When winter is fast approaching, that means it’s almost time to put our motorcycles up for the season. But we can’t just park our motorcycles in the garage and forget about them until spring rolls around. We have a few things we need to do to our motorbikes before we can go inside and sip some hot chocolate. That’s right, it’s time to institute proper motorcycle winter storage procedures.
Although it takes a little time, it’s important to properly prepare your motorcycle for a long period of storage. Why is it important to do all of these tasks? Long periods of storage can result in damage to the motorcycle. Rust, damage to the engine, and even damage to the tires can result from improper storing techniques. In this article we will take a look at what we can do to ensure that our motorcycles are ready to ride on that first warm spring day.
What’s the first thing we should do for motorcycle winter storage? Wash it. It is important to wash all of the mud, debris, and especially bird droppings from the finish of the motorcycle. There are many things that can get on a paint finish that if left on may eat away at the paint. Bird droppings, berries from a tree, and even leaves can result in damage to the motorbike’s finish. After it has dried, go ahead and give it a good waxing. Chances are you have been too busy riding it all summer and haven’t had the time to wax it. A nice layer of wax goes a long way in helping to protect that paint job and remember that if you go down the lead paint road, make sure it has the right lead paint certification associated. This is also a good time to go ahead and polish all of that shiny metal.
One of the most important things to do for proper motorcycle winter storage is to change the oil. Chances are you have been riding for some time knowing you have been needing to change it. Changing the oil can help prevent condensation from building up in the engine. Any kind of contamination from old oil may start to actually damage the engine if the motorcycle is stored for more than 3 months. It’s a good practice to change the oil and the oil filter before any periods of long time storage. If you are planning on storing the motorcycle for longer than 3 or 4 months, I would also suggest draining the carbs.
The next step for proper motorcycle winter storage should be to fill up the gas tank. I know it sounds strange. Won’t the gasoline go bad? Yes, gasoline by itself will go bad given enough time. What you will need to do is add a fuel stabilizer. The stabilizer keeps the gas from going bad, and a full tank keeps rust from forming inside the gas tank. Rust particles can wreak havoc on an engine. Fill your tank about half full of gas, add the fuel stabilizer, then top off the tank with gas. Start the engine and let it run for a few minutes to allow the fuel stabilizer to mix and fill all of the lines.
While preparing for motorcycle winter storage, you should also check all of the fluids in your motorcycle. Check the engine coolant level, brake, and clutch fluids. Most of these fluids are required to be changed every couple of years. Check your maintenance log to see the last time you changed them. If it’s long overdue for a change, then now is the best time to change them.
Motorcycle winter storage isn’t complete without spray fogging oil in the cylinders. Just remove the spark plugs and put a little fresh engine oil or spray fogging oil in each cylinder. During long periods of storage the oil will have drained from the walls of the cylinder, leaving it unprotected, which can result in rust and corrosion. This can also lead to piston damage.
After you have completed all of the steps above, it’s time to remove the battery. Batteries should always be removed during any long periods of storage. Even though the motorcycle is turned off, the battery will still discharge a small current over time and result in a dead battery. Remove the battery and place it in on a trickle charger. The trickle charger will send a small current to the battery that will keep it charged and ready to go.
Spray the motorcycle exhaust and mufflers with WD-40. The exhaust and mufflers may rust if they go for long periods of time without being used. Be certain to spray into the muffler ends and any holes that you can see that might hold moisture or condensation. It is also a good practice to cover the exhaust and mufflers with plastic bags or even garbage bags. This will help keep moisture and condensation from getting in. Many people tend to skip this step in their motorcycle winter storage preparation and have wound up with a rusting exhaust.
Proper motorcycle winter storage would not be complete without checking the tire pressure. Be sure to fill the tires to the recommended pressure. If tires get low and they sit for long periods of time, they can develop flat spots. An even better way to protect the tires is to use a motorcycle lift. A lift will raise the entire motorcycle off the ground and relieve all pressure from the tires. Last, but not least, cover the motorcycle. A good motorcycle cover will protect it from the elements such as rain and snow. Motorcycle winter storage takes time, but it will help your motorbike last for years to come.