A busy lifestyle with family, friends, work, and winter can come in the way of a passionate motorcyclist who wants to ride his bike every day.
This article will guide you with the best strategy on the frequency of starting and riding your motorcycle to ensure its longevity.
How Often Should You Start Your Motorcycle?
Motorcycle owners should ensure they start their motorcycle at least once every 7 days and ride it for 10-15 miles. This will help eradicate condensed moisture in the motorcycle oil, lubricate the engine, prevent rust, corrosion, clogged filters, tire deterioration and battery degradation.
Riding your motorcycle once a week is the bare minimum. Any less than that and you will be faced with a plethora of problems. Taking it for a ride every week will ensure far fewer visits to the local mechanic and greater longevity for your motorcycle
Motorcycles are performance vehicles and should be treated as such. The relatively small engine needs to be lubricated regularly and the rust buildup and moisture condensation happen much quicker than you would expect.
Small displacement bikes generally do worse than larger displacement bikes when they are not being ridden for relatively long stretches of time.
Is it bad for a motorcycle to sit for long periods of time?
It is extremely bad for a motorcycle to sit for long periods of time unless you take necessary precautions such as winterizing the bike. A motorcycle which has been sitting for very long will develop condensation in the engine, a stiff chain, weak battery, and brittle tyres.
You must winterize a motorcycle if you plan on storing it for a long period of time. Alternately you could consider selling your bike and buying another one when you ready for motorcycling.
Let us dive into the mechanics of what happens when a motorcycle has been sitting for too long:
1. Weak or Flat Battery
A deteriorating or flat battery is the aftermath of a motorcycle that has been left sitting for too long.
Motorcycle batteries produce electric current as a result of a chemical reaction. The flow of electrons from the anode to the cathode in the presence of sulphuric acid produces electricity.
Even when the battery is not in use, the reaction is continuously taking place. Over time, the flow of electrons from the anode to the cathode slows down (or completely stops) and that is how you end up with a weak battery.
Riding your motorcycle once a week (or more) will ensure the battery remains charged.
Alternatively, you could attach the battery to a battery tender to safeguard it from deteriorating.
2. Unlubricated Engine Components
The motorcycle engine is a very complex structure which features thousands of moving parts. These moving parts are under constant stress. Hence they require a thin film of oil between them in order to function optimally.
Not riding your motorcycle regularly is detrimental to the overall engine health. If the bike sits for too long then many of these parts become unlubricated.
The next time when you ride your bike with the engine components unlubricated it would lead to increased friction, higher oil temperatures, and wear. This could result in premature damage to the engine and reduced lifespan.
Oil also plays the role of cleaning the engine. The oil collects the debris and waste materials from the engine by passing through the oil filters.
3. Eradicating Condensation
Higher surrounding temperature can cause oil condensation in the engine. This buildup of condensation can cause serious problems if left unattended.
You can often check this condensation in your motorcycle sight screen. Condensation is simply the addition of water in the oil which results in a foam-like substance.
Once you start riding your motorcycle, the oil heats up, and the water molecules evaporate. However, this is only applicable if the motorcycle was left sitting for a few days.
If the motorcycle is left unattended for many weeks then the condensation would not evaporate as easily. You might need to drain the oil and replace it with new oil.
Moreover, the continuous contact of water with metal (inside the engine) can cause rusting. This slow process can gradually eat up various parts of the engine and leave them brittle and non-functional.
Hence you should regularly start your motorcycle and take it for a ride if you want to prevent any serious damage to your motorcycle.
4. Clogged Fuel System
Most modern motorcycles have fuel injectors compared to traditional bikes which have are carburettor jet mechanism.
Unsurprisingly both systems are susceptible to the prolonged sitting of motorcycles. The horror stories of expensive repairs to the fuel system are one more reason why you should not neglect your bike.
Modern fuels are more ethanol based than traditional gasoline. Ethanol has more suspended water than regular gasoline. Hence unused fuel can lead to corrosion in both carbureted and fuel-injected systems.
Emptying the fuel tank could cause rust. Not emptying the fuel tank could clog the fuel systems. A real predicament! The second-best solution is adding fuel stabilizer which would slow down both clogging and rust.
The best solution would be taking your motorcycle for a ride every seven days or so.
5. Flat Tires, Damaged Rims and Spokes.
Motorcycles tires are made of rubber and need to be regularly stretched to ensure they maintain their original shape and size
When the motorcycle is stagnant the pores in the tires begin to gradually release air. Soon these tires become flat. Tires which remain in their place may develop a permanent flat spot.
Moreover, these tires become weak and lose their elasticity. You would need to replace the tires with new ones.
Apart from the tires, the spokes and rims of the motorcycle can also get damaged if the bike is left sitting for too long.
The practical solution would either be to winterize the bike or to ride it regularly.
How long can a motorcycle sit without starting?
The average motorcycle could sit for 2-3 weeks without starting. Beyond that, the motorcycle will not start due to a weakened battery, unlubricated engine, clogged fuel system. Ideally, motorcycles should be ridden once a week or more.
How often should you ride your motorcycle?
You should ride your motorcycle once a week or more in order to ensure it works properly. Riding a motorcycle often enough will keep the battery recharged, engine lubricated, the fuel system unclogged, and tires elastic and strong.
Motorcycles are powerful machines built for performance. They have relatively small engines and should not be compared to cars or other vehicles. What works for cars or vans does not necessarily work for bikes.
Motorcycles need regular maintenance. Part of the maintenance includes regularly riding them. Once a week or more is optimal. Any less than that can harm the motorcycle and result in costly repairs.
Remember someone once said, “Motorcycles can sit without running for eternity. The problem is getting them to run afterwards again.”