If only stowing your bike away for the winter was as simple as parking it and throwing a cover on it. But to do it right, there’s actually quite a bit of preparation that’s required. One of the easiest ways to make sure your bike is ready for storage is to have it first serviced by a professional. If you ride a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle, many local dealers offer maintenance and storage packages that can be very convenient and economical. Service professionals will ensure all parts are functioning correctly and rectify any underlying issues that may escalate during the storage period.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with going it alone and winterizing your motorcycle yourself. Just be sure you have a complete checklist at hand to get your bike ready to go. Your motorcycle owner’s manual will contain valuable information that’s specific to your bike about required maintenance, how to perform basic service procedures, and even store your bike. To help you on your way we’ve covered many of the winter storage prep basics below.
1. Clean Your Motorcycle
It might seem counterintuitive to clean your motorcycle before putting it away, but dirt, bugs, and road grime can harm your bike's finish over time. Plus, it will be that much more of a treat to find it looking ready for the road as soon as better weather rolls back around.
Give your bike a comprehensive clean before storing it for the winter by following these steps:
Learn more about how to wash your motorcycle in our guide to washing and detailing your motorcycle.
2. Check and Change Your Fluids—All of Them
Over time, the chemicals in your motorcycle's fluids can break down and become acidic, potentially causing damage. If you haven’t changed your fluids in the (very) recent past, replace all fluids, including brake and clutch fluid and coolant, before storage to prevent any corrosion or other issues.
Also, avoid draining your fuel tank, as this can leave it susceptible to corrosion. Instead, fill the tank and add a high-quality stabilizer to keep the fuel from breaking down and clogging your parts over the winter.
3. Change Your Oil
Freshening up the oil in your motorcycle is one of the most important—and simplest—steps you can take to protect your bike not just over the winter but over the long run. The oil in your engine can become contaminated with dirt, metal shavings, and other debris. By changing the oil before storing your bike, you'll remove these harmful contaminants, protecting the engine's precious internal parts.
Find everything you need to know about changing your oil and protecting your bike in our guide to motorcycle oil and oil changes.
4. Take Care of Your Battery
The last thing you want on the other side of storage is a dead battery and a bike that won’t start. But that doesn’t mean you need to turn your bike on and let it run every week of winter. Instead, simply use a battery charger. An extremely helpful tool year-round, hooking a tender up to your battery will keep a low-level charge running to your battery and greatly extend its life. If you do decide to take out your battery though, be sure to consult your owner’s manual for guidance on proper removal and storage.
Check out our guide on how to charge a motorcycle battery.
5. Prepare and Check Your Tires
Take the time to inspect your motorcycle tires before storage. Overly worn tires might not make it through the winter—and in any case, they certainly won’t be safe for long come spring. Meanwhile, ensure that tires are properly inflated, balanced, and otherwise undamaged.
Check out our guide on when to replaced motorycle tires.
To protect your tires during storage and prevent the formation of flat spots, store your bike on a center stand during the winter. If you don’t have access to a stand, be sure to move your bike and rotate your tires at least once per month to avoid these spots.
6. Buy a Motorcycle Cover
Last but not least, you need something to cover your motorcycle. Of course, that’s where the best Harley-Davidson® motorcycle covers come in. No matter where you’re storing your bike, go with a motorcycle cover that’s made from breathable material to prevent the build-up of moisture that can harm your bike over time.
Check out our guide on Harley-Davidson’s Best Motorcycle Covers.
And that’s not all you can do to protect your bike while it’s covered. Keep pests from finding their way into your bike by plugging up the openings on your bike, including your exhaust pipe and air intakes. Don’t skimp on security, either: some covers make it easy to attach a lock and anti-theft alarm to your bike.