Motorcycle Owner's - Motorcycle winter storage

My Owner’s Manual has the following section for storage:
Preparation for Storage:
-Clean the entire vehicle thoroughly.
-Empty the fuel from the fuel tank, and empty the carburetors by unscrewing the drain screw at each float bowl. (If left in for a long time, the fuel will break down and clog the carburetors.)
-Remove the empty fuel tank, pour about 250 mL of motor oil into the tank, roll the tank around to coat the inner surfaces thoroughly, and pour out the excess oil.

-Remove the spark plugs and put several drops of SE class SAE 30 oil into each cylinder. Push the starter button for a few seconds to coat the cylinder walls with oil and install the spark plugs.
-Reduce tire pressure by about 20%
-Set the motorcycle on a box or stand so that both wheels are raised off the ground.

My question is various web sites for winter storage suggest filling up the gas tank completely and putting in a fuel stabilizer. Which do you do or recommend?
Any additional tips or tricks for winter storage?


I didn’t used to put stabilizer in the fuel tank, I learned the hard way. Actually that wasn’t too bad. I just added Sta-Bil to the gas a couple of times to clean it out.

I have a 1988 goldwing and before that a '72 CB750. All I do, and have ever done, is remove the battery and bring the battery inside. And now I add stabilizer and drive it a little to make sure the stable fuel is in the carb. And then change the oil in the spring.

I have always stored the bike in a garage though. Never outside.

Is this the correct way? Don’t know but I don’t seem to have had any problems except for the gummed up carb one year.

If the bike is outside, I could see the value of a more thorough job, especially getting the tires off of the ground. And a secure tarp.

I did know a couple of guys that kept their Harleys in their house. But they were hard core.

My friendly suggestion is to find yourself a winter home in Southern California and ride your bike year-'round. :smiley:

In all seriousness, having lived my entire life in the LA area, it is amazing to me the things that people in other parts of the country have to do that would never, ever occur to me.

My bike doesn’t get to live in the house, but it does get a garage to itself for the winter.

I put fuel stabilizer in, fill it with gas and run it for about 10 minutes to ensure the fuel stabilzed gas gets through the system. Fuel injection - no carbs to drain.

I run synthetic oil during the riding season. For winter prep, do an oil and filter change using regular non-synthetic oil. I have separate primary oil and transmission oil reservoirs. I don’t change these oils for winter storage. Changing the crankcase is important as there will be temperature changes during the winter potentially causing condensation. I don’t want water to mix with the carbon and combustion byproducts in dirty oil in the crankcase.

I pull the sparkplugs and fog the cylinders with fogging spray. Ground the sparkplugs and rotate the engine a few times to distribute the oil. I then install new sparkplugs (not necessary, but as long as I’m pulling them anyway…).

The battery comes out and goes into the basement. Trickle charge for a day once a month.

Tires get checked and adjusted for air pressure and the bike goes on a frame lift with both tires off the ground.

The bike gets a good washing and wax. Then under a breathable dust cover for the winter. Don’t want a canvas tarp as condensation could build up underneath.

Then walk away - resist the urge to start it before the first spring ride.

Spring time means giving the battery a good charge, wash bike, install battery, check tire pressures. Start it up and ride it a couple of miles to warm up all the fluids. Change oil (back to synthetic), primary and transmission fluids.

Short of leaving the bike in a climate controlled environment, that’s about as kind to your ride as you can be.

It’s going to be in a detached garage, so at least it’ll be covered.
I’ll probably go with the full tank with stabilizer route. Do an oil change and get the wheels off the ground. I have a battery charger with a maintenance mode I’ll put the battery on.

There seem to be a lot of bike riders around here considering the short riding season.

I don’t do any of that, though I tend to get out at least once a month or so even in the winter. I’ve always thought about putting a fuel stabalizer in but never have. I will take the battery off, a couple of days before I want to ride that is. I’ve also stored the bike outside the entire time. In the last eight years and 100k miles I’ve only had two problems, one was a transmission problem that I think was bad from the start, and just last month a leak at the water pump which is somewhat normal for my Connie at this age.

I don’t store my bike for the winter, I just get out the coveralls and keep riding. I don’t live in Chicago, either.

But, I wanted to chime in to recommend the use of a fuel stabilizer. I started added Sta-Bil to my small engine gas cans over a year ago. I haven’t had a hard start on a small engine since. Sometimes, they sit idle for several months and I’m still able to get them started on just one or two pulls.

Prior to that, I was frequently having to run some sort of cleaner through the carbs to get them to run right. The two-strokes, especially, because I would let the gas get several months old.

I only have a scooter, so I take the battery out and discard it, since it never lasts more than one season anyway. Then I park it in the corner of the garage where the snow blower was during the summer.

Next spring, I will take it to the mechanic’s shop and say, “Put in a new battery and get it working.”

Very simple, foolproof and reliable. :slight_smile:

I didn’t even bother with sta-bil last year as the winter was mild enough that I could ride it every month but february (and I AM in Chicago). It’s in a heated detached garage on a carpet remnant, so I don’t really worry about the tires, other than the inflation of course, and I change the oil every 1000 miles or 3 months.