Tips for motorcycle storage – keep your pride and joy safe during the winter

Proper long-term motorcycle storage ensures your Harley-Davidson® motorcycle remains healthy and ready for many more rides to come. What to do and how to do it can be a challenge, especially for newer motorcycle owners who are trying to figure it out for the first time. Here are some of our top tips for keeping your pride and joy in tip top shape!

WinterStorageClean and inspect the Harley-Davidson Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) battery and keep it fully charged. Replace any battery that is leaking or has a bulged case, indicating that it has been overcharged

Some riders attempt to keep their motorcycle battery charged by periodically starting and running the motorcycle while it is in storage. Unfortunately, these short run cycles are harder on the motorcycle and battery than not starting it at all!

Short start and run cycles leave the battery in a discharged condition, making it more susceptible to sulfation – one of the biggest causes of battery failure. Additionally, the combustion process inside the engine produces water and carbon dioxide along with other corrosive ingredients. Short run cycles don’t allow the engine to reach full operating temperature, which leaves some moisture remaining in the cylinder and exhaust system that increases the corrosive effects.

Use a Harley-Davidson® Battery Charger or Battery Tender to maintain motorcycle battery at full charge capacity. (Follow instructions included with battery charger kit)

Harley-Davidson® Battery Tenders or Battery Chargers incorporate a microprocessor that reads battery voltage and adjusts charging output accordingly. Do not use steady rate battery chargers because they may overcharge the AMG battery. We recommend:

  • 800mA Waterproof Battery Tender
  • 1.25 Amp Global Battery Charger
  • SuperSmart® Battery Tender®
  • Change the engine oil and oil filter

Fuels and acids present in dirty oil will accelerate the rate of corrosion. Leaving dirty oil in the engine during long-term storage may accelerate engine corrosion leading to a premature engine rebuild. A fresh fill of Screamin’ Eagle® SYN3® Full Synthetic Lubricant or H-D® 360 Motorcycle Oil will help protect your engine, even when the engine isn’t running.

Check the engine coolant level and change if necessary (VRSC models)

Use Harley-Davidson Extended life Anti-Freeze and coolant. It protects against freezing to minus 37 degrees F. Replace coolant if it is more than 10 years old or has been more than 30,000 miles since it was last changed.

Fill the fuel tank completely

A motorcycle stored with the fuel tank less than full exposes bare metal in the tank to potential corrosion. If the tank becomes excessively corroded, it may require a corrosion-removal treatment or replacement.

Add Harley-Davidson® Fuel Stabliser to preserve fuel

Stale fuel can produce engine-starting problems, foul spark plugs and cause engine surging and misfiring. In a worst-case scenario, stale fuel may need to be discarded and the fuel tank flushed. Fuel stabliser slows aging of the fuel and ensures an efficient start after months of storage.

Clean and protect motorcycle surface finishes prior to storage

Always use Harley-Davidson surface care products that are designed and tested for your motorcycle.

Cover your motorcycle to protect it from impact, dust and dirt

Beware – non-breathable covers trap moisture, which increases the effects of corrosion. Harley-Davidson motorcycle covers are designed to protect the bike while allowing corrosion-causing moisture to escape.

Store the motorcycle in a safe location. Do not store near agricultural fertilisers, swimming pool chemicals, salts or icy roadways, water softeners or any other chemically reactive compounds

Chemicals such as these are commonly stored in the same areas as the motorcycle and emit caustic gases that greatly accelerate corrosion.

Top tip! Many riders perform scheduled maintenance and/or major customisation while the motorcycle is inactive in long-term storage. This enhances the experience and increases riding time when the weather improves.

Talk to Harley-Davidson Cape Town for ideas on how to maximise enjoyment during long-term storage periods.