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If you're like many in the Boreal zones, as they turn delightful shades of November grey, and then finally death-white by January, you'll likely be paying some schmoe for the privilege of not riding or having any freedom of access to your motorcycle. Yes, bike storage is safe and warm, and that has much value. But what you may not have considered is that - apart from the compounding absurdity of paying your insurer handsomely to cover your watching of moto videos all winter - not riding for months on end always leaves serious emotional scars and comes at an intolerable social cost. You will be touchy and irritable. You will abuse family members and friends. You will cry and complain publicly. You will over-drink at lunches and daydream to your own detriment during important briefings. These are unacceptable outcomes. Thankfully, they are also unnecessary.
Just say no to drudge
If you're like me, you don't stop riding due to cold. You're also perhaps too cheap to pay for winter storage. I have not stored my bike during its first two winters of its life, and it's doing fine, so far as I can tell. And I have an extra $1,200 to my name (well, theoretically). I have no garage out back, only tar. And I've kept the bike out there under a $35 motorcycle cover. Last year, I rode until the first application of road salt in Toronto, on December 23, a day of infamy, to be sure. (Why Toronto uses salt I'll never understand. Alberta didn't when I lived there in the '70s, and having all roads become black ice for six months a year just made everyone a better, more conscientious drift racer.)
I have been educated as to the ways in which road salt undoes all that is good in a bike largely constructed of expensive alloys, such as my BMW F800GS. And I've also been reminded that road salt is viciously carried by winter winds up into places in bikes that it doesn't belong.
What then must we do?
Myself, I'm leaning this year toward buying a little bike house, namely the RideInn (http://www.rideinn.ca/. I can bolt it into my driveway so it doesn't blow away or get easily thieved. I can leave open my fake gas tank, where the battery is housed, and run a trickle charger in it - so no more bringing the battery in and out of the house all winter. I can even get inside with a heater and beers to keep my beloved company while swapping road trip fantasies with her while we wait out the road salt-cleansing rains of March.
Priced to win me over
First off, the RideInn comes in more cheaply than a year of storage. Its fabric covering is supposed to last at least three years, and can be easily replaced. For locals who pick theirs up on site (in Mississauga, Ontario), the 46-inch x 11-foot grey version is C$395. They also come in 58" widths and in blue and camo (which costs a bit extra). I'm going with grey, as camo might attract men bearing weapons. If you're far away, you'll pay extra for shipping.
If you bolt it down, the trick, I'm told, is to seal it at the base with silicone, allowing it to breathe through the vents, thus releasing moisture and minimizing the damage condensation can cause after parking a hot bike on a cold day.
The best thing about this solution is enjoying the liberty to ride when you like, having the ability to apply tool to bike at will, and generally being in its vicinity, so when spring comes you don't have to take it out of hibernation.
This is the kind of compromise I was born to embrace
But there's just one thing: I am too ignorant to know if this is okay or bad for my bike. I have never let it sit more than seven weeks at a time in winter without running it around town to full operating temperature. When not riding both tires were off pavement, a trickle charger was on the battery more or less throughout, and gasoline antifreeze was used in the always-full tank. If I switch to the RideInn, the bike will be even better protected than during the last two seasons. Is this enough? Am I damaging things?
Let the opinions flow.