There are many reasons you may need to store your motorcycle. First and foremost, for our customers has been protection from the elements and from vandalism. Many of them only ride around town or for special events and prefer the comfort of their automobiles until they get closer to their destinations. Some of our customers live in apartment complexes or do not have homes with their own garages. Keeping their prized bikes protected from bumping into them with their cars even in their own garages can even be a reason as well as having small children at home that tend to be curious and want to climb onto the motorcycle to play may create a hazard to loved ones and bikes alike.
A light cleaning is probably enough for short term bike storage, but a complete detail is probably best if you are storing for over a month. Water deposits with calcium and other contaminants can damage paint so if there is a rain shower or even after the bike is washed it should be thoroughly dried. If the bike does run through a rain shower go ahead and rush due to dirt, pollen and acid rain deposits and wipe it down. It is good to wax the painted surfaces and thoroughly clean the chrome when putting the bike away for longer term storage. Then cover it with a painter’s cloth or a commercial cover.
A storage facility can be your garage away from home. Having the bike in a dark, dry clean facility can help insure it does not suffer from UV rays. UV rays are the reason a vehicle’s dash cracks and why some people choose to put aluminized shades in the windows of other vehicles. UV rays are particularly harsh to rubber and leather and should be avoided on bikes as well as other vehicles when not in use.
A cover is a good thing to have, but it will not provide the same protection as a garage or storage facility. It will not hurt to have it covered even if stored inside as this leaves an additional level of protection from dust and UV light.
Winterization may be very important to keep in mind since changing seasons is the number one reason most of our riders store their bike.
Just like any vehicle getting the bike up to operating temperature is key to keeping condensation from developing inside the engine and in the exhaust system is paramount. When not riding the bike stuffing a rag or steel wool in the exhaust can also protect from unwanted pests. Regularly riding the bike is the best defense against condensation, drying seals, lack of lubrication and provides pleasure and other side benefits.
After driving around for about twenty to thirty minutes, fill the gas tank with a non-ethanol enhanced fuel. A full tank allows less room where condensation can build.
Sta-bil is one brand of product that has been used for years., Fuel stabilizer is a good idea, but the fuel will need to be replaced if it remains over 12 months regardless of any additives.
If your motorcycle has a carburetor it may be best to drain all fuel from it since it can build up “varnish” in the jets and other small passages inside.
You will also need to address the electrical system. Start by disconnecting the spark plug wires, then use a special spark plug socket wrench to remove the plugs themselves. A good socket should have rubber inside to grab the plug and keep it straight during removal and keep from dropping it and damaging the plug or grounding strap. Spray oil in the cylinders. The oil will coat and protect the internal walls of the motor. This may be a good time to replace older plugs and wires. Make sure to check the plug gap and set it to the manufacturer’s specs.
Battery life can be greatly extended by keeping the battery charged. Starting the bike and riding it occasionally has many benefits to both the internal components and for the battery and charging system and is a good idea if that option is available. You may want to disconnect the side of the battery that is grounded to the frame if you choose to leave the battery on the bike.
A device known as a battery tender or trickle charger is a great investment. Most storage places do not have electrical outlets though and you may have to take the battery out and attach the tender at home. A good trickle charger provides only enough charging to keep the battery at full capacity and no more. It does this by monitoring the batteries voltage level.
Some motorcycles have a liquid cooling system. If yours does, check engine coolant levels and consider changing the coolant if it has been a while. Be sure to check the engine is protected with an appropriate level of antifreeze to protect against cold temperatures or running hot. You can buy a cheap device called a hydrometer at an auto-parts store. It will draw out the antifreeze with a bulb and the older types have a series of balls that float indicating the level of antifreeze in the coolant mixture. They may have a similar device with an indicator showing the level of protection your coolant provides also.
The best way to clean your motorcycle is with a quality water and good soap such as provided by Maguire’s or other name brand soap made specifically for cleaning without removing wax. Do not use a dish detergent as it may be a bit harsh. When spraying the bike with water avoid the air cleaner housing and muffler outlets or any passageway into or out of the engine. Use an absorbent cloth to get your cycle completely dry or a chamois cloth.
Leather can last a long time if properly cared for, so use leather dressing such as lexol brand to protect your seat and other leather.
Finally, using a clean rag or steel wool placed in the tailpipe and wrapping the intake may be a good idea for longer term storage.
Change the oil and filter. Just like any vehicle degraded oil should be replaced and may have contaminants which may damage an engine over time.
Make sure to apply oil to the front down tubes. You can then move the front wheel up and down by bouncing your weight on the front end. Moving the tubes that slide in the stationary tubes will help distribute the oil into them for smooth squeak free operation.
Use brake cleaner and a dry cloth to clean the chain. Then protect it with chain oil. Be careful not to get the chain oil on the other parts of the bike as it is very thick and hard to get off. It is made to stay on a moving chain. For this reason, care must be taken not to overoil the chain such that it will throw off the excess to other parts of the bike.
Once you have your ride at your storage unit, we recommend you put it on a motorcycle stand to keep weight off the wheels to avoid tire flat spotting.
Please do not store oil or gasoline containers in your unit. Almost all facilities have rules strictly prohibiting the storage of these and other flammable or dangerous chemicals inside the unit.
You may also need to purchase an oil absorbant mat and not cat litter or other Fuller’s earth type materials to place under your vehicle/motorcycle. Many well-run facilities will take before and after pictures of units to make sure there are no stains or other spills left to clean up. Oil stains are considered property damage and are very hard to clean up and most have provisions in the lease such that the unit must be clean and swept upon vacating.
Please come by and visit us in person or on the web for more information.