How to Winterize Motorcycles: Motorcycle Storage Considerations in Winter

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As much as you — as well as most motorcycle enthusiasts — would like it, riding year round just isn’t possible for most people in North America. 

Sure, there are the diehards who plug in their electrically heated suits, but for your average joe, motorcycle storage is really the only way to go forward once that crispness in the air starts to cut through your jacket and gloves.

So, as those beautiful summer days begin to wind down, you’ll want to be smart about your motorcycle storage and motorcycle winterization. You don’t want to give your bike the cold shoulder at the end of the season, because it might not be so loving come spring if you do.

Thankfully, by keeping your bike in a climatized storage unit and following a few tips, it’s possible to settle your loyal beast into hibernation so that she’s ready to roar next year.

This includes choosing the right place for motorcycle storage, topping off the tank, filling up fluids, dumping old oil, taking care of your battery, tending your tires, preventing further rusting, and ensuring that it ends up somewhere safe.

Here’s how to winterize motorcycles:

The Right Place for Motorcycle Storage

Though it might technically end up being the last step in storing your motorcycle, deciding where you’re going to keep your bike when you’re taking a few months off riding is the most important aspect of the whole process. Furthermore, it can be advantageous to line up your storage unit before you start the winterizing process.

To prevent rusting, you will want to store your motorcycle in a unit with climate control — as well as pest control. Just as important, you’ll want your motorcycle to be stored somewhere that provides top-notch security, which means either on-site guards or quality video surveillance systems.

Additionally, drive-up access for loading and unloading ease is something you’ll be grateful for. This is especially true if you plan on keeping your motorcycle at the storage unit for most of the year —  just taking it out for rides when the weather is right. 

In this same vein of thinking, 24-hour access to your storage unit (and your bike) is worth having. Nobody wants to be blocked from a beautiful day on the open road just because they can’t get to their hog.

The Right Size Unit for Motorcycle Storage

The size of the storage unit you’ll need for you motorcycle depends on a few factors, including if you plan on storing anything else from your house in there, if you’re only storing one motorcycle, and what kind of motorcycle you have.

There’s a huge difference in how much space your Harley takes up versus a 125 cc dirt bike.

However, in general, if you’re just wanting to store your motorcycle and accessories, a 5x10 storage unit will do the trick. This will give you enough space for spare parts and your riding gear. 

However, if you do have more than one bike to put up for the winter, you’ll want to get a larger unit, such as a 10x10 — it’s unlikely you’ll need anything bigger than that.

Managing Your Fluids

One of the most important things to do when you winterize motorcycles is managing your fluids. 

Start with giving your bike an oil change. Even if you haven’t put in the recommended miles before your next oil change, it’s best for your bike not to be sitting with old oil in the system. On that note, it wouldn’t hurt to go ahead and change your filter while you’re at it.

Next step is double-checking your brake, clutch, and coolant fluids. 

Unlike your oil, you don’t need to flush these lines and replace them just because you’re storing your bike for a bit. However, you do want to replace them in accordance with manufacturer recommendations and top them up as necessary.

If there is a chance that your winters are going to get really cold — we’re talking sub-zero — don’t forget to check the antifreeze.

Protecting Your Battery

Over the winter, it’s very likely that your battery will start to get drained. It doesn’t matter if your bike is on or off. This isn’t a huge deal, but it’s not great for the life of your battery. The best thing you can do about this is pull the battery off your bike and put it on a trickle charger for the winter.

The other option is to come down to your storage unit, pull the bike out and let it run for a couple of minutes.

Tending to Your Tires

The goal with taking care of your tires for long-term storage is getting the weight off them to avoid creating flat spots. 

There are many options for gear to do that — including the center stand on many bikes. No matter which way you go with lessening the weight on your tires, go ahead and fill your tires up to the maximum recommended pressure.

Lubing and Waxing Your Motorcycle

Even if you’re going to store your motorcycle somewhere with climate control, you want to take all the necessary steps to prevent damage from moisture.

So, at the end of the season, this means giving your bike a good wash, drying it, and then putting on a layer of wax to prevent corrosion.

Once the bike is waxed, and the chrome is buffed out, track down your lube. Put a healthy amount of lube on the throttle, shifters, brake cables, clutch cable, and kickstand — all those moving parts.

You can also spray some WD-40 on your exhaust pipe and stuff a clean towel in there to keep mice and other vermin out. Thankfully, however, any storage unit facility worth its salt won’t put you in a position where you have to worry about such pests.

Top off Your Tank

The last step to winterize motorcycles is to top off your tank with fresh fuel and some fuel stabilizer. Once you do so, let the bike run for a few minutes to ensure that the treated fuel cycles through your system.

Final Thoughts: How to Winterize Motorcycles & Motorcycle Storage Considerations in Winter

Don’t be fooled by the wording when it comes to winterizing your motorcycle — these steps are applicable to any long-term motorcycle storage needs. 

Though it’s best for your bike to top everything up and make sure it’s in the best possible condition for its long rest, ultimately, where you store your motorcycle will be the most important aspect of winterizing your bike. 

If you store it somewhere secure with climate control, you’re taking better care of it than far too many people who have become accustomed to dealing with rusty chains and all sorts of additional issues when spring comes around.

Looking for more information about your options for the best place to store your motorcycle? Contact the experts!

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