so you never have to worry about over-charging the battery. These chargers range from about $30 to $60 and are a great investment.
Let’s not forget about cleaning your motorcycle before putting it away for the winter. Dirt, bugs, or even road salt can wreak havoc on your motorcycle’s finish and chrome if left on the surface for months at a time. Before putting your motorcycle in storage, you should thoroughly wash, wax where appropriate, and completely dry all surfaces. Clean and polish your leather with a quality cleaner and conditioner. To keep your motorcycle in sparkling condition, a cover is recommended to prevent dust and insects from hitching a ride. Not only will your attention to detail reduce the possibility of damaged paint and corroded chrome, but your motorcycle will be polished and ready for that first warm day of riding in the Spring.
All of these points are important, but if you are lucky enough to have a motorcycle dealer close by that offers motorcycle storage, you may be able to take the easy way out and let someone else do the work for you (at a cost). Many dealers offer motorcycle storage during the November through April time frame and throw in an oil change and wash, all for one price. Typical motorcycle storage prices range from $200-$300 for the entire winter season. What a deal!
Until next week ride safe,