Autumn may have just started, but Winter is soon approaching. Don’t let your bike turn into ice. With Winter comes snow for many riders living in areas with colder climates, so we thought it’d be smart to give you some tips on how to properly store your motorcycle during the winter season (Aka: motorcycle “Winterization”).
Here are 10 steps to “Winterize” Your Motorcycle:
- Location – You’ll need to figure out where you’re going to store your motorcycle. Some dealerships offer storage programs, so that might be the easiest solution. They often prep, store, and have the bike ready to ride again at the end of the Winter season. If you decided to store it yourself, be sure to keep it away from windows to avoid the paint and plastic from fading by the UV-light. Direct sunlight can also raise the temperature in the storage area and promote condensation, so be sure to cover plain glass with an opaque material. You’ll also need to cover your bike with a specifically designed motorcycle cover because sheets and tarps absorb and trap moisture and will hold it against the bike forming rust and breeding mildew.
- Change the Oil & Filter– Even if your bike isn’t due for an oil change, byproducts of combustion produce acids which will harm the inner metal surfaces. To do this, warm the engine to its normal temperature to drain the oil faster and more completely. While you’re at it, go ahead and change the filter and add fresh motorcycle grade oil.
- Add Fuel Stabilizer & Drain Carbs – Fill your tank with fresh fuel, but don’t overfill. It should be filled up to the bottom of the filler neck, which gives the fuel enough room to expand without overflowing when temperatures rise. Shut off the fuel petcock and drain the carbs and fuel lines. Add winterization fuel conditioner, which prevents the fuel from going stale and from accumulating moisture. Stale fuel can plug the jets and passages inside your carbs.
- Lube the Cylinder(s) – You’ll only need to do this step if you’ll be storing your bike for long periods (6 months or more). If the cylinder wall is left unprotected, it can cause rust and premature piston and ring wear. Remove the spark plugs and pour a tablespoon of clean engine oil into each cylinder. Be sure to switch off the fuel before you crank the engine and end up refilling the drained carbs. Ground the ignition leads to prevent sparks from igniting any fuel residue. Rev the engine a bit to spread the oil around and then re-install the plugs. Don’t re-install the plugs before cranking the engine, otherwise it would result in hydraulic lock if too much oil was used in the cylinder.
- Battery Storage – The battery must be removed. Motorcycles often have a small dark current that drain the battery, even with the ignition switch turned off, and will turn it into sulfate causing it to no longer be able to sustain a charge. A conventional battery should be checked for electrolyte level. If any cells are low, add distilled water and then charge the battery. Charge the battery every two weeks using a trickle charger (has an output of 10% of the battery ampere hour rating). The charge rate of the battery should not exceed 1.2 amps, otherwise the battery will overheat. Elevate the battery and keep it from freezing as well.
- Surface Preparation – Apply wax and polish. The wax acts as a barrier against rust and moisture. Also be sure to spray WD-40 on any other metal surfaces to protect them from corrosion.
- Exhaust & Mufflers – Spray WD-40 into the muffler ends and drain holes. Place a plastic bag into the end of each muffler hole. This keeps moisture from getting into the exhaust. Then cover each muffler with another plastic bag to keep off moisture.
- Tires – Check air pressure in both front and rear tires and make sure each is fully inflated to their maximum recommended pressure. Place a 1/4″-1/2″ piece of cardboard or wood under each tire to raise the rubber off the floor and prevent them from freezing and cracking.
- Service all Fluids – Contaminated fluid will cause corrosion inside the systems, so be sure to use correct fluids and change them properly. A local dealer can assist you with this. If you’re bike is liquid cooled, check it’s level of anti-freeze with a hygrometer. Drain, flush, and replace anti-freeze, if necessary. It’s recommended to be replaced every 2 years or every 15,000 miles. Do not leave it low or empty, which can cause corrosion.
- Clean & Treat all Leather with a high quality dressing and then cover your bike and look forward to the next riding season.
Feel free to visit these websites or watch the video below for more tips on how to winterize your motorcycle: