Lots of riders put their motorcycles away for the winter. But some military riders need to plan for storage that can last longer than a single season, thanks to deployments, moves or other situations that separate machine from owner.
Follow these steps, provided to Military Times by service-connected experts, to ensure you don’t return to a ride in disrepair:
1. A good once-over. If you’re doing nothing else to protect your ride, at the very least know what condition it’s in before you put it away. Steve Kurtiak, a 22-year Army veteran who is a safety and occupational health specialist at the Army Combat Readiness Center, recommends the basic “T-CLOCS” inspection — short for tires and wheels, cables and controls, lights and electrical, oil and other fluids, chassis, and stands (side or center). Find minor problems before putting the bike away so they don’t turn into major ones while you’re gone.
2. Keep it simple. “A good wash, topping off the fuel tank and adding the appropriate amount of fuel stabilizer will make the removal from storage much less painful,” Kurtiak said. And remember to let the bike idle after adding the stabilizer — about five minutes, said Staff Sgt. William Pendleton II, longtime Army motorcycle safety mentor and 2015 Outstanding Road Rider Award honoree from the American Motorcyclist Association, “to allow it to get into the throttle bodies or carburetors.”
3. Take a stand. Kurtiak and Pendleton both recommend using motorcycle stands to keep the wheels off the ground. If you’re lucky enough to have a babysitter for your ride, Pendleton recommended having them spin the tires occasionally to keep wheel bearings moving.
4. About those tires ... You’ll lose air pressure over time, so both experts said you’ll want to make sure to fill the tires to the max before departing, regardless of whether you’re using stands. If the bike’s on its wheels during your deployment, beware of flat spots when you return.
5. Battery basics. Consider a battery maintainer, or “trickle charger,” to replenish the small amount of electricity your battery will lose each day of storage.
6. Odds and ends. If the bike’s in the elements, get a breathable cover that’s made for motorcycles, Kurtiak said — don’t rely on sheets or a makeshift tarp. Be sure your drive system’s properly lubricated, Pendleton said. Both experts recommended referring to the owner’s manual throughout the process. Like to ride, but not mechanically inclined? A trip to a reputable dealer or garage after taking the bike out of storage, even if it means a trailer, could save you some costly repair bills, Kurtiak said.