Winter is here whether we like it or not, and even though our riding season is longer than most places, it still sucks in New Orleans. A lot of riders here keep riding all the way through winter and some put their bikes in storage for the coldest months. Unless you have no other transportation or happen to be a north pole elf, it’s safe to say your bike will be spending more time in the garage than usual.
If it’s going to sit for a while, simply storing it inside is not enough. You have to winterize your bike to make sure all its parts and fuel stay in good condition.
Winterizing your motorcycle is not just about keeping your bike stored during the winter. You also have to ensure that your bike is ready to ride again as soon as spring arrives.
Even if you’re an all-winter rider, this is the perfect time to knock out some annual maintenance and make sure your rides stay as smooth and safe as possible.
Why Should You Winterize Your Motorcycle?
If you are not winterizing your bike and simply putting it in storage for a long period, deposits or sediment may develop in the cooling system and gas tank. The oil may become sludgy, and you may end up with brittle chains, cracked tires, and a dead battery.
If you properly winterize your bike and get it ready before putting it into storage, you will have a bike ready to run on the first day of spring or during one of those warm winter days.
Tips for Winterizing Your Bike
There are lots of ways to winterize your motorcycle, but if you follow our checklist, it will stay in mint condition during the winter and be ready for the spring.
1. Idle the Bike and Ride Around the Block
Running the engine and riding your bike helps drive off any contaminants or water contained in the oil. It will also heat the chain, making it easy to lubricate. We will talk more about lubricating later on.
On to the next step.
2. Fill the Gas Tank
Some people like to drain their fuel systems completely. They drain the carbs and the tank so that nothing can gum up the system. However, most modern bikes are fuel-injected and do not have an easy way of clearing the tank unless you want to physically remove the tank and pump out all the fuel, which is very inconvenient.
What you should do instead is fill up the tank completely. This will drive out any air or water, which are the two main components that make your oil go bad and gummy.
3. Treat the Fuel
Once you fill up the tank, you have to treat it. Most modern gas has a lot of ethanol, and if the gas sits idle for a long period, it separates into two components and can make the gas go bad.
All you have to do is add a little fuel treatment and top off your tank completely. Now there won’t be any space for air or water, and your gas will stay good for a long time.
If you want to ride your bike during the winter, remember, you won’t be riding as often so you have to retreat your fuel every time you get back. You can keep a can of pretreated fuel in the garage. That way, whenever you come back, you can simply top off your tank.
Before going to the next step, run your motorcycle just long enough so that the treated fuel can move through the fuel system and reach the intakes and injectors.
4. Lube the Chain
Unless you have an electric bike, it will have a chain that needs to be treated. Remember when we talked about running the motorcycle to heat the chain?
That comes in handy at this stage. A warm chain is easy to lube. The heat draws in the lube and helps it easily spread around the O-rings, the links, and the rollers. The lubricant protects your chain from rust and salt during the cold winter.
5. Replace the Fluids
By fluids, we mean your engine oil, transmission fluid, and primary fuel. If you are not doing regular maintenance, just like your tank fuel, these fluids can go bad.
Gummy and mucky oil can damage your internal transmission components and the engine. Your best option would be to replace all those fluids before storing away your bike.
Now, if you own a liquid-cooled bike, take out the coolant from the radiator. Coolants can become acidic if they sit idle for a long time. Acidic coolants can severely damage any delicate aluminum components in the radiator or cooling system.
6. Fog the Cylinders
This is only required if you are putting your bike in storage for months. Fogging the cylinders means lubricating the inside of the motor. First, you will have to remove the spark plugs and use a heavy lubricant called “fogging oil.”
Fogging oil is also kind of like an aerosol, and if you spray it into the spark plug hole, it creates a cloud of lubricant and protects the internal parts of your engine.
Again, only do this if you are not going to ride your bike for six to eight months.
7. Wash and Wax Your Bike
It’s common to have dirt, dust, grease, and even bird crap on your bike. A good wax and wash will clear all these up. You need to use bike-specific washes so that it does not affect your bike’s finish.
Wash your bike completely, let it dry, and add wax to seal in the finish. Wax keeps all those chrome, paint, and aluminum parts in mint condition and polished.
This way, your bike will look good when it is time to ride in spring, and the wax will keep your bike from corroding.
8. Pick a Warm Location for Storing
This is probably the most important part. You have two options here. You can store it indoors in a garage, storage shed, or indoor storage unit. If you are planning to keep it outdoors, make sure you keep it covered.
If it’s not that cold in your region, you can also keep your motorcycle uncovered or parked in a driveway. If you are keeping it inside a garage, do not cover it up. The cover may end up collecting moisture and contaminating the motorcycle’s paint.
That’s all there is to it. Winterizing your motorcycle is fairly easy and simple. If you do it properly, your motorcycle will thank you in the spring for not being lazy during the winter. And for you dedicated bikers that ride ALL year, remember MotoJustice if trouble finds you out on the road. WE TOW BIKES and the truck is heated!!!!