Winterizing Your Motorcycle
This morning’s cool temperatures put a frown on my face. The motorcycling season is pretty much over. I know two or three motorcyclists who do ride on clear days in the winter, but that’s a bit extreme even for me. Generally, though, for a majority of riders the riding season in Michigan ends in late October or early November. Right now is the time to think about winterizing your motorcycle.
If it’s your first time winterizing your motorcycle, we’ve got some helpful tips to guide you along. Even if it’s your tenth time putting your bike away for winter, take some time to refresh your memory before getting started.
- Think about where you can store your motorcycle. Storing it indoors, particularly in a heated garage, can help protect it from the elements. Call around to some local dealers and ask about storage, or see if you can bum some space from a friend or family member. Try to avoid storing it outside during the blustery, snowy winter.
- Take your bike out for one last ride. This is the most important part. Make a half-day of it, and enjoy it because you won’t be riding again until spring.
- Top off your tank with fresh gas before you get home. Once you get home, the real work starts.
- Add the suggested amount of fuel stabilizer, start the motorcycle, and let the stabilizer cycle through. This ensures that stabilizer mixes with all the fuel in the fuel system and engine. Solids, or gels, form when gasoline goes stale and can damage your engine. Products like STA-BIL Fuel will help prevent this from occurring.
- Change the oil and oil filter.
- Check the air filter and clean or replace it.
- Check your brake pads, tires and belt or chain for wear. Make a note if you need to replace them over the winter.
- Take the battery out, top the cells off with distilled water, and store it at room temperature in a dry place. Some people also suggest hooking your battery up to a trickle charger. I haven’t in my experience, but experts note keeping it charged will help extend the life of the battery.
- Check the pressure in both tires to make sure they’re filled to the proper level.
- Wash your motorcycle really well, making sure to scrub all the bugs, dirt and road grime off.
- Wax the paint and chrome, leaving a thick coat of wax on the motorcycle. It adds a layer of protection from bugs, dust and dirt while it sits in storage.
- Put a leather protectant on your leather seat and any other leather parts of your bike. If you have saddlebags or any other leather components that come off, store those in your home for the winter.
- Close off any openings with tape or stuff them with some kind of cloth to keep critters out.
- Cover your motorcycle with a cover, preferably one that breathes well to keep moisture and condensation from building over the winter.
If you think you’re done winterizing your motorcycle, you’re wrong. Every two weeks, you need to start it for a few minutes to move the fluids through the engine and keep it from seizing up. Make sure to move your motorcycle and prevent it from sitting in the same spot. The weight bearing down on the tires will create flat spots. Simply rolling it into a new spot if you have the space will help if you don’t have a motorcycle jack.
If you feel like you need or want more help and some hands-on experience, some community colleges that offer basic rider-safety courses also offer classes to guide you through winterizing your motorcycle. You can consult your motorcycle owner’s manual for help or maintenance to perform during the non-riding season, as well.
Despite how upset we all get, putting our motorcycles away for the winter isn’t such a bad thing when you stop and think about it. Taking a break from riding and having some down time with your bike allows you to catch up on some critical maintenance and care that you sometimes lose track of during the riding reason. Plus, doing all this preparation for winter means doing less work when the riding season returns in the spring. A few quick checks and a wash, and you’ll be back on the road when the snow melts and the sun shines brighter!
What do you do to get your bike ready for winter? Share with other Allstate blog readers in the comments section below.
Krissy Schwab writes about Detroit happenings, sustainable living, home, money and life for the Quicken Loans Zing Blog.
For more on motorcycle safety, check out Allstate.com.