Winterizing Your Motorcycle
October 25, 2016 | By: Mark Weaver
If you aren’t one of the lucky ones who lives in a climate where you can ride year round, you will need to store your motorcycle for the winter. You want to make sure your bike will be ready for that first spring ride, so don’t just park your bike for a few months without proper preparation. Follow these simple steps to give your motorcycle the care it needs for winterizing.
1. WASH AND WAX
Start by giving the bike a good wash and wax (bikini girls optional, but recommended). Remove any road grime or dirt that might trap water and cause corrosion. You want to protect the finish. This is especially important if the bike will be stored in a non-climate controlled area. Give all the rubber parts a wipe down with Armor All or some other silicone based rubber preservative, and make sure you polish any aluminum to forestall corrosion. You can use WD-40 to protect metal parts. Give your chain a good cleaning if you have a chain drive. Avoid spraying water directly into the muffler as baffles could rust. Dry your motorcycle using a chamois or leaf blower. Moisture is the enemy. Lube cabals, suspension, pivot points, and moving parts.
Once the bike is clean, add the recommended amount of Fuel Preservative. Try Lucas Safeguard Ethanol Fuel with Conditioner or GoldEagle STA-BIL Fuel Stabilizer. This prevents the fuel from creating thick gunk that can clog your carburetor. Next, take the bike for a short ride to the nearest gas station and top off the tank. This will dry out all the nooks and crannies, as well as warm up the oil. It will also get the fuel additive flowing through the carburetors or injectors. A full fuel tank will prevent corrosion caused by condensation forming in the tank. Although, the majority of fuel tanks now come with internal coatings, so this isn’t as big of a problem as it once was.
3. OIL CHANGE & FLUIDS
A pre-storage oil change is always a good idea. Drain the oil and change the oil filter. Refill with the proper viscosity and amount of oil and you’ll be off to a good start next riding season. As always with an oil change, go ahead and check the air cleaner and fuel filter to see if it needs cleaned or replaced.
Now is a good time to check other fluids as well. If you have a liquid cooling system, check the level of your anti-freeze with a hygrometer. For best practice, drain and replace anti-freeze every two years. Make sure you use coolant rated for the temperature range where your bike is stored and if possible start the bike every two weeks during storage to cycle the system and avoid damage.
Nothing is more irritating than pushing out your motorcycle for your first spring ride, only to discover it won’t start because of a dead battery. Fortunately, maintaining your battery is simple. If you’re going to store the bike with the battery in place, check and clean the terminals as needed. Then, connect the battery to a battery charger, like the Battery Tender Battery Tender Plus, also called a battery maintainer or “smart” charger. If you remove your battery for storage you can service it at your convenience, but don’t forget that even a battery stored in a warm, dry place will still require periodic charging.
Park the motorcycle where you want it to sit, preferably in an area where the temperature remains constant and out of the direct sunlight. Exposure to sunlight causes the temperature to change, which can cause condensation and rust. A garage or storage shed that can be locked is ideal. A quality motorcycle cover like the UltraGard Black/Charcoal Bike Cover can go a long way to protect your bike. If you are parking your motorcycle on concrete, laying down an old piece of carpet or plywood will help keep moisture off the bike.
Make sure your tires are properly inflated using the Milwaukee Twins Liquid Filled 3″ Glow-In-The-Dark Tire Gauge, because low tire pressure can damage motorcycle tires over the winter. The TireGard Tire Pressure Monitoring System is a convenient way to monitor tire pressure quickly. If you’re going to store your bike in an extreme cold situation, try to elevate the bike to minimize the load on the tires if possible. Avoid storing your motorcycle near ozone-emitting devices, such as motors, freezers, furnaces, or electric heaters because the gasses can deteriorate rubber parts.
It’s a good idea to tape over any openings, such as the air intake, and insert a muffler plug (or some steel wool) to prevent rodents from taking up residence over the winter. Rodent damage can cause serious problems.
Winter is a great time to buy parts, perform maintenance, and upgrade your motorcycle. I like to file my taxes as soon as possible, so I can get my return early and get all the parts I’ve been wanting. This way, I can finish my bike before the next riding season and start with a fresh look. Visit J&P Cycles for the latest parts and trends.
Follow these steps and your bike should be ready for a great spring riding season.