Knowing how to properly store your motorcycle – can go a long way in terms of the longevity of the vehicle. Many people all around the world damage their motorbikes because they do not follow proper storage methods.
The ongoing pandemic has forced many people to work from home. It also forced people to stay at home consequently limiting the use of their motorcycles. In this article, I will discuss how you can properly store your motorcycle. I will also answer some frequently asked questions about motorcycle storage.
13 Steps To Store A Motorcycle
If you want your motorcycle to be in tip-top condition after a long storage period, follow the steps mentioned below.
1. Thoroughly Clean Your Bike
It is very important to give your bike a proper wash before you put it in storage. Dead bugs and grimes can damage the paintwork and corrode the metal. A proper bath will clean off all the unwanted foreign objects and make your motorcycle ready for storage.
After you are done with the cleaning, carefully wax all the painted parts. Waxing will protect the paint from any kind of damage while in storage. It is a wise idea to coat the plastic parts with silicone protectant spray. Doing so will keep the plastics clean and protected.
2. Move Around Your Motorcycle
Moving your motorcycle around is a great idea for many reasons. First of all, it will eliminate the chances of flat spots appearing on your tires. Flat spots appear when the surface of the tire makes contact with the ground for an extended period of time.
Flat spots can cause your bike to vibrate and compromise your riding experience. Secondly, relocating your motorcycle from time to time also lubes the bearings as the wheel spins.
3. Lift Up The Motorcycle
Many motorcycles come with a central stand that keeps the wheels off the ground. Lifting the motorcycle can avoid putting unnecessary strain on the tires. It will also make regular maintenance such as oil change and chain lube much easier.
Consider investing in a couple of paddock stands for motorcycles that don’t come with a central stand. They will certainly be worth your money.
4. Check Your Tire Pressure
Having correct tire pressure is a must for having the best riding experience. Tire pressure can vary from bike to bike. You can find the optimum tire pressure for your bike on the user manual or you can just search on the internet.
Make sure to check tire pressure every month and pump in air accordingly. Low tire pressure can hamper handling of the motorcycle and high tire pressure can cause the center part of the tire to wear off faster.
5. Turn On The Engine From Time To Time
Are you going to store your motorcycle more than a couple of weeks? Then make sure to turn on the engine every weekend. Keep it running for about 10-15 minutes.
Engine warm-up ensures proper engine oil, coolant, and fuel circulation through the tubings and the engine. This will also lube the engine pistons and prevent any oil sludge build-up in the engine.
Do not forget to open your garage doors while performing this step. Be cautious and don’t keep the bike on idle for too long, especially for bikes with air-cooled engines.
6. Lube Mechanical Parts
A motorcycle requires constant lubing and maintenance for producing maximum performance. Although it is a painstaking process, you must lube and oil all major mechanical parts such as clutch cables, brake pedal, gear linkage, etc. For bikes that have a hydraulic clutch, put a few drops of oil on the clutch lever.
Make sure to lube your chain too. Motorcycle chains can get rusty when they are not properly taken care of. You can also lube the buttons on both handlebars. Be careful not to spill any oil or lubricants on brake discs.
7. Keep Your Batteries Charged
The battery on your motorcycle can go flat pretty fast for using a bike tracker or storing in a very cold environment. Flat batteries can get you in a lot of trouble whenever you are in a hurry and need to be somewhere fast.
Before storing your bike, attach an external connector with the motorcycle battery. Use the connector to connect a trickle charger. You can do it yourself or have it installed by a professional mechanic.
The best thing about a trickle charger is, it is cheap and you can keep it connected as long as you want. It will automatically charge your battery and keep your bike ready to be used any time you want.
8. Fill Up Your Tank
It is a great idea to fill up your fuel tank to the brim for long-term storage. Sometimes, the fuel inside the fuel tank can react with air and form rust inside the tank.
Filling up the tank leaves less room for air consequently reducing the chance of rust formation and fuel condensation. Moreover, you will have plenty of fuel next time you ride your bike, and don’t worry about making a stop at the filling station.
9. Add Fuel Stabilizers
Given that you have followed the previous step, following this step is absolutely necessary as it will make sure your full tank of gas doesn’t go to waste.
Fuel in your tank can go stale and create a foul smell if you don’t use your motorcycle for a long time. In order to avoid such circumstances, you can mix good quality fuel stabilizer with the fuel. The stabilizer will preserve the fuel and neutralize ethanol buildup in the tank.
10. Invest On A Good Dehumidifier
A quality garage dehumidifier will help you a lot to properly store your motorcycle. It will work the best for people living in a tropical country. Condensation and humidity are two enemies of a bike. They can negatively impact the performance and longevity of your beloved ride.
Humidity is the main culprit for rust formation. Your motorcycle may also suffer from electronic malfunctions due to condensation. A garage dehumidifier helps to maintain a dry and suitable environment by sucking out all the humid air. A garage dehumidifier may not be necessary for people living in a middle eastern country or people who live close to a desert.
11. Cover All Openings
Motorcycles generally have a lot of openings for ventilation and for removing exhaust gas. Rodents can infest and rust can form inside your cylinder valve if all the openings are kept exposed for an extended period of time. In order to solve this issue, you can cover all the openings with plastic bags and zip ties.
Start with the exhaust. Wrap plastic or synthetic bags around the exhaust and secure it with rubber bands or zip ties. Next up, cover up the airbox following the same steps.
Airbox in some motorcycles can be situated right under the seat. Do not bother to wrap the airbox given that your motorcycle has them in the same position.
12. Spray Fogging Oil
This step is not necessary for people who have already performed the previous step. Although without any doubt, this step will ensure the best storage condition for your motorcycle, you should definitely follow it.
Remove the spark plugs and spray a decent amount of fogging oil straight into the cylinders. Fogging oil will prevent any type of corrosion protecting the cylinder wall and the piston ring from rust.
13. Cover Up Your Motorcycle
This is the most effective and cheap way of protecting your motorcycle from molds and dust. Covering up the motorcycle will preserve the paintwork and stop any type of surface rust formation.
Be careful while choosing the cover. It is not wise to choose a cotton cover as cotton can suck up moisture and form mold. Instead, buy a waterproof synthetic bike cover. Ensure that the cover you are buying will properly fit the bike.
Should I Keep My Insurance Going?
Many people might consider canceling insurance on their motorcycle because they are not currently using it. This is not a good idea. Your motorcycle might be safe for long-term storage in your own personal garage, but it won’t be that safe to store in a rental garage or outdoors.
Moreover, canceling the insurance means, you will not get any type of compensation from the insurance company in case your motorcycle gets stolen or gets damaged. That is why it is definitely worth the extra money to keep the insurance going.
How Can I Safely Store My Motorcycle Outdoor?
It would be best not to store a motorcycle outdoors because of many reasons. Follow the steps below in case you have no other options.
1. Remove The Battery
The first thing to do before you store your motorcycle outdoors is to take out the battery. As you are storing the bike outdoors, the chances of your battery running flat are exponentially high. Moreover, you cannot attach a trickle charger to the battery because the bike is outside.
So take out the battery, keep it in a dry environment and attach it with a trickle charger. By doing this, you will guarantee the battery is in good condition and ready to power your bike any time you want.
2. Properly Secure Your Motorcycle
Various research data shows that motorcycle theft is on the rise amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why it is absolutely necessary to properly secure your cherished motorcycle.
Secure your motorcycle with a fixed object. For example, you can chain your motorcycle up with stairs or poles. This will make stealing your bike much harder for the thieves.
Try to use a sturdy and beefy chain preferably with a key lock. Avoid using combination bike locks. They are very easy to bypass and can be cracked within minutes.
Use a good spot on your bike frame to tether the chain with something sturdy. For bikes that don’t have an exposed frame, tether the chain with the forks. Do not attach it with the wheels.
3. Use Weatherproof Bike Covers
Because your bike will spend most of its time outside exposed to the environment, you must cover it up with a heavy-duty bike cover. Do not use a tarp because it can damage and scuff up the paintwork.
Choose a cover that has a soft inner lining. Many bike covers come with loops to prevent them from blowing up in windy situations. Appropriately tie the cover with your motorcycle and make sure all the important parts are properly covered.
Is It Bad To Leave Motorcycle Unused For A Long Time?
The short answer is yes. It is not good for the engine and other components to sit unused for a long time. An engine requires constant lubrication for smooth operation. It can lose lubrication and oil coating if left unused. Moreover, the rubber gaskets can wear off and cause problems in the future.
Furthermore, moisture can accumulate inside of an unused motorcycle which can lead to internal and external rust. So, if you want to leave the motorcycle unused for a long time, store it in a climate-controlled environment.
How To Start A Motorcycle That Has Been Sitting Unused For Years?
The first thing that you want to do before you start the motorcycle is, – check the battery. The battery is sure to be out of juice as it has been sitting idly for years. You most probably have to replace the old battery with a new one.
Next, inspect the tires. It will most certainly have a flat spot or dry rot. You may have to replace the faulty tire. Check all rubber gaskets and bushings. Don’t forget to properly inspect the bike chain. You may have to replace it in case it is too rusty.
Disconnect all electrical connections. Give them a proper clean with spray cleaner. After that, reconnect the terminals and check whether all the electrical systems work or not.
Inspect the brake pads and look out for cracks. Replace the brake pads in case you see cracks forming on the surface. Replace the air and oil filters. You can also take additional measures and replace the spark plugs.
People who don’t have a garage or live in an apartment, can lease a storage locker at a cheap rate and store their motorcycle there. Storage lockers generally have very good security. As a result, your cherished ride will be safe from thieves and burglars.
If you want to store your bike more professionally and don’t want to go through the hassle of prepping your motorcycle, there are many storage companies all around the world that can handle long-term bike storage for you. Even though they can be expensive, they will take the best care of your motorcycle.