Motorcycle Winterization Mistakes
See that picture below? That’s a mistake! And if you own a motorcycle and you’re putting it in storage for the offseason, you probably already know what winterization is.
Whether you’ve winterized a motorcycle in the past or not, it’s such an involved maintenance process that it’s easy for even experienced motorcycle owners to overlook something or make a mistake. With that in mind, here are some mistakes to avoid during the winterization and storage process of a motorcycle.
Storing a Dirty Bike
Never put your motorcycle away dirty for the offseason. Clean your bike before putting it into winter storage to prevent paint corrosion and rust. Road grime, dirt and bugs eat away at paint and metal when left sitting for too long. And if you live in an area with salt or brine on the roads, leaving that residue on your bike will damage metal and rubber parts. Wash and wax your bike thoroughly, including the chain and sprockets to prevent corrosion before putting it away for the winter.
Not Maintaining the Battery
Don’t ignore the battery during storage, as it could lose charge or freeze in colder environments. It’s best to remove the battery from your motorcycle during winter storage and clean off any corrosion on it. Hook the battery up to a battery tender to keep it charged during extended periods of inactivity. When a motorcycle sits inactive for a while, the battery doesn’t receive a normal charge, and cold temperatures can drain the battery of power and freeze it altogether. Remove the battery and hook it up to a battery tender that can float charge it. Float chargers read voltage from a battery and give it power as needed without overcharging.
Starting the Bike Once a Week
One common mistake people think they need to make is to start the bike up every week while it’s in storage. Cold starts can take a toll on the engine, especially if you aren’t running it up to full operating temperature. This may cause water to condense if moisture isn’t getting cooked off like it’s supposed to when you ride your motorcycle. Not only is starting a motorcycle up in a garage a bad idea in and of itself, but if you’re not planning on actually taking the bike for a ride to recharge the battery from the cold start, don’t fire it up at all.
Draining the Fuel Tank
Leaving the fuel tank empty during storage makes it vulnerable to corrosion. Fill up the tank before storing the bike, and treat the gasoline with a quality fuel stabilizer. Gasoline is volatile and can break down quickly when it goes unused. Without fuel stabilizer, the fuel can harden, clogging carburetors and fuel injectors. Untreated fuel that’s not being used can leave gum and varnish deposits at the bottom of the fuel tank, and wreak havoc on the entire fuel system.
Not Changing the Oil
Oil changes are Motorcycle Maintenance 101, yet a surprisingly common mistake people make is not changing the oil as part of the winterization process. Never store your bike with old oil. When your motorcycle’s oil is not in use, it gets stagnant and deteriorates in storage. Used oil that’s been exposed to extreme heat breaks down faster than fresh oil and if it sits for too long, it’ll turn into sludge. When it comes time to take the bike out of storage, your spring maintenance may require having to do several oil changes just to undo the damage that sludge left behind, so change the oil before storing your bike.
Using a Cheap Motorcycle Cover
First off, never leave a motorcycle uncovered and exposed to harsh winter conditions. Always cover your motorcycle before storing it, but with a quality motorcycle cover, not a cheap one. Get a motorcycle cover made of breathable material. A cover made of poor quality material that’s not breathable might trap in moisture and condensation, which of course leads to rust and mold/mildew buildup. Get a quality weatherproof motorcycle cover not just for winter storage, but for year-round protection against all seasonal elements.
When a motorcycle sits for a long period of time, the rubber on the tires can get brittle and crack, which can lead to deflation. This fact misleads some people into overinflating their motorcycle’s tires to prevent deflation. Overinflating tires doesn’t prevent flat spots during the storage period, so inflate them as you normally would during riding season. If you want to minimize the chances of your motorcycle’s tires going flat, try putting the bike up on a lift or stands.
Of course the biggest mistake that can be made before putting a bike away for the offseason is not winterizing it at all. Avoiding the process of winterization can lead to a plethora of problems. Watch the video below to see how to winterize a motorcycle.