Step 1: Fill the Fuel Tank and add Fuel Stabilizer.
If this list was "A One Step Guide to Motorcycle Storage," this would be the one step. I love fuel, it makes things go, and it makes things go fast. But, fuel can get old, funky, and thick fast.
As motorcycle fuel gets old and funky, it starts to clog up all the little parts of your motorcycle, and come spring when you try to start that your motorcycle up, you'll run into problems. Those problems could include forking over a couple hundred bucks to clean out your carburetor. I'm cheap, so I don't like those kinds of problems.
A fuel stabilizer slows down the process of your fuel getting old and funky. Filling your fuel tank reduces the space that moisture can form in your gas tank. It also makes it easier to figure out how much fuel stabilizer to use, because you know how much gas is in your motorcycle's tank.
Do both of these things, it'll take less than 2 minutes and cost less than $5 for the fuel stabilizer.
This is the one I use.
Step 2: Get a Battery Tender and Hook it Up to the Motorcycle
From personal experience, I think this is only necessary if you're not going to ride or even start the motorcycle for a month or more. If you don't do it, the worst that is going to happen is come spring your battery will be dead and you will need to buy a new one.
I do know that the nicer, more heavy duty, the motorcycle battery (= more money) the better your chances it will not die over prolong lack of use. If you're buying one of the cheaper ones from Walmart or the online generic sites, you better hook it up to a battery tender because it'll be dead quick.
I bought this one and have been happy with it.
Step 3: Give the Motorcycle a Quick Cleaning.
If you've got a Harley Davidson motorcycle, it helps you avoid chrome pitting on all that darn chrome.
If you don't have a motorcycle that's heavy on the chrome it just helps you get all that gunk off before it hardens up over the winter and gets even more difficult to clean off. Have you ever tried to clean 3 month old bug guts off your motorcycle's windshield? If so, you understand the importance of this step.
My reason for doing this is more selfish than important for the bike, when the temperatures start to raise the last thing I want to do is clean my motorcycle. I want to take it out and ride. If I do it now, I don't have to do it then.
Step 4: Start Your Motorcycle for Five Minutes Every Few Weeks
Look, if you can remember to stop at the store every week to stock up your fridge with beer, you can remember to start your motorcycle every few weeks.
You don't have to ride it around the block or anything (although that is a plus), just start it up and let it run for 5-10 minutes.
Frankly, throughout my 20's and early riding years, this is all I did for motorcycle winter storage. I did it for ten years with an old Harley Davidson motorcycle and didn't have a single problem with the motorcycle. Same with my old Suzuki motorcycle.
The only reason I didn't make this the only step is because some people don't have the luxury of doing this. Maybe you store your motorcycle in a storage facility that's not easy to get to. Or, you store the motorcycle behind so much crap in your garage; it's a major ordeal to get it out. Whatever the reason, not everyone can do it so it's lower on the list.
Motorcycle Storage Summary
That's it. Do these four easy motorcycle winterization steps and you'll be set for getting your motorcycle ready for storage.
I generally can get all four of these steps done in less than 30 minutes. Depending on your definition of cleaning a motorcycle, it might take you longer or even less.
Ride safe, store smart.
Good stuff...Thanks! I live in MN so I will be doing the "winterizing" thing soon.
Sun Sep 14, 2014 at 5:22 AM
Why not ride all winter? Store a bike in Las Vegas. Get cheap airfare and ride all winter. Call and I'll pick you up at the airport. http://lasvegasmotorcyclestorage.vpweb.com
Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 7:26 PM
I am lucky living in Houston we really do not have much winter but I have had an issue with one of my bikes after it sat for about two months. It did not want to run right and was sputtering. Finally I broke down and took it to a local shop and they had to tune it and now its fine. I remember with carburetors you had to drain the bowls and all that is something like that necessary with fuel injected bikes?
Tue Apr 3, 2012 at 1:01 PM
@megaman76 - we do this as part of a regular checkup. It's more important for safety of riding than protecting the bike. Air pressure decreases in tires in cold temperatures. So technically, if you filled your tires to maximum pressure in the cold, when the weather warmed up you might have too much pressure in your tires!! So, we don't worry about it too much for the shorter periods of storage (a few months)
Thu Jan 5, 2012 at 7:21 AM
DON'T YOU HAVE TO INFLATE YOUR TIRES TO THE MAXIMUM AIR PRESSURE.
Fri Dec 30, 2011 at 6:23 PM
Definitely time to get the bike ready for the winter. Luckily being in San Francisco and not in Wisconsin anymore means that I don't have to worry about this stuff anymore. :)
Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 7:44 AM