Here’s how to bring a motorcycle inside your house or apartment, so you can avoid paying for winter storage. Bringing a motorcycle in and out of the house isn’t hard, even if you have to go up a staircase. You’ll need to spend a little money, but I’ll show you how I do it safely and easily every winter and spring.
Bringing a motorcycle into the house can be tricky. If you’re only going up a couple steps, a short ramp makes it easy. If you’re going up a flight of stairs you can use a ramp from an old cargo van or moving truck.
Check out the video or read along to find out how you can bring your motorcycle inside your home!
Before you bring your motorcycle inside
Before you bring your motorcycle in the house you should keep in mind a few things:
Motorcycles can smell – If you know you’re done riding for the season, consider bringing the bike in while it’s still warm enough you can leave a screen door open and a fan blowing, so you can blow some of the fumes outside.
Newer motorcycles smell less than older ones – Newer motorcycles are equipped with charcoal cannisters evaporation systems that catch gas leaving the motorcycle as part of their emissions requirements. This means newer motorcycles won’t smell as much indoors compared to older ones.
Annoying things – Be mindful that small children and pets who could knock over, scratch, chew up, or otherwise damage your motorcycles. If you’re bringing your motorcycle indoors you should have a system in place to protect it from these potential damages. Sometimes the safest bet is to remove your children and pets to make sure your motorcycle will be safe.
Prepwork is important – It’s easier to bring a motorcycle in the house if you’ve already cleared a pathway for it. This includes clearing all furniture, decorations, and other obstacles out of the way before bringing the motorcycle inside. It also includes having a plan for dealing with kick-stands or center stands which could scratch ceramic tiles, dirty tires which could stain carpet, and children or animals which could run out while the door is open.
Why bring your motorcycle inside the house?
There are three reasons to bring your motorcycle inside the house: saving on storage costs, customizing your bike, or doing repairs.
Motorcycle dealers are charging anywhere from $320 to $545 with taxes for winter storage. I have a handful of motorcycles, and for a one time cost of $200, I can bring two bikes into my home per year, every year. Bringing my motorcycles and scooters inside has saved me $440 to $1,090 per year. Storage places are looking for $100/month for something ground level in the city. That kind of money can cover any upgrades or repairs your motorcycle might need.
Customization was another reason I’ve brought a motorcycle in the house. I once bought a Harley-Davidson Sportster that had every knick-knack and doo-dad on it. It was a complete mess. At that time my garage was uninsulated and unsealed, and it was freezing out. I brought the Harley indoors and spent a couple evenings after work slowly removing all the previous owner’s junk and customizing it to my taste.
Likewise, I once bought a Ducati Monster with a sporadic electric issue that was hard to pinpoint. Sometimes it would just cut out. The price was cheap because the seller knew sporadic electric issues were costly to fix as they can require a lot of hours just to pinpoint. I wasn’t about to pay a shop $100/hour though. Instead I brought the motorcycle in my living room and went over the entire wiring harness while I streamed movies. It was a cut ground cable that was cut just enough to mostly make contact, but not always. I spliced some new wire in, soldered it together. Problem solved within two movies instead of hundreds of dollars.
How to bring a motorcycle in the house when you have to get up a flight of stairs
When you have to get your motorcycle up a flight of stairs to get into the house, your options are limited. You will need to make or buy some sort of ramp. If you have landing followed by a step, like I do, you may need two separate ramps. Here’s what I do:
Start with a long ramp
You could build yourself a wood ramp to get the motorcycle inside the house, but buying a used ramp can be cheaper and more cost-efficient. I needed to cover about 12 feet to from ground level to the top of my stair case, so I found a 14 foot ramp.
The used ramp cost about $150 and used to be used in a delivery van/truck. It’s made of aluminum, which is a light but strong metal. Aluminum is also great because it won’t rust, even if you leave it outside all winter.
If your stair case isn’t that big, you should check out DiscountRamps. They have a huge selection of powersports ramps, and I’ve used a bunch of their products including my motorcycle lift, motorcycle dolly, and my motorcycle wheel chock.
Get or build a second ramp
Because I had a landing at the top of my stair case, and then a 7” step up to the door frame, I needed a second ramp. I couldn’t just ride over the step because the motorcycle would bottom out against the top of the step, meaning the motorcycle and/or the house could be damaged. Luckily, a small ramp is easy to build with wood I had leftover from other projects around the house.
I took a piece of 2×6, cut it to the length of the landing and cut diagonally across the middle. That left me with two triangular pieces I could use as the base for my ramp. I screwed left over 2x4s over the top, and some supports along the middle. That was my quick and easy ramp from scrap wood. This would give me one consecutive ramp covering about 19 feet from the ground to my doorframe.
How wide should your ramp be?
If you’re not going up a steep flight of stairs, you might get away with just walking your bike up a long plank. If your doorway is a few feet above the ground, you’ll want a ramp wide enough to ride up. You may also want to make your ramp wider by adding side extensions.
To add side extensions to my 14 foot ramp I use the thickest most heavy duty angle-brackets I can find. First, I drill some holes in the sides of the ramp. Next, I attach my brackets with heavy duty nuts and bolts. Then I attach some 2×6 to the brackets.
Try to think about how to get as much support as you can from these brackets. I use 4 per side over the 14 foot span of my ramp. I weigh about 165-170 lbs. If you’re substantially heavier, you may want to use more brackets or double-up on the brackets. You should also think about leverage, the shape of your ramp, and which way to position everything, including your nuts and bolts. As a general rule, you want to keep everything as close to center as possible.
Before adding side extensions my ramp was 24” wide in the middle. It was okay for small motorcycles, but kind of scary for wider-bodied ones. After adding the side extensions my ramp was almost 36” wide, which felt much safer and less scary.
How to ride your motorcycle into your home
Riding (or pushing) your motorcycle up your ramp and into your home follows the same basic rule of motorcycle riding: Look where you want to go. If you look down, or left, or right, guess where you’ll end up?
If you watch the video you watch my helmet camera footage, you’ll see my head never turns or looks down. I am always facing forward, ahead, eyes up, focused on the doorway. I have no idea where I was on the ramp or how far off the ground because I was never thinking about anything but the doorway.
Before you start your ride be sure the inside of your home is ready:
- The path should be clear
- If you have carpet you should have a plan for dealing with dirty tires that could stain it
- If you have wood flooring or ceramic tiles you should have a plan for avoiding scratches
While riding up the ramp, be slow, but not too slow to risk stalling. Be steady, with no on or off the throttle. Be alert, and well rested. Don’t do this after you worked an overnight shift. Treat it like riding in the ride and just keep your head up, be careful, be cool and consistent, and look where you want to go. You will be fine.
I always cut the motor once I have the handlebars through the doorway, and push for the last couple feet, just to avoid the inside of my home smelling like exhaust. Then I will close the screen door to keep animals out, and put a fan on, to blow any motorcycle or scooter smells back outside for the next few hours.