When buying your first motorcycle, there’s a lot to think about. What kind of riding will I be doing? What gear do I need? How much can I afford to spend on a motorcycle?
But for many, especially if you don’t have a garage, one of the most difficult questions to answer is: Where the heck am I going to keep it?
Protection from the elements
If you don’t have a garage, the next best thing is getting your bike under some kind of cover. Whether it’s a storage shed or covered apartment parking, a covered area can help keep rain, hail, and debris from damaging and dirtying your motorcycle.
If you don’t have a sheltered area available to park your motorcycle, a weather-resistant cover is a must. The least expensive options are thick, vinyl-and-textile covers with fitted elastic at the bottom, all the way up to more tent-like enclosures that provide even more protection.
Another benefit to covering up your motorcycle is that a cover makes it less visible to anyone who might be casing your area for motorcycles to steal. So, even if your motorcycle is under covered parking or in a parking garage, it might be a good idea to get an inexpensive cover to keep it under wraps.
No matter what kind of cover you choose, be sure to get one that fits the dimensions of your motorcycle. Also, if you use a fitted cover, give your motorcycle time to cool down after a ride—the heat from your exhaust or engine could burn a hole in your cover. Don’t ask me how I know that!
Keeping your motorcycle secure outside
The second major consideration for outside motorcycle storage is security. Motorcycles get stolen from garages, too, of course, but your bike is far more likely to be stolen if it’s sitting unsupervised in a parking lot or on the street.
To keep your bike safe from people who want motorcycles but don’t want to work for them, the best thing you can do is make it more difficult to steal. There is no perfect security technology out there—GPS sensors can be ripped out, and even the thickest chain can be cut with the right tools—but using quality theft deterrents can make your bike a less appealing target.
If you have a sturdy pole to chain your motorcycle to (covered parking support beams work well), a heavy-duty chain is old-school but efficient. There are several brands that have been developed specifically for motorcycles and have padded chains and hard-to-cut construction.
The best place to chain up a motorcycle is through the frame. Failing that, the rear wheel is a good spot because it’s harder to remove than the front wheel. Remember, we’re trying to make your bike hard to steal, so every little bit helps!
Speaking of little steps, most bikes have a steering lock. Use it! Steering locks aren’t terribly difficult to break, but it’s still another way to make your motorcycle more difficult to steal.
If you don’t have a place to chain up a motorcycle, and your motorcycle has disc brakes, a disc lock can be another good theft deterrent. These locks keep your wheels from turning, making it hard for a thief to just roll it away. Just remember to always take it off before your ride, or you can do serious damage to your brakes!
Finally, if you’re ultra-concerned about having your bike stolen, you should look into getting a GPS tracker for your motorcycle. Most of the options out there are fairly expensive and require a subscription to keep your tracking active, but it can be worth it for the extra peace of mind.
Tips for long-term garage storage
Even if you have a garage for your precious babe to sleep in, there are still a few things to consider. Firstly, everyone who keeps their motorcycle in a garage should have a battery tender. These low-voltage battery chargers can be plugged in overnight or for longer to help keep your battery life strong.
If you know your bike will be sitting for a while, there are a few steps you can take to keep it in top condition. A big one, especially for carbureted motorcycles, is to drain all the gas from your bike to keep it from clogging up your fuel injectors or carburetor jets. This is a much better (and cheaper!) solution than fuel additives or after-the-fact carb cleanings.
To keep your tires from getting a flat spot, it’s a good idea to elevate your bike. A center stand or fork-and-rear stand can help with this, or you can just remember to move the bike around regularly.
A soft, fitted cover can help keep dust (and other garage debris) off your bike to keep the paint looking fresh and new. It’s better to keep dust from accumulating on your bike in the first place, because wiping off dust can put small scratches in the paint.
Finally, if you’re going to put your bike away for long-term storage and you don’t have a garage, you don’t want to deal with it, or you’ll be traveling for a long time, there are many shops and dealers that provide storage as a service. Generally, for a monthly fee, these shops will pick up your motorcycle, keep your battery on a tender, keep your tire pressure up, and remove any fluids. It’s a good way to take care of your motorcycle without the hassle.
Storage is a crucial part of motorcycle maintenance
When it comes to motorcycle maintenance, often “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
I hope these tips gave you some good ideas for taking care of your motorcycle while it’s in storage—whether it’s overnight or over-winter—so you can avoid more difficult long-term problems in the future.