Can you feel it? The leaves on the trees have changed color and started to fall, the days are shorter and there is a chill in the air. Old Man Winter is on his way! Some of us have already experienced the first few flakes of snow! The time has come to prepare your motorcycle for winter storage.
Getting your bike ready for winter is more than just parking it in the corner of the garage and throwing a tarp over it till next spring. Take the time to do a proper motorcycle winter maintenance program to maintain your bike’s peak performance. The following are some helpful tips in prepping your ride for a long winter’s nap; however you should always refer the bike’s maintenance and repair manual for the manufacturer’s suggestions.
Start by giving your bike a good wash and wax. This will keep all painted surface and chrome parts protected from dust and moisture.
When you park the bike you should put pieces of plywood under each tire, make sure that the entire bottom of the tires are sitting on the wood. This will protect the rubber from cracking or rotting. Don’t forget to check the tire pressure and if any tires are low inflate to the proper pressure. It is best to store your bike on a stand if possible.
Next, drain the oil and flush the crankcase. This will keep the corrosive deposits from building up over the years. Now is the time to also replace the oil filter.
Many people don’t realize the damage old gasoline can do to your bike’s engine. The sediments in old gasoline can plug carburetors and fuel lines. Avoid this by either draining all fuel from the tank, carburetors and the fuel lines.
Be sure to lubricate the chain or the shaft drive with the manufacture recommended oils to prevent rust from forming. Before you lube it, make sure the chain is clean. Any dirt left on the chain will cause the chain to wear faster and speed up the wearing of the sprockets
Inspect the wiring by sliding you fingers along all the wiring you can see, and feel for cracks or breaks in the insulation. If you find any damaged casings repair or replace them. Make sure all the connectors are tight and all are free of corrosion. Disconnect and remove the battery and store it in a warm vented place sitting on a piece of plywood to catch any acid leaks. The battery will discharge over the winter months and this can cause the battery to freeze and crack. Clean the battery post and the battery cables. Use fine steel wool or a battery cleaning tool. Once the posts are clean apply petroleum jelly. This will not affect the cable connections when you hook up the battery in the spring.
Take a look at the brakes for any wear or damage to the pads or the rotors. Make sure you top up the brake reservoir. Replace the air filter and wipe out the container it fits in if it has one.
Before covering your bike, make sure you plug the intake and exhaust so critters cannot get in and set up house!
Most insurance carriers offer special rates for winter storage of your motorcycle so remember to let your insurance agent know your bike is off the road for winter.
Take care to prepare your bike for winter storage and as soon as the snow melts in spring, she will take care of you on the open road!