Mothballing your motorcycle - storage advice from Haynes

1 of 1

With the evenings drawing in and the temperature falling, the experts at Haynes are offering practical advice for riders preparing to hide their bikes away for the winter. 

Preparation is vital, especially if bikes are to be stored for long periods of time in cold, damp environments like unheated garages and sheds. 

Penny Cox, Motorcycle Editorial Manager for Haynes Publishing, outlines her top tips for protecting your bike. Cox says: “For many a motorcyclist now is time to hang up the helmet and seek the refuge of four wheels until the spring. It’s important to prepare your bike for storage so you’re not in for a nasty surprise when the warmer, dryer conditions return and you’re raring to get back on the road.”

Haynes top tips for preparing your bike for storage:


  • Remove it from the bike – in extreme cases of cold the battery may freeze and crack its case.
  • Check the electrolyte level and top up if necessary (conventional refillable batteries).
  • Clean the terminals.
  • Store the battery off the motorcycle and away from any sources of fire.
  • Position a wooden block under the battery if it is to sit on the ground.
  • Give the battery a charge for a few hours every month or invest in a trickle charger which enables a regular constant charge to be applied.


  • Remove the spark plug(s) and lubricate the cylinder bores with approximately a teaspoon of motor oil using a spout-type oil can.
  • Reinstall the spark plug(s). Crank the engine over a couple of times to coat the piston rings and bores with oil.
  • If your bike has carburettors, drain them of fuel otherwise there is a risk of jets becoming blocked by gum deposits from the fuel.
  • Consider adding a fuel stabiliser to the fuel in the tank to prevent internal corrosion occurring. If the tank is drained completely, beware that corrosion of its internal surfaces may occur if left unprotected for a long period.
  • The tank can be treated with a rust preventative especially for this purpose. Alternatively, remove the tank from the motorcycle and pour half a litre of motor oil into it, install the filler cap and shake the tank to coat its internals with oil before draining off the excess. The same effect can also be achieved by spraying WD40 or a similar water-dispersant around the inside of the tank via its flexible nozzle.
  • On bikes with liquid-cooling systems, make sure the cooling system contains the correct mix of antifreeze. Antifreeze also contains important corrosion inhibitors.
  • The air intakes and exhaust can be sealed off by covering or plugging the openings. In the case of the exhaust silencers make sure that you do not seal in any condensation; run the engine until it is hot, then switch off and allow to cool. Tape a piece of thick plastic over the silencer end(s). Note that some advocate pouring a tablespoon of motor oil into the silencer(s) before sealing them off.


  • Place the bike on its centre stand. Where only a sidestand is fitted, use an auxiliary stand to support the motorcycle in an upright position.
  • Position a piece of board or blocks of wood under the tyres to keep them off the ground and to provide insulation from damp.
  • Deflate each tyre by 5 to 10 psi, no more or the beads may unseat from the rim, making subsequent inflation difficult on tubeless tyres.

Rust Prevention – body and components

  • Lubricate all lever, pedal, stand and footrest pivot points.
  • If grease nipples are fitted to the rear suspension components, apply lubricant to the pivots.
  • Lubricate all control cables.
  • Apply a wax protectant to all painted and plastic components. Wipe off any excess, but don’t polish to a shine. Where fitted, clean the screen with soap and water.
  • Coat metal parts with Vaseline (petroleum jelly). When applying this to the fork tubes, do not compress the forks otherwise the seals will rot from contact with the Vaseline.
  • Apply a vinyl cleaner to the seat.

Storage Conditions

  • Aim to store the bike in a shed or garage which does not leak and is free from damp.
  • Drape an old blanket or bedspread over the bike to protect it from dust and direct contact with sunlight (which will fade paint). This also hides the bike from prying eyes. Beware of tight-fitting plastic covers which may allow condensation to form and settle on the bike.

For more information and other great tips visit
Haynes bike manuals cost £18.99 or £24.99 (RRP) and are available from bike dealers and bookshops including Halfords.