As the air cools and we prepare for the snow, are you certain your bike is ready for the bitterly cold weather that is on its way? If your plan is to simply cover it, trust us when we say it won’t do you any good.
While everyone will be getting ready for spring riding season, you’ll be at a repair shop missing out on all of it. To avoid this, you need to winterize your motorcycle and prepare it for storage right now.
Refer to this guide to know about the easy winterization process, so you have a smooth riding session next spring.
How to Winterize Your Motorcycle?
Winterizing a motorcycle is not as complicated as it sounds. A little maintenance effort and a smart storage plan are all you need to keep it protected in the winter months. Here’s how to do it:
Before you put your bike to a sweet sleep for a few months, you need to give it a good wash. You need to clean the bug guts and water spots that can corrode the paint finish. Once you do, let the bike dry out completely. You can use the electric leaf blower to dry the water out from intricate spaces.
Next, a light coating of wax on the bike surface will act as a barrier against moisture and rust. Add a WD-40 (water displacement) coating to keep all the moisture at bay.
Change Oil and Filter
Don’t store the bike with used oil from your last ride. Old and dirty oil can be harmful to the engine. It’s better to add some fresh oil now rather than just before your next ride. Use a winter weight oil like 5W30 for a smooth start in the spring.
To prevent cold winter air from gathering moisture on your bike and pave way for the rust, coat its internals with some oil. For this, remove the spark plugs, and add a tablespoon of oil to the engine holes. Then, turn the engine over a few times to coat the cylinder walls and you are done.
Lubricate All Moving Parts
Moisture build-up on the bike parts leads to a buildup of rust, which is bad news for the bike. This is why it is vital to keep all the moving parts lubed like chain drive, fork surfaces, cables, controls, etc. Lubricate all the nooks and pivot points to keep the moisture at bay and a smooth start after the winter months.
Prep Fuel System
When not used for a long period, gas tanks go rusty, and the fuel starts to break down. This will require you a thorough cleaning in the spring, which can be a huge hassle. But not if you fill the tank completely with treated fuel and add a fuel stabilizer to it. It will inhibit moisture build-up in the fuel system walls. It is an ideal option for both carbureted and fuel-injected bikes. Ride the bike for a short distance after adding the fuel stabilizer so it mixes with the gas well.
An alternative method for this will be if you drain the fuel system completely. This will require you to treat the inside of the gas tank with fogging oil, which is a very tedious process. Bikers who store their motorcycle for six or more months usually prefer this method, but it is not advisable.
Secure the battery
If your bike is sitting in the garage for a long time, it is most likely to get discharged after a certain period. And honestly, getting it recharged or buying a new one is not cheap. To prevent this, you can install an automated trickle charger harness that will keep the motorcycle batteries charged up throughout the winter. You can also remove the battery and keep it someplace safe for winter storage. But charger harnesses like from Battery Tender can save you from this hassle.
Motorcycle tires can develop flat spots if you leave them in the same position all winter long. The best thing to do here is to put your bike on the center stand to take the weight off the tires. You can also use bike stands to keep them off the ground. For those of you who don’t have stands, try to rotate the tires every few weeks. Only keeping the rear tire a little above the ground should work, too.
You can put a carpet of plywood under the tires to stop moisture from seeping into them.
Check the Coolant
Add a considerable amount of anti-freeze to the coolant system before storing the bike for the winters. This will keep the water inside the cooling system from freezing and oxygen from corroding the interior walls that aren’t covered in coolant.
Plug-Out the Pests
Rodents like mice make your bike their home in the cold weather, including the air filters and exhaust pipes. To keep them out, cover the pipes with bright-colored plastic bags and stuff them into the air intakes. Don’t forget to take them out before you start riding again.
Use a Quality Cover
Invest in a good quality cover to keep your bike protected during the winters. It keeps the dust away and prevents moisture from getting trapped underneath the bike, which leads to rust, corrosion, and mold build-up.
It’s best to store the bike in a garage or a closed space if you have one during the cold weather. Use the tie-downs of the cover, so it doesn’t fly away with the wind.
Storing your bike in the open makes it prone to theft. Thieves may target while you are away or fast asleep at night. A cover can only do as much to conceal it. It’s better to use heavy lock, chain, or motorcycle alarms to prevent it from getting stolen.
You can always store it inside, in a heated space, in order to keep it protected. This is also because a drop in the temperature can build up condensation and cause damage.
Don’t Start Your Bike Periodically
You must have heard many people saying, “Start your bike in a week or so,” but you shouldn’t if you don’t want to ride it. Cold starts are hard on the bike engine, and you will end up depleting the battery charge. The battery doesn’t charge back up to full until you ride it at normal RPMs. When it doesn’t reach its operating temperature, it leads to condensation buildup, which can ruin your winterization efforts.
How NOT To Winterize Your Motorcycle?
Don’t store a dirty bike
Cleaning your bike with only a cloth is not enough. You need to wash, scrub, and wax the motorcycle before storing it for the coming months.
Don’t over-inflate your tires
Many people over-inflate the bike tires to compensate for their weight. However, this cannot prevent flat spots. Use bike stands or ply to keep your bike off the ground for this.
Don’t compromise on oil-change
When you store the bike without an oil change, combustion gases can seep past its piston rings and get trapped in the oil, which then leads to the formation of carbonic and sulfuric acid. The acidic oil goes over your bearings during this time and can cause problems starting the engine in the next riding season.
Don’t use a cheap cover
When it comes to your bike safety, compromise is a no-go. Never use a cheap quality cover as it can slip off and chafe against the paint, running the show off your bike. It can even trap water to leave behind water spots that cause rust and corrosion on the bike surface.
Don’t drain your tank
Unless you are storing your bike for years altogether, do not drain the gas tank completely. An empty tank is an invitation for corrosion and dried-out seals. Rather, use a fuel stabilizer with a tank full of treat fuel that will keep everything fresh.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What if I don’t winterize my motorcycle?
Not winterizing the motorcycle can lead to sticky deposits in your fuel system and cooling system, sludged oil, flat tires, brittle chain, and frozen or dead battery. Moisture build-up can cause rust and corrosion, which can damage the bike in the long run. When this happens, you’ll have to bear heavy repair costs when the spring season starts.
Q. Is a fuel stabilizer necessary for the motorcycle?
If you are storing the motorcycle for three weeks or more, it is necessary to top up the tank with a good-quality fuel stabilizer. Fuel stabilizers add a protective layer to the fuel sitting in the gas tank. Without it, the fuel will turn into a hard and crystallized product that can clog carburetors and fuel injectors. As a result, your bike will fail to start the next time you wish to ride it.
For everyday life, fuel stabilizers are not necessary.
Q. Is it okay to leave my motorcycle outside during winter?
You can leave your motorcycle outside as long as you have fully prepped it for winter storage. Wrap it in a good quality cover with tie-downs so that it doesn’t blow away during strong wind. This will keep the moisture away, which may lead to damage. However, if possible, it is always recommended to store the bike inside in heated spaces.
A little effort goes a long way. If you truly love your bike as you claim you do, you’d be more than willing to winterize it. It is simple maintenance that even a novice can perform. Not only will this save you money on repairs, but it will also increase the resale value of your bike. You can get a full bike servicing before storing it for the winter months. But it is always better to learn it for the future.