How to store a motorcycle long-term: The All-In-One guide

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If you’re like me, you have found yourself in a situation where you need to store your motorcycle for a while, maybe even for a long while, and are left wondering how to do so.

I’ve owned more motorcycles I can count on two hands so I’ve been caught in this many times. I’ve been able to do a lot of research and have been able to learn a lot through my own experiences.

You should consider how long you will keep your motorcycle stored. take a minute to review these helpful tips and tricks that will help you prepare your motorcycle for the time you’ll have apart from each other.

  • Take care of your gas!
  • Make sure to top off your oil and coolant
  • Disconnect the Battery
  • Elevate your Tires
  • Protect it properly
  • Find out Where to Store It

Throughout this article, we’ll explain how to store your motorcycle long-term, where to store it, and how to prep it once you take it out of storage.

Our other article explains what happens to a motorcycle if it is left unattended without being properly stored.

Take care of the gas

Long term storage is never fun, especially if that means you’re apart from your motorcycle. Taking the proper care of it before hand will ensure you will continue to have fun rides on your bike, even if that means it’s a while down the road.

The fuel system can be clogged if there is gas left in the tank.It is important to know whether your system is fuel injected or has a carburetor. The first thing you’ll need to do is empty your gas tank. This can be done by disconnecting the fuel line to the petcock, and letting the gas run into the fuel container. Another alternative is to siphon off the gas from the tank.

After all fuel has been emptied, start your motorcycle and allow it to run until it stops due to lack of fuel. This ensures you have gotten out all the fuel from the lines and won’t have any residual fluids gunking up your fuel system.

If emptying your gas tank seems impossible, the next best thing you’ll need to do is add a stabalizer to your gas. The stabilizer slows down chemical reactions that break down gasoline and essentially preserves it. After you add the stabilizer, you’ll need to run your motorcycle for a few minutes to ensure the gas-stabilizer mixture has run through your lines and resides in them.

Adding stabilizer to your bike will make it difficult for you to start your engine. It can cause fuel lines and carbs in your engine to deteriorate over time.

Make sure to top off your oil and coolant

Unlike gasoline, it’s important to keep oil in your engine. Avoid storing oil in the sun for long periods of time.. Even though you won’t be using your motorcycle, it’s still important to have proper lubrication inside your engine as the parts inside will be nicely cushioned and preserved.

If you know it’s been a while since you’ve had an oil change, it’s probably a good idea to change your oil before you store your motorcycle long term. Remember that you’ll need to change the oil again once your motorcycle is out of storage. Because unused oil degrades much faster than normal oil,

If it’s been fairly recent since your last oil change, all you’ll need to do is top off your oil to the recommended level.

You’ll also need to make sure your crankcase oil is good to go. If you’ve noticed it’s low, be sure to top that off as well.

Check the coolant level of any motorcycle that has a cooling system. If necessary, top it off. This is also something you’ll need to replace once you start riding your motorcycle again because coolant can lose it’s potency over time which may lead to an overheating motorcycle.

Disconnect The Battery

There are a few options you have concerning your battery and this all depends on how long you’ll be storing your motorcycle. The first thing you can do is connect your battery with a battery tender such as this one from Motosport.com. A battery tender can monitor the battery’s voltage and charge it when it detects it losing power. This is a great option for motorcycle storage for several months.

The second option is to completely remove the battery and leave it on your motorcycle. This is ideal for storage periods that are longer. The battery can be disconnected without affecting any other functions. “parasitic discharge” You can keep it for longer.

Any time you leave your motorcycle for several months or years without running it, you’ll need to expect to replace the battery altogether even if you have disconnected it from your motorcycle. Without usage, your battery will slowly lose it’s charge and if there are any freezing temperatures, that can pretty much guarantee the death of your battery.

Keep your battery close to your motorcycle in either case. This way you’ll know what exact battery to get as a replacement if your first one is no longer usable.

Click here to read our article on the time it takes for a battery to go dead in a motorcycle.

Lift the Tires

This step is often neglected. Tires that aren’t properly maintained can cause long-term damage. The lack of use can cause a motorcycle to become more worn than it actually is by letting it sit idle. You’ll eventually get flat spots on the tires where they’re touching the ground because the tires eventually lose air pressure.

These spots can be permanent and render your tires useless. If possible, you’ll need to elevate both tires. I’ve seen some creative ways of doing this such as placing a bike on top of stacked up 2×4’s. I don’t necessarily recommend that, but there are ways to figure it out. You can also purchase motorcycle lift stands (link at Discountramps.com). They will do the job perfectly.

Protect It Correctly

This is an important step that many people forget to take, especially if their bikes are stored in a shed, garage or storage unit. You must cover your motorcycle properly, regardless of where you store it.

You should look for any hole large enough to allow a rodent to pass through, preferably the exhaust pipes. Insert cloth towels into the holes. This can save you a world of mess in the future; you don’t want to try to start your motorcycle later only to find a family of mice all nestled inside the abyss of your bike. Be sure to make the towels visible so you don’t forget later that they’re there.

You’ll need to put some sort of cover over the whole motorcycle, even if it’s inside or under some sort of shelter. You should first remove the cover from your motorcycle. Use a clean, dry cloth to wipe your bike.

Locate It

Before you start getting your motorcycle ready to store, you’ll need to figure out where you’re going to store it. This is an important step that shouldn’t be taken lightly; your choice of storage location could mean the future life or death of your motorcycle.

I have owned a motorcycle from the time I was living in my sister’s basement all the way through owning my own house. I never had a garage of my own until I bought my first house, so I’ve been able to figure out some awesome ways to store a motorcycle, especially for long term.

Driveway Covered and Secured The first option is the most obvious and cheapest, though it’s not my highest recommendation. However, not everyone has the option.

It should be parked in the driveway/parking lot. However, leaving your motorcycle exposed without any protection will only increase the damage to it.. A high-quality motorcycle cover like the Dowco Guardian WeatherAll Plus (which can be found on Amazon.com), is a great choice. It does a remarkable job of protecting your motorcycle from the elements. 

This cover has a drawstring on the bottom to make a tight fit and it’s covering lessens the amount of UV rays the sun emits which prevents damage and wear to your bike.

A lot of people, including myself, also worry about someone stealing their motorcycle while it’s parked out in the open. A disc lock brake is also recommended if you are concerned about your motorcycle being stolen.  

It’s a small contraption that locks on either wheel disc and blends in with all the mechanics of your bike so any perpetrator would be unsuspecting of it. It is important that you do not buy the cheapest brake lock. Instead, invest in a good quality lock that will perform the job.

A good lock brake will sound an alarm loud enough to notify anyone nearby that your motorcycle is being tampered with.

Parking canopy: If the only place you can store your motorcycle is in your driveway or parking lot and you don’t want to do the first option, you can try using a Motorcycle canopy.  This is why motorcycle canopies were created.

The Quictent Heavy Duty Motorcycle Cover is my recommendation (link to Amazon.com). It’s an upgrade from a generic motorcycle cover and also provides a little more security.  The cover comes with a locking mechanism that prevents anyone from opening it. It can also be secured to the ground to prevent it being lifted up or blown away.

Self-Made Canopy: If you like the idea of using a canopy for your motorcycle but don’t want to spend the money to buy one, this option may be for you.

It should not be difficult if you or your friends are creative. All you need are a PVC pipe, and a tarp. Take measurements of your motorcycle to determine the size of the box that your bike could fit into.

You can find the right amount of PVC pipe for your motorcycle at your local home improvement shop, depending on its size. You should be able buy all your materials for $50 or less.

Make a square frame using your PVC pipes. Wrap your tarp around the frame and attach it to it. I recommend that you glue the Tarp down. Puncting holes in the Tarp to tie-downs speeds up the wear and will eventually lead to the tarp being ripped open further.

Make sure you keep one side open so your motorcycle can fit inside. Velcro works well to hold the door flap down.

Family and Friends Are there family or friends that might be willing and able to accept your motorcycle?  You may be surprised. Call around, post on social media, and/or send out the word that you’re looking for a place to store your motorcycle.  If you are willing and able to pay them for it, you’ll find even more individuals inclined to let you use their space.

I understand how inconvenient it is to not have your motorcycle close by so you can keep your eyes on it, but at least you know it’s somewhere safe.  

While in college, I had an old project motorcycle I needed to store. My apartment had an uncovered parking space and my only place of residence was an apartment. Because we had very few parking spaces, I needed another place to store the bike.  After a while, I started asking around and found a classmate who lived in a house with a shed in his backyard. The shed was his property for the whole year that he lived there.  

Inside Your Home While this may sound crazy, it is actually a great idea.  You might consider bringing your motorcycle to an apartment or house that doesn’t have a garage or shed. Do you have a spare bedroom or storage room that you don’t use much? Talk to other members of the household and ask for their permission.

To do this you’ll need the following items: tarp, oil drip pan (cookie sheets work great), boxing tape, a 2×4 wood block, and a cover.

To avoid gassing yourself or other members of your household, you will first need to empty all gasoline from your tank. It is also not recommended to store it in your bedroom, as there may be residual fumes.  

Tape your tires to the ground. This will prevent dirt and marks from getting on the carpet or floor. Next, place the tarp where you want to store your bike. Begin by bringing the motorcycle in with one or two others. Then roll it onto the covered tarp. If you are using the kickstand to keep the bike propped up, place the 2×4 wood block under the kickstand. This is especially useful if you have carpet.  This will stop the bike from leaning to one side.

Next, put the oil leak pan directly under the engine (make sure to do this even if you don’t think your motorcycle has leaks!!!). Lastly, put a cover over the motorcycle so it doesn’t make so much of an eye sore for those who visit. You can either use the original cover for your motorcycle or use bed sheets.

Storing your motorcycle in this manner keeps it cool and prevents rust.  

Small Storage Shed A storage shed offers additional security measures. They are more difficult to break into and can keep your bike out of the elements.  

There are many out there that can be mailed to you and are easy to assemble, such as the Keter Manor Garden Storage Shed (link to Amazon.com), which I recommend because it’s smaller than a regular sized shed.  Though these are intended for garden storage, they’re the perfect size for a motorcycle, ranging from 4×6 to 6×8.

If you’re in an apartment, you may have to negotiate with your landlord about this one, but it’s worth a shot.

Storage unit: You might consider renting a self-storage facility.  The average cost to rent a 5×10 storage unit in the U.S. is about $60 per month.  While this price may seem reasonable to some, it might not be for everyone. Here’s a thought: try and find someone to share the storage unit with that also needs a place to store their stuff.  You can split the monthly cost and pay only $30.

But why a 5×10 unit and not a 5×5? Some motorcycles may have difficulty fitting into a 5×5 storage unit. Also, the cost of a 5×5 isn’t that much less than a 5×10 with the national average being $45 a month. Plus having a 5×5 unit doesn’t give you room to share with someone else.

Please keep in mind that if you choose this option, a lot of storage units require the motorcycle to be operational, that you provide proof of ownership/registration, and that the motorcycle is insured. Click here for my complete guide to storing your motorcycle in a storage container.

Storage Unit Parking You can rent a parking spot at a storage facility if you like the idea but are not sure if you want to use it. Although not all storage units offer these facilities, there are many that have parking spaces available for all types of vehicles.

Many people use these to store their RV’s, trailers, and boats. I found out that a monthly rental of a storage unit is about $45 per month when I checked with a few people near me.  

Even though your bike will be left out in the open with this option, most storage units have security cameras. Some even have guards. This option gives you additional peace of mind knowing it’s more secure.

If you do have a garage

What if you DO have a garage but, like most of us, you’ve somehow accumulated too much stuff that seems to have overtaken it. So……where does that leave you and storing your motorcycle? Do you have to keep it outside? I’ll give some suggestions that will hopefully make you answer “no” That is the last question.

Reorganize Your Stuff So It’s High Off The Ground: My first suggestion is unpleasing, but it’s obvious: organize your garage. An average garage size is 12 feet by 22, which is approximately the average size. You should still be able fit one normal-sized car and one motorbike in a one-car garage.  

Take some time to go through your garage and find out what you can sell or get rid of. You might also be able to win brownie points with your partner.  

Still don’t have enough room?  You might think outside of the box when it comes to your organization.  You might think about adding shelves and cabinets to raise things off the floor.  You can always find old cabinets on Facebook or Craigslist.

If you prefer a more garage-like look, this steel wall cabinet is a good choice (link to Amazon.com).  Not only does it look amazing, but these were built specifically for garages so they’re heavy duty and tremendously helpful with garage organization.

If cabinets aren’t your thing but you still want to get stuff off the ground to make room for your motorcycle, try installing this Overhead Garage Storage Rack (link to Amazon.com).  These storage racks can be amazing.  This product is great for garage ceilings that aren’t fully covered.

You can use a dolly to assist with placing in small areas: Alright, so maybe after you’re done organizing and you’ve gotten some things off the floor, you have a few possible spots to put your motorcycle.  Even though motorcycles are difficult to maneuver, it’s not hard to squeeze them into tight spaces with your cars’ fenders.

Black Widow Steel Cruiser & Chopper Motorcycle Dolly is a fantastic tool to have on your motorcycle (link to Discountramps.com).  I recommend this product if you live in tight areas.  The wheels underneath the motorcycle can spin in any direction, making it easy to maneuver, move, and store your motorcycle.

Use a High Lift: Although this suggestion might seem a bit outlandish to some, it may prove beneficial for others.  Even though it’s a bit expensive, Garage Storage Platform (link to Amazon.com) can be an incredible way to store a bike.  

You simply place your motorcycle on the platform and secure it. Then, you can use the operation switch to raise or lower your bike.  This is a great way to get your motorcycle up high enough to have space underneath or to store additional items.  This piece is a lot of fun and will be admired by all other owners of recreational vehicles.

How to Prep and Start Your Motorcycle after Long-Term Storage

Gas: If you previously emptied you fuel system and gas tank completely, you’ll obviously need to fill up your gas tank. You might have problems starting it. Check your fuel lines to make sure they are connected. There may be buildup in your carbs.

Problems with your motorcycle not starting or acting slow are usually due to clogged carbs. You may need to remove your carbs and clean them out so there’s proper flow inside.

If you added stabilizer to your fuel, you’re fine to go ahead and start it right up, your motorcycle will run just fine with that in there. It’ll be all out of the system after a few fuel fill-ups.

Oil: You’ll need to change the oil. It doesn’t matter if your oil looks the same as it did yesterday. You still need to change it. You don’t want to risk having corroded oil running through your engine and mess something up due to lack of proper lubrication.

Also, make sure to add oil to your crankcase. While you’re down there, it’s also a good idea to add a little bit of oil to your chain. You’ll need to make sure you get the specialized oil specifically for motorcycle chains.

Coolant: As I mentioned before, the coolant’s potency will decrease over time. This process is accelerated if you don’t use it. If you can, drain all coolant from your bike (if it has a cooling system), and then replace it with new coolant.

Battery: Whether you connected your battery to a tender or not, you’ll need to test your battery at this point. More likely than not, if you didn’t have a tender connected to it, your battery is dead beyond repair and you’ll need to get a new one.

A multimeter is an electronic instrument that can be used to test the device. It can measure voltage and current as well as resistance. The majority of motorcycles need a 12 volt battery or 12.6 volts. To start your motorcycle, you will need 12.2 Volts

Tires: Hopefully, you were able find a way of elevating both your tires. If you didn’t, you will need to get new ones (which will probably be obvious to you because of how flat and wrinkled your tires are at this point).

Inspect your tires and make sure there aren’t any cracks and weird shapes in them. Air should be added to the tires. After adding air to your motorcycle, you should wait at least a few hours before you can ride it. This will allow you to check your tire pressure and ensure that it has remained constant. If not, then you know there’s a hole somewhere.

These tips should have been helpful. They will help you to find the best place for your motorcycle, based on where you are in life. Although a motorcycle can be such a joy to ride, it can also be frustrating to store. From personal experience, I can attest to this. These tips will ensure that your motorcycle stays happy and you are able to continue your adventures.

Similar Questions

How often should I change my motorcycle’s oil? You should change the oil in your motorcycle about once a year, or about every 3,000 – 4,000 miles. You should check your coolant, spark plugs, and crankcase oil every oil change to make sure all components are working properly.

Can I store the car in a storage facility? Many storage units offer garages for cars. Many units have trickle charging so that your battery is always charged. Many other storage units have car storage spots, but these are usually outside.

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