Harley highway cruiser, Japanese crotch rocket, no matter what kind of motorcycle you ride. Preparing it properly for storage now will mean it’s ready to go when the snow melts next spring. Any true Harley enthusiast will tell you the only place to store your pride and joy for the winter is in the living room. To be able to polish it, turn it over daily, to just run your hands over its robust fuel tank and occasionally sit in the saddle. After all, it is your precious baby.
Not many wives will go along with that idea, so as a second-best alternative, a list of common sense alternatives will have to do. Darn those sensible wives.
First, determine where you are going to store your bike
As where it will be stored is going to affect how you prepare it. If at all possible store it in a heated garage, heated basement, semi-heated attached garage. As a last resort an unheated, uninsulated shed with no floor in the backyard. What your looking for are a stable temperature and dry environment. When something is warmed, then cooled, back and forth it may create condensation. Both on the bike and inside the fuel tank and engine of the cycle.
If you are able to store it in a dry stable place, go take that last ride and come home when the gas tank is down pretty low, but not on the reserve tank. If you are forced to store it in a tin shed out back, go take that ride, then fuel it up to the top and come home.
When you get home and the engine is still warm, its time to change the oil, and if equipped, the oil filter. A warm engine will keep particulates in suspension and they will drain out with the oil. Refill with new oil after you reinstall the plug and new filter.
Break out that bottle of Sta-bil, or similar gas stabilizing chemical and treat the gasoline as the directions indicate.
Obviously, the almost empty tank will take much less chemical. Now the reason for NOT being on the reserve tank is because it’s really hard to pour sta-bil into the tank only getting it in the side that is the reserve side. If the fuel level is above reserve you can just dump it in and swish it around. After treating the remaining gas, go for another short ride to allow the chemical to work its way through the carburettor or injector system.
Now give your motorcycle a good bath, wash it thoroughly and set it out in the sun to dry COMPLETELY. When dry a good wax job will protect the finish and aluminium parts.
Check the chain tension or belt tension.
If it has a drive shaft, your lucky. Check the tires, are they due for replacement? If so might as well do it now, so when that first warm day arrives next spring you can head right out for a ride. Make sure your drive chain is well lubricated, spray WD40 into cables, and onto joints, such as rear brake pedal attachment point, grease any fittings, the swing arm is a likely place for a fitting or two.
Check all fluid levels, brake fluid, battery water level, if it has a radiator, check the coolant too. Refer to the manual, how about any engine maintenance that might be due, valve adjustments, timing chain adjustments. If it needs to go to the dealer for repair or tuneup the offseason is their favourite time to do that kind of work.
Almost the last step, invest in a Battery Maintainer.
This is a special charger, very small that is designed to be left attached to the battery and plugged into the wall all the time the motorcycle is in storage. It charges at 1amp or less, make sure you only leave a charger specifically designed for this type of charging unattended for a long period of time. If you try to do this with a larger charger you WILL come home to a pile of ashes as it will burn your house down after the battery dries up and the bike catches on fire.
OK, last step, If your pride and joy is relegated to the tin shed in the backyard, first put down a sheet of plywood so it doesn’t sit on the cold damp ground. Hopefully, it is going to the back corner of the garage. After it’s positioned for the winter place a good cover over it, something that will breathe. DO NOT wrap it tightly in a plastic tarp as moisture will be trapped inside the tarp and things will RUST.
Now next spring, when the afternoon temps jump up to 60 degrees, you can quick like a bunny, pull your wheels out onto the blacktop and head out for that first ride of the season. Just be careful, on that first warm day, when the snowbanks are melting rapidly, there will be ice on the road. When you go through the underpasses, water running across the road will freeze in the shade.