How to Properly Store your Motorcycle

winter-riding-in-the-old-daysMost operational problems can be prevented by properly preparing your bike for off season storage. Whether over the winter or just a planned extended period of time it won’t be ridden. The procedure should take about 4 hours. While that seems like a lot of time it will save you tenfold in the time, expense and aggravation required diagnosing and remedying the problems that arise from an improperly stored bike when you are ready to return the bike to service.  If you have additional items that should be added, let us know and we’ll update this resource from time to time.

Fuel System
– Change the fuel filter.
– Add fuel stabilizer and top off the fuel tank.
– Run the engine long enough to be certain the stabilized fuel reaches the carburetors or fuel injectors. With a full tank moisture has no place to accumulate.
– Alternate Tip: Find a friend with an aircraft and ask for a gallon of 100LL Aviation fuel. Use a shot-glass of this in each bike in lu of gas stabilizer. AVGAS has 4-year stabilizer that will not degrade your octane or damage vintage rubber parts. AVGas can NOT be used in fuel-injected bikes though but the extra bit of lead is good for the valves on pre-1970 bikes especially.
– If you can, drain the fuel from your carburetors.

– Lubricants: Warm the engine. Pull the spark plugs and spray fogging oil or WD 40 in each cylinder or pour a teaspoon of engine oil. Crank the engine over slowly to distribute the oil on the cylinder walls.
– Fog the engine: Remove the air cleaners and with the engine running at a fast idle spray fogging oil in the inlet of the carburetors. Fogging oil can be purchased at marine outlets or WD 40 will work as well. This will coat the combustion chambers, displace moisture and prevent corrosion.
– Coolant: If your bike has a radiator, test your coolant for concentration assuring it will withstand the cold temperatures anticipated. Ideally drain the old coolant and put in a fresh 50/50 mixture of aluminum safe antifreeze with purified water (distilled, R/O or bottled drinking water).
– Cover your exhaust tips with plastic bags or duct tape. This will provide additional protection from moisture and rodent nesting. (not recommended for cold storage like garages. Only for climate controlled storage)
If you have a push-rod bike (vintage) you need ZINC in your oil. it has been removed from most modern oils because of car cat converters. Thankfully, it can be found in Valvoline VR-1 race oil, and VR-1 is available at most auto stores. Look on the back for the note that it has lubricants for TAPPET/Pushrod engines! This assumes that your push-rod bike has a dry clutch. If a wet clutch you will need motorcycle specific oil, and check that for zinc.

Drive Line
– Drive Chain: Thoroughly clean, inspect, adjust and lube your drive chain.
– Shaft Drive: Check fluid level and top off as necessary. If it is near its service interval drain and refill with the appropriate grade and viscosity recommended.
– Belt Drive: Clean and thoroughly inspect the belt for signs of wear or damage. Adjust or change as needed.

– Clean battery cable terminals and lightly coat with dielectric grease.
– Check electrolyte level and top off with purified water.
– Connect a floating battery charger (Battery Tender or equivalent) not a trickle charger as it will boil out the electrolyte over an extended period of time.

Controls and Cables
– Clean and lubricate the throttle and clutch cable (if equipped)
– Clean and lubricate tachometer and speedometer cables
– Grease any suspension components that have Zerk fittings.

– Inspect disc brake master cylinders and top off specified DOT brake fluid.
– Flush disc brake system with fresh DOT brake fluid if near its service interval
– Inspect brake pads and shoes. Replace if they have exceeded their wear limits.

Shiny Stuff – Accessories
– Body and frame: Give your bike a good wash and quality wax
– Seat: Treat with a good vinyl leather and plastic conditioner.
– Windscreen: Clean with a plastic safe cleaner and protectant (if equipped).
– Luggage: Clean and treat with an appropriate cleaner and protectant.

– Inflate the tires to specified pressure.
– Do not apply a “tire shine” as it can cause loss of traction when put into service.
– Be certain to recheck inflation pressures when returning bike to service as pressure will decrease over time.
– Inspect tread depth and replace before riding season if needed.
– Mount bike on center stand or ideally on paddock stands to keep both tires off the ground.

– Cover your bike with a breathable cover designed and sized for your specific motorcycle. They allow the bike to stay protected from dirt and dust and prevent rust causing condensation – and this applies to both cold and warm storage.
– Do not use a tarp to cover your bike for outside storage as it will not breathe and it will flap in the wind and cause scuffing of the finished surfaces.

When riding season comes along
– Give the bike an oil change. H2O will collect in the oil and it will turn acidic during winter condensation. It should be changed in the spring.
– Inflate the tires
– check your lights and turn indicators
You should be good to go!



As posted by gentlemanjim over on forum.  Thanks to them both!
Also, with some helpful updates from Tim O’Connor.  Thank you Tim!