Your seven-step guide on how to winterize a motorcycle so it’s ready to hit the road in springtime.
There are few words to describe the feeling of uncovering your motorcycle for the first ride of the season. You have been waiting six long months for this. You’ve fantasized about it since late November: coasting the winding back roads and remote highways, nothing but the sun on your face and the sound of a roaring engine beneath you. Now you finally get to hit the road.
If you don’t properly prepare your bike for the off-season, however, getting it started in the spring might prove difficult. As a beginner, learning how to winterize a motorcycle will keep your beloved freedom machine in good shape for the following spring. Otherwise, you can end up having to pay for expensive repairs and lose quality (and integrity) in the process. If you live in a region that requires storing away your motorcycle for half the year, you need to learn how to prepare it for hibernation.
Here we’ve outlined a seven-step guide on how to winterize a motorcycle so it’s ready to ride in the springtime. These tips are not expensive to implement and can be done by you at home. However, if you know an experienced motorcyclist who can guide you through the process, it’s always a good idea to ask and learn maintenance tips firsthand.
How to winterize a motorcycle: a seven-step process
1. Take your bike on the last ride of the season
That’s right, folks. Say goodbye in a proper way by taking your bike on its last ride. You want to get the temperature up to a proper level for changing the oil (more on that coming), so take it on a nice long trip. Before you get home, stop and fill the gas tank. Any room left in the tank can rust while your bike hibernates for the winter.
2. Change your oil, oil filter, and add fuel stabilizer to the gas tank
Drain old oil to protect from corrosive byproducts that can harm the inside metals of your engine. You’ll thank yourself in the springtime when you don’t have to worry about making these changes before you hit the road again. Buy a bottle of quality fuel stabilizer and add the suggested amount to your fuel tank. The stabilizer will protect your fuel from going stale and gaining moisture as it sits. Run the engine for a few minutes so the new oil and fuel can circulate and coat the inner metals.
3. Remove the battery
Batteries can build up sulfates if left without a charge over a long period. You can keep your battery in good condition by storing it in a clean, dry area and hooking it up to a battery tender every four weeks to recharge. If you maintain the battery like this over the winter, you won’t have to buy another one to start back up in the spring.
4. Check your fluids and make sure they are all filled
If you cannot store your motorcycle in a heated environment over the winter, make sure to restore proper levels of antifreeze to the coolant system. You don’t want to run only water through the system over the winter because it may freeze. If your brake or clutch fluids have not been changed in a few years, now is the time to do it.
5. Give your bike a full and thorough cleaning
Wash down your bike and scrub away all visible debris. You can wipe down the chain with brake cleaner to remove excessive build up. You want to dry the bike completely so no moisture is left to create rust. Add a healthy coat of wax to painted surfaces to protect against moisture and a light spray of WD40 to exposed metal areas (except brake discs and pads). Lightly coat the exhaust and mufflers with WD40 and cover up any holes to keep out insects.
6. Check tire pressure and store with offset weight
Fill your tires to the correct PSI before storage. If you can, try to store your bike on a body stand so the weight is off the tires. Spending too much time in one position can create flat spots on your tires. If you don’t have a proper stand or blocks, rotate the tires every two weeks to prevent flat spots from forming. Also, store your bike on a piece of plywood to keep moisture from getting into the tires.
7. Cover that bad boy up
You didn’t go through all this prep work to have your motorcycle rust and corrode, right? Purchase a quality bike cover to keep moisture from forming. This is the easiest step to learning how to winterize a motorcycle, so of course, we saved it for last.
A few good pointers on how to winterize a motorcycle
The steps outlined above are the essentials to keeping your bike properly maintained over the winter, but there are a few pointers worth mentioning to help your cause. The following extra steps could save you a lot of hassle and time:
- Try to find a storage place that’s heated. One of the main problems for motorcycle storage is moisture build up, both inside and out. A surefire way to prevent that from happening is storing your bike in a heated, dry environment.
- If your motorcycle has leather seats, remove them and keep them stored in a separate area.
- Check your air filter and replace it with a new one.
It’s only a little bit of hassle for a big return
Learning how to winterize a motorcycle can make a huge difference in the overall lifetime of your cherished purchase. If you let these maintenance steps go unnoticed and store the bike without a second thought, you’ll be in for a big surprise come springtime. You probably wouldn’t have bought the bike unless you loved it, so take good care of your investment and follow our guideline.
If you prefer two wheels instead of four, we urge you to play it safe! Keep your motorcycle in top order and invest in the right motorcycle insurance.