How to Winterize Your Motorcycle: Checklist

We know it's sad when the winter comes around and it's time to send your motorcycle into hibernation for the season. 

However, if you're committed to caring for your motorcycle, winterizing it isn't as simple as storing it away for the season. Knowing how to winterize your motorcycle and then following through on the process is the best way to make sure you'll be ready to ride again when the weather warms up. 

How to winterize your motorcycle tips

Winterizing might mark the end of riding season, but it's also a great time to give your motorcycle a wash and perform some light maintenance to ensure your baby runs great in the spring. To help you on your way, here's a motorcycle winter storage checklist to reference as you're preparing for the cold months to come: 

Checklist: How to Winterize Your Motorcycle 

1. Treat the Fuel System

Treating your fuel system is something to think about on your last ride of the year. Pick up a bottle of fuel stabilizer and follow the directions to get the right amount in the tank. Then, top off your fuel for the ride home. This allows the stabilizer and the fuel to mix up in the gas tank, keeping the ethanol from gumming up your fuel system.

Winterize motorcycle fuel stabilizer

2. Wash & Wax 

Road grime and water spots can ruin painted surfaces, and who knows what else is lingering on your bike that can damage its components. Wash and wax your motorcycle, and spray lubricant on metal surfaces to protect them from moisture before storing it for the winter. If you have leather on your bike, a good leather treatment will keep it supple while your machine is inactive.


Buy fuel stabilizer

Buy cleaning supplies


3. Change the Oil

A large part of preparing a motorcycle for long-term storage involves getting the engine ready for extended hibernation. Old oil can be acidic, and take its toll on engine parts during the winter. It's a good idea to change the oil and filter on your motorcycle before you put it away for the winter. 

4. Coat Piston and Cylinder Walls with Oil

While doing your oil change, remove the plug wires and spark plugs, and put a spoonful of fresh oil down in the cylinder. While the plugs are still out, put the bike in gear and spin the rear tire a couple of times to turn the engine over, and coat the pistons and cylinder walls. Some oil will squirt out of the spark plug holes, so be ready for that. Reinstall your plugs and plug wires when everything is coated.

5. Lubricate

Any point where there is movement between two parts is a place where moisture can build up and do some damage to your bike. The chain drive, control handles, and cables should all be protected with lube. Make sure you also oil around the suspension system on the front forks. Get on your bike and bounce the front end up and down to work the lube into the seals in the suspension system. 

6. Disconnect the Battery

There are two schools of thought here, and it's entirely up to you. Some people prefer to disconnect their battery and remove it from the bike. Others make use of a Battery Tender to maintain the charge throughout the winter months. 


Buy a battery tender

Shop for motorcycle batteries


Where you're storing the bike might play a role in which path you choose. If the bike is stored indoors, you might want to use the Battery Tender. However, if you're storing the motorcycle outside, you may simply want to remove the battery. 

Watch the clip below to jump to the Battery Tender installation and connection portion of our video on how to winterize your motorcycle. 

7. Winterize the Fuel System

We recommended adding a fuel stabilizer to your fuel tank and filling it up with fresh fuel. However, you will also want to get the fuel out of the carburetor. To do this, close the fuel petcock to turn off flow to the carburetor, and then consult your manual to find the drain screws to get the gasoline out of the float bowls. If you're winterizing a fuel-injected motorcycle, you're in luck: there's nothing to drain.

Watch the clip below to jump to the fuel system treatment portion of our video on how to winterize your motorcycle. 

8. Check the Coolant Levels

You should flush your coolant system every two years anyway, but if your bike is going to be stored outside where temperatures drop below freezing, make sure there's enough antifreeze in its cooling system. Never use water to winterize the cooling system, because it freezes and can seriously damage heads. Instead, make sure you use an antifreeze specially designed for motorcycles

9. Care for the Tires

Like any other part of your motorcycle, the tires are not immune to damage over the winter. If you have a motorcycle stand, getting the tires off the ground helps to prevent flat-spotting. If you don't have a stand, use plywood or carpet under the tires to protect them from moisture. Park your bike away from ozone-creating appliances such as freezers and furnaces, which can create gasses that damage rubber on the tires and elsewhere on your bike.

10. Plug Up Openings

Openings like exhaust pipes or intakes can house insects or rodents setting up camp for the winter. There are actually some specially made exhaust plugs for the openings on your motorcycle, or you can use plastic as well. Don't forget the plugs are in there when you're ready to ride again, as they can seriously damage your motorcycle if left on.

11. Think About Security

Make security decisions based on where your bike is being stored. Typically, storing the bike outside poses the greatest risk in terms of security, so you'll want to take precautions. There are chains, locks and other motorcycle theft deterrents available to keep your machine safe.

12. Use a Motorcycle Cover

Whether your motorcycle is being stored indoors or out, a motorcycle cover is always a great idea. The cover is almost a necessity outdoors to protect your motorcycle from the weather, but even in a garage, vehicle covers help protect your machine against dirt and dust.

Winterize motorcycle cover

We hope you use these tips help protect your prized possession during the offseason, and don't let the winter blues get to you!


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