This is by no means an exhaustive list of steps for long term motorcycle (or car for that matter) storage, but a few tips I have picked up along the way.

The most commonly known issue with bikes in storage is bad or stale fuel, which I have described the causes of in a previous post; Why does fuel go stale?. Generally petrol is fairly stable and won’t break down all that quickly, but motorcycle fuel tanks present problems that dedicated fuel containers do not. All tanks are vented to the outside world, which means that air can get in and bring moisture with it that will condense inside the tank therefore adding water to your fuel! If you do not have a plastic fuel tank like my Cagiva then you will also potentially suffer from rust inside the tank that will leach into your fuel.

When fuel goes off it begins to lose its volatility and then starts to turn into a sludge, which begins to block the fuel hoses and carburettors or throttle bodies on an injected bike.

This sludge will eventually leave a varnish like effect all through your fuel system that will have to be removed with combination of special cleaners and a good few blasts of compressed air. I alluded to this process in a previous post about my old Suzuki Bandit.

For more information about fuel systems I recommend the following books:

To avoid having to remove the fuel system, flush it out and potentially rebuild your carburettors; there are at least two things you can do:

  1. Drain the fuel tank completely of all fuel as much as you can and then you can:

    1. Run the bike until all the fuel in the system has been burnt and the machine conks out.
    2. Open up the carb float bowl drain plugs and drain all the fuel out that way.

    Once this is done if you have a steel fuel tank you will want to either prep it with some thin oil to stop it from rusting or re-fill the tank with fresh fuel (potentially think about adding a fuel stabiliser for longer periods of storage – see below) to the absolute brim.

  2. Take the bike out for a nice long run and get the empty light flashing whereupon you pull into a petrol station and add some fuel stabiliser to the tank such as Lucas, Sta-Bil, Putoline Fuel Stabiliser or Sea Foam. Then fill the tank to the brim to prevent the possibility of the build up of condensation.

    By adding the fuel stabiliser first you will get a good mix as the fuel is added because the flow of fuel will cause turbulence inside the tank.

    To ensure that the fuel stabiliser works its way through the entire system take the bike for a quick blast.

The bike is now ready from a fuel point of view for its winter storage.