Preparing Your Motorcycle for Winter Storage

In most parts of the country, the winter brings weather conditions that aren't particularly well suited for motorcycle riding. Unless you enjoy riding in the wind, wet condition, and cold, packing your bike away for winter is probably the best course of action. While you could just leave your bike where it stands and hope it still runs in the spring when the weather warms up, it's a much better idea to take some steps to make sure it'll be protected from the weather conditions.

Wash and Protect

Washing your motorcycle is a good place to start when winterizing your motorcycle. This is an important step because dirt, salt, and grease can build up on your bike during the normal riding season. If this dirt and gunk is left on the bike, it can ultimately cause corrosion which will shorten the longevity of your bike. Make sure to thoroughly clean the underside of your motorcycle and your tires, too. If you want, you can add a coat of wax to the painted areas to increase the protection.

Oil Change

It's helpful to enter the winter with fresh oil. In some circumstances, oil can break down with extended use. This broken down oil will essentially appear as a gunky build up, which will rob your bike of performance. Having fresh oil will also help when you go to start your bike in the spring. If you're going to be storing your bike for several months, you can also pull the spark plugs and pour a drop or two into each cylinder. Then, put the bike into gear and roll it back and forth a few times to cycle the pistons. This will distribute the oil around and increase the protected areas.

Lubrication

Make sure to lubricate all the parts of your bike where there's a metal-on-metal connection. If your bike is chain-driven, make sure to clean and lubricate it. Just make sure the type of lubricant you use is approved for use on motorcycles. Some types of lubricant will break down helpful oils while not replacing them, thus doing more harm than good.

Fuel System

Prepare your fuel system for the winter by adding a dose of fuel stabilizer to a full tank of gas. It's important that you fill the tank so that no water condensation can accumulate and dilute the gasoline.

Battery

Disconnect the battery and store it in a cool, dry place that's elevated off the ground. A garage or shed should work fine, but if your area gets winters that drop significantly below freezing, you might want to take your batteries inside. If you have one around, a battery tender will help to keep the battery in the best shape possible so that it's fully charged when you are ready to use it in the spring.

Tires

Make sure the tires are correctly inflated and clean before you store your bike away for winter. You might consider investing in a bike stand. This will keep your bike off the ground so that your tires don't become misshapen from sitting in one spot.

Coolant/Antifreeze

Sometimes, people will put some water in their coolant system in a pinch because they don't have any extra coolant on hand. If you've done this during the previous riding season, make sure you replace all your water or coolant with actual antifreeze. This is important because if the weather drops below freezing, the water in your cooling system can freeze and blow out your pipes.

Storage

If possible, try to store your bike in a cool, dry place away from the elements. A garage is perfect for this application and a shed should do nicely as well. At very minimum, make sure you invest in a cover to keep the water and UV light off your bike over the winter if you're going to be keeping it outside. This is necessary even if you're planning on keeping it under a carport.

Properly winterizing your motorcycle will help to extend its longevity and decrease the number of repairs you'll have to pay for in the winter. By putting the extra time and effort into the process, you'll save yourself time and money in the long run.