How to Store Your Motorcycle in Self Storage

Jon Fesmire |

When you bought your motorcycle, it may have been the last thing you thought you’d ever need to put in storage. Life changes things, though. Maybe you have to commute to work and decided to drive a car instead. Maybe you have to drive your kids around, so you don’t get to ride on your motorcycle as much. Or, maybe winter is coming, and you just want to put your bike in storage during the snowy months to keep it safe, so you can enjoy riding it again in the spring.

Whatever the case, the following tips can help you find the right storage facility and protect your motorcycle.

Finding a Storage Facility

First, you’re going to want to find a storage facility appropriate for your motorcycle. There’s a lot of variety when it comes to vehicle storage facilities, and you can expect three major types. The first is the open-air lot, essentially a secure parking lot. The second is indoor storage with an individual unit for each vehicle. The third is more of a warehouse setup, a large room in which you rent an area for your motorcycle.

Search for a storage facility near you, and filter the results to show only those that allow cars, RVs, and boats. Visit their web pages and call to learn details about what they offer. Compare pricing, and decide what you need.

When to Use Which Type

Usually when people put their motorcycles in storage, it’s during the winter. If you plan to put your ride away during the winter months, you will need to keep it in indoor storage. You could get a motorcycle cover if you want to store it outside, but that won’t do much to protect it from dry air and extremely cold weather.

A much better way to protect your motorcycle during this sort of weather is to keep it in an indoor unit. It’s even better if the unit has climate control. Although climate controlled units rent for about 25% more per month than standard units, the humidity and temperature in them stays at a safe level for all your belongings, vehicles included.

Storage Preparation

If you plan to store your motorcycle for a month or less, simply giving it a good cleaning is probably enough. However, if you plan to store it for any longer than that, you will want to make sure that it’s ready, inside and out.

The following instructions include winterization steps, since winter is when many put their rides in storage.

Take a Ride

We all know that if you go out in morning after a chilly night, the air feels damp. Grass and other plants are covered in dew. That same sort of condensation can build up in your motorcycle’s engine. Normally this isn’t a problem, because as long as you’re riding it regularly, water gets boiled away.

Protect the Tank and Internals

After driving around for about twenty minutes, fill the gas tank. The less empty space in the tank, the less condensation can build.

Over time, gasoline can degrade. To protect the fuel in your tank, after you’ve filled it, add 0.5 oz of fuel stabilizer for each gallon of gas, then run the engine for a few minutes to mix the stabilizer in well.

If your motorcycle has a carburetor, put on a pair of plastic gloves to protect the skin of your hands, shut off the gas petcock, then drain any gas that has built up inside the carburetor. Change the oil and filter, which will allow you to dispose of any grime that built up in the oil. Apply some fogging oil to the front stationary tubes. You can then bounce the front wheel, which will help distribute that oil into the tubes.

Some motorcycles have a liquid cooling system. If yours does, check the antifreeze level. If it’s a little low, top it off with fresh antifreeze. If it’s very low, drain what’s there and replace it.

Next, you’ll need to take steps to protect the electrical components. Start by disconnecting the spark plug wires, then use a spark plug wrench to remove the plugs themselves. Use your can of fogging oil, and spray the cylinders. The oil will coat and protect the internal walls of the motor. Finally, clean the wires and plugs, and replace them.

Your battery can also lose its charge over time. Rather than stopping by your storage unit once every couple of weeks to run the engine, get a battery tender. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions to remove your motorcycle battery and hook it up to the tender. This will feed a slow trickle of electricity to the battery to ensure that it’s charged and ready to go when you’re ready to retrieve your motorcycle.

Protecting the Body

The best way to clean your motorcycle is with water and motorcycle wash. While you’ll spray this on your motorcycle, there are areas you’ll want to avoid, namely the air cleaner housing and muffler opening. Don’t spray water or wash into them, as that can cause those parts to rust. Use an absorbent cloth to get your cycle completely dry.

Use brake cleaner and a dry cloth to clean the chain, then protect it with a coat of spray chain wax.

Leather can last a long time if properly cared for, so use leather dressing to protect your seat and other leather components from cold, dry air, especially if you have to store your bike outside or in a unit with no climate control. For vinyl seats, use a vinyl protectant product.

Once you have your ride at your storage unit, we recommend you put it on a motorcycle stand to keep weight off the wheels.

Finally, while storage facilities work hard to keep pests away, it’s also your job to protect your motorcycle from annoying bugs and rodents. You don’t want your pipes to become a winter retreat for mice. Put a handful of steel wool into the tailpipe, which will block it and prevent unwanted pests from entering.

With all that done, you can leave your bike for months. When you’re ready to ride again, it will be there, waiting for you.