There’s no doubt about it: vintage motorcycles look cool. But that’s not the only reason to buy, keep and maintain one. Compared to other types of vehicles like classic cars, vintage motorcycles are affordable, take up a lot less space and, most importantly, are wildly fun to ride. But leaving a vintage motorcycle exposed over long periods of time can rob it of its classical good looks and leave you with a rusty, decayed hulk that needs to be rebuilt from the engine up. If you want your bike to stand the test of time, knowing how to preserve a motorcycle is the very first step.  

What is a vintage motorcycle? While the words “vintage”, “classic”, and “antique” are often used interchangeably, there’s a general rule that if a motorbike is older than 25 years, it’s vintage. If it’s beyond the age of 35 years, that’s when it ages into the antique category.

You can make a vintage motorcycle last for decades, but it requires regular care and being able to spot problems before they turn into issues. If you have questions like ‘What fuel should I use in a vintage motorcycle?’ or the best tires for a vintage motorcycle, Taverner Motorsports is here to provide the answers. We’ll help you care for your vintage motorcycle for many years to come so that it has the chance to grow into a fully operational antique.

Preserving a Vintage Motorcycle for Storage

Many motorcyclists put their bikes away for extended periods, particularly over the winter. There are ways to preserve a vintage motorcycle so that you can store it for a period of months and find it’s still ready to use when you take it out again. Here is how to preserve a motorcycle for storage.  

First, it’s important to clean and wax your motorcycle. This creates a barrier of protection that stops the onset of rust and moisture. Ideally, you should store your motorbike in a temperature-regulated environment away from UV light. A garage with fans and covered windows is perfect for this. If you don’t have a garage at home, commercial storage services can provide a solution.

Before you put your motorcycle away, change the oil to stop it from degrading during storage. Adding a fuel stabiliser to the gas tank and letting the engine run for a few minutes will prevent the fuel from going bad and causing issues. Also, take the battery off and store it in a cool, dry place or alternately, make sure it’s fully charged and consider using a battery tender to keep it that way in storage.

Consider closing up the intake and exhaust to stop insects, mice, etc., from making homes in your motorcycle. During your motorcycle’s storage period, check on it periodically and let it run for a few minutes if you can to keep fluids circulating. Running your bike for as little as 5-10 minutes every week or two can keep your battery strong and your engine lubricated.

Routine Maintenance for Vintage Motorcycles

Maintenance is important for all motorcycles. However, depending on the model, maintaining older motorcycles can involve some differences in approach due to materials and design. Some of the challenges that can arise include dealing with different types of oil and sourcing older spare parts when necessary. Standard maintenance procedures like oil changes, regular servicing and cleaning your motorcycle still apply.

The type of fuel you should use in your vintage motorcycle can vary. If your classic bike was manufactured before the 1980s, it relied on carburettors. Using petrol with ethanol in it, which is a common type of petrol these days, will damage any motorbike with a carburettor. Make sure the gas you use is ethanol-free.

When deciding on what fuel to use in your vintage motorcycle, check the manufacturer’s requirements, especially the octane rating.  

How do you find the best tires for your vintage motorcycle? Classic custom-style bikes are so popular that manufacturers are putting out new versions of the 18 and 19-inch wheels, which are usually seen on older bikes. While the best tires for your vintage motorcycle depend on the model of the bike, it’s easy to find manufacturers who are making classic-style wheels perfect for it. 

Tips for Keeping Vintage Motorcycles in Top Condition

Here are some tips on how to preserve a vintage motorcycle in order to keep it in excellent condition.

Store your motorcycle properly

If you don’t have a garage at home or access to commercial storage services, a motorcycle cover designed for the outdoors will suffice. The main priority is protecting your motorcycle from elements like UV and rain, which can cause damage.

Clean and wax paintwork

Regular cleaning and waxing will protect your vintage motorcycle from sun damage. While you’re at it, it helps to apply rust-prevention products to metal surfaces and use conditioners on leather.

Clean frequently

Because of the materials they’re made from, older motorcycles are generally more susceptible to rust. A big part of how to preserve a motorcycle is to clean it regularly, as dirt and grime on older bikes lead to corrosion faster than it does on more recent models.  

Ride regularly

Your motorcycle will last a lot longer if you take it for rides often. Regular use helps prevent your motorbike’s engine gaskets from growing brittle, helps prevent the chain from becoming stiff and goes a long way towards keeping the bike free from rust. Riding your motorbike is like exercising your body – even if it’s ageing, it helps it last longer and stay stronger.

Grease the bearings

The bearings of your motorcycle (and any other part of it that rotates) are going to require some grease now and then. Don’t neglect the triple clamp, the rear swing arm or the rear and front axles.

Clean the carburettor

Older motorbikes have carburettors, and a clogged-up carburettor will impact your bike’s ability to run. To keep your classic bike running smoothly, remove your carburettor every year or two and carry out a thorough clean.

If you need help with how to preserve a classic motorcycle, Taverner Motorsports are experts in this area and always happy to lend a hand.

Motorcycle Restoration and Maintenance at Taverner Motorsports

With over 50 years of experience in the industry, Taverner Motorsports has a real passion for restoring classic motorcycles no matter the state they’re in. Our bike restoration services include everything from basic repairs to full-scale rebuilds. We also provide guidance and advice on how to preserve a motorcycle for the future, including things like what fuel you should use in your vintage motorcycle and the best tires for vintage motorcycles.

Whether you plan to store your motorcycle away for a while or you don’t, we provide routine maintenance to keep your bike running in the best possible condition. Our technicians will check key components like the engine, brakes and suspension, changing the oil and replacing the filter if necessary.
If you’d like more information on how to preserve a motorcycle or any other services that Taverner Motorsports provides, contact us and request a quote.