When you notice the leaves start to fall and feel that familiar nip in the air, you know that winter is
around the corner. And for someone that rides a motorbike your first thought is often… ‘Where am I
parking my ride’? If you don’t have the option of a heated garage with lots of extra space, you may be
faced with the prospect of leaving your motorbike out in the cold. If this is you, have you ever
considered an unheated storage unit? Most rides will fit into a 5’ X 10’ unit easily, and while this will
keep the weather off of your bike, the reasonable monthly rate means you’re not breaking the bank. If
you have to leave your bike in the cold this winter, here are a few tips for storing it:
First, do an oil and filter change. During summer driving oil breaks down and turns sludgy. Parking it for
the winter lets that sludge gather near the oil sump, and it will be the first thing sucked into your motor
when you start it in spring (not good!). Also, fill your gas tank and add the necessary amount of fuel
stabilizer. Doing this now will ensure that the fuel in your carb is replaced with the stabilized fuel when
you drive to the car wash or to the storage unit.
Second, go wash and then thoroughly dry your ride. Getting all that summer road grime off and ensuring
that there is no water resting anywhere on the frame will greatly reduce the chance of rust. Also, rub a
little white grease on your throttle, clutch and brake cables and the pivot points of your kickstand (use a
cotton swab to gently apply the least amount of grease). Not only will this help thwart rust, it also gets
you ready for next spring!
Third, check the air pressure in the tires and top them up to the maximum suggested. This reduces the
chance of creating flat spots if they go flat over the cold months. Check your brake fluid and antifreeze
levels (if your bike is water cooled) and ensure that your antifreeze is strong so you won’t freeze and
crack your engine block.
Now you are ready to get your bike out to the storage unit. When you get there, you may want to pull
your battery, so be sure to bring along a few tools. The healthiest thing for your battery is to store it in a
warm place attached to a battery tender. A tender will give it a small charge only when needed,
extending your battery life by years. And since most bike battery compartments are under the seat, you
may want to consider removing it and storing it beside the battery, in a warmer place to avoid cracks or
splits. If you have a bike cover, throw it on. Although your bike is parked out of the wind and snow, it
doesn’t hurt to keep the dust off of that new shine.
Following these few tips ensures that come spring, your bike will look as good as new and it will be
ready to hit the road for another summer.
~ Ron Heizelman