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How to store a motorcycle over winter

With the arrival of increasingly extreme weather, it takes a bold rider to keep using their bike throughout winter. However, ‘not riding’ a motorcycle isn’t as simple as it sounds, that’s why we’ve put together some tips on how to store your motorcycle safely over winter.

Don’t just park your bike inside a garage, this can cause harm over time, due to the cold and damp. It is possible for your bike come out of hibernation in as good a condition as it went in, you will just need to do some preparation.
1. Clean your motorcycle before storing it over winter
Before you store and covering your bike, it’s vital to give it a thorough clean and – just as importantly – dry it off completely.
It’s vital that you apply a spray-on, anti-corrosion protectant or dispersant such as WD40 or GT85 to all the exposed metal areas to combat any damp. Finally, remember to re-grease any moving parts such as cables or linkages that have been cleaned of their lubricant.
2. Look after your motorcycle’s battery over winter
Batteries don’t like the cold, so if they’re left unused in a garage for any period of time, they will start to go flat.
Dead batteries are the number one cause for calling on the recovery services during winter. To avoid this, either remove the battery entirely and store it in a warm place (if you do this, note any alarm or immobiliser won’t work), or, use a trickle charger or optimiser to keep the battery’s power levels topped up.
3. Tend to your bike’s liquids before winter
It’s not just the solid bits that need attention. The liquid parts of a bike – fuel, brake fluid, etc, are just as vulnerable to winter conditions as metal surfaces.
Brake fluids attract damp, which can create air bubbles in the system. Some owners strap the brake lever to the bar to keep bubbles out of the brake system, but this can damage the seals. Better to be aware of the problem, and re-bleed the system come spring. Fuel can degrade too, for a couple of reasons. One being the octane level reduces over time, which will affect performance, the other being that while standing, fuel can gum up and clog the system. Use special additives such as Silkolene Pro FST to help prevent this. We would also advise brimming the tank before storage to keep moisture at bay. Changing your oil before storage. Old engine oil can contain acids and any sludge or dirt will settle over time.
4. Plug your motorcycle’s holes before winter
If the bike is going to be static for any significant length of time, we’d recommend blocking all the air intakes with rags (or similar). Don’t block airbox, make sure you do the exhausts too. This is mainly to stop damp, but it has also been known for small animals to make an airbox their new winter home.
5. Prepare your bikes’s tyres for storage over winter
Your machine’s tyres can suffer if left stationary over prolonged periods, but you can avoid this.
Slightly over inflate your tyres, to help them keep their shape. Ideally both wheels should be lifted off the ground by either using the bike’s main stand or two paddock stands. If this isn’t possible, put a piece of old carpet under the bike, or blocks of wood under each wheel to prevent contact with the cold floor. You should also periodically rotate each wheel slightly to prevent deformation.
6. Where to store your motorcycle over winter
To keep your bike in good nick, store it indoors, in a decent garage or shed - this will prevent the cold and damp damaging your bike. Don’t just plonk it in there and leave it though. You need to position your bike away from any windows, as exposure to sunlight could fade the paint.
If you don’t have space indoors, you can use a bike cover. If you go down this route, you will need to get your bike out and use it regularly, clean it frequently and maintain it, or else your motorcycle won’t come out the same quality as it went in. Regardless of whether you store your motorcycle outdoors or in, while static, your bike will be prone to gathering dust and/or moisture. Always make sure you have a decent cover on your bike, although if you haven’t bought one yet, old blankets work just as well. A more pricey option is to use an inflatable bike chamber, such as those from Airflow UK. For around £250, these seal your machine in a completely airtight and filtered environment. If you don’t already have your bike fitted with an alarm or immobiliser, now is a good time to do so.

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