There’s something sad about storing a motorcycle for a long time. After all, it’s meant to roam wild and free, with you on it. But maybe your weekend National Guard Camp turns into a two-year deployment, or you’ve decided to take your lottery winnings and travel with the band. Whatever takes you away from riding for an extended period (some define this as one month, some three or more), you’ll want to prepare your motorcycle to make sure that when you get back on it, it turns over and purrs like a kitten.
To prepare your motorcycle for storage:
1) Change the oil
As it circulates, your oil picks up dirt. If the bike sits for a long time, this dirt settles and it’s harder to flush out during the next oil change. Also, as oil breaks down, the acid level in it increases and can corrode soft metal internal parts.
2) Prepare the gas tank
Just before storage, fill the gas tank completely, and add some good fuel stabilizer to it, letting the two mix as you complete your short run home. A half-full tank will allow moisture to accumulate, which could lead to rust. Old gas gets gummy, too, like your granddad when he lost his teeth.
3) Oil your cylinders
Remove your spark plugs and squirt about a tablespoon of motor oil into the holes, then turn the back wheel a couple of times with the bike in gear while humming Yankee Doodle. This will coat the inside of the cylinders and make you feel patriotic. Put the spark plugs back in.
Lube all moving parts, including the chain drive, cables, controls, and fork surfaces. Check your owner’s manual for the complete list. The lubrication will prevent rusting. Lubing is just as good for your motorcycle as it is for your lawnmower.
5) Tend to your battery
An idle battery – like an idle teenager – can lead to trouble. You’ll want to either pull it or store it inside (not outside), or leave it on the bike and plug it into a battery tender. (The battery, not the teen.) If you do nothing, it will eventually completely discharge.
6) Plug your pipe
Plug your exhaust pipe to keep out any critters. A friend of mine who races motorcycles uses an old stuffed teddy bear of his daughter’s. It’s a conversation piece when the bike is on display at rallies. Remember to remove the plug before you ride it again or people will look at you funny…and somebody might call the ASPCA.
7) Clean it
While you’re at it, you may as well wash and wax your bike (to keep dirt from permanently marring the finish), clean the air filter, and toss a bike cover or old bedspread or sheet over it. When you’re ready to ride again, she’ll be arm candy on the road.
As sad as it is to park your bike for a long time, a couple of hours prepping and primping her will help ensure that she’ll start immediately and run smoothly the next time you start ‘er up. You and your bike will be happy, wild, and free once more.