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10 Steps to Winterizing Your Bike

by Ax
Originally Published in the IAMC Newsletter, December 2012

Editor’s Note: The following article recently appeared in the Idaho STAR Newsletter and is reprinted with their permission for your interest. Please note that a more detailed coverage of this topic, specifically relating to dual sport adventure riders, will be conducted as a community event at Happy Trails (11777 Executive Drive, Boise, ID) on Saturday, December 8, 2012, from 9:00 AM to 2:30 PM. Please visit our club website at and click on the Events Tab for more details.

Whether you do it yourself or go to a shop for maintenance, there are a few things you need to take care of before you cover your bike for the winter months. Depending on how much you plan to ride during the winter (readers here range from “every time there is sunshine” to “the baby sleeps in the garage unHl spring”) you may have to adapt some of these tips, so you can access your bike easily and safely those sunny winter days you still feel like riding.

1- Clean your garage. If you are keeping your bike in the garage, you need to make room for it. While you are at it, put all your bike-related stuff together in one area (double bonus: you can find it next spring and your live-in partner will appreciate the clean-up effort).

2- Change the Oil even if the oil is not due for a change. Byproducts of combustion produce acids in the oil which will harm the inner metal surfaces. Add a new filter as well.

3- Use Fuel Stabilizer: Fill the tank with fresh fuel, and, if possible, add the fuel stabilizer to the tank right at the station to give it a few miles to run through the fuel system on your way home.

4- Battery Care: If you are not riding at all during the winter, the battery should be removed from the motorcycle when it’s in storage. A conventional battery should be checked for electrolyte levels. Add distilled water to any of the cells that are low and then charge the battery. BaVery charging should be performed at least every two weeks using a charger that has an output of 10% of the battery ampere hour rating. You can also use a battery maintainer (which won’t damage your battery like a trickle charger can). They have smart monitoring circuitry that charges the battery only when it needs it. So connect one to your battery and it will be fully charged and ready to fire up in the spring.

5- Spray chain lube: You should already be doing this during the riding season. Don’t forget to spray all pivot points (brake and clutch levers, kickstand, fold-up foot pegs, etc.) as well before storing your bike. That’ll keep rust from forming on the parts during the winter.

6- Exhaust and Mufflers: Exhausts/mufflers can rust fast when they are not used. Spray light oil into the muffler ends and drain holes. Lightly stick a plastic bag into the end of each muffler hole to keep moisture from getting inside the exhaust. Then cover each muffler with another plastic bag to keep outside moisture off.

If you have ‘critier issues,’ a way to keep mice out of mufflers is to stuff the plastic bag with steel wool and then pushing the bag into the air intake and tailpipes. The bag keeps steel wool strands out of the engine. Use bright- colored caution tape as a reminder to remove it in the spring.

7- Check your tires with an air pressure gauge. Make sure each tire is properly inflated to the maximum recommend pressure. Some riders recommend placing a piece of cardboard, wood board, or carpet scrap under each tire to keep the rubber raised up from a freezing floor.

8- Service all fluids. You should follow your owner’s manual, but if you haven’t followed some of their indications during the year, this is a good time to catch up on maintenance. Test antifreeze and coolant.

9- Surface Preparation: Waxing and polishing the motorcycle might seem like a waste of time since you are putting it away and no one will see it. But wax is important because it will act as a barrier against rust and moisture during the winter months.

10- Cover it.

If you are one of the riders in the above-menHoned category and enjoy riding “every 5me there is sunshine,” remember to wear warm gear (layers, heated gear, etc.); be aware of ice on the road; and remember drivers are probably not expecting motorcyclists in January.


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