How to Store Your Motorcycle for the Winter


If you won’t be able to ride your motorcycle for a while, don’t despair: this step-by-step will help you prep your bike for long term storage.

Depending on how long you’ll be storing your bike, you’ll want to make sure your bike emerges from deep storage as undamaged from rust, corrosion, and inactivity as possible.

Things You’ll Need

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This tutorial is broken down into parts; to jump to a specific task, click on the appropriate link below, or go through the entire step-by-step process.

Prepare Your Engine, Exhaust, and Battery for Long Term Storage

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The first thing you’ll want to do to prepare your engine for storage makes sure the engine oil is clean. Old oil can trap contaminants which damage rubber seals, and performing an oil and filter change before long term storage will help preserve your engine.

If you won’t be riding your motorcycle for several weeks (if it’s carbureted) or several months (if it’s fuel injected), you’ll want to make sure your fuel delivery systems are ready for inactivity. With a carbureted engine, you should turn the petcock into the “off” position, loosen the float bowl drain screw, and catch the fuel in a container. If draining it isn’t possible, you can run the engine with the petcock in the “off” position until it dies. Because moisture can accumulate in half-empty tanks, fill up with gas and top it off with a manufacturer-recommended fuel stabilizer or Sta-Bil. Some believe draining the float plugs isn’t necessary if the stabilizer is added to the fuel and properly run through the fuel system; do whichever process you feel most comfortable with.

If you’re storing your bike for more than six months, you might want to protect your piston and cylinder rings from potentially rusting. To do so, remove each spark plug and pour a tablespoon of fresh engine oil or spray fogging oil inside. Ground the ignition leads and turn the engine several times to spread the oil before replacing the spark plugs.

Spray some WD40 into the exhaust pipe(s) in order to keep water away; the “WD” stands for water displacement, and keeping moisture out will prevent rust. You can also keep water and critters out by stuffing intake and exhaust with crumpled plastic bags.

Clean battery leads and attaches a battery tender to your battery to keep it charged and ready to go when you’re ready to bring the bike out of storage; if you don’t have a tender, a trickle charger is better than nothing.

Cleaning Your Motorcycle for Long Term Winter Storage

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Dirt and grime will damage motorcycles, both cosmetically and mechanically, so use these tips to preserve your bike during long-term storage:

Unload the Suspension

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If your motorcycle has a center stand, use it for long term storage.

If you’re not riding for several weeks and don’t have a center stand, you may want to consider carefully propping up the bike using blocks. Don’t do more harm than good by dropping your bike while attempting to prop it up! If done correctly, lifting your motorcycle will alleviate stress on the suspension and tires.

Inflate your tires to the maximum recommended pressure will maintain their shape since cooling temperatures will make the pressurized air contract. If the ground might potentially freeze, try to keep the tires off the ground using wood blocks.

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