Why 9 things on winter motorcycle storage? Because everyone has lists of 10 and 11 is to many! Hah!

Anyway, here in northern hemisphere winters cold fingers are starting to grip and the polar vortexes appear ready to freeze us off our motorcycles. In fact the first snow of the season is coming down on Northern Virginia as I type!

Riding season, depending on what you are willing to put up with, is either over or nearly so. There are thousands of suggestions and tips out there on winterizing your motorcycle, such as putting a teaspoon of oil in your cylinders and filling the tires with nitrogen, so do your own research to find out what works for you with manner and place you store your bike. If it is time for you to store your bike until the spring thaw here are some of the things you need to consider AND an interesting info-graphic from Allstate Insurance.

1. Stabilize the fuel or drain the tank. Almost all gas, especially the ethanol “enhanced” stuff, has a short shelf life. While many believe that draining the tank (and carb system if equipped) is all that is needed to prevent the gasoline from turning to muck, I am not one of them. I just don’t think it is possible to burn all the fuel in the system, small despots will always remain. I prefer to fill the tank and add fuel stabilizer, I then run the engine for at least 15 minutes to work the stabilized fuel through the entire fuel system. After the short ride to get the stabilizer through the system I then refill the tank as much as possible to limit the amount of air in the tank.

2. Change your oil.   Do this as close to your final days of riding as reasonably possible. If you are a do-it-yourself guy consider doing the oil change right after you complete the ride to mix in the fuel stabilizer. Why change the oil before storage? Because changing the oil now removes the sludge, dirt and residual contaminants in the oil that could oxidize during storage. Make sure to run the engine a few minutes to disburse the new oil throughout the engine.

3. Prepare and Protect the Battery. Most motorcycle batteries are lead-acid and should be kept under a constant charge in order to maintain their life. Be aware there is a difference between a battery tender and a tickle charger. A battery tender is specialized charger that has special circuits to prevent overcharging your battery. You can use a trickle charger but check the instructions carefully; many cannot be used on your battery for more than 30 minutes each day. If your motorcycle will be stored where freezing temperatures will likely occur often, consider removing the battery and place it in a warm dry place. You will still need to keep it charged but he cold will have less effect on the life of the battery.

4. Check your anti-freeze. Harley Davidson riders this now includes a lot of you too. Make sure you have the proper amount and type of anti-freeze in your bike. Depending on what type of coolant your manufacture uses it could be one of several colors. Rules of thumb, if it a light color or clear you need to change the fluid. If you are a do-it-yourself kind of person remember to “bleed” the system to get all the air out. If would be a bad thing if on your first spring ride your bike overheats.

5. Clean your bike. Whether you kept your bike clean all riding season or you only give it a bath once a year now is the time to do it (again). All that evil road krap (dirt/sand/salt/oils/road kill) attaches to your motorcycle’s metal surfaces and will begin to corrode those parts. A good cleaning before storage will make that much harder for the forces of evil to work their powers on your bike. If you bike uses a chain, now is the time to clean it as well.

6. Wax, polish and Lubricate. After the good cleaning I think it is important to put a nice coat of polish on the paint and chrome. This will help protect the surfaces from any condensation that might occur during storage. Lubricate the chain as described in your owner’s manual. Lube all moving parts such as cables and your side stand pivot. Use a metal protectant spray on the underside of the frame and drivetrain, I prefer to spray it on a rag and wipe it on that way I can also get some of the dirt I missed while cleaning the bike. These actions will help you combat rust on any areas exposed from pitting or scratches.

7. Put a sock in it. When I was a kid I was helping a friend start his bike in the spring and shortly after starting we heard a lot of rattling in the exhaust. A few moment later out shot a handful of lightly roosted acorns that some chipmunk had hidden there. Depending on the area you are storing the bike cover your exhausts or insert exhaust plugs to protect yourself from critters.

8. Check your Tires. Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Now I am not sure about this step but, many folks recommend that you let some of the air out of the tires, to allow any condensation to escape. Of course you need to add more air to the tires after you bleed them. Also many folks think you need to get the tires off the ground if you are going to be letting them sit for long periods to avoid “flat spots”. I am not sure I concur with this thinking and I have read in several places that Harley Davidson does not recommend this as it places stress on the front suspension. Check with your manufacture if this is something you are not sure about.

9. Cover your motorcycle. Even when stored inside, your bike should be covered while stored. Use a cover that can breathe don’t use a plastic tarp. Moisture should not be allowed to become trapped under the cover on your bike’s metal surfaces.

That’s the bare basics to storing your bike. Remember winter is also a good time to take care of those bike projects you have been thinking about… for me it will be installing a removable tour pack.

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Comments
  1. Steve says:

    As with my outboard boat engine, I always power up and allow the fuel pump to moisten the seals and gaskets in the fuel system. The system pressure that bleeds off is restored with fuel. Wet seals are happy seals.

  2. Great to remember even for those of us with year round riding conditions.

  3. […] Tender – If I was lucky you read my post on preparing a motorcycle for winter storage. One of the items on the list was the use of a battery tender to ensure the battery survives the […]

  4. Chris says:

    I actually thought #4 was funny the way you worded it!

  5. […] put the Army Bike under the cover last weekend after following my “9 Tips” to preparing the motorcycle for winter storage. The blue bike is still “unprepared” for […]

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