Every year at this time, we at
Patriot H-D get a lot of questions about the proper way to store
a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. In this article we'll give you number
of techniques, along with the reasoning behind the recommendation and the
first thing we want to do is dispel a common myth among many
motorcyclists. Do NOT start up your motorcycle every week or so in
your garage in the mistaken idea that these short idling periods are doing
it some good. Just the opposite is happening. First,
cold-starting is the highest wear event on any engine. Next, it
generates the most by-products of combustion. Moisture, acids, and
other nasty things which are normally boiled off with prolonged running
typically end up sitting in your oil and on your internal components when
you practice this nasty habit. While idling in the garage, almost
nobody gets the engine and oil temperatures high enough for long enough in
order to burn off these damaging deposits. Face it, if you were able
to do that, you'd be riding, not reading an article about storage.
Finally, starting your bike creates a tremendous draw on your battery.
Short idling periods are just not enough to recharge your battery
completely. You have to run it faster than idle and for longer than
most of you ever will in your garage. A battery that is left to sit
partially charged will have a shorter service life than one that is stored
fully charged. So if starting the bike up every week or so in the
garage is actually harmful, what should you do?
First, put the bike away with clean oil in the engine. Run the
engine for a few minutes after changing the oil to coat engine parts with
the clean oil. Why would you want internal engine components to
spend any time coated with dirty oil that may have corrosive components in
it? Your bike will thank you for this.
Next, add a fuel stabilizer to your gasoline.
Patriot H-D carries Maxima™ Fuel Stabilizer PN 89908 but there
are others available. Why? Gasoline evaporates over time,
loosing its highly volatile components first. (These are what make
it easier to start a cold engine.) Gasoline also looses its octane
rating over time and that can lead to damaging detonation. Finally,
gasoline leaves a varnish residue behind when it evaporates. This
varnish can clog carburetor jets and fuel injectors, leading to costly
repairs. A good fuel stabilizer minimizes the chances of these
occurring, saving you money and down-time. Make sure that you run
your engine for 10 minutes after mixing the stabilizer in order to purge
the fuel system of any untreated fuel.
Fill your tank to the top. This minimizes the amount of air space in
your tank. The less air space, the less moist air to rust your
exposed tank or condense into water and contaminate your fuel. The
gasoline also protects the interior tank metal from oxidation (rust).
If you are going to store the bike for more than a month, take some
precautions to preserve your tire life. First, check air pressure
and, if necessary, inflate to the maximum recommended pressure. You
might want to store the bike up on blocks, supporting the weight on the
frame and not on the tires. This will prevent the tires from
flat-spotting. Alternatively, roll the bike forward or backward
about one eighth of a wheel revolution to put a different part of the tire
in contact with the pavement. Once every 3-4 weeks should suffice.
Check tire pressure before you ride off this spring. (By the way,
how old are your tires? Inspect the side walls for weather-checking
and cracks which occur with age, not mileage. Replace any tire that
doesn't pass your inspection. Why not take advantage of the
off-season and have those tires replaced now.)
Your battery is another potential trouble-spot. Partially-discharged
batteries stored for any length of time will have a significantly shorter
service life. Batteries will self-discharge over time so they need
to be "topped up" regularly. While it used to be sufficient to
trickle charge a battery overnight about once a month for storage, that's
no longer entirely true. Today's sophisticated battery technologies
demand the proper re-charging equipment and
Patriot H-D has the correct "Battery Tender" for your battery and
bike. This is a smart investment that will lengthen the life and
reliability of your battery. Wouldn't it be nice to simply fire it
up this spring without having to trek down to
Patriot H-D to buy another battery? To my mind, a Battery
Tender is a required piece of equipment, just like leathers and gloves. It
saves you money, time, and trouble. For those of you who do not have
the "sealed, maintenance-free" battery, prior to charging, make sure you
top off the electrolyte with distilled water only. It does make a
difference in a battery's service life.
Finally, protect the finish of all your painted and metal parts by giving
the bike a good washing and drying followed by a coat of your favorite wax
or glaze. Pay especially close attention to your wheels. Brake
dust left on your wheel's finish for an extended period can be almost
impossible to remove. Harley-Davidson's Wheel and Tire Cleaner (PN
94658-98) does a good job.
That's all there is to it. While I think this is the best riding
time in Virginia, the inevitable winter weather will arrive. When it
does, take care of your Harley-Davidson® motorcycle and it will be ready
to ride in the spring.
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