I love riding motorcycles, but just like most of you all once that cold weather comes in the motorcycle gets packed away. In this post, we will go over how to store a motorcycle for 6 months or longer the correct way.
The reason for correct motorcycle storage during winter is so that no extra damage can occur while it is not in use. You will be surprised how many motorcycles need extra maintenance or repairs due to improper storage.
Some of the steps mentioned below will vary depending on how long you need to store your motorcycle.
Table of Contents
- 1 How to store a motorcycle for winter
- 1.1 1. Wash and dry your motorcycle.
- 1.2 2. Full electrical check
- 1.3 3. Lubricate all moving parts.
- 1.4 4. Motorcycle engine oil and coolant service.
- 1.5 5. Fuel tank preparation
- 1.6 6. Battery tender
- 1.7 7. Paddock stands
- 1.8 8. Block the air intake and exhaust pipes with muffler plugs or rags.
- 1.9 9. Use vinyl protection for your seat cover.
- 1.10 10. Cover protection for your motorcycle
- 2 How to store motorcycle for winter outside
- 3 How to store a motorcycle in a garage
- 4 How to store a motorcycle for years
- 5 Motorcycle winter storage cost
- 6 Conclusion
How to store a motorcycle for winter
1. Wash and dry your motorcycle.
Make sure to fully wash and dry your motorcycle to get all the excess road grime, oil, dirt, and bugs. Make sure to towel wipe it down and start it up to dry out the exhaust and engine. I like to run it for 5 minutes to get it up to a nice hot running temp.
This will dry any water that can find its way into small areas on the engine and exhaust system.
Wax your fuel tank and painted plastics to protect them from the elements. Just like waxing your car you should also wax your motorcycle plastics and painted metal parts. Don’t wax the engine or exhaust system.
You can clean tarnished stainless steel exhaust headers fast with household products such as Harpic power plus.
2. Full electrical check
Check all of your electrical systems such as the lights, horn, brake light, and indicators. Replace any faulty light bulbs. Now maybe a good time to upgrade the headlight to a LED system.
3. Lubricate all moving parts.
I like to lubricate all pivot points like the brake and clutch levers. Clean the chain and lubricate it well ready for the next season. Make sure to check the chain tension at the same time according to your workshop manual.
Some parts may require a dry lubricant such as graphite. So be sure to use the correct lubricant as recommended by your workshop manual.
4. Motorcycle engine oil and coolant service.
Now that the engine has cooled down a little it is a good time to change the engine oil and replace the oil filter. This procedure is easy and you can do it yourself with only a few tools.
Get yourself a small oil filter wrench, a drain pan, and a socket set. Start by placing the oil pan under the motorcycle engine and opening the oil filler plug. Use a socket wrench to remove the oil drain plug and drain the engine oil.
Remove the oil filter with the oil filter wrench. Sometimes there may be a little hex nut on the oil filter so you can use a socket wrench to remove it. Get hold of a new motorcycle oil filter and pre-fill it with a small amount of new engine oil to coat the internal filter. This will open up the pores of the oil filter fabric. I like to place a small amount of oil on the filter o-ring and threads.
You can now install the new filter and tighten it up.
Once all the old oil has drained out install the drain plug with a new washer and tighten it back up.
You can now top up the engine with new motorcycle engine oil. You will be able to see the level by the small window on the side of the engine. The level should be 1/2 way up the small window. Make sure to only use the oil that is recommended for your motorcycle.
Start the engine for a few minutes to fully coat the internals with new oil. You can check out how I do a Yamaha MT-07 engine oil service in 5-minutes.
Motorcycle radiator coolant flush
If your engine radiator coolant has not been changed for a few years then now is a good time to change the coolant. Radiator fluid has special anti-rust properties that will protect the engine and radiator coils from corrosion.
Over time these anti-corrosion ingredients break down and you will need to do a radiator flush. Without new radiator coolant every few years your engine will start to corrode. Don’t forget this step.
There is often one drain plug on the lowest part of the coolant circuit that will drain all of the old coolant. Check out how I replace the coolant on my Yamaha MT-07
5. Fuel tank preparation
Make sure to fully fill the tank with premium fuel and add a fuel stabilizer, this is important. A full fuel tank is essential for keeping moisture and condensation out of the tank walls.
Shake the motorcycle to mix the fuel stabilizer in the tank and start the engine for a few minutes again. You could also ride it around the block to mix the stabilizer and make sure it is into the carburetor or fuel injection systems.
6. Battery tender
Some people like to fully remove the battery from the motorcycle and connect it to a battery tender. My battery is hard to access so I just connect up some battery tender fly leads so the charger is easy to connect.
I use this Ctek smart charger for my Harley Davidson motorcycles and it works great on my cars as well.
You can use a car charger for motorcycles by setting it to the slowest charge rate due to motorcycle batteries are smaller than car batteries.
If your battery is over 3 years old I would look at replacing the battery due to sulfation that occurs over time. Keeping the battery fully charged slows down this process. Sulfation occurs when a battery is deprived of a full charge. I use this trick to get rid of sulfation in batteries.
7. Paddock stands
I like to use Paddock stands to take the weight off the tires to avoid flat spots. Lifting your motorcycle off the ground can also cause your motorcycle to be more stable. This is because the front and rear of your motorcycle are on wide stands.
This is what I use as they are a cheap paddock stand for your motorcycle.
Lifting your motorcycle onto paddock stands also takes the weight off the shock absorber springs.
8. Block the air intake and exhaust pipes with muffler plugs or rags.
Blocking the air intake and the exhaust is recommended for long-term storage as it prevents moisture, rodents, insects, and dust from entering these open ports.
A simple cloth rag is good enough to push into the exhaust pipe and air filter area. Don’t forget to remove them prior to starting the motorbike.
The motorcycle air intake box may be either under the seat or under the fuel tank.
9. Use vinyl protection for your seat cover.
I like to spray my vinyl seat cover with a quality product called 303 Aerospace Protectant Conditioner. It keeps it looking new and soft so that the seat cover won’t crack over time.
I use the same 303 Aerospace Protectant Conditioner for my vinyl spa cover.
If you have a leather motorcycle seat cover then get some leather conditioner to keep it soft and pliable.
10. Cover protection for your motorcycle
If you are storing a motorcycle for 6 months or longer you should have a motorcycle cover for it. Even if you are storing the motorcycle in a garage you should use a quality cover. The amount of dust that can accumulate on your motorcycle even after 1 month can cause damage and scratches.
A motorcycle cover will also prevent people from wanting to sit on the motorcycle. It is a simple solution.
If you are after a cheap DIY motorcycle cover you can use an old bedsheet. To make it weatherproof you can use some plastic or a ground tarp and wrap it over the motorcycle. The elastic Bungie cords do a great job to tie the DIY motorcycle cover around the bike.
How to store motorcycle for winter outside
Make sure to do all of the Motorcycle dry storage services mentioned above such as
- Wash and dry
- Electrical light and horn checks
- Lubricate all moving parts
- Replace engine oil and filter
- Fill the fuel tank up and add a fuel stabilizer
- Remove and charge the battery
- Use a paddock stand on the front and rear wheels.
- Block the air intake and exhaust with plastic.
- Use a waterproof motorcycle cover sized correctly for your bike.
Use a waterproof motorcycle cover and block the exhaust ports with plastic to prevent rodents and moisture from entering the exhaust and causing damage to the engine.
Start the motorcycle every month to lubricate the internal engine parts and move stale old fuel around.
How to store a motorcycle in a garage
Fully service the motorcycle for storage as mentioned above and decide how much room you have for storage. This will impact if you will be using paddock stands or not.
Paddock stands are good for stability and to take the weight off the wheels. If a motorcycle is left for over a month it could create a flat spot on the tire. Tire flat spots are dangerous when riding and can cause instability.
Always use a paddock stand for long-term storage or move the motorcycle a few feet every few weeks.
How to store a motorcycle for years
If you need to store a motorcycle for years then you will need extra preparation.
Fully remove all of the fuel out of the tank and make sure it is dry. It is a good idea to remove the battery and keep it charged in a safe place.
Wash the motorcycle and fully dry it. Spray the whole motorcycle down with a good lanolin-based lubricant. I like a product called Lanox but do not lubricate the tires as it will make them slippery and will be dangerous.
Replace engine oil and filter.
Use a paddock stand on the front and rear wheels.
Block the air intake and exhaust with plastic.
Use a waterproof motorcycle cover sized correctly for your bike.
Use a quality good fitting motorcycle cover and tie it down over the bike.
Motorcycle winter storage cost
Small storage units can vary in price depending on location, size, and sometimes the time of year. Expect to pay around $150 to $200 per month for a 5×10 foot storage unit.
You will be looking to get a storage unit if you live in a flat or don’t have room in your garage at home.
I hunted around and compared some prices in California and this is what I found for some small motorcycle storage units.
|Size||Average price per month||Lowest price|
|5 x 5||$127.45||$44.00|
|5 x 10||$177.61||$100.00|
|10 x 10||$231.76||$125.00|
Some places may require you to drain your motorcycle of fluids such as fuel and may require a rubber catch-mat. This is to ensure you don’t damage the floor or adjacent unit storage items.
Best to ring beforehand to see if they allow storage of motorcycles.
Also, think outside the box it may be cheaper to purchase an old sea container if you have a large block of land. These are great and are weatherproof so they will keep your motorcycle and other gear dry.
If you are looking for how to store a motorcycle for 6 months or longer then at a minimum you should do a full yearly service. The extra steps mentioned here will make sure your motorcycle starts up straight away once the good weather starts.
Motorcycles don’t take up a lot of room unless you have a few too many motorcycles. It’s fun to have a project bike or car but they all take up extra space and will require proper storage and care to make sure they don’t rust and fall apart under your very eyes.
I am a qualified Industrial Electrician for the past 20 years and I love to share my knowledge on home repair jobs.
I love fast toys like Motorcycles, Cars, Jetskis, and Boats so writing about them is easy.
To keeps costs down I do all my own mods, repairs, and servicing. These skills I want to share with everyone. DIY is a skill everyone can learn.