How to Winterize Your Motorcycle: Checklist
We know it's sad when winter comes around and it's time to put your motorcycle away for the offseason. However, if you're committed to caring for your motorcycle, winterizing it is a must.
The winterization of a motorcycle is a crucial maintenance process and the best way to make sure your bike will be ready to ride again when the weather warms up. Winterization 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. Watch the video above or read on below to learn how to winterize a motorcycle.
Checklist: How to Winterize Your Motorcycle
1. Treat the Fuel System
Treating your motorcycle's 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 the fuel for the ride home to allow the stabilizer and the fuel to mix up in the gas tank, keeping the ethanol from gumming up the fuel system.
PRO TIP: Use the lines on a plastic cup to measure the amount of fuel stabilizer you need if you're not pouring in the whole bottle.
2. Wash & Wax Your Motorcycle
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 the machine is inactive.
3. Change the Engine Oil
A large part of preparing a motorcycle for long-term winter storage involves getting the engine ready for extended hibernation. Old motorcycle 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
During the 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, 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 the spark plugs and plug wires when everything is coated.
5. Lubricate the Motorcycle
Any point where there's movement between two parts can build upmoisture can build up moisture and do damage to your bike. The chain drive, control handles and cables should all be protected with lube. Make sure you also lubricate around the suspension system on the front forks. Get on the bike and bounce the front end up and down to work the lube into the seals in the suspension system.
6. Disconnect the Motorcycle Battery
There are two schools of thought here, and it's entirely up to you. Some people prefer to disconnect the battery and remove it from the bike. Others use a Battery Tender to maintain the charge throughout the winter months.
Where you store 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 see the Battery Tender installation and connection segment of our motorcycle winterization video.
7. Winterize the Fuel System
Besides adding a fuel stabilizer to your motorcycle's fuel tank and filling it up with fresh fuel, you'll also want to get the fuel out of the carburetor. To do this, close the fuel petcock to turn off flow to the carburetor. Then, consult the service manual to find the drain screws that 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 see the fuel system treatment segment of our motorcycle winterization video.
8. Check the Coolant Levels
You should flush the cooling 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 there. 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. Protect the Tires
Like any other part of your motorcycle, the tires aren't immune to damage over the winter. If you have a motorcycle stand, getting the tires off the ground helps prevent flat-spotting. If you don't have a stand, use plywood or carpet under the tires to protect them from moisture. Park the motorcycle 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. 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 motorcycle against dirt and dust.