Few things beat cruising down the highway on a warm summer day. But, as winter sets in, your motorcycle isn’t exactly the most convenient way of dashing through the snow. When it’s time to put your bike in storage for the season, it’s important not to give it the cold shoulder. Maintaining your motorcycle while you’re not riding it is just as important as when you are.
Nothing’s worse than dusting off your beloved road warrior to take it for a spin in the spring, only to find flat spots in your tires, fluid that’s turned into a sticky paste, and weird-smelling smoke coming from the exhaust. In order to avoid rectifying a few months’ worth of neglect, here are 7 tips on proper motorcycle storage for the winter.
1. Top off the tank
After putting some fresh fuel in the tank, add the recommended amount of fuel stabilizer to keep the gas from deteriorating and leaving a brown layer of muck on your carburetor’s parts. Turn that baby on and let it run for a few minutes so the treated fuel can cycle through.
2. Fill up your fluids
Double-check your bike’s brake, clutch, and coolant fluids, replacing or refilling if necessary. Remember to always use the type and amount of fluid recommended by your motorcycle’s manufacturer. You can also drain all of your motorcycle’s fluids entirely and then refill them when you’re ready to ride again.
If you live in a place where temperatures frequently reach sub-zero, check your bike’s antifreeze to prevent engine freezing. Lube up the throttle, kickstand, shifter, and clutch cables to prevent moisture accumulation and rust (but be careful not to get lube on the tires).
3. Oust old oil
Over time, a running engine’s oil transitions from a clean, golden fluid to dirty, black muck. The contaminants in old oil can corrode engine parts and do some serious damage over the course of a few months. Change the oil and filter plug before storing your ride to avoid a sticky situation later on.
4. Conserve your battery’s charge
Some newer motorcycles experience a slight battery drain (even when the ignition’s off) in order to maintain things like your clock and radio presets. You can remove the battery from your bike altogether and trickle charge it all winter. Or, if you prefer to keep things in one package, you can store your bike with a fully-charged battery. If you choose the latter, just give the battery a charge once a month while it’s not being used.
5. Tend to your tires
If you can store your bike with the tires off the ground, that’s great. Taking the weight off your wheels is the ideal way to avoid flat spots or uneven wear. But, if you don’t have the right setup for that, you’re not out of luck. Fill your tires to the maximum recommended volume, place your ride on its center stand, and remember to rotate the front tire once a week to keep the flat spots away.
6. Wax on, rust off
The metal on your motorcycle tends to accumulate moisture, which can cause rust if your bike is left unattended for an extended period. Washing, thoroughly drying, and then waxing your ride before putting it away for the winter will prevent corrosion and other damage.
Spray your exhaust pipes with WD-40 to keep moisture and rust away. For extra protection, stuff a clean towel or some crumpled up plastic bags into the intake and exhaust pipes to keep water and critters out.
7. Pick a place for your ride to rest
Sunlight can damage leather and cause paint to fade, so if you have a window in your garage, try to park your motorcycle in a cool, dark corner. Go a step further with a fitted, breathable cover that’ll prevent dings and scratches and protect your motorcycle from dust, grime, and moisture.