Here's your guide to preparing your bike for winter storage so it's good to go in spring

Fitting a motorcycle cover
Fitting a motorcycle cover

Plenty of bikers in the UK prefer not to ride through the winter months – whether that’s because they don’t want to expose their pride and joy to road salt, they ride focused sportsbikes that wouldn’t be much fun in the conditions, or simply because they don’t like it.

Whatever your reason for hibernating a motorcycle, there are a few steps you should take to ensure the job of putting your bike back on the road is as easy as possible. Some of them will also help to avoid hefty bills for replacement parts or even damaged engines in extreme cases.

There’s loads of advice out there on the internet and it can range from great to potentially dangerous, but Bruce Dunn is an advanced motorbike mechanic with decades in the trade. Here is his list of advice for storing a bike over winter.

Drying a freshly washed motorcycle

Ultra clean and dry

Wash the bike all over with a dedicated motorcycle cleaner and use a brush to get behind exhaust downpipes and into awkward places. You’re aiming to get the bike as clean as possible, so be diligent. You also need to make sure it’s thoroughly dried; an airline or bike dryer is ideal for blasting away water. If not, rub it all over with a soft towel or cloth.

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Tried and tested by MCN staff - We've tested Muc-Off's range of cleaning products, and they all come recommended. Their motorcycle cleaner especially is very effective on all kinds of muck, including dead flies, but is still kind to all bike finishes, and is biodegradable with no acids, solvents, or CFCs.

Choose your spot, then lift

Work out where you’re going to put your bike while it’s in storage – it should be in a dry area and not where someone is going to trip over it. Next, place the bike on front and rear stands to reduce the risk of damage to the tyres. If you don’t have paddock stands, simply slide mats under both wheels to insulate the tyres from the cold garage floor.

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Tried and Tested by Richard Newland - A great value paddock stand that's rock solid. Your bike will be in safe hands with these stands.

Give it a protective coating

It’s a good idea to cover your bike in an anti-corrosion spray while it’s in storage. Rather than spray it wildly over the bike, apply the treatment to an absorbent cloth then wipe it evenly over the surfaces. Use it on metal surfaces, exposed spindle ends, bolts and chain adjusters. The treatment can be applied to plastics in the same way.

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Tried and tested by Michael Guy - Tested in all types of riding conditions, and after 10 months - so far so good. The spray is easy to apply with a fine mist that creeps into every corner of the bike, and it has a die mixed in that lets you check the application with a UV torch, so you won't miss any spots.

Get yourself connected

Locate your bike’s battery and connect it to a conditioner/charger – this will keep the battery at its peak condition all of the time and will ward off parasitical drain from an alarm and/or tracker. If your battery is of the old lead-acid variety, check the fluid levels and (if necessary) top-up with distilled water before connecting the charger.

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Price: £58.16
Tried and Tested by Justin Hayzelden - It'll work with most any type of battery technology, from lead acid to lithium ion, 6V or 12V, and will keep it healthy with a plethora of features. From a built in thermal compensation system that adjusts the charge cycle for the ambient temperature, to even resurrecting 'dead' batteries that show no charge with its 'Force Mode' - something that literally paid for itself during Justin's time reviewing it. Plus an inline fuse keeps everything safe.

Simply plug it in and let it take care of your battery - it couldn't be much easier.



Don’t forget the chain

Make sure the chain is clean and dry. Treat it as an individual component with its own cleaning routine, using dedicated chain cleaning products. If it needs adjusting, this is a good time to do it. Lubricate carefully, take your time and don’t miss any links.

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Tried and tested by Jim Blackstock - This biodegradable chain cleaner is suitable for all types of chain, O, X and Z-ring versions - and it is water-soluble too, so you spray it on, give it a moment, brush it in and then rinse off. It's impressive, and it smells good too, always a bonus.

Up the pressure

When going into storage, it’s important to pump the tyres up harder than the stock pressures to ensure they don’t deflate over time and damage the carcass – especially if you don’t have paddock stands. Go up 20psi over the stock and recheck every two months.

Tried and tested by Richard Newland - Made like a Swiss watch, and still accurate within +/- 1.2 to 1.8 psi, even after 10+ years of testing. It'll cover all motorcycle use cases from trials to road riding, and comes with a bleed valve, rubber body protector, clear 2 inch gauge, and a pleasing braided hose line.

Don’t risk the ethanol

Storing a bike with fuel in will help keep seals in good health – as long as it’s ethanol-free or a type that won’t degrade, such as Aspen 4. Drain the tank and run the bike out of fuel, then fill with Aspen 4. This 5-litre can costs £30 and we will just use a couple of litres.

Price: £31.99
Tried and tested by Bruce Dunn - It's stable for up to five years, wont degrade, and contains no damaging ethanol. It also allows you to start the bike every now and then to keep things ticking over.

Lock it, don’t lose it

It’s prudent to add another level of security. The last thing you want is to come back in the Spring and discover your bike missing. Install a ground anchor and then chain your bike to it using a meaty lock. Or failing that, put an extra lock on the garage door.

Tried and tested by Saffron Wilson - The Beast is a great choice if you're looking for a substantial ground anchor to give you peace of mind in the garage. It's easy to install, perfect for chunky chains, and has double layered strength, earning it a Sold Secure Diamond rating.
  • Sold Secure Motorcycle Diamond rating
  • Versatile mounting options
Price: £159.99 (chain) £159.99 (lock)
Tried and tested by Richard Newland - It might be too big to fit through your bike's wheels, and it's heavy weighing in at 15.6kg for both the lock and chain. But if you can make it work for your needs, you'll have the best protection money can buy.

Find the lock here



Get mouse-proof!

Rodents have been known to make their nests inside a stored bike’s airbox, munching away and causing damage. Setting a mousetrap is one way to deal with the problem, or for a more humane solution – block off all your bike’s nooks and crannies.

Tuck it in and say goodnight

Pull a dedicated bike cover over your machine. These are shaped correctly and if the right size is selected it should cover the bike perfectly. And don’t hide the battery charger under the cover – they usually have displays that indicate the status of the battery.

Tried and tested by Richard Newland - The four-way stretch material is seamless, ultra soft, and extremely clingy. It has an underbelly retaining strap for wrapping up every corner of your bike, and it's an effective barrier against dust, sunlight, and any other unwanted intrusions.

What’s the problem with ethanol?

One of the questions I get asked most often is about what to do with fuel when storing a bike. Storing a bike dry should be avoided, as it can cause residue left in the fuel system to gum up, creating problems further down the line.

You really want to be storing a bike with fuel that’s free from ethanol, and previously I recommended Esso’s Synergy Supreme 99+ as it was ethanol free. Shame, though, because as of September this is no longer the case and this super unleaded now has up to 5% ethanol.

This is where a dedicated storage fuel such as Aspen 4 or VP 4-Cycle Fuel is a good idea, as it’s stable for up to five years, won’t degrade and contains no damaging ethanol. It also allows you to start the bike every now and then to keep things ticking over. There’s even a dedicated pre-mixed version for two-strokes.

Pouring ethanol-free fuel into a motorcycle for storage

Be warned, it’s worth noting that on older machines which might’ve already suffered damage to rubber components, storage fuel may cause leaks when the fuel causes the already perished rubber parts to revert back to shape, crack and fail.

- Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this page, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us.

Bruce Dunn

By Bruce Dunn

Datalogger, professionally testing bikes for over 25 years.