How to Store a Motorcycle Outside (8 Tips)

Few things can shatter a motor enthusiast’s eager anticipation of the spring season more than the frustrating discovery of a problematic or, even worse, a completely seized-up two-wheeler. Regrettably, such disheartening situations can frequently be traced back to inadequate pre-storage preparations for a motorcycle.

The arrival of spring should be a time of exhilaration for motorcycle enthusiasts, a season filled with the promise of open roads, thrilling rides, and the freedom of the open air. However, all too often, that joy is swiftly dampened by the harsh reality of a motorcycle that refuses to start, coughs and sputters, or, in the worst-case scenario, remains stubbornly immobilized.

As any seasoned rider will attest, the culprit behind these issues is often linked to how the motorcycle was treated and prepared before being laid up in storage for an extended period. The neglect or oversight of essential maintenance and storage procedures can result in a range of problems, from minor inconveniences to major mechanical failures, casting a dark shadow over the long-awaited return to the open road.

It is imperative for motorcycle owners and enthusiasts to recognize that proper motorcycle storage is a vital aspect of ownership. Neglecting this crucial step can lead to a litany of issues that can put a damper on the riding experience and potentially incur significant repair costs.

To fully appreciate the significance of proper motorcycle storage, it’s essential to understand the various components that can be affected by inadequate preparation and the potential consequences of such oversights. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or a novice, grasping the essentials of preparing your motorcycle for storage can go a long way in preserving your beloved two-wheeler’s performance and ensuring a trouble-free return to the road when the season beckons.

In the following discussion, we will delve into the critical aspects of motorcycle storage preparation, shedding light on the common missteps and the best practices that can make a world of difference. We will explore the impact of poor storage on different parts of your motorcycle, explain the steps required to avoid these issues, and offer a comprehensive guide to help you store your motorcycle optimally, safeguarding its health and performance.

So, whether you’re a die-hard biker eager to ensure your cherished machine remains in prime condition or a casual rider looking to avoid the headaches of a motorcycle that refuses to cooperate, this guide is designed to equip you with the knowledge and insights necessary to enjoy your rides without the anxiety of post-storage complications.

Let’s embark on this journey to understand the art of motorcycle storage and unlock the secrets to keeping your two-wheeled companion in peak form, ready to conquer the roads with confidence and style.

Storing a motorcycle, whether for the winter or if it’s going to be parked outside, requires a bit of care and preparation. We’ve all, at some point, been guilty of neglecting this crucial task, but there’s no need to repeat the same mistake. By brushing up on our knowledge of the storage process, we can ensure our bikes remain in top condition.

If you’re pondering how to properly store your motorcycle outdoors or for the winter season, the solution is refreshingly straightforward. The key is to get your bike in tip-top shape both inside and out. This involves replenishing all fuel and fluids with fresh replacements, lubricating all moving parts, applying a protective coating to the exterior, and then securely tucking your motorcycle away in a clean, dry space.

Here, we present a comprehensive eight-step guide on how to effectively store your motorcycle for the winter or when it must endure the elements outdoors:

  1. Battery Care: Begin by giving your motorcycle’s battery some tender loving care. Properly maintaining the battery is essential for its longevity and performance.
  2. Fuel System Maintenance: Take steps to care for the fuel system, ensuring it’s in optimal condition for the duration of storage. Stale fuel can lead to issues when you’re ready to ride again.
  3. Cylinder Preservation: Preserve your motorcycle’s engine cylinders during the storage period to prevent any potential damage or corrosion.
  4. Fluid Replacement: After flushing out the old fluids, top off all necessary reservoirs with fresh replacements. This ensures your motorcycle’s vital systems remain in good working order.
  5. Tire Management: Depending on your storage situation, you might choose to either remove the tires or inflate them to the manufacturer’s specifications. Proper tire maintenance is crucial for a safe ride when the time comes.
  6. Cleaning and Protection: Clean your motorcycle thoroughly, ensuring it’s free from dirt and grime. Wipe it dry and apply a protective wax coating to safeguard the paint and finish.
  7. Cover It Up: Use a high-quality motorcycle cover to shield your bike from the elements, such as rain, snow, and dust. This step is particularly important when storing your motorcycle outdoors.
  8. Optimal Storage Environment: Finally, find a well-ventilated storage area that’s free from contaminants. The right storage environment can make a world of difference in preserving your bike’s condition.

Now, if you plan to continue riding your motorcycle well into the winter season before its annual hibernation, you may not need to address all of these steps. However, if you anticipate a prolonged period of inactivity for your bike, which typically lasts for three to four months during the winter, it’s highly recommended to follow this comprehensive guide. This way, you can ensure that your motorcycle remains in peak condition and is ready for your next adventure when the riding season returns.

Strategies for Proper Motorcycle Storage

  1. Give Your Battery the Attention It Deserves When it comes to motorcycle storage, the battery often takes a backseat in our considerations, but it’s a critical component to maintain. You’ve probably seen the long line of motorcycle batteries being replaced at the parts store every spring. To avoid this inconvenience, invest in a quality battery maintainer. Options like the Schumacher DSR125 DSR ProSeries Automatic Smart Battery Charger/Maintainer are not only affordable but versatile, suitable for various types of vehicles.

It’s crucial not to let your battery deteriorate during storage. Neglecting it not only incurs additional expenses but also dampens your enthusiasm for a riding weekend with friends when the season starts. To care for your battery, consider storing your motorcycle in a warm area, which is ideal when possible. Connect a battery maintainer to keep your battery charged and cycling. If you’re storing your bike outside in freezing temperatures, it might be necessary to remove the battery. In some cases, bikes with features like audio-system memory may drain the battery consistently, warranting its removal.

For maintenance-free batteries, you won’t need a battery maintainer. Instead, clean the terminals and remove dirt or grime from the battery and its box. Apply a protective solution or silicone spray on the terminals and connecting hardware. Be sure to refill the battery with necessary fluids, where applicable, before storage. Take extra precautions, especially with lead-acid batteries, as exposing them to cold temperatures could lead to cracked cases and acid spills, which can damage various motorcycle components.

If you choose to remove the battery from the motorcycle, connect it to a trickle charger. Alternatively, you can use a pigtail for convenience. Attempting to recharge a battery that has died during storage, especially over the winter, is futile, as it is typically beyond recovery.

  1. Protect Your Fuel System Regardless of whether your motorcycle uses a carbureted or EFI-enabled fuel system, protecting it from moisture buildup and rust during extended storage is crucial. You have several options: draining the fuel system, filling it to the brim, or coating the inside of the tank with heavy oil. All these methods are valid, but it’s generally better to store your motorcycle with a full tank than an empty one.

Contrary to some beliefs, an empty tank doesn’t remain completely dry during long storage periods. Even if there’s no tank damage or loose gas cap, condensation can still form when the tank is full and sealed tightly. Draining the tank or running the engine until it’s starved for fuel is only one part of fuel system care.

To combat condensation, it’s necessary to drain the tank, along with the carburetor float bowls, to eliminate old fuel, water, and contaminants. Then, fill the tank with petrol or diesel and add a fuel stabilizer. Run the motorcycle for a few minutes to allow the stabilizer to circulate throughout the fuel system, and then turn it off.

If you have no spare fuel at home and need to fill your tank at a gas station, adding the fuel stabilizer before topping off with fresh fuel is acceptable. The turbulence of the incoming fuel and the ride home will help mix the stabilizer effectively.

  1. Preserve Your Cylinders Coating the inside of the tank with heavy oil is an effective strategy when storing a full tank of fuel during the winter isn’t feasible. This method requires periodic maintenance and involves the following steps:

Before storing your motorcycle, turn off the petcock. Open the tank and pour a sufficient amount of heavy oil (pure 50-weight or thinned with a small amount of fuel). Slosh the oil around to coat all interior surfaces by putting your motorcycle engine in gear, removing the spark plugs, and turning off the ignition. Then, turn the rear wheel a few times to spread the oil over the cylinder walls. Turn the petcock on and drain any excess oil. Turn it off. For those seeking less conventional but equally effective methods, fogging oil and storage plugs can be viable options. Spraying fogging oil into the intake while the engine is running will coat the cylinder and valves. Replacing the spark plugs with storage plugs containing desiccants can help absorb moisture and prevent corrosion.

  1. Refresh Your Fluids After Flushing the Old Ones Storing your motorcycle with fresh fluids is essential. Ideally, you should replace all fluids. However, if you want to minimize waste, you can change fluids based on when they were last serviced. For example, if it hasn’t been more than two weeks and a few hundred miles since your brake fluid was changed, you can exclude it from your “change fluid” list.

Unopened fluids typically have a shelf life of up to five years. However, oils left sitting inside a motorcycle can degrade due to heat, contamination, or oxidation. These issues can develop if your motorcycle is stored for an extended period, resulting in carbon deposits and other problems that can damage the engine.

When it comes to fluids, it’s advisable to bleed the reservoirs before topping them off. This prevents old, contaminated fluid from mixing with the new fluids you’re adding. Additionally, ensure you’re using the correct coolant, especially during winter storage, to prevent radiator damage and corrosive material from spreading throughout your motorcycle.

Lastly, remove the spark plugs and spray the inside of the cylinder walls with oil for storage periods longer than four months. Turning the ignition helps spread the oil on the cylinder walls.

  1. Remove or Inflate Tires According to Your Situation The debate on whether to remove or inflate the tires during storage continues. Motorcycle enthusiasts often prefer removing the tires from their bikes to prevent flat spots from developing. However, this isn’t always feasible, especially for motorcycles without center stands. In such cases, slightly overinflating the tires and keeping them attached to the bike can help prevent flat spots. To avoid issues, make sure to move the bike periodically and rotate the wheels every month to distribute the weight.

For motorcycles with center stands, it’s crucial to remove the tires and inflate them to the specified cold-tire pressure. Afterward, store the tires on their sides lying down rather than in an upright position.

  1. Clean and Protect Your Motorcycle Before storing your motorcycle, it’s essential to ensure it’s clean and protected. A dirty bike can lead to corrosion, mold, and damage to various components, so cleanliness is crucial. Cleaning tips include:
  • Start with the dirtiest parts, like the chain, and consider taking a short ride to warm it up for easier cleaning and lubrication.
  • Use a grunge brush and a compatible degreaser to clean the chain effectively.
  • Make sure the bike is completely dry, waxed, or coated before storage.
  • Consider using an all-weather cover to protect your motorcycle if you don’t have a garage.

Additional measures include:

  • Using disc cleaner for the brakes.
  • Applying Vaseline to fasteners and small components to prevent corrosion.
  • Coating metal parts with a corrosion protectant.
  • Ensuring no water is trapped inside the muffler by poking the exhaust’s weep hole.
  • Spraying the exhaust pipes with products like WD-40 or LPS3.
  • Using plastic bags or exhaust plugs to keep vermin out of the tailpipe.
  • Treating your saddle before storage or bringing it indoors to keep it fresh.
  • Optionally, using condoms to cover straight pipes.
  • Wiping off any excess wax or lubricant.
  1. Keep Your Motorcycle Covered Whether you’re storing your motorcycle inside a garage or outdoors during the winter or any other season, it’s essential to use a quality motorcycle cover. The right cover will shield your bike from the elements and abrasive dirt and debris. Avoid using plastic covers and opt for breathable, all-weather covers. If outdoor storage is a matter of circumstance rather than choice, consider renting purpose-built storage facilities with heating systems and electric humidifiers, especially during winter. This provides an extra layer of protection against the elements and potential onlookers.

If you’re storing your motorcycle outdoors, choose a good-quality motorcycle cover with secure straps to fasten it properly. A waterproof cover is ideal, and it helps protect your bike effectively.

  1. Select a Well-Ventilated, Contaminant-Free Storage Location Ideally, you’d want to store your motorcycle in a controlled environment, such as your home. However, space constraints may make this challenging for some. In such cases, it’s important to choose a storage location that’s free of chemicals, open fertilizers, and has good air circulation. Your garage or a rented storage space can be suitable options.

When choosing a rented storage space, ensure it’s not exposed to road salting, snow plowing, or heavy winter traffic. Avoid locations near trash bins, as these can attract rodents, potentially making your motorcycle their new headquarters. If your storage space has a cement floor, consider placing cardboard between your motorcycle and the floor to prevent moisture buildup and protect your bike from corrosion.

By following these comprehensive motorcycle storage strategies, you can ensure that your two-wheeler remains in optimal condition, ready for your next riding adventure. Proper storage practices will help preserve your motorcycle’s longevity and performance, ensuring it serves you well for years to come.

In conclusion – Mastering the Art of Motorcycle Outdoor Storage

In the world of motorcycle enthusiasts, there comes a time when the open road yields to the biting chill of winter, forcing riders to consider the art of motorcycle outdoor storage. Whether it’s the frosty months or any other season, the process remains the same. To preserve your prized possession and ensure it emerges from its slumber ready for action, follow these eight meticulous steps:

  1. Battery Love: Begin by giving your motorcycle’s battery some tender loving care. Disconnect it and store it in a warm, dry place. Regularly check its charge and maintain it with a quality battery maintainer, ensuring it remains ready to power up your bike when the time comes.
  2. Fuel System TLC: Your motorcycle’s fuel system deserves your attention. Stale fuel can wreak havoc, so either drain the tank or fill it up with fresh, stabilized fuel. Run the engine for a few minutes to ensure the new fuel circulates through the system, preventing carburetor clogs or injector issues.
  3. Preservation of Cylinders: It’s essential to protect your engine’s internal components. Use a fuel stabilizer to prevent corrosion and ensure that your engine stays in pristine condition during the dormant period.
  4. Fluid Revival: Top off your motorcycle with fresh fluids, replacing the old ones before storage. This includes engine oil, brake fluid, and coolant. New fluids minimize the risk of contaminants and ensure your bike remains in top shape.
  5. Tire Care: The condition of your tires is paramount for safety and performance. You can choose to either remove them and store them indoors or inflate them to the manufacturer’s specifications. This prevents flat spots and ensures your tires are ready to grip the road when you’re back in the saddle.
  6. The Cleansing Ritual: Cleanse your motorcycle thoroughly, paying attention to every nook and cranny. Wipe it dry, removing any lingering moisture that might cause rust or corrosion. Then, give it a protective layer of wax to shield it from the elements.
  7. Wrap It Up: Invest in a high-quality motorcycle cover to keep your two-wheeled companion shielded from the elements. This cover acts as a protective cocoon, guarding against dust, rain, and harsh sunlight.
  8. Shelter in a Safe Haven: Find a well-ventilated and contaminant-free storage area for your motorcycle. A dry garage or shed is ideal. Elevate it on a center stand or paddock stands to prevent tire contact with the cold ground.

Undoubtedly, the eight-step process may appear daunting at first glance, but rest assured, the effort is well worth it. There’s an unparalleled sense of excitement when you unveil your fully-functioning motorcycle, ready to roar back to life after its winter slumber.

As the frosty season approaches, seize every moment with your adventure and commute buddy while you still can. Once winter blankets the landscape, you’ll have to exercise patience until the roads thaw and you can once again straddle your beloved two-wheeler for another exhilarating riding season.