Storing your Motorcycle for Winter

Storing your Motorcycle for Winter

Posted by Jason, who lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota on Nov 29th 2019

Yes, it is a sad time of year because for most of us because it’s too cold to ride the motorcycle. That means we have the somber duty of laying it up for winter - a sad day, indeed. And, if you think you can just park it in the garage for the next four or five months, you might want to rethink that idea if you want to jump on it and ride come early spring. 

Collapsed down to the major tasks involving winter storage, you need to wash it, prepare it, park it inside, raise it off the floor, and cover it. It's easy and will only take a few hours. This way, when spring rolls around it'll start on the first attempt, and it'll look just like it did in the fall.

So, here is the expanded list of things you need to do - a checklist of sorts. It’s easy. Wisconsin Harley-Davidson carries most of what you need. If available, a link is provided on the images below. Just click the image and another page will open. The items that don't have a link are readily obtained at your local hardware store. 

Here are the simple steps to take to winterize your motorcycle:

  • Wash it, and wash it good. You are looking for dirt – that’s the enemy. Seek out every crack and crevice - any place dust and dirt can hide. Use a mild detergent with rags, cleaning brushes, and cotton swabs. Once all the dust and dirt is removed use a chamois or blow-dry. 

Wash BucketDryerCleaning brushes

  • Change the oil and the oil filter using high grade oil for motorcycles, and filters. In addition to lubricating the engine, oil also cleans the engine. So, it gets dirty. That's why we change it frequently during the riding season. Changing the oil for storage means the bike sits with new, fresh oil that is free of contaminants.

Oil FiltersOil Drain Kit

  • After adding a gasoline stabilizer to the fuel tank, fill up the tank. Run for a few minutes to ensure the fuel runs through the lines. Then, top off the tank to the brim, leaving as little air as possible inside the tank. A gasoline stabilizer like STA-BIL is a favorite among bikers. Gasoline deteriorates over time. A stabilizer keeps the gasoline stable so that you'll have a smooth running experience in the spring.

  • Once the gasoline is stabilized as above, remove the plugs and squirt a teaspoon (or so) of motor oil into the cylinders. Before reinstalling the plugs, turn the engine over several revs. Then, return and tighten the plugs. 
  • Plug the exhaust outlet(s) with steel wool, or cover with plastic wrap. Pull the wool into large pieces and stuff into the exhaust outlets. This will keep all sorts of critters from climbing into the exhaust system.

  • Remove the battery and store it in a suitable location. Batteries lose voltage over time, unless charged. A battery tender will charge the battery when the voltage drops below the tender's threshold. This will prevent a dead battery in spring. 


  • Raise the bike on a stand, keeping it off the floor. It's not a good idea to leave the tires in one place on the floor. Unless you want to roll the bike every few days, this is the way to go. 

  • Cover the bike with a high quality cover, even if it is stored in the garage. This will protect the bike from salt residue and other chemicals dragged in on your car after driving in the snow.  Ensure the bike is stored over carpet, plywood, etc. Bare concrete is not good because moisture will rise up off the floor and cling to the bike. 


REMEMBER: Store the bike out of the elements, in your garage or basement. DO NOT STORE OUTSIDE.

Have a Happy Holiday Season and a short, safe winter. Fear not. Spring is just around the corner, and down several blocks.