Prepare a Motorcycle for Winter Storage

Some parts of the country do not have suitable weather to ride motorcycles all year round. When winter approaches, it is time to put the motorcycle in storage until spring returns. There may be a warm day or two when the motorcycle can be brought out, but there may not be. It is best to prepare the motorcycle to sit in the garage for several months.


1) Wash the motorcycle with warm, soapy water. Actual hand washing is better than a car wash at getting to the grime, so use a soft cloth or sponge and wash every surface that you can reach. Make sure that all of the dead bugs and road oil are removed. These will eat into the paint over time. Use a cleaner designed to remove road tar and bugs, if necessary.

2) Polish the entire motorcycle with a quality polish. Put on a heavy coat and buff it off by hand, using a soft cloth. Use a chrome polish on any chrome parts. Apply this quite heavily as well.

3) Clean the saddlebags, If you have leather bags, treat them with your favorite leather preserver. Some people prefer the oil treatment to the cream treatment. Use whichever you prefer, and apply according to label directions.

4) Fill the gas tank on the motorcycle and add your favorite gasoline cleaner and stabilizer. It is preferable that the tank be full. Empty gas tanks will draw moisture, and may rust while sitting. Start the motorcycle and let it run to distribute the additive through the carburetor.

5) Make sure that the tires have the proper inflation in them to hold the motorcycle’s weight. Low tires will get flat spots on their sides from the weight of the motorcycle, and may crack in the cold. Use a good tire cleaner to treat them with just before you park the motorcycle for the season.

6) Spread a tarp down on the floor where the motorcycle will sit. This will avoid moisture rising up and surrounding the motorcycle. Park the motorcycle in an out of the way area of a garage or shed, where it won’t get bumped into or be in the way. Do not cover the motorcycle with a tarp, or any product that cannot breathe. This will allow moisture to build up under the tarp and may possibly cause rust.

7) Disconnecting the battery is an optional choice when storing the motorcycle. Some people do this and some leave it connected and occasionally start the motorcycle through the winter. This decision is up to you.

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