How to Properly Store Your Motorcycle Over a Minnesota Winter:

A Lighthearted Look at How to Keep Warm and Get Your Bike Inside!

Ever look out your window and see this nonsense? I have and the last thing I've wanted to do when I've seen -22° F temps is go out into my garage, work on my bike, and manipulate super-cooled tools trying to get my winter maintenance done by spring with frost-bitten hands that feel as though I dipped them in liquid nitrogen.

Because hell freezes over annually in Minnesota, getting routine maintenance accomplished over the winter months presents a challenge to Minnesota motorcyclists. Apart from asking myself why I live here every winter, my solution to the problem is to sneak my motorcycle into the house and when fellow family members raise their eyebrows, act as though everybody keeps their bikes inside: "It's okay," I say, "Everything is normal. Just a motorcycle in the family room and she's a b-e-a-u-t-y!"

If that doesn't work, I act as though my motorcycle is art: "It's sculpture, really," I sheepishly say while pointing at my bike. If further pressed, I divert attention by suggesting to do a job that nobody else wants to do that will get me out of the situation: "I think I'll go out and pick up the dog poo now."

People who live in warmer climates may ask why I can't do my maintenance out in the garage in the spring when the weather is more temperate? I suppose it's a valid question so I'll offer a rational answer: In Minnesota our summer lasts one day. Get it? One day. On that day I want to be riding my bike and not messing around in my garage lubing and adjusting the chain and cables, bleeding brakes, replacing the clutch, checking and adjusting the valves, replacing the fuel filter or rebuilding my suspension. Get it? In Minnesota our summers are so sort that as soon as the snow melts and the temperature climbs above freezing, Minnesota motorcyclists declare riding season open to get a season's worth of riding in before the next winter hits!

Unless your garage is heated and you're willing to pay the heating bill to keep your garage heated, alternative methods of keeping your bike warm in Minnesota are necessary.

To help others, I've put together this informative how-to that takes you through the process step by step of how to sneak your bike into the house and successfully get your maintenance done over winter so you're ready to ride when the riding season comes around.

Getting your bike inside is easier if nobody else is around. This is critical if you expect that your new family room furniture will be met with resistance. Me? I'm a pro and warm my family up to the idea of additional family room furniture all summer long by suggesting the positive aspects and emotional bonding the family will experience as we talk to each other while I work on my bike in the family room over the coming winter.

The first step to getting your bike inside is bike preparation: Because fellow family members may not appreciate basking in the scent of petrol and are smart enough not to buy your suggestion that the offensive odor must be residue from the building project next door, you're going to have to get all the fuel out of your bike.

I suggest riding your bike around until it is nearly out of gas and then quietly riding it into your house rather than burning up your petrol by doing burnouts on the back patio because you're less likely to have neighbors calling wondering what you're doing.

Once you've ridden your bike inside, and your bike is carbureted, put the side-stand down and let it idle until your bike runs out of fuel and the engine dies. If your bike is equipped with fuel injection, you should know that letting the bike run out of gas can damage the fuel pump. In that case, you should pop off the fuel return line and cycle the key on and off which will cycle the fuel pump to get the last of the fuel out of your fuel tank. If you end up defueling your bike, have a catch-can ready and don't spill gas on your carpet because if you do, it will be harder to make your fellow family members think that a motorcycle in the family room is a good thing.

Note: if you idle your bike just inside the door, make sure the wind isn't blowing your exhaust back into your family room.

Once your bike is out of gas, you've got to figure out where to put it in your family room.

Be sure to position your bike carefully. You're going to need space all away round your bike when you're working on it while trying to keep your bike as unobtrusive as possible to the rest of your family. A delicate balance is to be maintained between your desire to put your bike in the middle of your family room and your family's desire to put your bike in a dark, unused corner of the garage.

Wherever you put your bike, make sure you've got a power outlet close by because it is possible that fellow family members may freak out if they stumble over extension cord running down the hallway.

The next step is to clean up your bike before anybody else sees it. A clean bike will help with your art excuse so make certain you've on hand any cleaners you'll need to shine up your bike before you bring it inside.

You don't have to do a great job of cleaning up your bike, just get it clean enough to pass the "It's greasy" objection.

In my case I use WD-40 as an all-purpose cleaner and finish up using lemony-fresh scented Pledge on the body work. The smells left over can be intoxicating and may help to positively influence your family's reception of your motorcycle.

Once your bike is cleaned up, make certain you pick up everything around your bike. You want to make your bike and the area around it as presentable as you can before your fellow family members see it to make a good first impression. =)
When everything is picked up, sit back and relax while waiting for your family to get home. Go ahead and admire your bike—after all, to you your bike is art!
If you haven't done your preparation well, you and your motorcycle may not experience a warm reception.
But if you have done your preparation well, a motorcycle sitting in the family room will sound like a wonderful idea to your entire family!

Once your bike has been welcomed into your family room, you can get down to business and start getting your maintenance done. Remember it is okay to have a mess around your bike so long as you clean up after every maintenance session. When asked about the black spots on the carpet, suggest that the spots are mud the dog tracked in and not grease.

Note: for grease removal, dab a bit of mineral spirits on a clean cloth and use the cloth to clean up the grease spots. Don't use mineral spirits with a shop towel. Although you'll clean up the grease off of the carpet, you'll leave a red spot from the shop towel on the carpet in its place and if you don't have any red wine in the house to blame, you may have to admit your fault.

There are a couple of approaches toward maintenance: Some people like to get it all done in a hurry and other people prefer to pace themselves. Me? I figure that I've all winter to get the work done and so I pace myself. Those hurry up and get it done people end up wasting way too much time on internet motorcycle forums anyway.

If you decide to pace yourself, you may find it useful to get yourself a tool concealment device to hide your tools and parts in when you're not working on your bike. The golden rule is when you're not working on your bike you've got to make the area as clean as you can to keep your fellow family members from freaking out and pummeling you and your bike with a hammer.

In the background of this photo you can see that I'm using Channel Lock's Work Station (a mechanic's cart) that I got at Sam's Club to conceal my tools and bike bits.

In some cases, you may have your bike torn down for some time. In this photo my forks are off at Race Tech for different valving and springs. If you know that your bike is going to be torn apart for awhile, warm your family up to the idea by offering an estimated time of completion to help prevent them from freaking out over your motorcycle being torn down all winter.

Note: It doesn't matter if you offer a date as vague as "spring time," just so long as you give your family hope that at some point in the future you will get your bike out of the family room.

While you're waiting for your parts to come in, you can pass the time by writing informative articles.

Eventually you'll get your bike back together. And if you get your work done before spring, you'll quickly learn that an idle motorcyclist's mind tends to wonder with nothing left to do. Industrious types may place a fan in front of their bike, turn it on high and sit on their bike while imagining that they're out riding. Maybe they can even talk a family member into occasionally throwing dead bugs from a window sill through the fan at them. But not me! I spend my time trying to figure out how to get my other bike into the house!

Tactically, two bikes in the house at the same time is a risky objective if you stop to consider your fellow family members. Furthermore, snow and ice in your backyard may present a logistical challenge!