Many riders will tuck their bikes away for Winter, avoiding the wet, cold, miserable weather that we often face. However, looking after your bike properly isn’t as simple as just throwing your bike in the garage and walking away.
There are some important processes to follow that will ensure your bike is cared for while in storage so it is ready to go again for the first Spring ride.
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Clean, dry and protect your bike
Before you put the bike away for a period of time, give it a good clean. Be thorough and focus on the hard-to-reach places where water and dirt can sit and cause havoc over time.
Road debris, salt, and water are any motorcycle’s worst enemy, if left to their own devices, they can be incredibly destructive on all your metal components, and if you have any chrome parts, well, it can bring you to tears.
Check out our previous post for a step-by-step guide on how to clean your motorcycle.
After cleaning, ensure you dry your bike properly, whether you do it the old-fashioned way with a cloth or use a motorcycle dryer for a showroom finish.
Be sure to get rid of any water so it doesn’t lead to corrosion.
The final stage of cleaning your bike is to wax it or use a spray protectant. We have looked at some of the best options for waxing your bike here.
A good protectant will form a thin layer on your bike to protect it from UV and moisture damage.
Even if you are storing your motorcycle inside in a heated garage, you should consider moisture a sneaky bad guy hanging around in the air poised for attack. Protecting your bike with wax is the best way to foil its destructive plans.
A good wax will also give a fantastic shine to your bike, so it looks like the business when you are ready to get it back out again for riding season.
The next step is to take care of your battery.
There is nothing worse than getting set up to go for a ride; you are kitted out, you turn the key, and… nothing, the battery is dead.
Not only is this a massive inconvenience, but it can be easily avoided. Modern battery chargers not only charge your battery but can keep it in optimal condition to prolong the overall battery life.
Gone are the days when you had to change your battery every riding season because it discharged so much it was damaged and wouldn’t hold a charge.
Whether you opt for a trickle charger or a battery maintainer, choosing a device to keep your battery topped up is the best thing to do over the Winter.
You need to remember that a trickle charger must be turned off once the battery is charged as it will continually push a charge through even when the battery is full – this can be damaging.
However, a battery maintainer can be permanently left on the battery and will monitor the battery, only putting a charge through as and when needed – usually when the battery discharges beyond a preset level.
Here are some excellent choices for battery chargers and maintainers.
Consider your fluids
Think about your fluids, specifically your fuel.
The best thing to do is to top your tank up completely to prevent moisture ingress and rust from building up inside the tank.
However, fuel can degrade, so it is a good idea to add a fuel additive to help prevent this when storing the bike for a lengthy period.
It is a good idea to change your oil before you put the bike away too. Old oil can have acids and dirt that will settle over time and clog the system; an oil change eliminates this risk.
Brake fluids can attract dampness which causes air bubbles in the system. This isn’t something that can be avoided. However, noting it will remind you to bleed the brakes in Spring.
Your tyres can deform if left stationary for an extended period. There are a few things you can do to avoid this.
- If the bike has a centre stand: Store it lifted onto the stand, so the tyres are not holding the weight of the bike
- If your bike doesn’t have a centre stand: Use paddock stands on the front and back
- No stands: Over-inflate your tyres and store your bike on some old carpet to remove contact with the cold floor. Be sure to rotate your tyres periodically, so they don’t deform from carrying the bike’s weight in one position too long.
A good way to stop damp ingress is to plug your air intakes and exhaust pipes. You can buy a special exhaust bung for not very much money. It is a simple task that can save you a lot of hassle.
Lock it up
Regardless of where you store your motorcycle for Winter, ensure you securely lock it up.
We have a whole section on motorcycle security, so if you don’t know where to start with chains and locks, I suggest you check it out.
Start it up occasionally
If you have followed all the previous tips, it is easy to forget about your bike until Spring.
However, to keep everything in tip-top condition, it is best to start it up every few weeks, only long enough for things to warm up.
This will keep away any dampness that has managed to settle in those hard-to-reach places and keep things fresh.
Perhaps the most important thing to consider when storing your bike in Winter is where to keep it?
Whether indoor or outdoor, depending on your limitations, there are options to suit everyone.
Regardless of indoor or outdoor storage, I always recommend that you use a cover to protect your bike from dust, moisture, dirt, etc.
So let’s look at some of the best for each situation.
Indoor Storage Options
- Living room – Okay, so maybe this won’t go down well with everyone’s other half, but if you can swing it, tucking your precious two wheels away in the corner of the living room is the best way to ensure it is warm and protected.
- Garage/Shed – A locked garage/shed is a secure option for your bike and will protect it from the elements overall. Be aware, though, that unless your garage is heated, the motorbike can still get cold and damp, so following all the preparation steps and using a cover will still be super useful.
Outdoor Storage Options
When it comes to storing your motorcycle outdoors, you should invest in a really good bike cover. They might be pricey, but you should consider it an investment as a good cover will protect your bike regardless of the elements it is facing.
I used an Oxford Aquatex for my Mutt for 2 years. It was kept outside and ridden in every kind of weather possible. By cleaning it regularly, drying and using a good protectant, the bike stayed as good as new for as long as I had it; it was in showroom condition.
The key if storing your bike outside is to check on it more regularly than you would if it was stored indoors. Start it up more often, top up your wax protectant, clean and dry if necessary and repeat periodically.
A cover that correctly fits your bike is also essential, don’t make do with a cover that is too small and doesn’t cover the bottom half of your bike. Equally, a cover that is too big will allow moisture and dirt to get in and settle on your bike.