Mothballing your bike

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I’ve had one too many irons in the fire as of late, which means my bike has been standing in the garage for a long period of time. It’s sad, because besides the wind, Cape Town has seen some pretty awesome weather recently. Perfect for taking a long ride out to wherever your heart desires. But, if like me, you find your free time being distributed among many of life’s other responsibilities, you’ll want to ensure that when you eventually do get time to take a ride, your bike is still in tip-top condition.

The one thing everyone remembers to do is to plug in a trickle charger to keep the battery fresh. They’re very expensive nowadays and buying the wrong one can cost you even more in the long run. I use a trickle charger, and even when riding regularly, I plug it in once every two weeks for a top-up.

When leaving your motorcycle for long periods of time, especially combined with under-inflation, your tyres can develop flat spots. The heavy load of the motorcycle can cause the part in contact with the surface to deflect and cold ambient temperatures make rubber compounds stiffer, increasing their tendency to flatspot.

The longer tyres remain stationary, the better they remember the position in which they were last parked. Tyres on vehicles stored on the ground for many months can be permanently flat-spotted. The best would be to put the motorcycle on paddock stands in the front and rear if you know you’re not going to do any riding for extended periods of time.

Did you know that petrol does in fact have a shelf-life? Generally petrol will last in equipment fuel tanks for about 3 weeks at a temperature of around 20°C, after that it will perform better when fresh petrol is added. Petrol will last in sealed containers for more than 6 months, while some breathing will take place this is not enough to significantly affect product quality.

The light components in petrol are lost first as the petrol sits in the fuel tanks. These components provide valuable octane benefits during cold start. Because they are volatile they compose most of the air fuel mixture during cold start, if they are absent then the mixture becomes lean resulting in higher temperatures, pre-ignition, detonation and piston damage.

The portion of the petrol that remains has a higher density and higher octane but this is not available during cold start resulting in hard starting. Because the fuel carburetors and injectors operate on a volume metering system the higher density means that more fuel is introduced for a given volume of air and so the air fuel ratio is fuel rich. If all the fuel cannot be burnt then it forms carbon deposits that will foul the spark plug and cause the engine to stop and not start

With long storage periods, especially in the presence of hot weather or engine heat the petrol can oxidize to form peroxides. These compounds can attack rubber and metal, stripping away the liner on fuel lines or copper from fuel pumps and attacking rubber hoses. These normally take a few months to form in sufficient quantity to cause a problem.

The best solution to all of these problems are to just keep riding your motorcycle.Remember folks, a moving bike, is a happy bike!


About the author

Buks has had a passion for two-wheels since childhood. After his first motorcycle, a fire-breathing two-stroke Yamaha TZR250, he realized he was hooked. When Buks isn't writing for UltimateVelocity he enjoys practicing martial arts, gardening and spending time with his family.