Reader, as you likely know, we here at Motorcycle.com test a lot of bikes. It’s kind of our job. As such, there’s always a continual rotation of motorbikes coming and going from our respective homes. Naturally, where would you put a motorcycle at your home? In your garage, of course. The cars can live outside, hun. The garage is reserved for motorbikes.
Here’s the thing: I don’t have a garage at my house. It pains me to say it, and it even pains me to write it. But it’s true. As someone who has always had access to a garage from birth, to finally own a home and not have a garage is not an easy pill to swallow. There’s a lot of backstory as to why I don’t have one, but this is a product review, not a therapy session. Anyway, as such, bikes that are in my possession for any length of time inevitably live under my carport, exposed to the elements, prying eyes, and, inevitably, the dust and grime kicked up from the many leaf blowers used by the gardeners around the neighborhood – including my own.
More often than not, the bikes I have are filthy, and despite my efforts to clean them before a shoot, there’s inevitably a spot I can’t reach. Who knew dirt and grime really can get everywhere even sitting still? And why not just use a cover, you ask? I have. But with so many different bikes of various sizes, your typical cover either fits loosely on sporty bikes or has a hard time fitting over big tourers. Either way, dust, and grime still find their way underneath the cover, dirtying up the bike.
Then there’s the matter of security. Despite my best efforts to keep bikes parked away from glancing eyes as much as possible (it helps I live in a low-traffic neighborhood) and block them in with a car or two, I can’t help but worry about the security of bikes in my care. Luckily nothing has ever happened, but the paranoia is very real. And before you ask, simply building a garage isn’t going to happen for a laundry list of reasons I won’t get into here. So, another solution would be needed.
Enter Speedway Motorsport Shelters. Essentially a retractable polyester shell built atop a metal frame, the Speedway Shelter is just the item I’ve been looking for. It envelopes a motorcycle (or two, or even three, but more on that later), in a cocoon of weather- and UV-resistant fabric to keep rain, wind, dust, and whatever my gardener’s leaf blower throws at it. For humid areas there are also built-in windows that allow air to pass through, but for my needs that kinda defeats the purpose.
The beauty of Speedway Shelters is that they come in different sizes, can be assembled and disassembled easily, and come with a transport bag should you want to take it somewhere. I was attracted to the shelter because it’s basically the next best thing to having a garage – at least in my situation. It offers full-coverage protection and doesn’t require me to get any permits from the city to build.
As for the shelters themselves, it all starts with the powder-coated steel frame. The shelters are essentially cut in half lengthwise, each arm that makes up the support structure for each side is connected together with quick-release fasteners, then the two halves slide together via quick-release, spring-loaded pins to form the final structure. A 600D polyester fabric completes the armadillo-like shell, and its polyurethane coating and taped seams on the inside keep the elements out. Heavy-duty velcro attaches the fabric onto the bars of the support structure and completes the build. That’s it. No tools are needed and you can be on your way to covering up your bike in minutes. Speedway also offers a separate rubber mat to go with each shelter to help keep away condensation and dust from getting in from underneath. It also prevents marks between the side stand and your flooring.
So far, all is well and good. Mostly. In my experience with the Speedway Shelter (in the interest of full disclosure, I was sent both a Deluxe model and the Standard size), assembly was relatively easy – though one of the steel square tubes must have been damaged or slightly deformed in the shipping process, as I wasn’t able to securely connect it all the way via the quick-release tab. Also, with the Standard Shelter, after I had installed the cover, the rear section of the shelter would fall forward when closed. Ultimately, I had to disconnect one of the support beams from the cover and move another beam that should have been placed more towards the rear of the motorcycle into a higher position to redistribute the weight bias and keep it closed when all the way shut. Oddly, the Deluxe I was sent didn’t have this issue. That hiccup aside, I like the fact I can open the shelter, roll a bike in, and close it again. There’s nothing touching the bike, which also means there’s nothing touching a hot exhaust pipe.
I like the fact there’s a tab welded into the hinge of the shelter to install a lock (sold separately). Being as my shelter is being used outdoors, the lock keeps the shelter closed – both from people and from wind gusts. At least that’s the theory. To get the most out of the Speedway Shelter, you need to anchor it to the ground. They even include concrete anchor bolts to do just that. If drilling holes in your concrete isn’t appealing to you, which is the boat I’m in, Speedway also recommends laying down a plywood base for the shelter which you can then anchor to.
Honestly, neither option sounded very appealing to me. So I haven’t done either one. As such, without anything keeping the shelter married to the ground, the locking tabs are essentially useless, as the entire hinge assembly can still flip open. I think I’ll eventually succumb to laying plywood down.
Nonetheless, my Speedway Shelter has stood up to the elements like a champ. Even though mine isn’t anchored down, the winds haven’t moved it, and the bikes inside come out as clean as when I put them in. Nice. I’ve had the Shelter for almost a year now and even though the harsh summer sun has started to fade the poly cover, it hasn’t impacted its performance. Granted, had I simply installed the additional top cover that came with the shelter it probably wouldn’t look faded. But seeing as I’m trying to draw as little attention to the shelter as possible, a slightly faded cover might attract less attention anyway.
Speedway Shelters are available in three different sizes: Deluxe, Touring, and Sport/Standard. The Deluxe measures 140” X 80” X 80” and can swallow two touring cruisers, or even a trike or three-wheeler like a Can-Am Spyder. I’ve personally shoved two sportbikes facing forward and parked a third one backward in between them with room to spare. At 5-foot, 8-inches, I can fully stand up in the Deluxe, too. I bet if I got creative I might be able to shove a fourth bike in there. Fortunately, I haven’t had the need. The Touring model measures 138″ x 56″ x 79″. This one’s ideal for a single touring cruiser, adventure bikes, Gold Wing, or even a riding lawn mower. Lastly, the smallest model, the Standard/Sport shelter, measures 110″ x 45″ x 66″. As you can guess from the name, this one’s ideal for sportbikes, standards, scooters, and other small bikes you likely wouldn’t want to ride across the country. Each shelter also comes with an LED light you can hang inside.
The Next Best Thing To Having A Garage
Don’t get me wrong. I’d still much rather have a garage, but since I don’t, the Speedway Shelters have been the next best thing. And they’re a whole lot cheaper, too – Sport models start at $445.95, Touring models at $490.95, and the Deluxe starts at $574.95. The Deluxe has become my spot for storing bikes, along with random items I might want to hide from the wife (Shh. Don’t tell). I’ve taken the Sport shelter to the track during a club racing weekend, where it’s proven to be a nice spot for my Kramer HKR-EVO2 to rest overnight. For a simple trackday, however, I opt to leave the Speedway Shelter at home.
I wish I didn’t have to drill holes in the ground or add a wood base to make a lock functional, but overall I think those are pretty small gripes for the coverage and protection these shelters provide. I don’t see myself moving from this house anytime soon, nor do I see us spending the cash to have a garage built (not on my MO salary at least!). So until then, the Speedway Shelters have been the (temporary) answer my wife has been looking for to stop my constant nagging about a garage.
Should I cover my motorcycle in the garage?
That’s a matter of personal preference and how anal-retentive you are about your motorcycle’s upkeep. Generally, if your motorcycle is already in a garage then it’s safe from the elements. But if you feel the need to take the extra step to cover your bike when it’s already in a garage, indoor motorcycle covers exist for just this reason. Perhaps the bike is about to go into long-term storage, for example.
How do you build a motorcycle shelter?
There are a lot of ways. The Speedway Shelter is obviously one of them. Other, similar, shelters also exist that are similar in setup. If you wanted to build a dedicated shed or garage-type of shelter, then you’d have to go through the process of figuring out what kind of shed or garage you want, what you’re able to build on your property, permits, etc. The rabbit hole is deep here, but it starts with figuring out what you want.
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