Winterize Your Motorcycle in 11 Steps
Sadly, motorcycles aren’t ideal for the winter weather, and simply throwing a cover over your baby isn’t enough to protect it. So, as the temperature drops and the snow falls, it’s time to put away your toys. But first, follow these nine easy steps to get your hogs ready for hibernation.
Winter wash. Think about that clean, cozy feeling you get from showering before bed. Doesn’t your motorcycle deserve that same treatment? Built up dirt will corrode and damage metal surfaces over time, but a thorough wash and dry will leave your bike grime-free, and a proper wax will help keep moisture at bay.
All oiled up. Remember one thing — moisture is the enemy. Give your bike and its engine proper lubrication before storing it. And repel that dreaded moisture by lubricating here and there during the winter.
Replace spark plugs. But before you do, pour about a tablespoon of winter weight engine oil, like 5W30, into the holes of the cylinder head, and turn over the engine a few times to coat the cylinder walls.
Check moving parts. This includes things like the chain, kickstand, and the throttle and shifter – all need lubrication to prevent rusting. Keep those areas lubricated and moving during the winter to keep them loose.
Switch out dirty oil. Old oil can ruin an engine, especially after sitting for too long. Switch over to a quality winter-weight oil that will last well into the riding season, and don’t forget to change your filter too.
Check your levels. Proper fluid levels are crucial in the cold to protect your bike from rust and freezing temperatures. But fluids aren’t the only levels you’ll need to check before throwing your cover on and calling it day.
Empty your gas tank. With sludge and rust in your tank, you won’t be going anywhere come riding season. So before storing your bike, empty your gas tank completely, or add a fuel stabilizer to a full tank and run the engine to let it cycle through.
Stock up on antifreeze. Filling your coolant system with antifreeze will not only protect your engine from cracking in freezing temperatures, it’ll protect your nerves and sanity, because replacing your engine is the last thing you’ll have to worry about when it’s time ride again.
Protect your tires. Start by filling them with the max amount of air to avoid under-inflation from the cold. Then prop your bike on a rack to keep your tires off the ground so they don’t go flat or take in moisture that can destroy them from the inside out. If you don’t have a rack, park your bike on a piece of plywood or carpet, and make sure to rotate your tires often.
Prevent drain. Batteries tend to drain over time, even if they’re not being used. Take the battery out of your bike and hook it to a battery tender to keep it charged all winter without overcharging it. And if you’re worried about corrosion, put a little grease on the battery threads to stop it in its tracks.
Cover up. Small pests will be looking for a warm place to nest, and they’ll go right for your exhaust pipe — unless it’s covered. Use a cap or plastic bag to block that off, and then you’re finally ready to cover your bike for a long winter’s nap. But choose your cover wisely. A cover that ties will stay in place and do the best job keeping out dust and moisture. And a breathable fabric won’t trap moisture in like a tarp would.
Once your bike is all bundled up for the winter, you can go inside and do the same.