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Cold-weather riding can be fun, but it is only for some. Your motorcycle deserves to feel the love during the winter, but leaving it outside in the snow feels like you aren’t doing the job.

Can a motorcycle stay outside in the winter safely? It is possible, but you’ll need to take a few preventative steps to ensure damage or corrosion doesn’t occur.

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Does Cold Weather Damage a Motorcycle?

If you don’t take steps to winterize your motorcycle, the snow and precipitation could damage it in several ways.

a couple of bikes on road in winter cold

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Cold weather alone doesn’t cause much damage beyond gumming up your oil and fluids. You’ll want to bring the seats and your battery inside since they’re most affected by the seasonal change.

If you leave the bike outside, leave it uncovered to prevent moisture collection. This step will reduce the risk of corrosion by keeping everything breathable.

How Cold Is Too Cold for a Motorcycle?

When riding a motorcycle in the winter, it is advised to avoid being on the road when temperatures drop below freezing. Ice can form at this point, increasing the risk of losing control while riding.

There isn’t a temperature restriction for outdoor storage in the winter. You will need to change the oil, fill the fuel tank, and park your bike on something soft to prevent flat spots from forming on the tires.

If you don’t have soft materials, consider using a motorcycle stand to get the tires off the ground.

Some fluids will freeze at extreme temperatures, and any moisture in the system will do the same and expand. It’s advisable to put your motorcycle in a shed or garage when reads dip a few degrees below zero.

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Can I Store a Motorcycle Outside in Winter Without a Garage?

The ideal way to store a motorcycle during the winter is to have it in a covered area. A garage or a shed is the best choice, but even a carport is better than nothing. As long as you can prevent moisture from clinging to the equipment, you’ll reduce the risks of corrosion development.

bike parked on snow

Add a stabilizer to your fuel tank if you need a covered area for storing the motorcycle. The changes in temperatures that happen in the winter can change the fuel’s chemistry, creating gumming clogs that could damage your equipment.

All fluids should be topped off or changed to ensure they can handle the winter weather.

If you don’t change your oil before winter comes, there could be corrosive contaminants in it that break down your seals and gaskets over the season. This issue causes leaks when starting the motorcycle once spring arrives.

When rust develops inside the engine and transmission, it has the potential to seize the equipment by fusing the pistons. Corrosion kills chains, causing them to break. Try to keep your motorcycle away from persistent moisture exposure to ensure it is ready to go when it’s time to take a ride.

What Happens If I Leave a Motorcycle in the Snow?

Snow is something you should keep away from your motorcycle whenever possible. If you have no other option for winter storage, try to brush away the precipitation as it accumulates. That will keep a significant portion of the corrosive elements away from your vulnerable equipment.

It helps to lube your bearings and oil your chain before winter comes for added protection. Once the snow melts, apply another coating of your preferred materials to reduce corrosion risks further.

Remember to bring your battery and seat inside, along with any other vinyl or leather accessories that could be damaged by the wetness or temperature changes that winter brings.

What Is the Best Way to Store a Motorcycle Outside in Winter?

When parking your motorcycle outside for the winter, it is essential to consider the location and how you’ve prepared for the elements. Here are the top issues to review before calling things good with your storage solutions.

  • Select a place outside that isn’t exposed to road salts, snowplows, or winter traffic if you don’t have a covered area available.
  • Store the motorcycle under a structure that offers some protection, even if it’s just a breezeway.
  • Find a cover that keeps the area breathable to keep things dry and clean. A simple tarp only sometimes gets the job done.
  • Keep your motorcycle away from any trash cans or other garbage that could make your equipment a target for rodents looking for a winter home.
  • Try keeping the bike in a lighted area to reduce risks of vandalism or theft.

Remember to consider seasonal motorcycle insurance when storing your bike for the winter. If something happens to it without comprehensive coverage, you might be paying out-of-pocket for repairs.

After taking these steps, you can store a motorcycle outside in winter without as much worry.

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Author

Mike Navarette has more than a decade of experience in the auto insurance industry, but that's not his true passion. He loves getting on a motorcycle to explore roads he's never traveled. You'll find Mike in the garage working on something when he isn't helping clients or leaning into curves. It's sometimes a side hustle, more often a favor, but it keeps his hands busy doing something productive. Since the first time his father strapped on his helmet and took him for a ride, Mike has loved bikes. That passion, along with a desire to help others through a deep understanding of insurance policies, led to the creation of Motorcycle Ride Coverage.

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