It may seem like summer’s barely over, but, if you live somewhere that gets seriously cold, then it’s time to start thinking about putting your bike away for winter. Here’s how to prep your motorcycle for winter storage.
Location, Location, Location
You need to find somewhere covered, dry and protected from the elements. Some people simply park their bikes outside, under a cover. And, modern covers made from high tech materials do a good job of keeping the elements at bay, while allowing air to circulate so moisture doesn’t stick around. But, they can leave your bike vulnerable to harsh winter weather like high winds, falling limbs and drifting snow. Because of that, the best option is simply to get your bike inside somewhere that the weather can’t reach it.
Once you’ve figured out your storage area, follow these steps:
1. Ride your bike one last time, taking care to get it up to full operating temperature. While you’re out, fill the gas tank to almost full, then add a fuel stabilizer once you’re home. This will prevent the fuel from degenerating while protecting the inside of your tank from rust. Run the bike for five more minutes, allowing the stabilizer to mix fully with the fuel. You can buy fuel stabilizers from your local bike dealer, an auto supply store or online.
2. It might be a good idea to give the bike an oil change before you store it. The engine should still be a bit warm from that ride, but cool enough that you can handle it and its parts. Follow the instructions in your owner’s manual, draining the old oil, fitting a new filter and adding new oil. Some recommend using an inexpensive oil for this change as you’ll want to change the oil again in the spring. Once you’re done, start the bike up, let it warm up and the oil will circulate through the engine, providing protection against corrosion.
3. Clean around the cylinder heads and remove the spark plugs. Wipe them down with something like WD40 and squirt some into the cylinders via the spark plug holes. This will keep the cylinder walls lubricated, again protecting against your worst enemy — corrosion. Reinstall the plugs and, if your bike has carbs, now’s the time to make sure the float bowls are drained and the fuel is switched off.
4. Once the exhaust pipes have cooled for the final time, you can spray some WD40 down the exit — just a small amount is sufficient — then cover the ends with plastic bags. This will prevent moisture from creeping through the exhaust and into the engine. To ensure they’re air tight, zip ties or rubber bands can help.
5. Remove the battery from the motorcycle and store it where the temperature does not drop below freezing. If you’re storing your bike in a heated garage or other place where it will not freeze, there’s no need to remove the battery. However, you should clean the terminals and leads, then lubricate them with dielectric grease to prevent corrosion. A battery tender is a good idea, too. There’s plenty available online and they’ll maintain your battery’s charge, keeping it in good condition and ready to go once spring arrives.
6. Now’s a good time to wash your bike by hand, then wax the paint. Just make sure it’s 100 percent dry before you cover it up and lock it away. Once it’s dry, go over the metal parts with WD40, applying a light mist to the chain, frame and wheel rims. Don’t apply WD40 to brake rotors, brake pads or tires. If you do accidentally, wipe them dry with a clean cloth.
7. Some people like to place their bikes on a stand for storage, unloading the suspension and tires, while getting the bike off the ground. However, it’s perfectly acceptable simple to park the bike as usual, on it’s side or center stand. Cover it with a breathable cover to keep dust and damp off. Indoor covers can be had for $20 or so.
The final step is probably the hardest. Close the garage door, make sure it’s locked, and start counting the days until you can ride again.