Indian Motorcycle: Winter Storage 101

Reference material:

Storage and Protecting Your Motorcycle

  • To prepare your motorcycle for storage, begin by cleaning and polishing it. For cleaning tips, consult your Owner’s Manual. Polish chromed and other metal surfaces. Apply protectant to exposed rubber, vinyl and plastic parts. Do not apply rubber protectant to the tire tread surfaces.
  • Starting the motorcycle periodically during storage is NOT recommended.
    • Water vapor is a by-product of the combustion engine process, and may result unless the engine is operated long enough to bring the oil and exhaust up to normal operating temperatures.
  • Protect the motorcycle with a cover made from a durable, breathable material designed for storage. Covering the motorcycle helps protect it from dust and other airborne materials. The cover must be of a breathable material to prevent moisture from building up on the motorcycle. This can cause oxidation of metal surfaces.

Fuel System

  • Add appropriate fuel stabilizer to tank.
  • Run or ride bike long enough to get the stabilizer mixed thoroughly (5-10 min ride).
  • If running/idling inside a shop consider ventilation, and motor temperature. Both air and liquid cooled systems are designed to have air flow, over heating can damage the motor.
  • Top up the tank with fresh ethanol free gas to avoid condensation build up.
  • Here is an interesting video on the use of fuel stabilizer.

Oil and filter

  • Change the engine oil, as outlined in your Owner’s Manual.
  • Do not change the filter if you plan on changing the oil again before spring riding.
  • Check the oil level. If the motorcycle was stored in an area subject to wide swings in temperature and humidity such as outdoors, change the engine oil before starting the engine.

Protect and clean the bike

  • Protect the leather items by storing them in a dry heated building.
  • Add a good coating of leather protectant/sealer.
  • Consider storing the leather items in heated, climate-controlled environment.
  • Use a lightweight breathable cover to keep the dust off. A heavy cover can trap moisture and lead to corrosion.
  • It is suggested that every few weeks to remove the cover and make sure things aren’t corroding.
  • DO NOT start the bike until you are ready to take it for a long ride. Combustion creates oxides that get trapped in the oil and cause corrosion inside your engine. Getting your bike up to operating Temps burn them off. Running it for 5-10 minutes does more harm than good.
  • You can also pull your plugs and spray fogging oil in the cylinders but most people think that’s unnecessary unless you live near the ocean or other high salt air areas.
  • If you have a water-cooled engine. You need to check the freezing point with a antifreeze/ coolant tester. The freezing point of your coolant needs to be well below that of the wind chill.
    • See your Owner’s Manual for more details.
  • The storage area should have a relatively constant and moderate temperature.
  • The storage surface should be free of oil and gasoline.
  • The motorcycle should not be located close to a radiator, elect motor or other heat source.
  • Mice and other rodents often are the worst enemy of a stored motorcycle.
  • If the motorcycle will be stored in an area where mice are a concern — particularly in rural areas, barns, sheds, etc. — be sure to take extra measures to deter their infestation. This may include placing a screen mesh over any intake or exhaust openings (remember to remove them when you remove the motorcycle from storage).


  • It is suggested to get the tires off concrete.
    • I have personal experience with new tires leaving stains on unsealed concrete floors. Consider placing a vinyl or plywood pad under the your important tires to ensure the rubber doesn’t harden or get flat spots.
  • It is suggested to move the bike around every few weeks.
  • Inflate the tires to normal operating pressure, as noted in your Owner’s Manual.

Battery Maintenance

  • For long term storage It is suggested to remove the battery and store inside a heated building.
  • Place the battery on a tender/ maintainer at least 24 hrs/month.
  • If your region or if storage area drops to temperature well below freezing, it’s suggested to leave the tender on 24/7 to ensure the battery won’t freeze.
  • For past 8 years I have exclusively used the Optimate 5 battery maintainer.
  • Wash the posts and the ends of the battery cables with a solution of one part baking soda to 16 parts water.
  • Rinse with clean water and wipe dry.
  • Apply a thin film of dielectric grease to the posts and cable connectors.

Removal from storage

  • Perform the pre-ride inspection detailed in your Owner’s Manual.
  • Perform a road test, which is outlined in your Owner’s Manual.
  • Adjust tire pressures.
  • Inspect motor and suspension for fluid leaks.
  • Verify oil level and condition, replace as required.
  • This will likely be early in the riding season and cooler temperatures.
    • Tire rubber compounds will be hard and roads slick, ride with caution.
  • Give your family a hug say thank you, and enjoy your ride ?