Tips for Winterizing your Motorcycle
For some motorcycle riders, the two-wheeling season never ends. But, most of us above the Mason-Dixon Line must put our machines into hibernation for at least a short while before the roads become motorcycle friendly again.
Let's talk about the key areas that need attention before and during winter storage.
Your battery, as you know, is a vital part of a motorcycle and we quickly become aware of it when it's not functioning properly. Proper maintenance and storage will help you get the longest possible service life from this critical and costly part of your bike. Here are some pointers:
Check battery fluid level. This step only applies if you have a lead acid battery that has the screw on type caps on the top. Low battery acid causes sulfation that can lead to a short between the internal plates. This is a common failure for this type of battery and is due to neglect. It never gets checked until there’s a problem and by that time it’s usually too late to restore a battery from this type of failure. Replacement is unavoidable.
Maintenance-free batteries are not exactly as the name suggests. While the fluid level of this battery cannot be adjusted because it is sealed, these batteries will still require upkeep in the off season.
Warm storage and periodic charging will provide you with the longest service life from your motorcycle battery. Products such as the Oxford Maximiser battery maintenance system will keep your battery as fresh as possible when not in use.
I’m sure you’ve all heard (or have experienced it yourself) the horror stories of very pricey carburetor or injector services that were required due to fuel sitting in a motorcycle for too long. Since the introduction of Ethanol into today's fuels storage has become an issue whether it be your motorcycle or your snow blower. Ethanol is much more hygroscopic than regular gasoline. This holding of dissolved or suspended water can lead to component corrosion, gum, varnish and carbon deposits that cause havoc in both carbureted and fuel injected systems.
The best way to avoid this is to fill your tank and treat your fuel and fuel system with an additive that is specifically designed to solve the problems created by Ethanol fuels. Star Tron by StarBrite and Sta-Bil Ethanol treatment are both proven products that will help you avoid fuel system problems while your motorcycle is taking its winter nap. If you don’t already use one of these products on a regular basis then be sure to take the bike for a short ride to get the treatment completely into the fuel system before storing it.
Special consideration needs to be taken with carbureted motorcycles even if the fuel is properly treated. Carburetors are vented directly to the atmosphere which means that the fuel left in them will evaporate leaving behind a thin film that will restrict fuel flow through the small jets and other fuel passages. Furthermore, most carburetor needle valves are rubber tipped and if the carburetors are drained for storage these tips may become dried out, brittle and leak when new fuel is introduced when the bike is removed from storage in the spring. This can be avoided by starting the bike every 3-4 weeks. Allow the engine to reach operating temperature before turning it off. let it cool then return it to storage.
Most riders are not aware that the motor oil in their engine not only lubricates but also aids in the filtration system by holding small particles in suspension until they reach the filter where most of them will become trapped and removed from circulation. A major deposit that ends up suspended in your motor oil is carbon. Carbon is created in the combustion chamber and is pushed past the piston rings every time a cylinder is fired. When a motorcycle is stored with used motor oil the carbon will slowly separate and rise to the surface. This deposit is extremely corrosive and will cause etching to bare metal such as transmission gears and bearings.
Engine oil and filter should be replaced BEFORE winter storage to remove dirty oil and harmful carbon deposits suspended within it. Motorex, Maxima and K&N all offer top quality products to help keep the inside of your engine clean during the off season.
Clean, adjust and lubricate your chain to prevent rust and premature wear. A good spray with WD-40 will get the accumulated chain lube off. The follow with a good quality chain wax or lubricant. It's best to clean and lube your chain right after a ride when the chain is warm.
Ever had a thought about your tires during winter storage? Tires are actually porous and will lose air while in storage. A soft or flat tire will develop a flat spot if left in one position for an extended period of time. Prevent this by storing your motorcycle on its center stand (if it has one) or paddock stands. If neither one of these are an option then you may choose to slightly over inflate the tires and move the bike from time to time so the tire is not in the same position for months on end. SW-Motech and R&G offer top quality products to help keep your tires off of the ground during periods of storage.
- R&G Racing Front Stand
- R&G Racing Rear Stand
- R&G Racing Single-Sided Left Hand Swingarm Stand
- R&G Racing Single-Sided Right Hand Swingarm Stand
- SW-MOTECH Centerstands
Clean your Baby
Be sure to give your motorcycle a good cleaning before storing it to prevent corrosion. Before you put it away dry it fully using a clean rag. Use compressed air or a hair drier for the places you can't easily get to.
Put a coat of wax on it and bluff it out. Now you're ready to put your pride and joy under cover.
Covers provide a measure of dust protection when the bike is stored inside. If you must keep your motorcycle outside, then you'll need a quality motorcycle cover, such as the waterproof motorcycle covers from R&G racing:
For indoor dust protection you'll want the R&G Racing dust cover for sport and naked bikes.
Be sure to do all you can to keep mice away from your bike. Mice seem to love airboxes and underseat areas. Placing some moth balls in those areas can help keep them away. Just be sure to remove them before you start the bike in the Spring.