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You have a motorcycle but no garage. It’s always a good idea to keep your motorcycle out of the elements as best as you can, but not everyone has the luxury of a garage.
In this quick guide I’ll give you nine options for storing your motorcycle without a garage.
Let’s get started…
Parking your motorcycle outside
Not everyone has the ability to park their motorcycles inside a garage. What other options are there available to you if you find yourself in this situation?
Cars and boats can stay exposed to the weather, but motorcycles need more protection from the sun and the elements that can cause damage.
Fortunately, if you’re a bit creative, you can find some alternative storage solutions for your motorcycle and keep it protected without it being exposed entirely to the elements.
The trick is going to be how much money you’re willing to spend.
There are a few things you need to keep in mind when storing your motorcycle:
- Overall security
- Keeping it shielded from the weather
- Keeping the motorcycle from being damaged
- Making sure you properly prepared the motorcycle for storage
Options in storing your motorcycle without a garage
If your stuck in a position where you do have to parking your motorcycle outside all is not lost.
I’ll detail each of these options in the article, but here’s the quick list of options that are available to you.
These options run from being pretty straightforward to using a lot creativity (to say the least!).
- Use a motorcycle cover
- Motorcycle shelter
- Storing the motorcycle in a carport
- Parking the bike at a friend or family members house
- Purchasing or building a garden shed
- Keeping your motorcycle inside your house, apartment, dorm etc.
- Storage unit
- Motorcycle dealerships
- Buy an old van – Most creative solution I’ve heard of!
Motorcycle storage covers
Using a motorcycle cover is the first and most basic option that many people choose to use. Using a cover can work pretty well by itself but also works better if used in conjunction with other solutions that I’ve listed here.
If you plan on purchasing a cover, there are a ton of options available to you. So many in fact that it may be a bit confusing on the cover you should get.
Motorcycle covers fall under two general types:
- The lighter travel styles
- Heavy duty weather resistant
The lighter covers (lighter in weight, not color) that are available are going to be designed as travel covers are on the thin side. The material tends to be similar to a light tent or parachute type material.
These type of covers will either cover the top half of the motorcycle or they will be full size but light enough to be packed in your gear.
For long term storage, your going to need a cover that provides UV protection, and is weather resistant and heavy duty. These types of covers have heat shields, venting and usually have the ability to insert a lock into the hem.
These heavier duty covers also feature softer fabric on the inside to prevent damage to your bike during storage.
Other motorcycle cover considerations
Overall these heavy duty outdoor covers are designed to be a ‘garage’ to help protect your motorcycle from the elements.
In an effort to be as low key as possible, don’t use a cover that has a Harley logo (or any logo for that matter). Although you may be a proud owner, you may want to be discreet and keep your bike on the down low. This include using a cover with Harley’s colors – Try to stick to a plain black cover if you can.
Motorcycle shelter or portable motorcycle garage
If you want to step up your game, it may be worth the money to invest in a portable motorcycle shelter. Motorcycle shelters keep the weather off of your bike, allow it to ‘breath’ underneath the cover (get fresh air) and it doesn’t touch the motorcycle.
While motorcycle covers do offer good protection, they are a pain to use if you’re riding every day. This where shelters may be a better choice for you.
There are generally 2 different types of motorcycle shelters:
Collapsible – These are the ‘armadillo’ style foldable style of shelters that you see. They come in a variety of sizes for sport bikes all the way up to cruisers.
They’re consist of a metal frame (similar to a tent pole) with a fabric covering. When it’s open, you park your motorcycle within the frame, then pull the rest of the cover over the top of the bike. Some of theses style covers have a built-in floor that gives you a nice surface to put your kickstand on.
Carport style – The ‘carport’ style of motorcycle shelter is a metal frame covered in water resistant fabric that has a front door that is unzipped and rolled up so you can store your motorcycle in it. These storage shelter come in small enough to fit a motorcycle in all the way up to 10ft x 10ft. It will just depend on how much room you have available where your living.
I’ve seen several varieties of these shelters and they don’t appear to come with a floor. If you choose this style, it would be best to purchase some plywood to attach the metal frame legs to, or it will be gone with the wind.
The DIY option
If you have the time an inclination, either of these shelters are simple enough that you build them yourself out of pvc pipe and tarps. There are other creative options for a diy cover you can check out here.
If you’re really handy, you can go so far as to build a shelter with 2×4’s and some plywood.
Storing you motorcycle in a carport
Using a carport to store your motorcycle is straightforward and the next best option if you can’t store your bike in a garage.
Depending on how your carport is situated, your motorcycle may only be exposed on three of fours sides. This assumes that your house is on the fourth side.
For the most part sun and rain won’t get to your bike unless the weather is really bad and it’s raining sideways. Because of the potential for some weather exposure, there are two schools of thought when parking your motorcycle in a carport.
Use a motorcycle cover – Some suggest that even though your bike is covered by the carport, that you may want to also cover it with a motorcycle cover. As we discussed above, this will help protect your motorcycle. It’s recommended if you go this route that the cover is vented and has cotton lining.
Don’t use the cover – Because of the exposure to wind, the cover will flap in the breeze and possibly damage the finish on the bike with excessive rubbing.
Many riders that have had to park their bike in carport have reported that they don’t use a cover and that the motorcycle amazingly stays fairly dirt and dust free.
Friend or Family Member
Perhaps you know at least one friend or family member that has a garage. If that’s the case, you should consider at least offering to rent some space from them. If money is an issue, consider making some form of trade to rent the space.
Even if I’m dealing with a close friend, I always like to offer something and not just assume that they will be willing to store something for free. I always assume that I will have to pay something.
If your friend doesn’t have the storage, see if they have anyone in their network that does.
If you have the room and some money to spend, this is the next best option to having a fully enclosed garage. There will be more of an initial cash outlay to build your motorcycle shed, but you won’t have any ongoing cost of renting space.
Garden sheds come in a wide variety of sizes and materials (Rubbermaid makes some nice sheds) but if you’re going to go this route, plan on spending some cash.
If you’re not a do it yourselfer, the best option here is to take a trip down to your local Home Depot or Lowes and take a look at the sheds they offer. Their sheds are usually kits, but if you pay extra they will put them together for you.
Because this is probably the most expensive solution (but probably the best one), I would consider building the shed yourself with the help of a friend.
Here’s my suggestion; Go back to Home Depot and take a good look at their sheds and take pictures. Visit a couple of locations and look at different designs and come up with your own plans and build the shed yourself.
You can also do a bit of research online and find a set of plans if you need to.
You’ll find that you can build a nice storage shed yourself this way for half the cost. If you didn’t overbuild it (by making it too big) you might even be able to take it with you when you move.
Keep it in the house
Have a way to get your motorcycle through the doors?
This seems to be the favorite option for a lot guys who have sport bikes or smaller cruisers (Sportster, Rebel etc).
If you can get your motorcycle through the doors of your home and you have the room, why not!
Of course, your going to want to put a tarp, pan or something underneath your bike in case it leaks.
The advantage here is pretty obvious; You can keep a pretty close eye on your motorcycle, you know its safe and nobody is trying to mess with it.
The downside is that you may be smelling fumes from exhaust or fuel even when the bike is off (I can’t imagine starting the bike in your house!) and the other smells that go along with having a motorcycle.
The other problem may be that your other ‘half’ might not be too keen on the idea of dealing with the motorcycle in the house.
That being said, a lot people go this route. It’s just not a viable solution for those of us that have larger motorcycles!
Putting you motorcycle in a storage unit
Aside from building a shed for your motorcycle, this is probably the best paid solution on this list. This solution is best if you’re not riding your motorcycle year-round and looking for a place to keep your bike until riding season comes back around.
You don’t need a large storage unit to make this option work for you unless you plan on storing tools and other supplies to work on your bike.
If you’re just going to store one motorcycle, all your going to need is a 5’ x 10’ storage unit. This should be just big enough to the bike in and maybe a couple of other items. Renting a storage unit is a good garage alternative for occasional and long-term storage.
If you’re going to go the storage unit route, here are a few things to keep mind when you’re checking out options:
24/7 access – You need to get to your motorcycle when you want to right? Sometimes when we ride, it’s not convenient for everyone!
Drive up access to the unit – You need to be able to drive right up to your unit in order to load or unload your motorcycle in to a pickup or other vehicle.
Security – Storage units have the ability for you to put your own lock on the unit to secure your motorcycle. In addition to that, you should find out about any additional security that the storage facility has (or doesn’t have). Features like video surveillance and on-site management are other pluses.
Climate control – Getting climate control of course keeps your motorcycle in an optimal environment all the time. Of course, it will be an additional cost in most cases, but if it’s not that much versus a regular unit, it’s worth it.
As far as storage unit pricing goes, you’ll need to check your area Doing research in my area for a 5’ x 10’ storage unit, the prices were all over the map.
Storage unit prices ran from $35 a month all the way up to $100 a month. It appeared that some of the reasons for the huge price gap were quality of the facility, area of town it was located in, on site amenities etc.
Those should all be factors you keep in mind when looking for your storage unit.
Some dealers offer programs where you can store your motorcycle. Keep in mind that this will be brand specific, and the dealers may not store other makes of motorcycles without charging a premium.
Harley Davidson in certain locations offers programs where they will do winter storage and check your bike.
Check with your local motorcycle dealership to see if they offer any storage programs.
Buy an old van
This is probably the most creative solution that I’ve read about!
It’s straightforward and simple;
Go on craigslist, the newspaper or where ever and buy an old van large enough to fit your motorcycle. Whether or not the van runs isn’t relevant – you can always tow it where you need it to sit!
Purchase the van as cheap as you can get it, and get yourself some motorcycle ramps, and boom… instant shed!
Not the most ideal solution, but creative. Chances are, you can probably pick up an old van for just a couple hundred bucks.
If this idea is appealing to you, here some other suggestions:
Get a van that at least runs. You want to be able to move it under it’s own power.
If your not driving it, don’t worry about registration and insurance – not needed. Need to move it from point A to point B? Go get a onetime movement permit and your all set!
Double check your local laws to keep yourself out of trouble.
How to store a motorcycle quick tips
Storing your motorcycle for an extended period of time? There are going to be few maintenance items that you’ll need to check before putting the motorcycle away. These tips are general, and I would suggest consulting the dealer for your motorcycle to find out best practices for your particular bike.
Don’t store the motorcycle with a full tank of gas – Because gasoline breaks down (see below) you may even want to run the motorcycle completely out of gas to keep all of your fuel lines free of potential problems.
Use fuel stabilizer – To prevent corrosion inside your fuel tank and also to keep the gasoline from breaking down and gumming up the works.
Use a battery tender – Get yourself a battery tender if you don’t already have one and get it hooked up. Using a battery tender will help insure that your battery is ready for the next riding season.
If your storing your motorcycle where you don’t have power, then remove the battery from the motorcycle and store it elsewhere.
Replace all Fluids – If you’re storing the motorcycle over wintertime or other long period of time, consider replacing all of the fluids like the antifreeze and brake fluid.
Check your tires – Tires can leak slow while in storage due to temperature fluctuation. Make sure your tires are properly inflated before storage.