The question of proper motorcycle storage is easily one of the most evergreen topics among riders.
Proper motorcycle storage does not have to be rocket science. However, it does involve many intricate details and caveats that every ride should be well aware of.
So, is it OK to leave a motorcycle outside? It is OK to leave a motorcycle outside after taking the proper storage and security measures. It may not be OK to leave a motorcycle outside for long periods of time during the winter, windy weather, or rainstorms. Motorcycles that have been left outside may also get vandalized or even stolen.
This is the short and sweet answer; however, it certainly is not enough if you really want to make sure your motorcycle has been taken good care of.
Below I share with you more in-depth information about when it is OK and when it is not OK to leave your motorcycle outside.
When is it OK to leave a motorcycle outside?
During the warmer months of the year, it may be OK to leave your motorcycle outside without suffering from any severe consequences.
If it isn’t raining and there are no strong winds, your motorcycle should be OK in most cases.
However, even in this case, it is still recommended to use a motorcycle cover—especially when you are leaving your motorcycle outside for the night. The reason why you may want to cover your motorcycle is that it can protect your motorcycle from the morning dew.
If you are parking under trees, a cover can protect your motorcycle from tree sap, which is really hard to get off.
What I mean by that is that generally speaking, it is not a good idea to just leave your motorcycle outside on the road. It is OK to leave your motorcycle outside if you have a dedicated parking spot or a driveway. As a last resort, you can try leaving your motorcycle in your yard. However, if your yard tends to get really muddy and messy, you should consider putting some paving or patio stones for stability.
That way, you will keep your motorcycle away from curious people that may want to sit on it or even steal it.
Is it OK to leave a motorcycle outside in the winter?
Leaving your motorcycle outside during the winter for extended periods of time is definitely not OK.
Winter is one of the worst times to leave your motorcycle outside for a long time.
If you are actively using your motorcycle even during the winter, then leaving your motorcycle outside during the winter for several hours or during the night may not be so bad. Granted, you are taking the necessary measures to protect it.
Leaving your motorcycle sitting for very long periods of time during the winter can cause many problems.
The damage from leaving your motorcycle outside in the winter for long periods of time can be, but not limited to:
- Extensive rust build-up and corrosion.
- The gas can go bad; it has the potential to introduce rust and corrosion to the inside of the tank and clog the fuel system.
- The engine can get damage.
- The oil can go bad damaging the
- The gaskets, seals, and other rubber and plastic parts can get brittle and break.
- Tires can develop flat spots.
When it comes to long term storage during the winter, it is recommended to follow the established winterizing practices.
Don’t leave your motorcycle outside during the winter—leave it in a safe and dry space out of direct sunlight like a shed, carport, or garage. If you don’t have access to a suitable place, then consider renting motorcycle storage.
Although a motorcycle cover can offer some protection, it will not be nearly enough if you leave your motorcycle outside during the winter for long periods of time.
That being said, this does not mean there are no owners that have kept their motorcycle outside all year round using nothing more than a cover. High-quality cover and proper maintenance and care can go a long way.
Is it OK to leave a motorcycle outside in the wind?
If the weather is particularly windy, then you may want to reconsider leaving your motorcycle outside.
Strong winds over 25 to 30 mph may be able to blow over your motorcycle and damage it.
Is it OK to leave a motorcycle outside in direct sunlight?
Leaving your motorcycle outside in direct sunlight will not necessarily damage it.
However, it can wear out and fade the pain and other plastic and rubber parts of the motorcycle.
The direct sunlight exposure will also heat up your motorcycle’s tank, which will heat up the fuel inside. As the gas warms up, it will start evaporating faster.
A motorcycle cover can again help a lot in providing UV protection to the motorcycle.
Is it OK to leave a motorcycle outside in the rain?
Motorcycles have been designed to be used in the rain so a little bit of rain will not damage a motorcycle.
However, you do not want to keep a motorcycle exposed to rain and excessive moisture for long periods of time. You will also have to be more diligent about keeping it well-maintained and clean.
Long-term exposure to rain and water will cause rust and corrosion. Certain parts of the motorcycle will deteriorate and wear out sooner than normal, which could lead to higher maintenance costs.
Is it OK to leave a motorcycle out on the road?
I have always felt uneasy whenever I had to leave my motorcycle out on the road during the night. Anything can happen to a motorcycle during the night—especially if you are living in the city.
People may try to steal parts of your motorcycle or even the whole motorcycle. You will be surprised how easy it is to steal a motorcycle.
And even if nobody tries to steal your motorcycle, they can try to sit on it and damage it in one way or another.
And I know that some of you will not have any other choice but to leave your motorcycle out on the road. Do your best to avoid it, but if you have no other choice, take some safety precautions.
Get yourself a heavy-duty chain and lock and anchor your motorcycle down to something solid.
Make sure you have full coverage, theft and vandalism insurance, and gap insurance.
A high-quality cover that covers the whole motorcycle and goes all the way down under the wheels and can be secured around the motorcycle tightly is mandatory. The cover will keep your motorcycle protected, and at the same time, the wind will not become a sail in the wind. However, even in those cases, your motorcycle can get stolen.
As a better alternative, you can try renting a 24/7 storage unit if there is one in your area.
That being said, this will not prevent people from cutting the cover to see your motorcycle, tip it over or crash it.
And as always, you will still need to take proper care of your motorcycle.
Is it OK to leave your motorcycle outside while at work?
If you have access to a suitable parking space, there is nothing inherently bad about leaving your motorcycle outside while at work.
However, just like leaving your motorcycle outside anywhere else, the elements can eventually take their toll on the motorcycle.
Get your motorcycle a good cover, keep on the maintenance, and make sure to address any rust and corrosion that may appear. Ideally, keep the motorcycle away from direct sunlight.
Are there other downsides to leaving a motorcycle outside?
Leaving a motorcycle outside is linked to increased wear and tear and requires more maintenance and care from the owner to negate those effects.
More rust, faded paint, and higher exposure to moisture and humidity will be just a few of the problems you will have to deal with.
However, carrying out the necessary maintenance and care or doing any mods will be a lot more difficult when you have nowhere to leave your motorcycle but outside.
In other words, you will have to keep on the maintenance a little more but at the same time may have a harder time in doing so.
If you forget a tool or another bit, you may have to get back to get it and, in the meantime, leave your motorcycle and other tools outside unattended. This is not just inconvenient but also dangerous as somebody can steal something.
When you don’t have a suitable structure to keep your motorcycle in you, you are also limited in terms of how much you can work on your motorcycle. Late in the evening, when the light is low or during bad weather, you will not be able to carry out any repair work or maintenance.
The effect of leaving your motorcycle outside where somebody may steal it on you should also not be underestimated. I don’t believe living in a constant state of worry and fear is a good idea.
This is why you should invest in some preventative measures. A good cover, thick, heavy-duty chain, and lock, an alarmed disc lock.
Those security measures are used as a deterrent.
However, it should be mentioned that if somebody wants to steal your motorcycle, they will do it. No lock is 100% thieve-proof. All those locks and security systems can eventually be bypassed.