November 5, 2012 by Rider Newsletter Staff
A few blogs back, we talked about how heated clothing can extend the riding season – maybe even for 12 months a year. Some of us, however, live in places where it gets too cold and snows too much or we have other things we like to do in the winter. If you’re planning to give your bike the winter off, you can’t just park it and walk away for a couple of months. Well, you CAN, but you’ll certainly regret it in the spring.
The truth is, there are lots of things you should do before stowing your ride. We can’t cover them in detail here, so we’ll outline the most important points and then provide links to more comprehensive information.
The Easy Way
When it comes to motorcycle maintenance, there is always a lazy way and that is also true here. If you want to take it easy on yourself AND ensure your bike is protected in storage, try calling your local dealer. Many of them offer winter storage services that include preparing your bike and, in many cases, providing a safe place to store it. Be aware, however, it won’t be cheap, but you’ll have the peace of mind that comes from turning things over to the pros. If motorcycle maintenance is not Zen for you, you might as well check with local dealers to see how much storage services will set you back.
The DIY Way
For many of us, this sort of thing is part of the joy of riding. It’s fun to spend some quality time protecting your investment. Although there’s a lot to do, it’s all pretty simple. Here are some critical steps you need to take:
Choose a storage location that is as dry as possible and protect the bike with a specialty motorcycle cover, not plastic or a standard tarp. These covers are designed to keep moisture out, but not trap condensation in. Moisture causes corrosion and, over time, can cost you some serious money.
Evaporating gasoline can gum up the fuel system and ruin your spring. If your bike is carbureted, be sure to drain the float bowl, but not until you add fuel stabilizer, fill the tank and run the bike for 15 minutes to get the fuel in all parts of the system. Some riders drain the fuel tank, but if you do, beware of possible internal corrosion.
You should also change the oil and, while you’re at it, the filter. Now, remove the battery and store it in a safe location. Attach a battery tender, which will retain a full charge without damaging the battery. If you use a trickle charger, put it on a timer so it runs about 30 minutes per day. Do not simply attach a charger and walk away.
Give your bike a thorough cleaning and lubricate all moving parts. It’s not a bad idea to wax the painted surfaces and spray exposed metal with WD-40 or a similar moisture defender. Some folks like to apply the wax in the winter and buff if off next spring.
Be sure your tires are at the maximum recommended pressure. If you can, elevate the bike so the tires do not form flat areas. At a minimum, put cardboard under each tire to keep it from contacting a concrete floor.
We’ve only touched on some key aspects of storage preparation here. Remember, the time you spend now will save potentially extensive costs when the snow melts.
There’s much more to learn about keeping your bike snug and safe during the long, cold winter, so we’ve included several links to articles we reviewed for information: