When it comes to storing a motorcycle, it can be a little tricky in knowing how to do it correctly to ensure it’s safety. If motorcycle storage is done wrong, you can risk the chance of getting it stolen and/or the motorcycle not lasting as long because certain parts weren’t taken care of.
I have owned over a dozen motorcycles in the last few years and have stored them in every way imaginable. I often get the question of the possibility to store a motorcycle in a storage unit. It’s actually quite possible to store a motorcycle in a storage unit and thousands of people do it every year.
There’s a lot to consider when thinking of storing your bike this way. It’s a lot more than simply putting your bike inside and calling it good. Because I’m a seasoned motorcycle storer, I can tell you everything you need to know about storing your motorcycle in a storage unit.
Size And Cost Of A Storage Unit
The first thing you need to think about and consider when storing a motorcycle in a storage unit is the cost and the size of unit required to sufficiently hold your bike.
Every storage unit is different with their sizes and cost, but because I’ve dealt with several storage units I’ve been able to get the average cost and sizes that will be suitable for what you need.
First, you’ll need to know what size you need. I have found that renting a 5×10 unit is perfect for storing a single motorcycle. In fact, it’s actually possible to store two motorcycles in a 5×10 if the motorcycles are both a little smaller. Most, if not all, storage units have a 5×10 storage unit.
Many may wonder why a 5×5 won’t work. For some it may if you have a small motorcycle. I have found that most motorcycles don’t fit well in a 5×5 unless you’re willing to do a lot of unpleasant lifting and maneuvering. To me a 5×5 isn’t worth it and isn’t that much cheaper than a 5×10 anyway.
If you plan on using a 5×10 to store your motorcycle, it’ll give you a little extra room to work on it if needed or store some additional motorcycle merchandise such as gear, tools, or extra parts. It’ll also make taking your motorcycle in and out much easier which is worth a lot if you frequently take the bike out.
The next thing you need to consider is the cost. Every storage unit I’ve used required a monthly fee for using their space. Some storage units may require advance payment, such as quarterly payments or bi-annual payments though it’s a bit rare that they do. Sometimes if you talk with the manager beforehand and do advance payments, you can save some money.
On average, a 5×10 storage unit costs about $60-$70 a month and a 5×5 storage unit costs on average about $45-$55 a month (hence why it would be worth it to pay a few extra dollars for more space). Of course this varies depending on where you live; if you live in a heavily populated area such as Los Angeles or Chicago, the prices will be more expensive. If you live in a rural area, the prices will be cheaper.
Storage units also offer climate controlled units. This means they will provide air conditioning or heat in the unit if the temperature requires it. This option is more expensive, generally increasing the monthly price of an additional $50 – $100 per month.
Some storage units also offer parking spots for vehicles, including motorcycles. Though these don’t provide near as much coverage as a unit, most storage units have a secure fence around the premises which will ensure the safety of your motorcycle. Parking spots are also less expensive than storage units, usually ranging between $20-$40 a month.
The nice thing about storage units is that they’re pretty cut and dry with their prices. Again, each place is different, but generally what I’ve seen is simply the price of the storage unit each month with maybe a small security deposit beforehand. There usually aren’t any hidden fees if you’re on top of making your payments every month.
Using A Storage Unit For Long Term Motorcycle Storage
When someone uses a storage unit to store their motorcycle, their usual intention is to store it there for long term. While there are different scenarios as to why someone needs to store their motorcycle long term, the usual reason is for winter storage.
Whether you are planning on using a storage unit to store your motorcycle for the winter or for some other reason, the preparation is still the same. There are several steps you need to take when storing your motorcycle that will ensure the life of the bike.
The first thing you’ll need to focus on is the gas. There are a few options you have with this. First, you can completely empty the gas tank and fuel system to ensure the gas inside doesn’t gunk up the system.
If you don’t want to empty the gas tank, you’ll need to add a fuel stabilizer and let the motorcycle run for a few minutes to ensure the stabilizer runs through the whole system. This will prevent the gas from corroding and gunking up the fuel system.
Next you’ll need to change the oil. This may seem pointless to do if the motorcycle isn’t in use, but oil can actually break down and cause problems within a motorcycle engine if it’s not being used. Leaving already used oil inside the engine will have a greater chance of the oil breaking down while fresh oil will leave less of a mess for you.
Next you’ll want to top off any other fluids your motorcycle may have such as coolant. You don’t want to leave any open spaces in fluid compartments such as these because that leaves a chance for moisture and condensation to build up. Moisture can cause both rust and make the fluid it mixes with less potent.
Next you’ll need to pay attention to the battery. Your first and best option would be to disconnect the battery and take it home with you in controlled temperatures. A battery that is still connected to a motorcycle for a long period of time may be susceptible to parasitic drain and eventually lose it’s charge. Cold temperatures speed up this process.
If you don’t have a place to store the battery, you can still disconnect it and leave it in the storage unit. You also have the option of using a battery tender which will automatically charge the battery when it senses the battery is losing power.
However, I don’t really recommend keeping your battery hooked up to a machine for long periods of time without supervision. Battery tenders also require an outlet anyway and some storage units won’t have those.
The last biggest thing you’ll need to prepare on your motorcycle when storing it in a storage unit is making sure the tires are taken care of. When a motorcycle sits dormant for more than a few months, the weight of the motorcycle pushes down on the tires which causes flat spots. Motorcycle tires will eventually lose air pressure and continue to get flat.
The best way to combat this is either by taking the tires off completely or putting your bike up on a lift so the tires are elevated. This will ensure the tires are still safe to use when you go to get your motorcycle out of storage. For more details on how to store your motorcycle long term, see our other article here.
Storage Unit Rules
Self storage units have a few rules you will need to abide by if you plan on using them to store your motorcycle. Consider these rules before deciding if this is really what you want to do with your motorcycle.
Most storage units require that the motorcycle is in running condition. This rule will stop a lot of motorcycle owners because they want to store their motorcycle because it’s not running. Not every storage unit has this rule, so check around to a few places and make sure.
Storage units also usually require you provide proof of ownership as well as registration and insurance. Thieves will sometimes try to use storage units to hide their stolen prizes and storage unit owners have started catching on. Providing proof of ownership ensures you are the owner the of vehicle and that neither you or the management will run into legal problems.
Self storage units also like to see that you have insurance on the motorcycle. That shows them that you are responsible and that if anything were to happen to your motorcycle, you’re probably covered and won’t go after them.
Be aware of access hours of the storage unit. This is especially important with fenced units that may also have guards. Not all storage units are 24 hour access.
Before signing a contract, make sure you look it over and ask any questions you may have about specific rules implied. Do not attempt to cover up anything you’re storing in the unit you’re not supposed to. Storage unit owners have rights to their property and if you break the contract, you could be in a legal mess.
The Pros And Cons To Using A Storage Unit
Like most other ways of storing a motorcycle, there are pros and cons to storing a motorcycle in a storage unit that I have personally found through my experiences.
The best part about using a storage unit for motorcycle storage is the amount of protection it provides. The elements can be harsh if you live in a place with rough winters. Knowing about the protection the unit is providing can give you a lot of peace of mind.
Most storage units offer some security to their units. Most have at least cameras so if for some reason your unit was broken in to, there is footage of what actually happened. A lot of other storage units also provide secure fencing and even a security guard. This again will provide more peace of mind knowing your motorcycle is safe.
If you’re looking for additional ways to secure your motorcycle in a storage unit, see my list of recommended security items for motorcycles by clicking here. Some of these items may be beneficial to use when renting a storage unit.
The down side to storing your motorcycle in a storage unit is the fact that you don’t have constant eyes on it. That can cause a bit of anxiety with some people who may opt out of using a storage unit.
As mentioned before, some storage units have certain access hours to your stored items. If for whatever reason you needed to access your motorcycle in the middle of the night, you’re out of luck because the gate is locked and no one is there to let you in.
If you don’t make your monthly payments to the storage unit, at some point the owners of the business have a legal claim over your belongings and can sell them while pocketing the money. If you are tight on money, perhaps a storage unit isn’t for you.
Can you keep a motorcycle outside in the winter? You can keep a motorcycle outside in the winter as long it has been properly prepared for the season and it is dressed with a good, reliable cover to prevent any water or moisture from getting in places that could cause damage. Click here to see my article for more info.
Is it legal to live inside a self storage unit? Not only is it unsafe, but living in a self storage unit is illegal. A lot of people attempt to do it, especially in climate controlled units. If you are caught doing this, you will immediately be evicted.