Nothing beats taking your motorcycle out for a drive on the perfect day. There’s this feeling of freedom that you can’t quite get from anything else. Unfortunately, those days are few and far between when you live in an area with harsh winters. To make sure that your bike runs smoothly during riding season, you need to take care of it during off-season. That means properly storing your motorcycle and ensuring that it’s in the best condition possible before you do. In this article, we’ll show you how to winterize your motorcycle for storage so you can get back on the road as soon as the weather warms up.
1. Clean, Wax, and Lubricate Surfaces
Before doing anything else, take the time to do some surface preparations on your motorcycle. Give it a thorough wash, making sure to get in all of the hard to reach places. Washing your motorcycle knowing that you’re putting it in storage will likely cause a little disappointment, but you’ll get the satisfaction of knowing that you’re storing it in pristine condition. Putting your bike in storage when it’s dirty can lead to corrosion or paint damage, especially when it’s exposed to bugs and water for elongated periods of time.
After you wash your motorcycle, make sure you dry it thoroughly. If you want to go above and beyond, use a leaf blower to target hard to reach areas. This ensures that you leave no water spots on your bike that could contribute to rust or corrosion.
Finally, finish off your wash with a high-quality coat of wax. Putting your bike into storage with a coat of wax will help protect against unwanted moisture damage. Yes, it will be hard to put your freshly cleaned and waxed motorcycle away for the winter, but you’ll thank yourself later.
2. Use a Leather Protectant
To compliment your wax job, apply a good leather protectant. Leather protectant will help keep your bike’s seat in good condition by preventing leather rot and excessive dryness over the winter. Apply the protectant to your seat and any other parts of your bike that has leather accents. Then, come spring, when you take your bike out for that first ride, it’ll feel like you’ve been riding it for months.
3. Change Your Oil and Oil Filter
Prior to putting your bike away for the winter, you should change both your oil and oil filter. This will help keep things in good condition while your motorcycle sits in storage for the months to come. As an added benefit, when you change your oil before storage, you’ll be able to start riding immediately come spring. There are some great winter weight oils available on the market that will help make your bike easier to start the next time you want to ride.
4. Inspect the Air Filter
Dealing with the air filter on your motorcycle isn’t very high on the list of things that people enjoy doing. It’s more tedious and doesn’t give you as much satisfaction as other maintenance jobs. However, paying attention to your air filter and changing it regularly is important to the overall quality of your bike. Give it a good inspection and if it’s dirty, change it. Keeping a clean air filter will keep your bike running smoothly and avoid any internal damages.
5. Lubricate Any and All Moving Parts
Pay special attention to any part of your motorcycle that moves. When parts meant to be in motion are still for elongated periods of time, they’re more susceptible to rust or binding. To avoid this, take some time to lubricate any and all moving parts of your bike including the chain drive, cables, surface controls, and pivot points.1
If you’re storing your bike for extended periods of time, like the duration of a Chicago winter, lightly coat your motorcycle’s engine with oil to help prevent rust. You’ll need to remove the spark plugs to access these areas, put some oil into the holes, then turn the engine a few times to get a nice even coat.
We also recommend using some WD-40 to help protect the metal surfaces on your bike. Spraying a thin coat will help displace any unwanted moisture and protect against corrosion throughout the winter.
6. Fuel System Preparations
To avoid starting your spring with a rusty gas tank, you need to store your motorcycle with a full tank of gas and top it off with a good fuel stabilizer. After your last ride, add the manufacturer recommended amount of fuel stabilizer to your bike and then fill up your gas tank. Run your engine so the gas and stabilizer mixes well and you’re all set for a successful winter.
7. Save Your Battery
When storing batteries that won’t be used for long periods of time, you run the risk of coming back to find it dead or unable to hold a charge. To save your battery, either unhook it from your engine or use a battery tender to keep it charged, but not overcharged.
8. Check Your Brake Pads
Always check your brake pads prior to putting your bike in storage. This will allow you to easily open up your storage unit come spring, turn your bike on, and get right back on the road. Make sure that they’re still in good condition and if they’re worn down, change them prior to putting your motorcycle away for the season.
9. Protect Your Tires
After checking your brake pads, move on to inspect your tires. Make sure the tread is in good condition and it’s not time to change your tires. If you don’t plan on moving your bike all winter, consider taking some protective actions to help avoid any flats. When your bike sits in one place for months, the tires will start to morph and develop flat spots. To avoid this, consider investing in motorcycle stands that will relieve the pressure and keep your tires off of the ground.
10. Add Anti-Freeze
Anti-freeze will keep your engine safe during sub-zero winter temperatures. Add some anti-freeze to your coolant to avoid expensive repairs come spring. If you’re storing your motorcycle somewhere that’s climate controlled, you can skip this step.
11. Eliminate Opportunities for Pests and Rodents
Small rodents and pests take shelter wherever they can during harsh weather, including inside your motorcycle. They usually climb in the exhaust pipes to make nests and stay protected from the cold. This will create quite an unfortunate surprise the next time you start up your bike. To avoid any pests or rodents getting into your motorcycle, use an exhaust plug or cover your exhaust pipe with plastic.
12. Cover Your Bike
Depending on where you’ll be storing your bike, consider getting a high-quality cover. Motorcycle covers help reduce the accumulation of dust, which can lead to scratches and general wear-and-tear. They also keep unwanted moisture out, which reduces the possibility of rusting. Get a good cover that fits tightly around your bike.
13. Add Theft Protection
This is an added precaution and really depends on where you’re storing your motorcycle. If you’re keeping it outside, we recommend adding a theft protection plan such as a cover and lock and chain at the very least. The safest way to avoid any theft is investing in a small self storage unit for the winter months.
If you really want to get the most out of your winter motorcycle storage, opt for a climate controlled self storage unit like the ones at The Lock Up Self Storage. Our self storage units have everything you need to keep your motorcycle safe and in good condition throughout the winter. All of our units are climate-controlled, giving you the peace of mind you want and need when winterizing one of your most prized possessions. Using a climate controlled unit also means less prep work, less risk, and a well maintained bike come spring. All of our leasing options at The Lock Up Self Storage are flexible, so you can rent what you need, when you need it. Don’t overpay for yearlong leases if you don’t need them; instead, check out our specials to find something that works for you. As an added benefit, all of our locations are equipped with top-of-the-line security features. Our secure self storage facilities feature security-controlled gate access, motion-sensitive lighting, 24-hour camera monitoring, and perimeter alarms. Many of our locations offer electronic coded access specific to each tenant. To find a self storage unit for your motorcycle storage needs, contact one of the representatives at The Lock Up Self Storage today. Give us a call at 1-866-327-LOCK or find a unit online today!