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How to Winterize Your Motorcycle

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Billy is a motorcycling enthusiast with a full M class licence and five years riding experience both on and off road.

7 Tips for Winterizing Your Bike

Properly winterizing your motorcycle can help prevent costly damage when you're ready to ride again in the spring.

Before you put your bike away for the season, there are a few steps you should take to ensure your motorcycle is ready to rip when the weather warms up again.

Here is a quick checklist of things to do:

  1. Inspect the bike. Look over the details of the bike. Inspect tires for damage and wear. Add air. Inspect the chain. Now is also a good time to fix, repair or upgrade any parts you've been holding back on.
  2. Add fuel stabilizer. Modern stabilizers last about two years. They prevent the ethanol and gas from decomposition and condensation which causes rust in fuel tanks and clogs jets.
  3. Clean and lube chain. Chain maintenance is crucial - all times of the year. Clean and thoroughly lubricate your chain to prevent rust.
  4. Change the oil. If you're more than halfway to your next oil change, go ahead and do it now. If the oil is already pretty clean, just make sure it's topped up.
  5. Wash and wax bike. Creating a shiny protective layer on your bikes paint and plastics is great for preventing the micro scratching and collateral damage of any winter projects you might have going on.
  6. Maintain the battery. Hook it up to a maintainer. Or ride the bike every three weeks for 30 minutes to exercise the battery.
  7. Store in dry place. A heated garage is ideal. Plug the exhaust and air intake. Cover the bike using a breathable cover that won't trap moisture inside.

Inspect the Entire Bike

Here are a few spots on your bike to look over:

  • Check the bike's coolant with a test strip.
  • Check the tread of your tires, and make sure they have sufficient tread depth.
  • Inspect the tires for cracks, corrosion and damage. Then inflate your bike tires to the maximum sidewall pressure to minimize potential flat spots.
  • Clean or replace your air filters.
  • Change spark plugs.

Checking the Coolant

Check your coolant before running your bike so you don't burn your face off when removing the radiator cap.

Coolant is used to regulate temperature. It also helps to keep the engine clean by removing dirt, dust, and rust particles from inside of the coolant system. Flush the system if you see any debris in your coolant.

Use a test strip to test your coolant.

If pH and freeze point looks good, you don't have to worry about draining and replacing the coolant before winter. Just make sure to top up if you have to.

If you're not comfortable doing this yourself, ask your local bike mechanic to check your motorcycle coolant and fill up as needed.

how-to-winterize-a-motorcycle

Add Fuel Stabilizer

The next step is to add fuel stabilizer to the tank. Fuel stabilizer is a liquid that prevents gasoline from going bad in storage, and it’s a good idea to use it over the winter. You can get it at an auto parts store or online. Add this to your motorcycle's fuel tank before you put your bike away for the season.

Detailing Your Bike

Washing and waxing your motorcycle are necessary steps when storing it for winter to prevent rust and dirt buildup.

  • Start with cleaning your chain. Use chain cleaner to blast the crud off your chain.
  • Clean the rest of your motorcycle. Wash off the grime and dead bugs and other stuff that can corrode the paint and metal.
  • Wax the painted parts.
  • Wipe down all surfaces with a mild soap solution, and dry them thoroughly with a soft towel.
  • Next, apply a light layer of WD-40 or another lubricant to all your precious metals to help repel moisture and prevent rusting during storage.
  • Apply chain wax to your chain.

Maintain the Battery

If your bike is going to be sitting for awhile, especially in freezing weather, the battery may lose some of its power.

Use a battery maintainer.

Find a float charger that doesn't keep your battery at a near constant voltage. This can cause sulfate crystallization.

Use a battery tender that puts the battery through a discharge exercise.

If you already bought a charger, you can get the same effect just by unplugging your flow charger for a couple days each month.

Storing and Covering Your Bike

If you leave your motorcycle outside, you risk damage from rain, snow and other moisture. But even if you keep it in a garage or shed, there are still plenty of things that can go wrong.

Here are some things you should and shouldn't do when storing your bike over the winter season:

  • Store bike off the ground to prevent flat spots.
  • Keep it in a warm, clean and dry area, like a garage or shed.
  • Cover your motorcycle with a breathable, protective cover or tarp to keep dust and debris off of it while it's sleeping for the winter.

You can't leave your motorcycle uncovered, but you don't want to store it in an enclosed space or under a plastic tarp either, as these will trap moisture and keep the bike from drying out completely.

  • Don't store your bike in damp, cold places like garages that are poorly ventilated or unheated sheds. This can cause condensation to form on the bike's components, which can lead to rusting and damage of both the metal parts and electrical wiring.
  • Don't store your ride in a damp, warm place either. Moisture is bad news for motorcycles; it'll speed up corrosion and rusting on exposed metal areas such as battery terminals, brakes and other parts.

Conclusion

When you treat your bike well during the colder months, it will reward you when the weather warms up. The best way to make sure that your bike is ready for spring is to inspect your bike and see if there are any problems or issues that need fixing.

Keep your motorcycle in shape and running smoothly so you don't have any surprises when spring comes around!