Motorcycle Winter Storage Tips
October 11, 2023
Winter: it’s that time of year dreaded by many motorcyclists. For those in cold climates, it usually means saying goodbye to your bike until warmer temperatures and better roads return in spring.
When those brighter days come back around and you’re ready to go for a ride, the last thing you want is a bike that looks worse for wear—or, worse, won’t start. That’s why it’s important to properly prep your bike and follow the right motorcycle storage procedures. To help make sure your ride remains protected during the cold season, find everything you need to know about winter storage for your motorcycle in this guide below.
WINTERIZING YOUR MOTORCYCLE: WHAT TO DO BEFORE STORING YOUR BIKE
If only stowing your bike away for the winter was as simple as parking it and throwing a cover on it. But to do it right, there’s actually quite a bit of preparation that’s required. One of the easiest ways to make sure your bike is ready for storage is to have it first serviced by a professional. If you ride a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle, many local dealers offer maintenance and storage packages that can be very convenient and economical. Service professionals will ensure all parts are functioning correctly and rectify any underlying issues that may escalate during the storage period.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with going it alone and winterizing your motorcycle yourself. Just be sure you have a complete checklist at hand to get your bike ready to go. Your motorcycle owner’s manual will contain valuable information that’s specific to your bike about required maintenance, how to perform basic service procedures, and even store your bike. To help you on your way we’ve covered many of the winter storage prep basics below.
6 MOTORCYCLE WINTER STORAGE TIPS
1. CLEAN YOUR MOTORCYCLE
It might seem counter intuitive to clean your motorcycle before putting it away, but dirt, bugs, and road grime can harm your bike's finish over time. Plus, it will be that much more of a treat to find it looking ready for the road as soon as better weather rolls back around.
Give your bike a comprehensive clean before storing it for the winter by following these steps:
- Prep your bike: Allow your motorcycle to cool before rinsing or washing. Spraying water on a hot bike can lead to unsightly water spots and mineral deposits. Plug all exhaust holes, secure wires and electronics, and remove any of your motorcycle’s bags or luggage that can’t be washed.
- Rinse your bike: Using cool water, spray your bike from the bottom up, focusing on getting rid of dirt, dust, and grime that’s built up. For hardened dirt or dried bugs that don’t come off with a simple rinse, you can soak the surfaces under a damp towel.
- Clean your wheels and tires: Rinse your wheels and tire surfaces, while taking care to avoid splashing any gnarly brake dust on your bike’s chrome and painted parts. Use a wheel and tire cleaner, letting it set for one minute after application, then clean the wheel. A specialized wheel and spoke brush can help you reach tough spots while avoiding scratching. Once you’ve rid your wheels of brake dust and your whitewalls are shining bright, give them a good rinse.
- Wash the rest of your bike: Moving up to the rest of your bike, start by getting rid of any bug splatters with your handy bug remover spray. Fill a wash bucket with clean water, add bike soap, and soak a wash mitt or sponge. Starting from the top and working your way down now, gently scrub your bike. Finish with two rinses: one from the bottom up and another from the top down.
- Take care of the details: Leave your bike looking like new and protect every part of it before long-term storage by caring for all of the details, parts, and accessories—from the denim and leather to the windshield and chrome. Adding a coat of wax to your bike, too, will help shield it over the course of storage, too.
Learn more about how to wash your motorcycle in our guide to washing and detailing your motorcycle.