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How to… store your bike during the coronavirus lockdown

With the on-going coronavirus situation, it doesn’t look like we’ll be out riding our bikes for leisure anytime soon. Unless you’re a key worker and you use two-wheels to get to and from your place of work, your pride and joy should be tucked away until it’s safe to go out riding again – although you can still use it for short journeys, deemed essential, if necessary.

But to make sure that your motorcycle maintains good condition while being stored, there are a series of things you can do in preparation for it being idle for longer than usual. Preparing your motorcycle properly for storage depends on how long it will be in storage for, however, the ultimate goal of your preparation is the same – to counter the factors that will damage your motorcycle over time.

We’re obviously hoping that the situation is a short term one, but with more time on our hands than usual it’ll do no harm to lay your bike up properly. These tips also apply to storing a bike over the winter, so it’s not a bad practice to get into, as it will keep your bike in the best possible condition for when it’s time to get back on the road.

Key to preparing your bike is to fight oxidation, fuel degradation and damage due to static pressure. For a storage period of over one month, you should clean the bike, remove the battery, and add some fuel stabiliser. Both wheels should also be elevated off the ground, and the bike should be covered and securely locked up in as safe a place as possible.

Give it a good clean

 First thing’s first, give your motorcycle a thorough clean before storing it. Start by giving it a soaking to get rid of any road grime that it’s picked up on previous journeys. When cleaning the bodywork and components, be sure to use quality cleaners and wax to protect surfaces. Take your time and be attentive to bug splats and tar patches, and aim for a squeaky clean finish. Use anti-corrosion spray on metal parts, but not the brake discs, and lube the chain.

You should never put your bike away wet, so after cleaning, give it a proper dry. It’s not a bad idea to start the engine too, and let it tick over until the excess water has evaporated.

Get both wheels off the ground

 Now that the bike’s fully clean, move it into the place where you are going to be storing it. Give this some more thought than if you were simply putting it away before using it again the next day. Remember, it’s not going anywhere in the near future, and you don’t want to have to keep moving it to access other areas of your garage, shed, conservatory or pathway!

If your bike comes with a centre stand, use this rather than the side stand, to keep both wheels off the ground, taking the pressure off of the tyres to avoid causing flat spots. If your bike doesn’t have a centre stand and you don’t have access to paddock stands, add a little more pressure to the tyres. This is especially important on heavy bikes, like a large adventure or touring bike.

What about fuel?

Ideally, you want to top up your fuel tank as this prevents corrosion. So, if you have some spare fuel in jerry cans use that, but don’t travel to your local petrol station just for this. It’s not an essential journey and goes against current government guidelines.

Add some fuel stabiliser to stop it from going stale over time and gumming up the fuel injection system, or carburettors on older bikes. Don’t forget to switch off the fuel taps on those older bikes, too.

Battery – in or out?

 If you have power in the place you’re storing the bike, then use a trickle battery charger which will maintain your battery and keep your alarm working. But if you don’t have access to power, then you can consider removing the battery from the bike and keep it topped up on a charger indoors. It’s also worth checking the battery’s acid levels, and if needed, top up the levels using distilled water and charge to full capacity.

Cover up and secure

 If your bike’s being stored in a garage or a shed, an indoor cover is adequate to keep the dust off and to avoid any damage to the paintwork. An outdoor cover will keep it better protected from different weather conditions if being kept in the garden or on the street.

The amount of security you want to use is down to personal preference and depends on if you’re storing the bike inside or out, but a good rule of thumb is the more security you can use, the better. If you have agreed with your insurance company that you will fit certain security devices, make sure you do so, as failure to fit these can invalidate your policy. Remember, as well, that disconnecting the battery will most likely mean that the alarm will not work, which is particularly important if you’ve declared it to your insurer.

Another good tip is to store your bike key and any keys to security devices in separate safe places and make a note of where they’re kept. That way, if someone breaks into your house they will most likely steal one, but not the other.

Insure or not to insure

You may have also thought about cancelling your motorcycle insurance due to the lengthy period you won’t be able to use your bike on the road but, remember, your motorcycle would not be protected against the risks of potential theft or accidental damage, if you did so.

Regular checks

Start your engine every few weeks to let the oil and the water circulate if its water cooled. There’s no need to rev it, let the engine warm up naturally. If you’re starting your bike up inside a garage, shed or conservatory for example, make sure the room is ventilated with the doors open. If you can, turn both wheels several rotations manually to ensure they’re moving freely and as they should be – this is where a centre stand or paddock stands come in useful. Finally, have a quick look around to make sure nothing is dripping.

Let the bike take the strain

It’s also worth remembering that while non-essential journeys are banned, it is absolutely fine to use your motorbike for essential journeys.

These should be kept to an absolute minimum, but that’s not to say that you can’t ride to the shops for groceries. The journey should be kept to a minimum (no detours down your favourite roads) but will help keep your bike in running order.

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