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There’s a lot to consider when you are thinking about storing your motorcycle for a long time. You’ve probably heard a lot of the do’s and don’ts when it’s comes to motorcycle storage, and sometimes those can contradict themselves.
The oil is a common question about motorcycle storage. Some people are a little hesitant about what to do with the oil because it’s such an important component to the motorcycle.
You can store a bike without oil. A motorcycle that is not lubricated will cause more damage than one that has oil. Insufficient oil can cause condensation and rust to form in the engine, which can lead to costly and difficult repairs.
If you’re reading this article, chances are you are wanting to take good care of your motorcycle. The oil inside a motorcycle provides vital functionality whether or not it’s running. This article will explain why you shouldn’t store your motorcycle without oil and some alternatives that can help your situation.
How to keep your motorcycle clean without oil
If you’re an avid motorcycle enthusiast like me, you don’t necessarily like that time of year when you have to put your bike away for the season and wait for it to become warm enough to ride it again. Although it’s possible to store your motorcycle for long periods of times, it is not difficult. But you must take the necessary steps to ensure that your motorcycle starts up right away.
You’ll hear a lot about what you should do with the tires, gas, etc. One of the most debated topics when it comes to motorcycle storage is whether you should keep the oil in the engine for long periods of time. It makes sense that people questions this because if you’re not using the motorcycle, what’s the point of having lubrication?
It is a fact that you can increase the chances of damaging your motorcycle engine by not having any oil in it. There are some oily properties to used oil that can cause corrosion.
People hear the words “corrosion,” especially inside an engine, they’ll do anything to avoid it. And I don’t blame them. You absolutely don’t want any sort of corrosion or breakdown inside any engine; that could be an expensive fix. So people resort to just simply removing the oil altogether so the oil doesn’t potentially cause any damage.
This is because condensation can form if you leave the engine compartments open. Condensation is likely to build up in non-climate controlled areas, especially if you’re storing your motorcycle for the winter. Condensation can lead to rust formation, which can cause major headaches later.
There is no reason to not drain the oil from your motorbike before you store it. It is better to keep the oil in the container than to let it cool down. The potential damage that condensation can cause is much greater than any oil. See my other article for more information on how long you can store your motorcycle.
Another point I’d like to make is that not everyone remembers that they removed the oil from the engine before they stored their motorcycle. Or someone else may be taking it out of storage for you and may be unaware that there’s no oil in it. The motorcycle can suffer if it is not properly lubricated.
Here’s What You Should Do instead
So if you shouldn’t leave your motorcycle oil-less during the time you store it but don’t want to have used oil sitting inside the engine, what should you do instead to ensure your motorcycle has the best future?
You should change your oil every time you store your motorcycle. This will ensure that fresh lubrication remains inside the engine. This should be done each time you store your motorcycle. Even if you changed your oil only a few months ago, it’s best to be safe and change it again.
Unlike used oil, fresh oil that is sitting inside the motorcycle engine doesn’t have near as many acidic and corroding properties. When oil gets used, it’s constantly heated up and mixed which slightly changes the chemistry of it altogether. That’s what causes it to have those acidic properties.
Fresh oil won’t have that so you can be assured that those bearings and rods are well soaked and ready to sit for months to come. But don’t feel like you have to use the expensive oil in this case. It’s permissible to use the cheaper brands of oil and let that sit in your motorcycle while you’re not using it. Oil is cheap because it only lubricates the motorcycle when it is running. It would also be as effective if it were to sit in the engine.
After you change your oil, it’s best to let the motorcycle run for 15 minutes to let the new oil circulate throughout the engine and ensure all those parts are receiving the better lubrication. You can be sure that all parts will remain in good condition during storage.
How long can oil sit?
If you’re going to be storing your motorcycle for a while, you may be wondering whether or not the oil you keep inside the engine has an expiration date. This is especially important to know if you’re storing your bike for longer periods of time, such as a year or more.
When motorcycle oil is sitting in it’s original bottle, it’ll last for several years if kept in the right conditions. But once it’s opened and is exposed to oxygen and other elements that it’s touching, the life and reliability of the oil goes down.
My rule of thumb: Change the oil in your motorcycle every 4000-5000 miles or every 6 months, depending on which comes first. That’s because whether or not you’re using your oil, it will eventually break down (though not using it will break it down much slower).
With that being said, that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to change the oil in your motorcycle every six months it’s in storage when you’re still not planning on using it for a while. However, the point is to show you that If you intend to use your motorcycle regularly, it is crucial that you change the oil as soon you get it out of storage.
Even though the engine’s oil has been there for many months, it might seem incongruous to change it. But just know that it has broken down and doesn’t hold the same properties as it did when it was first put in the engine.
When you have to empty the oil
Sometimes you may find yourself in an emergency situation and have no other choice than to drain the oil from the bike’s engine. Such instances may include if you’re storing it in your house, shipping it across the country, or if the storage unit you’re using prohibits any fluids residing inside the bike while it is on their property.
Cases like this are understandable and sometimes that’s just how it is for some of us motorcycle owners. There are some things you can do to keep your motorcycle’s interior safe, even if you have to change the oil.
You can empty the oil when the motorcycle is cool. Oil that has been heated will drain more quickly and leave behind less oil. Draining the oil while it’s cold means the oil is more thick and some will stay in places that could still be beneficial for your engine while it’s sitting for a while. This way you are complying with the rules but know there’s still a little bit of oil in there doing it’s job.
You can also try negotiating with those who require you to empty all the fluids out of your motorcycle while you’re storing it. For example, if you’re using a storage unit that requires no fluids inside the vehicle, try to explain to them how it could potentially harm the motorcycle more keeping oil out than it would just leaving it in. You should also point out that engine oil can be less volatile than gasoline.
Another option, though as painful as it may be, is to simply sell your motorcycle and get a new one when you’re able to ride. You don’t have to store your motorcycle, let it depreciate and make loan and/or insurance payment payments. Instead, save money by buying a second bike whenever you are able.