Unless you’re lucky enough to live in an area with year-round riding weather, you’re probably starting to think about storing your bike for winter. Properly storing and winterizing your bike at the end of the season extends the life of your bike, and gets you back on the road faster once spring rolls around. Our motorcycle product experts share 5 easy steps to prepare your motorcycle for winter.
1. Clean all of its Surfaces
After you’ve taken your bike out for the last ride of the season, clean the surface thoroughly with water using a mild motorcycle-specific detergent and soft microfiber chamois. Leaving bugs, dirt, and other grime on your bike while it’s in storage can cause corrosion, ruining the paint finish. Use a toothbrush to clean hard-to-reach areas like radiators and chains.
Once your bike is clean, thoroughly towel dry it, ensuring there isn’t any moisture left. Add a coat of wax to the surface, leather protectant on the seat and any other leather details, and add some WD-40 on exposed metal surfaces and the drive chain. These extra steps will protect all surfaces of your bike against moisture, rust, and corrosion that can occur during winter storage.
2. Check the Fluids
Old oil becomes acidic after a time and can eat away at seals and gaskets, so it’s a good idea to change the oil before storing your bike for a few months. Run your bike until the engine warms up, drain the old oil, change the filter, and refill the engine with new oil. Once the oil has been changed, start your bike to get the engine internals lightly coated with oil. While newer bikes have fuel injection systems, if your motorcycle has carburetors, this a good time to clean them (especially important if your bike will be in storage for 3 or more months).
Once you’ve changed the oil, tend to the other fluids in your bike. Even though you won’t be riding it, you should store your bike with a full tank of gasoline to prevent the fuel tank from rusting. Make sure the gasoline is combined with a fuel stabilizer like Sta-bil or Sea Foam. Old, untreated gasoline will turn to sludge and have a negative effect on the engine and carburetor.
Just like gasoline, you don’t want to leave your coolant/anti-freeze levels low. This will cause the coolant system to rust and corrode. Check your anti-freeze levels, flush the system, and replace with fresh anti-freeze.
3. Maintain the Battery
Make sure your battery is charged and in good condition before storing your bike. Top off any low fluid levels with distilled or deionized water, check to make sure all cables and clamps are tightened, and clean the terminals and connectors. Keep the battery from dying during the winter months by connecting it to a battery tender, which will charge and maintain the charge of your battery.
4. Protect the Tires
Inflate the tires on your bike to the maximum recommended pressure before storage. This will maintain their shape and prevent them from going flat as colder temperatures cause the pressurized air in the tires to condense. Ideally, you should put your bike up on a motorcycle stand for storage to keep the tires off the cold ground, preventing them from cracking or developing flat spots. If you don’t have a stand, that’s okay! Simply place a rug, piece of carpet, or plywood underneath your bike to keep moisture from getting into the tires, and roll it back and forth a few times during the winter to help the tires keep their shape.
5. Cover and Store Your Bike
If possible, store your bike in a covered, dry area this winter. Cover mufflers and motorcycle exhaust pipes with plugs, rags, plastic bags and rubber bands to keep mice and other pests from turning your bike into their winter homes. It’s a good idea to cover your bike to prevent dust from collecting; choose a breathable motorcycle cover that will prevent moisture and condensation from building up underneath it.
Ready for Spring
As sad as it is to store your bike for the winter, it comes with some positives. Taking a break from riding and having some down time can allow you to catch up on maintenance and care that you may sometimes lose track of during the riding season. With just five simple steps, you can avoid any unpleasant surprises when you take your bike out of hibernation, meaning less work when spring rolls around. After a few quick checks and a wash, you’ll be back on the road when the snow melts and the sun shines brighter!
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