For owners of classic, antique, racing and vintage motorcycles storing your seldom-used motorcycle in a storage unit is often a viable option. Whether your motorcycle is one that you display in shows and parades or a bike holding personal sentimental value, you will want to know how to best prepare your motorcycle for storage. Proper storage will extend the life of your motorcycle, keeping it looking like new and running in top condition.
Storing your motorcycle in an enclosed, climate-controlled self storage unit is essential. Keeping your bike in an enclosed storage unit will keep it safe from theft and vandalism, as well as nature’s elements. Components such as snow, rain, heat and hail and dust can damage your motorcycle and greatly depreciate its value. Placing your motorcycle in storage will also protect it from the possibility of being hit by another vehicle. You will want to choose a storage unit that is in close proximity to your home so that you can check on when you wish.
Before storing a motorcycle, be sure to check with your insurance carrier. Many insurance companies offer coverage especially written to protect your motorcycle while in storage. Such off-road coverage can offer significant savings over the road insurance coverage.
While preparing a motorcycle for storage, keep the following check list handy and be sure to follow it carefully so that your bike will run to its optimal performance level and continue to look like new when it’s time to take it out of storage.
- Gather the tools and supplies that you may need before you get started. Some supplies you will need to have handy are various quality cleaners and protectants, a tire gauge, plastic drop cloth and a cotton cloth. Other items you may need are plastic bags, duct tape, WD40, desiccant sacs, jack and jack stands. You may also need a large wood block for the battery. Make sure that you have adequate amounts of each type of fluid on hand to top off all of your fluids.
- Clean and wash your motorcycle thoroughly. Use a buffer over the body to buff out all imperfections and apply a good coat of wax. This will protect the exterior from corrosion. Consider having this professionally done.
- Wipe the mirrors clean. Dirt and residue left on mirrors for long periods of time can cause rust and corrosion.
- Remove all items in storage compartments.
- Repairs that may be needed should be done prior to placing your motorcycle in storage to prevent further deterioration.
- Change the oil and filter one to two days before putting it into storage. Used oil contains acids, moisture and other combustion byproducts that will cause engine corrosion over time especially when the motorcycle sits for long periods.
- Drive your motorcycle for several miles after the oil change and before storing it to allow the oil to circulate throughout the entire engine.
- Pull the spark plugs and add about a teaspoon of engine oil inside of each cylinder. Replace the spark plugs – doing this will coat the inside of the cylinders to prevent rust.
- Seal off all engine openings using absorbent cotton cloth. This will absorb any moisture to protect the engine. It will also deter bugs from getting inside. Use cotton cloth to fill other openings in the exhaust pipes and other openings. Be sure to write this down on your maintenance check list to remind yourself to remove the cotton cloth when taking your motorcycle out of storage, prior to driving it again.
- Spray the exposed metal surfaces of your engine with a good lubricant such as WD40 to prevent rust. The WD40 will quickly evaporate, causing a protectant film to cover the carb body, hose clamps, coils and other parts.
- Empty the gas tank before storing, as flammable liquids are not allowed to be stored at the storage facility.
- Check the color of the brake fluid. The brake fluid should look clear. If the brake fluid is brown and looks dirty, the brake fluid needs to be flushed out and refilled with new fluid. When brake fluid gets old, it contains moisture which can rust the break system. Be sure that the brake and master cylinders are both full of brake fluid. Brake fluid absorbs water quickly. It is recommended that the brake fluid be bled out annually to purge the system of contaminated brake fluid.
- Flush transmission fluid, steering fluid and engine coolant if it appears dirty to prevent corrosion to their systems. If these fluids are clear, top them off to prevent air and moisture from getting inside which will also cause damage.
- Tires can go bad when sitting in storage for long periods. They can develop dry rot and flat spots. Avoid using products to give your tires a shine as they will dry out the tires and increase dry rot. Over inflate the tires slightly to 37 or 38 psi to prevent flat spots. Have tires checked for leaks and have them repaired before storage. Tires with an “H” rating or higher will do best in storage.
- Refer to your owner’s manual when caring for your battery.
- Check hoses for bulges and cracks, and have them replaced if they show extensive damage.
- Exhaust pipes can be protected from moisture and pests from getting inside by placing a plastic bag over the exhaust pipe opening and sealing it around the exhaust pie with duct tape.
- Park the motorcycle on a stand or centerstand.
- Cover your motorcyle with a breathable cover cloth cover to keep it safe from moisture and dust.
- Visit your motorcycle at least once a month; start the engine and let it run for a few minutes. WARNING: make sure you do this outside the storage facility. When possible, take your motorcycle for a quick drive to get all parts moving.
- Revive the motorcycle after long storage. Remove the cotton cloth placed in all pipe openings. Remove the plastic bag from the exhaust pipe. Check all fluids. Reinstall the battery and make sure it is fully charged. Take your motorcycle for a ride.