How to Winterize a Motorcycle

It is not safe to ride a motorcycle in the winter, so winterize your bike and wait until spring to get back on the road.

However, putting your bike away for the winter isn’t as simple as putting a cover on it and getting in the car. It would be best to do some work before storing your motorcycle over several months to keep it in peak working condition.

Suppose you thoroughly prepare your bike for winter storage. In that case, it will be much easier to get it functioning again when the riding season begins, and you will avoid any unpleasant surprises like dead batteries, corrosion, and rust patches (or worse.)

There may be different things that need to be handled depending on the type of motorbike you ride, but there is some standard advice on making it ready to be stored for the winter.

Because moisture is your primary adversary during winter storage, we will focus most of our winterizing efforts on keeping it away from your bike. We’ll also pay attention to your fuel system, battery, tires, and other moving parts.

How You Can Winterize Your Motorcycle

1. Give Your Bike a Thorough Cleaning

Washing your bike when no one will see it for a few months is a hassle, but it’s crucial to give it a thorough cleaning before storing it; allowing bug guts or water stains to linger on your paint will permanently erode the surface. Wash and dry your bike completely to remove all moisture from the surfaces (an electric leaf blower is a great way to get all the nooks and crannies dry).

Apply a coat of wax to the surface to act as a moisture and corrosion barrier. Finally, spray exposed metal surfaces with WD-40 to remove all moisture (interesting fact: the WD in “WD-40” stands for “water displacement”) and provide a corrosion-resistant coating.

2. Replace the Oil and Filter

It’s time to change your oil and filter. Your lubrication system should have new oil in it for several months than it is to have used, broken down oil in it, and the last thing you’ll want to do when the riding season starts is to replace the oil before you can go riding. Using a winter weight oil, such as the 5W30, can also make it easier to start in the spring.

If you’re going to be storing your bike for an extended period (4-6 months or more), you should lightly coat your engine’s internals with oil to protect them from moisture. The chilly winter air is ideal for moisture to collect in your engine and for rust to build on your pistons and cylinder walls, even if you can’t see it with your naked eye.

Remove the spark plugs and spray (approximately a tablespoon) of engine oil into the holes, then spin the rear wheel with the bike in gear a few times to coat the cylinder walls. Replace the spark plugs once everything has been coated.

3. Keep Your Motorcycle Tires in Good Shape

Now it’s time to look at your bike’s tires. Because sitting still is bad for the compounds in motorcycle tires, make sure they’re correctly inflated and put the bike up on track stands, so the tires aren’t overloaded.

You’re set if your bike has a center stand. If not, it’s worth investing in a set of stands, which are helpful not only for winter storage but also for completing routine maintenance like oil changes and chain lubrication.

If it’s too late, you can use a piece of chalk to mark your tires and move the bike forward or backward to avoid flat patches.

4. Take Care of Your Battery

When batteries sit for an extended time, they tend to self-discharge, especially if they are still connected to the bike. Connecting a battery tender, such as the Battery Tender Super Smart Junior, which employs innovative technology to monitor the charge and maintain the battery topped off without overcharging, is the most straightforward approach to address this.

Usually, the battery is removed from the bike for storage, but with a smart tender, you may connect the tender to the battery that is still in the bike. Ensure the electrodes are clean and corrosion-free before proceeding; if required, clean them and apply a slight coating of grease.

5. Keep it Under Wraps

Invest in a suitable motorcycle cover once your motorcycle is adequately prepared for the winter. A good motorcycle cover will not only keep dust off the bike but will also keep moisture out, preventing corrosion or rust from forming below it.

If you’re going to store it outside, buy a cover with tie-downs to keep it from blowing away in the wind. It will be in much better form if you keep it inside, but you should still cover it to prevent dust from accumulating.

The Wrong Way to Winterize a Bike

Do not Store a Dirty Bike

Road grit, grime, and bugs that have found their final resting place on your motorcycle will eat away at the clear coat, anodized aluminum, polished metal finishes, and even stainless steel. If left to cement themselves on surfaces for any length of time, this damage will happen just as acidic oil can eat away at engine internals.

If you reside somewhere where the roads are salted or brined, that stuff is kryptonite for metal and rubber parts alike. Giving your bike one final wash and wax will help keep its factory finish looking new for years to come.

Don’t Drain the Tank

An empty tank is prone to corrosion and dried-out seals, whereas a tank full of treated gas keeps everything in good working order. If you have a carbureted bike, make sure the petcock is turned off, and the carb bowls are drained.

If you don’t trust your ancient petcock or your carbs’ needle valves, take care of those issues first! If fuel leaks through both and overflows over your bike (or, worse, into your engine), it can cause more difficulties than a tank of stable fuel can avoid.

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