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30 Minute Bike Storage Tips

Storing a carbureted* motorcycle for the winter can take up to a few hours or more so many of us blow it off. Then we are faced with some problems when good weather rolls around in the Spring. But just attending to some essentials can help:

1- If you cannot conveniently drain the fuel tank, at least turn off the fuel tap (or shut off the gas and disconnect the fuel line, catching drips with a can or rag. After any dibbles of gasoline are mopped up and the rag is set aside,  start the bike and run the carbs dry. Then turn off the ignition.

2 – If your bike has a conventional lead acid/wet-cell battery, remove the battery, clean off any acid crystals on the battery and in the battery box with a baking soda and water mixture which will neutralize the acid. Thoroughly rinse off this mixture with water. Store the battery where it’s room temperature. Put it on a 2-Amp battery charger or Battery Tender once a month or more often. If you got a new high-tech battery charger for Christmas, carefully hook it up after reading the instructions. J&P Cycles sells the C-Tek which I like because LEDs show you battery condition and charging progress. For other forms of higher tech batteries, consult the manufacturer’s instructions.

3 – Try and locate the bike out of the way, out of direct sunlight and where temperatures remain fairly constant to avoid damaging condensation of moisture, fade from the sun. If there’s ANY fuel in the tank do not bring the bike into your house.

4 – Make sure the sidestand or center stand is not directly on dirt or concrete. A piece of wood or thin plastic is good to isolate it from corrosive dirt or concrete. Inflate tires to about 30 pounds or manufacturer’s specs.

5 – If you are ambitious, maybe you washed your bike. Lube the chain first, let it dry and wipe off any extra lube. If you did wash and dry your bike, use a light oil spray to coat chrome and bare alloy parts. Boesheild T-9, LPS1, WD-40 and certain Cycle Care products, available from the Museum, are good for this.

6 – Cover your bike with a piece of light fabric to keep the dust off and allow air to circulate. Do not cover it with plastic. Put your key and insurance card where you can find them.

7 – In the spring carefully reinstall your charged battery, hook up the fuel line, keep gas to OFF position. With transmission in neutral, the key in the ON position, kill switch “off”, rotate the engine through a few times with the kick or electric starter. Turn on the gas, set the choke or enrichener. Start your bike…..and smile. Put on your gear, then go for a ride.

*Fuel injected bikes typically store well without special attention to the fuel system.

4 comments

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  1. Danny Todd

    Having been in the bus. 40 years and counting I do agree with most of what you suggest.Problem is running the engine till it dies will lower the fuel level in the bowls enough to keep the float valves from gumming up but will leave a couple tablespoons around the main jet.This smaller volume will actually turn to crap twice as fast as the full bowl, kinda like safety in numbers thinking, ie a couple gallons can store for quite some time.Of course full throttle on the main jets under load will mostly empty the bowls but could still gum the main jet tips.Thx for the rest of the tips!

    1. Pat Dennis

      I turn off the fuel and run the engine till it begins to run dry. Then I put the choke on to keep it running and just before the bowls run dry I wind it up and suck all the fuel out..
      You should also open the bowl drain screw to finish the process. Never had a problem in 40 years this way.

  2. Jack Diodato

    I find that I’m riding a lot longer into the winter than I used to. I may not ride every day, but I enjoy a nice ride above 45 degrees. So, here in New York, I may ride from March thru December. Do I really have to put the bike away and go through the process of draining the fuel, etc.?

  3. Jeff Harris

    Guys, on the subject of winterizing, I confess it’s nearly enough to get me off of motorcycles, except, well, you know. Anyway, I fill the tank, filler neck full, to stop the rust. So, then I’ve got a tank full of garbage in the spring. It goes in the cars a bit at a time. But a rusty tank can break your heart.

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