How to store a bike over winter

By MCN -

Parts & accessories

 30 November 2011 11:30

Q. I own a 2010 Honda VFR800. My bike is used most of the year but could be off the road for a couple of months in bad weather. It is garaged and has a battery conditioner fitted.

Can I do any form of damage if I start it up every couple of weeks, and let it run until it reaches normal working temperature? Will it soot up the plugs etc?
Alan Brownson, email
 
A. If you are going to store your bike for a couple of months it’s better to lay it up for the whole period, rather than run it up every few weeks. You may have to leave the battery connected to the bike, especially if you have an alarm fitted, but with a conditioner fitted that shouldn’t be a problem.

The trick is to leave it perfectly clean, dry and polished, and stored in a dry area, otherwise condensation will form and trigger corrosion.

Your last run on the bike should be sufficiently long to get the engine and silencers hot and burn off any moisture so that internal condensation doesn’t appear. Stuff rags up the exhaust exits to prevent damp air intruding.

Top the fuel tank right up too to keep that moisture at bay, and also to stop it evaporating. If your bike was carbed, I’d say drain them too, as the fuel in that area will definitely evaporate and could gum up the works. Injector systems don’t suffer in the same way.

It’s also a good idea to change the oil before that last run. Old oil contains a small amount of acid, which will not be helpful. And sludge in the sump will settle out and be first into the oil pump when you restart next year. A little oil squirted down the plug holes will help keep the bores rust-free, too.

Ideally keep both wheels off the ground during storage using paddock stands. If you can’t do that rotate the wheels weekly to spread the load, and don't let the tyres go flat or they could deform. A decent cover (not plastic sheets) that lets the air circulate freely but keeps the dust off is worthwhile, too.