The days are short and the nights are long and chances are unless you plan to do the Polar Bear Grand Tour you’re going to be storing your motorcycle for the winter. Before you put your bike away for the next few months, it is very important to take some time to do some preventive maintenance. Assuming you have been keeping up with your regular maintenance, here are a few simple tips that will ensure that your motorcycle will be ready in spring and could save you costly repairs.
You should first take your motorcycle out for one last ride. Ride long enough to ensure that the bike is at full operating temperature. This will take some time if it is a cold day. Don’t just let it sit and idle, ride it for at least 20 minutes to a half-hour. Pay attention to noises or other issues you may have been ignoring, and make note of them. Any mechanical problems you have should be addressed now, NOT in the spring! Before returning home or to your storage location, FILL THE GAS TANK. Empty fuel tanks are susceptible to condensation and the bare metal inside the tank can rust.
When you return to your garage and are ready to begin the storage procedure, top the gas tank with fuel stabilizer and run the motorcycle for a few minutes to allow it to work its way throughout the fuel system. If your bike has a manual fuel valve, shut it off and run the bike until it runs out of gas. If you have a carbureted bike and you can drain the carburetor fuel bowls, go for it. With the addition of ethanol to the gas these days I have seen a lot more problems arise from fuel evaporating inside the crabs. (They don’t taste very good, either.)
Change the oil and filter. Old oil can contain contaminants that can damage sensitive internal engine components over time. For some models (metric) you may consider over-filling the crankcase to submerge additional components inside the motor, but be sure not to forget to remove excess oil before you start the bike again in spring. You should check antifreeze level in the reservoir, and top off if necessary.
Don’t store a dirty motorcycle! Road grime, dust, oil and salt can cause damage to the bike’s finishes and that damage only gets worse if it’s left to sit for a period of time. By this time the bike should be cool, so you can wax the paint and use a substance like S100 Corrosion Protectant (incredible stuff) on the unpainted parts—but don’t spray it on the brake rotors if you ever want to stop again. You can use it on fasteners, clamps, handlebars, forks, wheels etc. Again, be careful not to get it on the tires or brake components.
Don’t forget to lube the drive chain, if you’ve got one.
If your motorcycle is to be stored outside or in a location without any heat at all you will want to remove the battery. Batteries can freeze in extreme cold. No matter where you store the bike or the battery, the use of a Battery Tender is highly recommended. Batteries are very expensive and a Battery Tender will keep the battery at an optimal charge without over charging. Just plug it in and walk away; no need to do anything else until you’re ready to ride the bike again. DO NOT USE A CAR TRICKLE CHARGER this can destroy a battery in just a few hours.
If you are storing you motorcycle inside a garage or shed you may want to consider a light weight cover one that can breathe so condensation will not build up inside. Don’t uses an outdoor cover inside, these tend to trap moisture. On the other hand if you must store your motorcycle outdoors get yourself a good quality motorcycle cover that will be secured tightly on the bike.
Be sure to check your tire air pressure. They should be inflated to or near the maximum pressure listed on the sidewall of the tires. If possible, put your bike on its stand to keep weight off the tires and suspension. Do not allow your tires to go flat over the winter as this may cause permanent damage. if you are storing the bike for a very long period of time, move it occasionally or block it up off the ground.
Well, I hope you find these tips helpful. If you follow them chances are you are going to be back riding in just a few short months and your bike will be clean and in excellent condition. But if you don’t want to do any of this it could be very costly in the spring, the average carburetor rebuild is well over $300.00 these days.
Well happy Hibernating! See You In The Spring.
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