10 Tips for Storing Your Motorcycle

We’re never ready for riding season to end, but for those of use living in cooler climates, winter storage is a necessary part of each year. We’ve compiled ten tips to help you store your motorcycle safely, and make it easier to get ready to ride in the spring. These tips are also helpful if you need to put your bike into long term storage for any other reason.

1. Make sure your motorcycle is clean. Wash and dry.

Related video: Harley Motorcycle Detailing Tips. Mark breaks his silence to give us his Harley motorcycle detailing tips and tricks.

2. Add stabilizer to fuel system and start motorcycle to make sure it is in the fuel system.

Shut value if carbureted model.

Related video: Draining Fuel & Fuel Tank Filter (Early Models). Bob demonstrates the proper technique for draining fuel from the fuel tank on your early TC 88 Touring model. He also teaches you how to maintain the fuel valve and clean the fuel tank filter once you’ve drained and refilled the tank.

3. Make sure your saddlebags do not have any snacks left in them. They would make a nice meal for rodents.

4. Raise the motorcycle off the ground to avoid a condensation line from a door being opened and closed and cold air coming in.

Related video: Handy Motorcycle Lift Safety and Tips. Here is a walk through on a Handy motorcycle lift for safety and tips. The Handy lift is made by Handy Industries and they are the specialist in pneumatic and electric motorcycle lifts. Built on nearly 50 years of manufacturing experience, they have the experience it takes to manufacture high quality bike, ATV, snowmobile and power equipment lifts.

5. Cover: A clean sheet not touching the ground is a cost affective way. Other covers are available.


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6. Battery: Use a trickle charger or remove the battery and put it on a bench on a charger that has an sensor to turn on and off.

Related video: Harley-Davidson® Battery Tender Review. Unless you have a kick-start, you’ll need a battery to get your Harley started and to keep it functional. Bob shares some tips on Harley battery replacement and upkeep.
Battery Removal Videos:
M8 Touring Models – Battery Check, Clean and Removal
M8 Softail Models – Battery Removal and Replacement
Touring Twin Cam – Battery and Seat Removal
Softail Twin Cam – Battery Charging System Check
Dyna Twin Cam – Battery Replacement
Sportster – Battery Removal

7. Use some steel wool in the end of the exhaust to keep the mice out. Have a checklist and make sure to remove the steel wool before you head out after storage.

8. Tires should be up off the concrete and at the right pressure.

If you do not have a lift, place a mat under the tires.

Garage Mat: Seen Here

Related video: Motorcycle Tire Maintenance Tips. We have mentioned this many, many times. Your tires are one of the most important parts of your Harley-Davidson and one that gets overlooked the most. Bob takes a few minutes to review what to look for when reading a tire.

9. If you get a nice day and decide to head out, look at your checklist and make sure you are ready to ride. When you get back wash, dry and go through your checklist to put it up again.

Related video: Motorcycle Pre-Ride Checklist. You know what has been done to your motorcycle and what is on the list of things to be done. It’s the little things like tire pressure that are easy to check and crucial to motorcycle performance and your safety. In this video, Bob will review all that we should check.

10. Don’t run out to the garage and start it every week. You want your fluid levels to stay full to avoid condensation.

Remember you will be riding again soon. You are not prepping your motorcycle for deep space travel. Do the basics and you can be ready to ride as soon as the weather allows.

More tips on long term motorcycle storage:


Discussion
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29 Responses to “10 Tips for Storing Your Motorcycle”
  1. Dan
    Dan

    Thanks for the article. Do you recommend fogging oil (like Amsoil sells) to spray into the cylinders, crank a few times then re-install the plugs?

    Reply
  2. Tobin
    Tobin

    I’ve always added StaBil to my full tank, run my engine turn off the gas valve until the carb runs dry and then drained my float. In northern Wisconsin, it may be six months between riding seasons! Is this not good? Why no fogging oil? He doesn’t explain that.

    Reply
    • Dennis Santopietro
      Dennis Santopietro

      Hi Tobin, Thanks for the comment. Sure, you can drain the float bowl. Debate there is will the gaskets dry out and float stick? Only a couple months with stabilizer should keep any fuel in bowl from turning to varnish. How has it worked out for you? How long have you been draining the bowl? Bob does not fog as he does not see it necessary where he lives and the amount of time he stores his bikes.

      Reply
    • mithril
      mithril

      For short term storage such as 6 months or less fogging oil isn’t necessary. Just from riding your pistons have a light coating of oil on them which can protect the cylinder walls for some time. How much time? Who knows really, I’ve seen people start motors that have been sitting for 20 years or more that weren’t winterized and with a clean carb, fresh gas and oil they run.

      There are better things to do than fogging, when you put your bike away don’t run it before you do, when gas burns water vapor is released, if the motor doesn’t get to full temperature and driven out it can collect inside the motor or exhaust as condensation. If you do start it, take it for a ride to let it warm up fully and then put it away. Unless you’re in a really, really humid environment there won’t be enough moisture in the air to do damage for 6 months or even a year. If you think it will be much longer than that, tightly seal the tail pipes and intake with a plastic cover, like shrink wrapping tightly taped on. It’ll leave goo which will have to be cleaned before the motor is started again, but if the motor is sealed it will last as long as the engine seals hold out.

      Reply
  3. Dave
    Dave

    Something my bike suffered from one cold winter was when the switch in my front brake lever housing broke from being compressed all winter. It’s an expensive little switch that is a pain to replace. Now to avoid that problem, I squeeze the front brake lever and place a piece of cardboard in the gap between the lever and the housing so that the lever doesn’t push the switch button in, which keeps the switch from breaking. I was told at my local Harley dealer that breaking that switch is a common problem when the bike sits for a long period of time.

    Reply
  4. MJ Welch
    MJ Welch

    Evidently if you don’t ride all year you commit a mortal sin. There are times when the snow is to deep or below freezing is not fun.

    Reply
  5. john hinton
    john hinton

    Most of these Fuel Stabilizers only help or delay breakdown of ethanol, not gasoline. If you are using only premium fuel you should not have any ethanol in it so there is nothing for the ethanol stabilizer to stabilize so it is a waste of time and money. The thing that causes gasoline to deteriorate is oxygen so the best thing to do is store the bike with the fuel tank as full of premium fuel as possible so there is an absolute minimum of oxygen in the fuel tank. Of course long term storage is different and if the fuel system is able to allow fuel to evaporate, depending on the amount of evaporation, things can gum up but this would be storage for a number of years.

    Reply
    • Len
      Len

      Is it true that premium and or ultra fuel contains no added ethanol? Where can I get more info on that? Thanks!

      Reply
      • Dennis Santopietro
        Dennis Santopietro

        Hi Len, Maybe John can chime in here. Most states have ethanol in premium fuel and there might still be a few like Montana and Missouri that have ethanol free premium. Do some research in your area to see what’s available.

        Reply
        • Mike Simpson
          Mike Simpson

          You can also still get ethanol free premium in the State of Florida but only at select gas stations, you have to look for it.

          Reply
        • Greg Livermore
          Greg Livermore

          A good chainsaw/ outdoor equipment dealer has fuel that has no ethanol in it and is over 90 octane. Make sure you get the 4 stoke fuel.

          Reply
    • mithril
      mithril

      That’s not true. Fuel stabilizers have been around much longer than ethanol has been in gasoline. One of purposes of fuel stabilizer is to prevent the gas from evaporating and leaving a sticky varnish like substance in the carburetor. It also helps the gas maintain its volatility when stored for long periods. Only newer stabilizers are formulated to keep ethanol in suspension.

      Reply
  6. rickie wilson
    rickie wilson

    great web site got my first harley an dont know anything about it this is a site im goinging to join thanks for all the tips rick

    Reply
  7. Johnnie
    Johnnie

    I went on a trip last summer. Had to run ethanol a few times. Now my 06 Softail has a knock. What might it be? I’m female so I don’t know much about engines.

    Reply
  8. robert
    robert

    question regarding long term storage ( 3 months or more); regarding lubricates should they be warmed up & drained then replaced with fresh or leave in system during the storage period.

    Reply
  9. Stacey
    Stacey

    I can’t find my gas shut off valve on my 2007 883 sportster XL L. Do all Harley’s have a gas shut off valve?

    Reply
    • Customer Service Techs
      Customer Service Techs

      Hi, Stacey. Fuel injected models do not have/need a manual shut off, or petcock. 2007 is the 1st year of the injected Sportster.

      Reply
  10. Michael Bender
    Michael Bender

    This all such great advice. I used a battery tender on my bike since day one and it lasted ten years! The tender was on every time I parked it. Make sure yours indicates it has auto shut off.

    I also use fogging oil in the spark plug holes as a bit of insurance to prevent rust from forming around the rings. I was told since I use only full synthetic oil it may not be necessary. The bike is only stored from mid November to mid April. The fuel stabilizer is excellent choice. I use it in the snow blower during summer as well. I had a car that sat out and was seldom driven. Three years of sitting without use, it fired up and ran great with the three year old gasoline. BUT, I used a double dose of the fuel stabilizer when I parked her.

    Reply
    • HardDriver
      HardDriver

      Mike Toz, I’ve heard that a full tank prevents condensation from building up in the fuel tank.

      Reply