Do you want to save yourself from expensive motorcycle mechanic’s bills? Would you like your motorcycle to start straight away next spring and drive like a dream? Then you need to protect your motorcycle for winter storage.
#1. Refer to your motorcycle owner’s manual
Every make and model of motorcycle is different, so you should check your owner’s manual for specific advice on how to prepare your bike for its winter hibernation.
#2. Change the engine oil
Old oil in your engine can be contaminated with byproducts, dirt, and tiny fragments of metal. Leaving it to settle during the winter can result in these contaminates settling in one area and causing a potential blockage that could clog up your engine.
You should change the oil in your motorcycle a minimum of once a year, and it makes sense to do this while you’re preparing your bike for winter.
Counterintuitively, the more you use your bike, the less often you need to change your oil. If you only use your motorcycle for short journeys, your engine doesn’t reach its optimum operating temperature. Therefore, you should change your oil 3 or 4 times a year.
Since your engine won’t be moving, and your oil will contract during the colder months, it’s possible that areas of your engine will become dry, especially if your oil isn’t topped up to its optimum level. When you start your engine again, it will take more time for the lubricant to spread its way around your engine and begin protecting it again.
Refer to your owner’s manual for the specific type of motorcycle engine oil the manufacturer recommends. Empty out all the old oil and replace it with fresh new oil to the max level.
Change your oil filter at the same time. It is probably clogged up with the contaminates in your old oil. Your motorcycle’s oil filter is an inexpensive item and could potentially save you from expensive damage. It is recommended that you swap out your oil filter at least once every 3,000 miles.
While you are dealing with your engine oil, don’t forget that your motorcycle chain drive requires external lubrication. Use a good-quality motorcycle chain lubricant to protect your chain over the winter months. However, you might want to do this after step #4.
#3 Clean your motorcycle’s carburetor
When a motorcycle is left unused for a period of time, its carburetor’s jets can get clogged. Giving your carburetor a good clean before storing it away from winter will help prevent it from getting blocked up and preventing your engine from starting in spring.
Removing a carburetor to clean it is a difficult job and can lead to problems. However, it is possible to clean your carburetor without removing it from your bike. Refer to your owner’s manual about how to remove the bowls at the bottom of the carburetor. Once they are removed, you can access the carburetor from below and spray in some carburetor cleaner.
#4. Wash your motorcycle
Once you’ve done the dirty jobs of changing the oil and cleaning the carburetor, it’s time to give your motorcycle a good wash. This will ensure that dirt and grime won’t cause damage to your paintwork or enable corrosion over the winter months.
After you’ve applied plenty of soapy water and scrubbed away the grime, ensure you rinse away all the soap and disturbed dirt. Then leave your motorcycle out in the sun to thoroughly dry.
#5. Fill your motorcycle gas tank
Take a Jerry can, fill it with gas, and add a gas-stabilizing chemical, e.g., Berryman Total Fuel Stabilizer. When gas is left standing in a gas tank, it can form sticky resins that damage your carburetor.
Completely fill your gas tank with the treated gas. This will prevent rust from developing inside your tank that could damage your jets in spring.
#6. Go for a ride over a clean road surface
Before you store your bike, you need to go for a quick ride. This will push the fresh oil through your engine, effectively cleaning it out. It will also distribute the treated gas throughout your bike so that there is not untreated gas trapped anywhere in your engine.
#7. Move your motorcycle to a storage space
This can be combined with step #6 if your storage space is somewhere different from where you’ve changed your oil and washed your bike.
A dry and warm storage space is ideal, such as a garage. If you don’t have a garage attached to your home, get a shed, a portable garage, or a motorcycle tent.
Some people don’t have land attached to their property where they can pitch a motorcycle tent and so will be forced to park their motorcycle on the side of the road. If you must leave your motorcycle in an outside parking spot, you’ll need a good-quality motorcycle cover to protect it from the elements. You should also use a motorcycle lock to deter thieves.
#8. Cover your motorcycle’s mufflers
Bugs love to climb into cozy holes to hibernate through the winter. So do some tiny rodents. Your motorcycle mufflers make a great spot.
You can block your mufflers with custom motorcycle exhaust plugs or simply place a durable plastic bag over the muffler and secure it in place with strong rubber bands.
#9. Remove your motorcycle battery
This is especially important if your battery is an old-fashioned lead-acid battery and prone to leaks. You don’t want it cracking in the cold and then seeping acid over your engine during the winter months. If you’re leaving your motorcycle outside, removing your battery will also deter thieves.
You may need to refer to your motorcycle owner’s manual for this operation. Typically, you must remove your motorcycle’s seat to access the battery.
For safety, wear gloves before handling your battery and remember to remove the negative black lead first. Isolate the end of the lead with electrical tape to avoid a potential short circuit. Afterward, do the same with the red positive lead.
If your battery is old, especially if it shows signs of corrosion or cracking, consider replacing it with a new motorcycle battery. Replacement motorcycle batteries are often lighter and more powerful than factory-fitted batteries.
#10. Connect your battery to a motorcycle battery tender
When your battery is detached from the motor, it will slowly discharge itself unless connected to a battery tender. A battery tender connected to an AC socket and your motorcycle battery trickles current into your battery when necessary over the winter months.
Using a battery tender increases the lifespan of your battery and ensures that your battery is ready to start your motorcycle come spring. If you don’t use a battery tender, you’ll have to use a jump starter to start your motorcycle and a battery charger to fully charge your battery again.
#11. Cover your motorcycle
If your motorcycle is stored outside, you must use a motorcycle cover. If your motorcycle is stored in a shed or garage, a motorcycle cover will provide an extra layer of protection against bugs, dust, and the cold.
#12. Periodically check your motorcycle
During the winter months, occasionally check on your motorcycle. If you want to ensure maximum protection against mechanical issues, then once a month you should put your bike together again.
Uncover your bike, reinstall the battery, take the covers off the mufflers, and turn on the engine. Let the motorcycle run for about 5 minutes occasionally revving the engine. This will ensure that the oil gets pumped around the engine and the gas doesn’t deteriorate inside your carburetor jets.
During these checks, it’s a good idea to check the pressure in your motorcycle tires. If the pressure has dropped too low, top it up with a portable tire inflator.