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Aging & Worn
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Discussion Starter #1
I would imagine that this question is answered best by personal preference; but I'll ask it because there MAY be some scenarios in which a periodic "start up" might be a good idea for preservation of the integrity of the performance level of the motorcycle.

Yesterday, I was out in my garage on a fairly nice day (although a "nice day" at THIS time of year only lasts for a couple of hours about mid-day, and makes pulling the bike down off the lift for such a short window of time, not really worth it), and decided to start the bike, and let it run for five minutes.

Is there any logical mechanical value to starting a stored bike (up on a lift; preservative in the gas, etc.)?

-soupy
 

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Swamp Rat Rider
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To Run it 5 mins is not good IMHO Now if you had got out and Rode it 30 miles that would have been fine .. Am sure will get some more replies soon but basically referring to Oil Condensation .. Back in my Sailing Days Left the Bike stored 3-4 months with no worries taking all the proper steps needed ..
 

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MODERATOR
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What Gator said!

I'm sure we have all done it but it's not a good idea. The oil has to get hot enough to burn off water vapor formed as a part of combustion and a 5 minute idle won't burn off the condensation adequately.

Maybe this would be better: After startup, somehow let the throttle hold the engine at a "High idle" like 1,700+- rpm's for maybe 10 minutes until the engine is obviously very warm to the touch.

I think most folks just start their bikes thinking that the battery will keep charged but a much better way is to hook up a 'trickle charger' to a 'pigtail' attached directly to the battery and keep it plugged in all Winter.

Sam:coffeescreen:
 

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Aging & Worn
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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I keep the bike battery on a charger, even during the normal riding season, when parked, but this question is not about that.

I understand what "condensation" is, but relate that mostly to the gas, and not the oil. Perhaps I should hear more about condensation in the oil, and what's best for that potential issue. Is there a recommended storage additive for the oil?

"Today" will yield "high 50's," and I'm once again "tempted to ride."
I've had enough experience over the years with bike storage, that this question is not so much about that, as much as the "short startups" for the sake of keeping things internally "loose,' if you will.

-Soupy
 

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Gone.
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I have no idea what you mean by keeping internal engine parts, "loose." Tolerances don't tighten up with storage. :)

As others just said, it's better to let the bike run enough to warm up and burn off any condensation that may be in the oil tank or crankcase if you're going to start it. If not, what can happen is that water condensation in the engine can get mixed in the oil and potentially cause problems. On the other hand, if you just start your bike for a few minutes and the oil and water mixes, it will eventually separate again as the bike sits, I'd guess, and burn off next time you do start your bike and run it for real.

How much of a problem is this? I don't know....we're probably splitting hairs here. I've never re-built an engine that had damage attributed to short starts in the Winter.

Run the bike to drain the carburetor, keep the battery on a tender, the tank full of gas with stabilizer in it, stuff some rags in the pipes, and use the lift for something useful other then propping up the bike, and it'll be fine. If you happen to get antsy and start it a few times over the Winter, just to hear it roar, you'll be okay.
 

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Gone
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There is no benefit to starting a motorcycle during winter storage. Rather than burning a dollar's worth of gas to get the engine warm, donate a buck to the Salvation Army bell ringer kettle.
 

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Aging & Worn
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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I place a good deal of credibility and trust in what you say Dods, Eye, Gator, Porky, etc..

This is not about "worry.". This is about me being willing to ask questions which some will seem like "no-brainer" questions, and a willingness on my part to never fear learning, since I'm not ashamed to reveal that I don't know as much as many of you, but want to learn.

I didn't consider for example, that water or other fluids COULD get in to the oil, short of a Head Gasket leak, and thus the interest on the potential of "condensation" in the oil.

The bike is down off the lift as of 10 minutes ago........for a Noontime ride of about 50 miles round trip.

-Soupy
 

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Veteran Member
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I'm with the others. There's no benefit to starting and running a bike for a short time during the course of relatively short term storage. If I recall correctly, there's even a blurb in the owners manual of my Sporty about short rides in cold weather, where the engine cannot get warm enough to evaporate moisture in the engine.
 

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Condensation occurs once you've shut the bike down and it's cooling off; it attracts moisture in the crankcase. It's the next time you start and ride the bike where it gets 'burned' off, if it gets hot enough.
Back before aftermarket parts availability went to crap and OG parts got too hard to find, I was into the air-cooled VW scene. There would be plenty of stories of folks who had what looked like mayonnaise under their oil filler caps. It's the water and oil mixing, frothing, creating a white sludge. The most common cause was short trips and a lack of thermostat, which had been removed sometime in the cars previous 40 years of existence. So the engine never got warm enough to get rid of the moisture in the oil. Not only can it cause corrosion, but water isn't a very good lubricant.
 

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The 43rd Poser
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Do not start your bike unless you intend to ride it long enough to get all of the fluids up to operating temperature.

It will not hurt it one bit to sit on your BATTERY TENDER for 5 or 6 months, if needed.

If you don't have a battery tender, get one.

There is absolutely ZERO benefit on starting a bike up "periodically"

I didn't consider for example, that water or other fluids COULD get in to the oil, short of a Head Gasket leak...l.
Head gasket leak will not let water in.... Your engine is air-cooled, no water on the other side of the gasket...
:71baldboy:
 

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American Legion Rider
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I never fire mine up unless I'm riding at least 20 miles. Folks that ride theirs to work that only go a couple miles are not only not doing their own body good by just walking but they are for ever getting more and more moisture mixed into their oil and not getting it burned off with heat. Park it and leave it or ride it but don't started just to keeps things moving. Now if you go more than 6 months parked maybe then a started might be a benefit but still let it run hot for a bit and actually riding would be best.
 

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Premium Member
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I'm with the consensus; I had to crack the case on my old 450 for a transmission problem, after riding a lot of short runs into the fall and early winter - less then 3 miles per trip, in 40-50 degree weather. I found a lot of what looked like peanut butter trapped around parts of the engine that got lower oil flows. Not just from water coming in from cooling down, but water and acids from combustion that always gets past the rings.

Very long-term storage is a different matter, as seals can slowly go bad from lack of use - we're talking more than a year, here. A few months won't cause that, unless they were reaching end of life anyway.
 

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Aging & Worn
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Discussion Starter #13
WONDERFUL ride just now.........looking forward to the ride home!!!!

-Soupy
 

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American Legion Rider
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Extremely mild weather here for December. A little brisk in the morning but the ride home has been great for some time now. 61º right now. You can't beat that with a stick.:D
 

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Veteran Member
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Supposed to be mid 40s here all week. Almost 50 on a couple days. Our normal high temp right now is about 30. But we've had some frozen days where they put salt down on the roads already, so my bikes will continue in storage. My winter beater bike is out of commission, so I can't even ride that one this winter.
 

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Aging & Worn
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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
The "ride home" was even better than the ride out!!!!
Took the highway for the twenty miles back. Still miss my windshield though.
Forgot to take the steel wool out of the tailpipes when I started the bike......blew em out across the lawn!!!!

The end cap came off my left hand grip, and didn't notice it til I got back home and was positioning the bike for the lift, and noticed a silver disc on the floor. It popped right back in though.
-Soupy
 

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Premium Member
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The end cap came off my left hand grip, and didn't notice it til I got back home and was positioning the bike for the lift, and noticed a silver disc on the floor. It popped right back in though.
-Soupy
Extremely lucky there; that's the kind of thing that is usually left out on the road somewhere.:thumbsup:
 

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Hero of Legend
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I would imagine that this question is answered best by personal preference; but I'll ask it because there MAY be some scenarios in which a periodic "start up" might be a good idea for preservation of the integrity of the performance level of the motorcycle.

Yesterday, I was out in my garage on a fairly nice day (although a "nice day" at THIS time of year only lasts for a couple of hours about mid-day, and makes pulling the bike down off the lift for such a short window of time, not really worth it), and decided to start the bike, and let it run for five minutes.

Is there any logical mechanical value to starting a stored bike (up on a lift; preservative in the gas, etc.)?

-soupy
Absolutely. To put it simply enough, engines are made of steel. Which contains iron. Iron rusts over time with exposure to moisture, including in the air. To leave a vehicle sitting for extended periods of time, allows for this rusting to occur, and will eventually seize it up, entirely. This is why cars that have sat for several years often need to have the engines rebuilt entirely, to be restored to working order. I'm sure there are also other wear and tear that occur as well, that I simply can't think of. But rusted cylinders is certainly a huge issue.

Periodic startups combat this problem, because as the engine runs, it runs oil throughout its parts ( especially the cylinders ), which lubricates them against metal to metal contact, but ALSO coats the metal, blocking air moisture, and it's resulting rusting effect. The result is preserved engine life, and severely reducing repair / restoration costs. A little run-time every now and then can really save you mucho dinero.

Although, for clarity's sake, you definitely want to let it run for a little while, if you do. I believe 10 minutes is a popular estimate. And it's really not necessary over something like a typical "winter hibernation". It' takes a bit longer than that for the rusting to occur ( depending on storage conditions, admittedly ). But it's still not an overall terrible idea to let it run for a while, once in a while, if you're storing it away for longer than a few months inside a well insulated garage.
 

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Visionary
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If it's in runnable condition why start it and not ride it? Just idling it up to temperature is better than a quick start and shutdown but this isn't nearly as good for it as really giving it some use.

IMHO you might as well get in a short ride, loosen up the engine, heat everything up, and then park it again, it's not like riding is a terrible chore.. :)

But it's still not an overall terrible idea to let it run for a while, once in a while, if you're storing it away for longer than a few months inside a well insulated garage.
 

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Around farm country there is a lot of machinery that gets used once a year for a few weeks (either spring planting or harvest) and sits outside for the rest of the year. It seems to last many decades with no problems, no "fuel stabilizer", no periodic starting. I have seasonal machinery that doesn't get used for months at a time and all I do in the off-season is pull the batteries and put them in storage with a float-charger. I have never had any problems either getting something started and no engine problems. Some machines end up sitting for 2 or more years and still start and run fine.

My father was a master mechanic and used to tell me that starting an engine accounts for much of its wear 'cause the oil has settled to the sump and the film on the rest of the parts slowly gets thinner with time. I never start an engine unless it is going to get run long enough to get to full working temperature because when the engine is shut down and starts cooling down, it draws air into the crankcase and that air brings moisture that condenses in the engine.

If an engine has been sitting for a long time, I crank it (without starting) long enough to bring the oil pressure up before allowing it to start.
 
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