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How Long Can You Leave a Motorcycle Sitting?

If you are here, you are probably wondering what happens if a motorcycle sits for too long. Maybe you are interested in how long you can leave your motorcycle sitting. Or you may be looking to buy a motorcycle that has been sitting for very long. In either case, the details are important.

How long can you leave a motorcycle sitting? A motorcycle can be left sitting safely for up to a month. Leaving your motorcycle sitting for more than a month can cause some issues with the motorcycle if not properly stored. Properly stored and winterized motorcycles can be left sitting between 3 to 24 months.

There are a lot of caveats when it comes to how long a motorcycle can be left sitting. This is why below, I will go through the finer details about the different aspects that will determine how long a motorcycle will be able to stay sitting before we start seeing some permanent damage.

An old motorcycle that has been left sitting for a long time.

How Long Is Too Long to Leave a Motorcycle Siting?

How long you can leave a motorcycle sitting will depend on a number of different conditions, which I will discuss in this article.

Generally speaking, you should not leave your motorcycle sitting for more than one month. Usually, the odds of you running into problems after the motorcycle has been left sitting for a month are extremely low.

However, if you have stored your motorcycle properly, you may be able to leave your motorcycle sitting a lot longer. Some riders report that they have left their motorcycles sitting for up to two years without any problems. However, this is not recommended, as leaving your motorcycle sitting for more than a month may cause problems.

What Determines How Long a Motorcycle Can Be Left Sitting?

There are a few different aspects that are of interest here. So what determines how long a motorcycle can be left sitting before it gets issues?

  • Where and how the motorcycle is stored?
  • How exposed to the elements and temperature swings is the motorcycle?
  • What is the ambient humidity?
  • Has the motorcycle gone through the necessary storage or winterizing procedures?

How Long Can You Leave a Motorcycle Sitting in the Winter?

In most cases, winter is when the majority of motorcycle riders will be leaving their motorcycles sitting for the longest periods of time. Frequently we are talking of anywhere between 3 to 5 months, and sometimes even more.

Generally speaking, it is recommended to start and run your motorcycle for at least 15 to 30 minutes at least once every week. Although it will be good to ride your motorcycle as often as possible, it may not be possible. This is why even running it on idle or revving it up a little can be beneficial as it will prevent the water build-up. It will keep the gaskets well lubricated and will also prevent carburetor build-ups and gumming ups and will keep the engine conditioned. This will also heat it up and prevent condensation and water build-up.

If you are riding your motorcycle in the winter, you should exercise extra caution. The road salt will get into everything and will corrode and rust almost every part of the motorcycle. Leaving your motorcycle to sit after it has been exposed to the road salt in the winter can be incredibly bad for the bike. 

How Long Can You Leave a Motorcycle Sitting With a Cover On?

A motorcycle can be left sitting with a cover on for one month without that necessary causing any problems with the motorcycle. If the motorcycle has been properly winterized and stored, it may be left sitting with the cover on for up to 24 months.

What Happens When a Motorcycle Sits for Too Long?

As it is with anything in life, if you leave your motorcycle sitting for a very long time, it will start to gradually wear out. The longer it stays sitting, the more serious the consequences will be. 

The Paint Will Wear Out and Fade

The sun exposure will and harmful UV lights will very slowly damage and fade the paint and the clear coat.

The temperature swings will also be very unrelenting. The combination of temperature swings and the exposure to the elements will further speed up the wearing out of the paint. It will become brittle with time, and it can peel and chip.

The Fuel Will Go Bad

Fuel is oftentimes compared to good wine. Once opened, it will go bad.

Fuel, when left to sit in the tank for long periods of time, will start to degrade and lose its volatility. 

Not only that, the fuel will be less efficient, but it can also potentially damage the motorcycle’s engine. Eventually, as the fuel oxidizes gel deposits and gunk may start forming up, it can clog up, block, and damage the motorcycle’s inner mechanisms like the filters and fuel lines, including the smaller orifices in the carburetor (if there is one) or the fuel injectors. Depending on how long the motorcycle has been sitting, the fuel pump may also start to go bad with time because of the fuel going bad.

The weather and temperatures will also affect how fast the fuel in the motorcycle will go bad. Higher temperatures will speed up the process, while colder temperatures may slow it down somewhat.

In fact, it is considered that fuel stays good up to a month after which point it starts slowly to go bad. Usually— and speaking from experience— fuel lasts between 1 to 6 months. (Depending on the quality of fuel and how old it was before you put it in.)

Fuel that has been sitting for more than six months should not be used as it may do more harm than good.

If the fuel has a fuel stabilizer added, it may last for up to 24 months before going bad.

Your mileage will vary depending on the type and purity of the fuel, and where the motorcycle is stored.


As the condition of the paint worsens, this will expose the metal parts to moisture and water. It will not be too long before all the moisture leads to rusting of the external metal parts.

But rust does not stop here.

As the fuel goes bad in the tank, water and condensation start to build up. This will slowly start to cause rusting of the tank on the inside. 

Condensation can also start building up into the engine and the carburetor with time, making matters even worse.

The chain can also start rusting if the motorcycle has been sitting in a place with high humidity.

The Battery Will Drain

The longer your motorcycle sits unattended, the more the battery will drain. Eventually, the battery dies. Motorcycle batteries should not be left to die, but sometimes they may be able to be brought back to life. Unfortunately, even in this case, there is a high risk of permanent damage to the battery. So even if you succeed in charging it, you may still need to buy a new battery very soon.

The tires will be 

The longer the motorcycle’s tires sit, the more brittle they will become. Eventually, flat spots will start to form.

Seal and gaskets will slowly but surely erode and become very brittle. They will not be able to serve any function as they will easily crack and break.

Overall motorcycle batteries last between one to five months if the motorcycle is left sitting. Newer batteries will usually last a little longer than older batteries.

What to do if you have to leave your motorcycle sitting for a long time?

If you have to leave your motorcycle sitting for a long time, make sure to follow the correct storage and winterizing practices.

  • Add fuel stabilizer to your fuel.
  • Change or at least top off your oil.
  • Check and add coolant if low.
  • Either disconnect the battery (for really long storage) or use a battery tender to keep it charged.
  • Get the tires off the ground.

After taking all the necessary steps in order to make sure the motorcycle is ready for storage, you need to make sure it is stored in a good place.

The best place to leave your motorcycle sitting for a long time is somewhere away from the elements. A dry garage where the temperatures do not fluctuate a lot is the best option.

Regardless of how you will be storing your motorcycle, make sure to keep it under a cover.

If you have no place to keep your motorcycle and have to leave it sitting out in the open (even during the winter), a high-quality cover can do wonders.

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