How to Store Your Motorcycle Outside: Motorcycle Storage 101

Not every rider has the ability to store their motorcycles indoors in a warm, dry garage. Many of you don’t have a choice when it comes to parking your bikes in the outdoor weather elements.

Those of you worried about leaving your motorcycle outdoors definitely have some valid concerns. There’s sun damage, motorcycle theft, and having to deal with the rain, snow, or cold weather.

In this post, we’ll be looking at how to store your motorcycle outside during the winter and summer. We’ll also take a look at how to prepare it for short-term and long-term outdoor storage. Let’s jump right into it!

How to Store Your Motorcycle Outside

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Parking Outdoors During the Summer

Many of you will be riding throughout the summer season. It’s likely that your bikes won’t stay parked in the same place for too long.

The problem with parking outdoors during the summer is the hot summer sun, specifically the harmful UV rays. Both the heat and direct sunlight can damage the different parts and components on your motorcycle.

With exposure to prolong to direct sunlight, the paint on your fairings can fade. The plastics will also start to fade more quickly and they’ll probably start to change color as well.

Not only would they change color, the plastics on your bike would become dry and brittle the longer that they are exposed to sunlight. This could cause them to crack and break, especially if you’re trying to remove a piece for motorcycle maintenance.

One more part of your bike that’s susceptible to sun and heat damage is the seat. Both leather and synthetic motorcycle seats will fade when left in the sun. It’s likely that they’ll also start to crack and peel, giving your bike an unwanted appearance.

How to Protect Your Bike From the Sun During the Summer

sport bike outdoors

The best strategy for prolonging the lifespan of the exterior of your motorcycle when it’s parked outdoors is to keep it out of direct sunlight. In some cases, you may have access to a carport, patio, covered porch, or underneath a tree.

The main problem with keeping it under a tree is that there are some other problems that could arise. Bird droppings, sap, seeds, and debris falling off the tree are other issues you’ll have to deal with.

Regardless of where you park it outdoors, it’s a good idea to use the best motorcycle cover you can afford. These covers protect your bike from harmful UV rays and keep it out of any destructive weather elements.

Look for covers that offer UV protection, ventilation, and a waterproof design. You can also find covers that are specifically designed to fit the size and shape of your motorcycle.

Ultimately, the best way to protect your bike when it’s stored outdoors during the summer is by keeping it covered. Whether to use a motorcycle cover or physical structure, that’s up to you and what you have available.

Parking Your Motorcycle Outside During the Winter

winterizing a motorcycle

Depending on where you live, you may not be able to ride to during the winter months. In many places it gets cold, wet, and even snowy.

As the temperature approaches freezing or when snow starts to fall, you definitely won’t want to be out riding. For times like these, you need a suitable motorcycle winter storage solution.

During the winter, your main concern should be protecting your bike from rain and moisture. Just like during the summer, using a motorcycle cover or structure is the best way to protect your bike during the winter.

The problem with keeping your bike on cover is that snow or rain can eventually damage your bike. Water and moisture will start to pull up and seep into components on your motorcycle where you definitely don’t want it to be.

Using a cover, wrap it over your motorcycle and secure at the bottom. Using some rope, bungee cord, or even zip-ties can be used to secure the cover. This prevents wind, snow, and other moisture from blowing up into the cover when it’s protecting your bike.

Can Winter Weather Damage Your Motorcycle Outdoors?

riding in the winter with full gear

As long as the motorcycle is stored properly during the winter, it’s unlikely for it to get damaged. It’s a good idea to remove the battery and keep it inside on a motorcycle battery tender. this way the battery will be fully charged and ready for you to ride once the warm weather in the spring rolls around.

For outdoor storage, over inflate your tires once you’re done riding for the season. As the outside temperature drops, the air inside the tires will begin to compress.

This would cause the tire pressure to drop. If the tire pressure isn’t overinflated, the pressure will get too low. This could damage the tires if they’re sitting on the cold, dry pavement for an extended period of time.

As for your gasoline, there’s no need to worry about it. Gasoline doesn’t start freezing until the -40 degrees fahrenheit temperature range. It’s unlikely that you’ll be riding a motorcycle anywhere that experiences these temperatures.

Once riding season begins, check your tires for anything that’s damaged, cracked, or broken. If they don’t look in decent condition, consider investing in the best motorcycle tires that you can afford. Don’t forget to add some fresh gas your tank as well.

Outdoor Motorcycle Storage Security

outdoor motorcycle parking

It’s not only the weather you need to worry about when you’re storing a motorcycle without a garage outdoors. Motorcycle theft and people messing with your bike is another issue you need to consider.

This would depend more on where you’re leaving your bike. If it’s being parked beside your home or in a private area, theft and other people shouldn’t be a concern.

On the other hand, parking on the street or in a public garage means you should take some extra motorcycle security precautions. Along with using a motorcycle cover, there are some other strategies you can take advantage of.

Using a motorcycle cover is typically a good enough theft deterrent. Unfortunately, someone determined could easily remove the cover and make off with your bike.

One of the best ways to secure your motorcycle is by using a motorcycle lock or a motorcycle alarm. These make your bike that much more difficult to steal and are a better deterrent against theft.

If you’re using a lock, consider pairing it with the best motorcycle ground anchor you can afford. With one of these equipped, it’s close to impossible for someone to steal a motorcycle without the right set of tools.

Along with a cover and motorcycle alarm or lock, make an effort to park your bike in well-lit public areas. If people can see what’s going on, or you can keep an eye on your bike, it’s less likely that someone’s going to make off with it.

Long Term Motorcycle Storage

long term motorcycle storage

If you’re planning to store your motorcycle outdoors for more than 30 days, there are some additional steps you’re going to want to take. These apply whether you’re storing the bike outdoors during the winter, summer, or even somewhere indoors.

Follow these steps for any motorcycle storage lengths exceeding 30 days, This strategy is going to work for long term storage, up to a year or longer.

Wash the Motorcycle Before Storage

One of the most important things you can do is to wash your motorcycle before putting it away. Make an effort to clean away any dirt, dust, or debris that has built up while you’ve been riding. This is made easy using dedicated motorcycle cleaning products.

After washing the body, focus on the chain. Leaving a dirty chain in storage is an expensive mistake you’ll regret when you want to ride again.

Using any of the best chain cleaning tools you have, properly clean the chain. Don’t forget to lubricate the chain afterwards to keep it fresh for the next time you ride.

Consider leaving the bike outdoors for a short while after washing it. You don’t want to put it away wet, especially if you’re going to cover it.

Lubricate Everything

clean motorcycle chain

Although we just mentioned lubricating the chain after washing your bike, there are some other components you should lubricate as well. This would include the seat, the fairings, your display, and any other exposed metals or plastics on the bike.

To lubricate everything properly, it’s a good idea to use WD-40 or some other anti-corrosion oil. Give everything a light spray and wipe it down with a microfiber cloth. This will prevent some of the metals and plastics from drying out, cracking, or getting rusty.

As for the seat, condition it using a vinyl or leather conditioner. This will help to prevent it from drying out or cracking during storage.

Fill Up the Gas Tank

This is another thing we already mentioned, but we wanted to reiterate. For long-term storage, always fill up your gas tank with fresh gas.

The problem with leaving it, is that gas will begin to deteriorate. This will cause a buildup of gunk and other nasty chemicals you don’t want running through your engine or stuck in the gas tank.

Motorcycles with carburetors are especially susceptible to old gas. If the old gas gets into the carburetor, it’s definitely going to have to be removed and cleaned for the bike to run properly.

Some people might recommend emptying the gas tank entirely. The problem with this strategy is that condensation and rust can form inside the gas tank.

A better alternative is to fill the tank as full as possible. Then, use a motorcycle fuel stabilizer to keep the fuel fresh and prevent corrosion.

With this fuel strategy, you shouldn’t have any fuel problems when the long-term storage is over. After getting back to the bike, it should fire right up and be ready to ride.

Tender the Battery

motorcycle battery

Every month you’re not riding, the motorcycle battery will lose a certain percentage of charge. Eventually, it will be completely drained, and you’ll have to buy a new motorcycle battery.

To avoid this from happening, remove the battery and connect it with a battery tender. This is a piece of equipment that keeps the battery charged, even when it’s not being used.

By using a battery tender, or a trickle charger, you’ll be able to use the fully-charged battery once you’re ready to start riding. Should the battery die you could always use a motorcycle battery jumper to get it back running.

Drain the Carbs

Those of you with carbureted bikes will want to drain the carbs of fuel before putting the bike away for storage. Leaving fuel in the carbs can cause them to rust and makes the bike hard to start when it’s time to ride again.

This process is simple. Start by turning off the fuel switch or petcock, which will allow you to drain the carburetors.

With everything switched Off, run the motorcycle until the engine runs out of gas. Once the engine starts sputtering and runs dry, you know the carbs are empty.

Plug the Exhaust

Depending on where you’re storing your bike, it’s a good idea to plug the exhaust pipe. It’s possible that bugs, mice, and other small critters could make their way into the exhaust.

While it’s not normally an issue, having mice or other critters making their way into your bike could lead to serious damage. That’s why it’s a good idea to use a cloth or plastic to plug the exhaust pipe completely.

Keep the Wheels Protected

If your motorcycle comes with a centre stand, use it for a long-term storage. Alternatively, use front and rear stands if you already have them to keep the bike elevated.

The problem with leaving your motorcycle directly on the ground is that this can damage the tires. Flat spots can firm and the tires can become cracked and brittle when exposed to the elements for an extended period of time. If this happens, you might have to buy some new motorcycle tires!

If you don’t have a centre stand or tire stands, keep the bike on a carpet or wood blocks. Anything that prevents the tires from coming into contact with the ground will help to preserve their lifespan.

Cover the Motorcycle

Finally, the last thing worth mentioning is to keep the motorcycle covered. This keeps the bike out of the elements and shields it from dirt, dust, debris, and everything else floating around outside.

Earlier we recommended using a motorcycle cover. Alternatively, consider building or investing in the best motorcycle shed you could afford.

Anything that protects your bikes from the outdoor weather elements should be used for long-term motorcycle storage. While it might cost more, you’ll thank yourself in the future what’s a bike that’s in better condition.

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