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Winterizing a Motorcycle

The Law Tigers’ Ultimate Guide to Motorcycle Winterization

Are you ready to winterize your motorcycle for storage this season? If your state experiences cold temperatures and snow during the winter months, storing your motorcycle is often the best option to keep your bike safe from environmental hazards and have it ready to ride when the snow melts in the spring.

Keep reading to learn more about some of the most important steps to take when preparing your motorcycle for winter weather. Our team at The Law Tigers discusses tips for managing your bike’s fluids, battery, metal parts, and tires.

Can You Ride a Motorcycle in Winter?

While many riders in milder climates often ride their motorcycles year-round, most bikers in colder states choose to store their bikes for the winter. However, with the appropriate precautions, you can still ride during the winter.

  • If you want to keep your bike ride-ready for cold temperatures, consider:
  • Investing in warm riding gear, including layered thermals and waterproof jackets and boots.
  • Installing heated handlebars and a heated seat.
  • Having snacks and water on hand to protect against dehydration when riding.
  • Using a hands-free Bluetooth communication system.
  • Getting snow tires for your bike, although all-weather tires will work.
  • Maintaining PSI in your tires since cold temperatures may deflate the tires.
  • Washing your bike after a ride to remove corrosive road salt.

Be sure to test and top off your fluids regularly to prevent condensation and freezing inside key motorcycle components.

Winterizing Motorcycle Engine Oil and Fluids

Engine oil that sits for a long time during winter storage can gum up your system and turn acidic, leading to corrosion of essential engine parts. If you recently got an oil change, your oil should be fine to leave in your system for storage.

However, if you’re due or overdue for an oil change, the oil currently in your tank contains fuel and other contaminants that could produce condensation in your engine compartments. Condensation can lead to rust and corrosion that will deteriorate the condition of your parts.

Also, check your antifreeze levels if your bike features a liquid coolant system. Use a hygrometer to ensure that your coolant is clean and topped off to prevent condensation in the cooling system from freezing or corroding your systems.

Motorcycle Fuel System Winter Preparation

Gasoline breaks down over time, creating sludge and other byproducts that can affect your system’s performance. Using a fuel stabilizer is one way to winterize your motorcycle to prevent sludge buildup during storage. However, the steps are slightly different between a carburetor and fuel injection systems.

Motorcycle Carburetors and Fuel Injectors Winterization

After your last ride of the year before storage, stop for gas on the way home. Fill your bike all the way to the top with gasoline. When you get home, add a fuel stabilizer to your gas tank. Run your bike idle for a few minutes to mix the stabilizer into your fuel and to fully coat the compartments for the carburetor and fuel injectors.

Turn off the petcock to stop additional fuel from entering the system. If you have a fuel injection system, you will have completed the necessary steps. If you have a carburetor system, you’ll have an additional step: to drain your carburetor float bowls before storing your motorcycle for winter.

Preparing Motorcycle Tires for Winter

When in storage, your bike’s tires will tend to develop flat spots if allowed to sit on the ground or another flat surface for long periods, especially in cold temperatures. Use a center stand, paddock stands, or blocking to keep your tires off the ground and prevent flat spots during storage.

You should also fill tires with air before storage to help prevent deflation that could lead to flat spots and other tire structure issues.

Winterizing Your Motorcycle Battery

Depending on your battery type and whether you want to store it on the bike or remove it, you have a few options for battery maintenance during winter storage.

One option is to remove the battery and store it in a dry location. Clean the battery terminals and apply some Vaseline to deter corrosion during storage.

If you have a newer lithium-ion battery, you won’t need to worry about the battery self-discharging. Simply disconnect the negative charge terminal from your bike and leave the battery in place on your bike for winter storage. When it’s time to get your bike ready to roll in the spring, reconnect the terminal and start your bike as usual.

If you have an older lead-acid battery, you can leave the battery on a battery tender or maintainer. This style of charging device will only recharge your battery up to a certain level while in storage and will shut off automatically when your battery reaches a certain level.

While many bikers use a similar device called a “trickle charger,” the issue with trickle chargers is that they maintain a constant charge to your battery. Such a device can overcharge your fuel cells and degrade the functionality of the battery.

Clean and Cover Your Motorcycle Before Winter

A key step to winterizing your motorcycle involves removing road dust, grime, bug splatters, and other substances from the surface of your bike to prevent damaging your bike’s protective paint layers. Wash to remove any visible dirt and debris, then clean and polish exposed metal parts.

Use a protective wax coating to prevent moisture from settling on painted or chrome surfaces.

After you address cleaning, lubricating, and conditioning all parts of your motorcycle, use a waterproof motorcycle cover to add another layer of protection for your bike in storage. Using a motorcycle cover can help prevent a buildup of dust, reduce the chances of scratches on your bike in storage, and prevent theft by making your bike less noticeable.

Lubricate and Protect Metal and Leather Parts

For metal parts, such as your drive chain, driveshaft, and fork tubes, ensure appropriate cleaning and lubrication to protect them from corrosion during storage. While most metal parts are fine with a light coating of WD-40, you should use a chain lubricant on your drive chain. Be careful when spraying lubricants directly onto your parts, as some may be detrimental to your painted surfaces.

Before storage is also a great time to address any leather parts on your bike. Look for leather on your seats, saddlebags, grips, and custom parts. Clean leather surfaces carefully with leather soap, then apply a leather protectant before storing your motorcycle.
Protect Your Exhaust from Rodents

After thoroughly cleaning and protecting your bike, secure your tailpipe and any other openings where pests like rats, squirrels, and other rodents may seek shelter from cold temperatures.

These pests can damage wiring with chewing or bring debris in from outside as they attempt to build nests. Block openings on your bike with steel wool, a fitted plastic bag, or another solution to prevent intrusion.

Winter Motorcycle Storage Options

Your safest place to store your motorcycle is indoors, whether in your garage, a small outer shed, or a storage unit. Storing your bike outside can lead to corrosion, damage from heavy winter storms, or damage from heavy equipment like snowplows.

When storing your bike inside, keep it away from devices that emit ozone, such as a garage refrigerator or freezer, furnaces, electric heaters, or motors. Ozone can deteriorate rubber parts and damage your motorcycle.

Don’t Start Your Motorcycle During Storage

While many motorcyclists believe they need to occasionally start and run their bikes during the winter months, this can harm your motorcycle’s systems. Running a motorcycle for short periods can allow for condensation buildup in your systems, causing damage and deterioration each time you run your bike.

Wait until you start riding regularly again in the spring to fire her up and go on your first ride rather than running your bike without riding during the winter months.

Winter Motorcycle Insurance

Many bikers may consider motorcycle insurance a wasted investment during winter when they aren’t riding. However, even bikes you think are safe in storage can suffer damage, making continuous coverage essential for motorcyclists. Cases for which you may need winter motorcycle insurance include:

  • Vandalization of your bike while in storage
  • A house fire destroying your bike while stored in the garage
  • A snowplow pushing a bike over and causing damage while moving an embankment
  • Damage from rodents to your bike’s wiring, leather, cushions, and other parts

You’ll also benefit from renewal discounts and diminishing deductibles by maintaining continuous coverage of your motorcycle insurance policy.

Call Law Tigers for Help with Motorcycle Law Any Time of Year

Don’t forget these helpful tips when it’s time to winterize your motorcycle this year.
If you’ve suffered injuries after a motorcycle accident, or have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, reach out to us at Law Tigers. We’re attorneys who ride, representing bikers across the country in motorcycle law.

Call us today at 1-888-863-7216 or contact us online for a free case evaluation. Also, don’t miss out on signing up for your free rider benefit kit, so that you’ll always ride with Law Tigers by your side.

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