December 19, 2018 | Kirsten Midura
This summer added a ton of new motorcyclists to the New York riding community. It seemed that every week there was fresh face, with a new bike beneath them. It was a happy season of daily commutes, weekend rides, and long trips out of town. But as the days have gotten colder, I find that a number of my friends have been at a loss when trying to figure out what to do with their bikes over the dreary winter months.
I’m no expert. But I have gone through my own trial-and-error period when it comes to winter storage. And since I’ve had multiple new-rider friends approach me for advice lately, I figured I’d make it easy and just put my lessons learned down on paper.
As far as I’m aware, you’ve got a few options for where to put your bike over winter. There’s always street parking, which is cheapest as long as you’re down to move it for alternate side parking, run it regularly enough to keep the battery charged, keep it clean so that it doesn’t rust or get grimy, and cover it for protection both from precipitation and potential theft, both of which are still a threat. You could also rent your own private garage space or pay to leave it in a parking garage or private lot. I’ve never done any of these. But I can imagine they would become prohibitively expensive over prolonged periods (like the whole winter). If you know the right people, you could go in on a community-style garage space with some friends. This can be a great option for sure; however, this article is intended for my new rider friends who maybe haven’t built up a moto community of their own.
For new riders who haven’t sorted out their own winter storage spaces, my personal recommendation would be to look into motorcycle garages. There are a number of these around New York, each with their own perks and quirks. These establishments can provide space, security, amenities, and community, both over the winter and year-round. However, before you commit to one garage or another, there are a number of factors that you should consider. Below, I’ve listed some factors that I’ve found to be important, including: price, location, access, security, amenities, services, atmosphere, and reputation.
boutique garages such as dirty billy evolved out of small riding and wrenching groups | rahoul ghose
-- Kirsten Midura
So here it is, ladies and gentlemen …
What to look for in a garage – Kirsten style
P R I C E
The first question anyone asks me when considering garage space is, "How much does it cost?". It’s a fair question; owning and maintaining a motorcycle is pricey from the onset, and storage can add a major expense over the winter months. In my own experience, I’ve come across a range of prices, from about $100/month to more than $250/month. When going into a winter storage situation think through how long you intend to keep your bike stored and how much that will cost you in total. After all, your budget will determine how flexible you’re willing to be when weighing the monthly rent against other considerations.
L O C A T I O N
The proximity of the garage to your home or work may be key if you plan to ride or wrench over the winter. However, if you just want to put it away and forget about it for a few months, you can probably expand your search criteria to other neighborhoods.
A C C E S S
Are you planning to just drop your bike off, wave goodbye to it, and see it again in the spring? Are you hoping to take it out on those occasional warm days? Are you planning to do some work on the bike while it’s tucked away for the winter? The amount of time you plan to spend on your bike should definitely factor into which garage you go with. Cold storage options (in which you simply leave your bike there for the duration of your stay) will likely be the cheapest route, but it may mean you cannot touch your bike until you’re ready to move out. Some places offer garage access during business hours or when a staff member is present. Others offer full, 24-hour access. But keep in mind that you may pay a premium for this. When choosing a garage, consider whether you want access to your bike, when, and what you plan to do with it.
dirty billy offers work space, shared tools and a community knowledge base | rahoul ghose
-- Kirsten Midura
S E C U R I T Y
This is a big one in NYC, as there is always the possibility that garages will be broken into. The larger garages with more bikes and bigger names will, in theory, have security cameras, more robust means of locking up, and probably staff on site during business hours. If you go with smaller or more homey establishments, these options may not be available. When garage-shopping, make sure to ask the owners what their security set-up is like. If it's minimal, remember that you’re taking more of a risk.
A M E N I T I E S
There are a lot of add-ons that can be offered at garages. It’s worth thinking through whether they’re important to you. A big one is designated space – do you have a specific spot that your bike (and only your bike) goes? Is there a guaranteed outlet for you to plug in a trickle charger for your battery? Do you have storage space for your gear, parts, helmets, etc.? Some add-ons may be more particular: Is there wifi in the space? Can you use their tools? Is there a lift that you are able to use? And do these add-ons come with the price of rent, or are they separate? When looking at garages, remember that the space is just the base service; there’s so much more you can get out of a garage. Ask yourself what are you going to use, and how much are you willing to pay for it?
I N - H O U S E S E R V I C E S
Reality check: Many motorcyclists out there can’t do everything. Sometimes we just need a professional. When that happens, it can be nice for the services to be offered in-house. For instance, can they winterize your bike before storing it? Can they order you a part if you need it? Can they change your tires or fix your bike if you can’t do it yourself? And how much do they charge for each service? Having services like an in-house mechanic or technician can make life easier in some cases.
THAT SAID, make sure that you know and trust the person who’s working on your bike. There are a ton of garages and a ton of mechanics in the greater NYC area, but they’re not always in the same space. Do your homework on both the garage and the mechanics/technicians – and make sure you get the right people for each job.
motorgrrl garage even offers courses in bike maintenance and repair | rahoul ghose
-- Kirsten Midura
A T M O S P H E R E
I’ve left the final two factors here for last, as they’re both very subjective. But depending on how much time you’ll be spending at your garage, the deciding factor could just be the vibe. It’s simple -- if you like the people and the place, you’ll be more likely to spend time there. When making that final decision, look around at the space, the people, the lighting, the temperature, whether there’s wifi, a bathroom, a hook-up for your music, a fridge. Will the owner even let you spend time there? Is it a place where people congregate? Can you learn from the other patrons? A good garage can become a family and a second home for you, so if you’re looking for a sense of community, you want to make sure you’re going to be comfortable.
R E P U T A T I O N
The New York motorcycle scene is surprisingly small and filled with history and opinions. Until you’re familiar with the garage options, ASK AROUND. Ask people who keep their bikes there what they think of the space and service. Ask your friends where they keep their bikes, and what they like about their spots. Remember to be discerning and use your best judgment. But keep in mind that your contacts within the moto community can provide a wealth of information to newcomers.
This all may seem like a lot if you’ve never stored your bike in the city. But that’s okay. Just keep it simple: measure up what you’re getting for what you’re paying, and remember that if you ever have questions, it’s always okay to ask.
finding a place to park your bike -- and your gloves -- can mean new friends and future group riding opportunities | rahoul ghose
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A recent convert to the moto world, NYC Motorcyclist contributor Kirsten Midura is driven by a desire to educate, inspire, and connect. You can usually find her roaming around local garages or organizing events such as Moto Market NYC.
Great read. The NYC motorcycle community is lucky to have Kirsten.Cru Jones
Storage? Get some heated grips, electric vest and keep riding!Jacob Wade Asbury