Keeping your motorcycle in a self-storage unit for the winter can both protect your bike and open up space in your garage, but there are still steps you must take to ensure it emerges in one piece next spring. While you won't need to worry about sheltering it from the snow and pests with a good self-storage company's assistance, your motorcycle is still vulnerable to rust, flat tires, stale gas and other issues that can develop while it sits unused for months. Before you lock up your storage unit, run through the following list to make sure that your motorcycle is truly ready for its winter vacation.
Performing Basic Maintenance
Any maintenance you have been putting off on your motorcycle should be done before it goes into storage. This means changing the oil, lubricating chains, topping off the coolant and washing it down thoroughly. This deluxe treatment may seem counter-intuitive when you don't plan to ride your bike for several months, but it will help discourage rust and, if all goes well, leave you with a motorcycle that is ready to roll on the first sunny day of next year.
Taking Weight Off the Tires
Tires that remain locked in place for too long distribute their stress unevenly, leading to flat spots that can permanently warp the rubber. The surface of the tire in direct contact with the floor not only absorbs the weight of the motorcycle, but also the heat, cold and moisture of the floor below. This effect can be especially pronounced on porous concrete floors, which is why it is recommended that tires be stored with some form of barrier between them and concrete. Bike stands are ideal, as they lift the entire bike and suspend the tires in the air, but cardboard, plywood, or a tarp are also sufficient.
Removing the Battery
Batteries that are left to sit for extended periods of time may slowly drain themselves and deteriorate, and after a long winter, you may find yourself with a bike that refuses to start. If your storage unit has electricity, you can connect the battery to a charger designed for long-term use. Otherwise, simply remove the battery and store it in a safe, dry place for the winter. Wipe down the electrodes while you are uninstalling the battery to clean them off and prevent rust.
Stabilizing the Gas Tank
Gasoline vaporizes and settles into viscous gunk when it is left for months at a time, and leaving your tank half-full can lead to ruinous rust and clogged fuel lines. It might seem reasonable to drain the tank, but it is actually better to fill it and mix in a fuel stabilizer to keep the gas from degrading. A full tank means the interior of the tank is never exposed to oxygen, which is a necessary ingredient to form rust. Fuel stabilizers can be found in most hardware and auto supply stores and are relatively inexpensive. With a little extra effort and the security of a self-storage unit, you should be able to retrieve your motorcycle next spring and fire it up like it has sat for no time at all.