Winter is not a pleasant time for motorcyclists. You have to stop riding and store your bike in a motorcycle shed or somewhere on a motorcycle lift stand for a few months. This feels like a long time for enthusiasts and in order to resume your motorcycle trips as soon as spring comes, you have to properly store the bike. Here are some of the things you have to take care of before winter storage.
If your bike has a fuel injection system, you must fill the gas tank, add fuel stabilizer and run the bike for a few minutes so that the stabilizer can reach into every part of the system. If you follow this procedure you will prevent gunk from forming and clogging up your fuel system.
For carburetor systems, you first have to shut off the petcock. Then either drain the fuel float bowls or run the engine until it is starved for gasoline. Finally, fill up the tank and add the fuel stabilizer.
You want to have a full gas tank while storing the bike to prevent moisture forming inside the tank. Due to the temperature fluctuation, condensation forms on the inside walls of an empty tank. This causes rust, which damages your fuel system.
Because your bike will most likely stay in temperatures below freezing, you must make sure there is enough antifreeze in your coolant. If you would use straight water, pipes will burst and you would have a lot of work to do in the spring.
Scrub, wash and wax
After an entire riding season, your bike is in need of a thorough cleaning. Taking into consideration that you’ll be storing it for a longer period of time than usual, take your time and pay attention to details. If you clean your bike now, you won’t have to do it in the spring, therefore you’ll go out riding as soon as possible.
Begin cleaning the dirtiest parts such as the chain and brakes. For best results use proper cleaning tools and solutions, such as a grunge brush and O-ring safe degreaser for the chain and a disk cleaner for the brake pads. While you are there you may also perform a visual inspection to see if something needs to be fixed.
After this, you can continue to wash your bike as you’d normally do. Remember to dry it afterward, especially if you plan to cover it up during storage. Water and moisture, in general, are bad for your bike as they favor mold and corrosion. For an added layer of protection, you can also wax your bike.
Some people like to take off the leather seat and other leather components and store them inside during winter. This prolongs their durability as you keep them at a constant temperature and away from any possible damage. If you have chrome parts on the bike, you should treat them accordingly as well.
Moving components must be lubricated before winter storage. This prevents moisture and dirt from reaching their surface and thus stops corrosion. Components that need attending include the chain, cables, fork surfaces, controls and other pivot points.
Spray some WD-40 into the exhaust pipe to prevent moisture from causing rust. Take a plastic bag and wrap it around the outlet, securing it with a rubber band or some tape. This prevents any vermins from nesting inside the exhaust system during winter. This happens especially if you keep the bike inside a shed or in a place where there isn’t much human activity.
Leaving your battery unused for a long period of time may cause it to discharge. This process is accelerated if you have parasite power consumers in your electrical system that you don’t know about or other electrical issues.
During storage, remove the battery and connect it to a trickle charger or simply attach a pigtail on the battery and hook it up to the charger without removing it from the bike.
If you plan to store your bike for a longer period of time, check the tire pressure and bring it to normal levels prior storing it. Also, if you are going to store it directly on the ground, resting it on its tires, make sure to turn the wheels about once a month to prevent flat spots from forming in the rubber.
Stand or center stand
The ideal way to store your motorcycle over winter is with its both tires off the ground. If you have a center stand or even a regular stand, you don’t have to rotate the wheels every once in a while to prevent flat spots. Moreover, the suspension is unloaded during all this time, which increases its longevity.
Even if your tires are off the ground remember that you still have to inflate them at correct pressure values before storage.
Store your bike somewhere well ventilated. This way, you will not have to worry about moisture and humidity. Also, make sure there are no open chemical substances nearby, such as fertilizers. These are known to accelerate the corrosion process.
If you choose to cover your motorcycle during winter storage, don’t use a plastic cover. This will trap moisture and favor mold and rust. Choose a breathable cover as they are not expensive and save you a lot of trouble.
Protection from theft
It is a good idea to invest in some security measures, especially if you have no choice but to store your bike in a public and populated area. Start by using a cover as you do not want your bike to attract unwanted attention. You may also use one or even two heavy high-quality locks to deter any thieves.
Place the lock somewhere up high off the ground to prevent good leverage if someone would try to pry the lock. Try to pass the lock through the frame instead of the wheels or the forks, as the frame is more solid. Even something as simple as some “Alarm installed” stickers may discourage thieves.