Winter is fast approaching, or has already arrived for some. For those who plan to store a motorcycle for a couple of months or longer, we have put together some steps on how to winterize a bike. Below are the first five tips that will help reduce the time and money needed to get your motorcycle back on the road during the spring. Another five suggestions will be included in part two of our tips for winterizing motorcycles.
There are two gas related issues that often occur during the winter, the first is detailed in the De-Winterizing Your Motorcycle Tip article, is that gas disassociates causing the fuel system to gum up. This can be avoided before the motorcycle is stored by filling up the tank and adding the correct amount of fuel stabilizer.
Filling up the gas tank will also help with the second gas related issue – preventing the inside of the tank not covered with gas from rusting. With some movement of the bike on a monthly basis, gas will cover the small areas above the gas line in the top part of the tank helping to eliminate rust in that area as well.
2) Oil & Fluids
Even if the oil has not reached the recommended life, changing the oil, and subsequently the oil filter, is an important part of getting a motorcycle ready to be stored for the winter. The grime in old oil can facilitate the formation of small clumps that can cause clogging when it is time to get the bike back on the road.
If the motorcycle is water-cooled, it is best to drain, flush and replace the antifreeze to the correct level to avoid corrosion or rust in the in-cooling system.
Prolonged exposure to the cold reduces the life of a battery and batteries need regular charging. Therefore, it is best if a battery is moved to a warm, dry place for the winter and charged monthly. There are often small power drains on batteries, so at the very least, a battery should be disconnected. Whether the battery is removed from the motorcycle or not during winter storage, the relatively inexpensive purchase of a smart battery tender will keep the battery charged up without overcharging, which can also shorten the life of the battery.
4) Spark Plugs
There needs to be some lubrication of the cylinders and in the threads where the spark plugs are screwed into the head to avoid rust. To do this, the spark plug wires and spark plugs are removed, and then holes where the plugs were just removed from in the head are lubricated with about a teaspoon of oil in each. The holes are covered with a towel before the starter is depressed as oil will squirt out even with the engine turning over the few revolutions needed to get the oil into the cylinders, then spark plugs are screwed back in (making sure not to overtighten), and the plug wires are reconnected.
5) Clean and Lubricate Moving Parts
Any part of a motorcycle that gets lubricated at some interval should be cleaned and lubricated before winterizing a motorcycle. This will help to avoid rusting and/or kinking of parts like the chain.
These are five of our ten recommendations for winterizing a bike. The next five steps to prepare a bike to be stored during the cold months properly so it is quick and easy to get back to riding in the spring will be in our next article.