How to Winterize a Motorcycle

how to winterize a motorcycle

The end of fall is a vital maintenance period for many riders across the upper hemisphere as they prepare for the winter. Fortunately, some lucky bikers enjoy a favorable riding climate all year long. And the only thing they have to worry about is essential maintenance. But if you live in places that experience cold and snowy winters, you need to prepare your bike for the cold months.

The cold winter months can be harsh on your bike. And if the idea of storing your bike in winter is just covering it, you might be in for huge surprises come spring. You could end up with a bike that won’t start when it’s time to ride again. So, if you want your bike to be in perfect shape when spring arrives, you have to read on…

Winterizing a Motorcycle

oiling the motorcycle chain

Simply covering your bike with a tarp over the winter is never enough to keep it in excellent working condition. In fact, without proper maintenance, there is a huge probability that your bike won’t even start in spring. You could end up breaking the bank just to get it running again. So why risk it?

The bare minimum you can do is remove the petrol and the battery before covering it with a synthetic cover. But if you want to keep your bike safe, we suggest that you winterize it properly. To do this, you should gather the necessary tools for winterizing a motorcycle. 

The materials you’ll need include:

  • WD40
  • Chain lube
  • Fuel stabilizer
  • Battery charger
  • Cleaning cloth
  • New oil filter
  • 5 quarts of oil
  • Spark plug wrench
  • A breathable cover

But most importantly, you will need a well-heated place to store your bike. And make sure the area where you will store your bike doesn’t have chemical fumes, mildew, vermin, dripping water, and wind. With everything for winterizing motorcycle ready, you should do the following:

Clean the Bike

cleaning the motorcycle

Since you have been using the bike all summer, spring, and fall, the first step should be cleaning the motorcycle. Removing the dirt will help protect the bike’s finish, so make sure you have enough water and detergent. 

Avoid spraying water into the muffler’s opening when washing the bike. The reason is if the water gets into the baffles and isn’t dried correctly, it can result in internal rust. Make sure the air cleaner housing is completely dry before storing the bike because moisture can act as a choke and prevent the bike from starting.

Clean and polish the stainless and aluminum surfaces. Afterward, wax the chrome and painted surfaces. Get rid of all the residue buildup using WD40, and clean the chain before applying lube on it.

Pour Some Fuel Stabilizer Into the Bike’s Gas Tank

refilling gas tank

Some of the volatile components in fuel tend to degrade with time, leaving gummy and sludge substances that can damage the bike’s carburetor. Therefore, you should fill the tank with petrol and then add the fuel stabilizer. Run the bike for a few minutes to allow the fuel to get into the fuel injectors and carburetor. Then, switch off the fuel and let it run dry for a few minutes.

If your bike has a carburetor, you should drain the fuel in its bowls after switching off the gas petcock. If your bike has a fuel injector, then this won’t be an issue for you.

Change the Oil Filter and Oil

motorcycle oil change

Just like the fuel, the oil chemistry also changes with time. Oil can become acidic and corrode some parts of the engine. After the engine has warmed, you can change the oil filter and replace the old oil with a new one. This will keep your engine safe during the long cold winter months.

Pour Some Oil on the Front Forks’ Stationary Tubes

The rubber seals on the stationary tubes tend to dry out over time, leaving the fork tubes exposed. So you should squirt some oil onto the stationary tubes. Next, get on the bike and start bouncing it up and down while holding the brakes. This will help maintain the rubber seals leaving the fork tubes covered.

Remove the Spark Plugs and Their Wires

Carefully remove the plugs using the spark plug wrench and then add a tablespoon of oil into its cylinders. Remove the spark plug wires and store them somewhere safe. Spread the oil around by simply starting the bike and allowing the motor to spin. But make sure you keep your face away from the plug holes as oil will squirt out. Finally, you can gap and clean the spark plug before putting them back. Don’t forget to replace the plug wires before storing the bike.

Remove Battery

Most batteries can be damaged by the sulfate buildup on its terminals during a long period of inactivity. So, make sure you remove the battery and apply some Vaseline on its terminals to prevent corrosion. If your battery loses charge faster than others, you should try and charge it once every month. These simple maintenance tips will make it easier for you to start the bike in spring and keep your battery safe.

Add Some Antifreeze in the Bike’s Cooling System

If your motorcycle comes with a liquid cooling system, you should confirm the level of antifreeze. Usually, the antifreeze must be replaced once every two years, but you should verify its level before storing the bike for winter. Never leave the cooling system with a low antifreeze level, as this will result in corrosion or rust.

Other Maintenance Tips

Wipe all the metal surfaces except the brake discs on the bike with oil, and cover the tailpipe using a rubber band and plastic wrap. This will help keep opportunistic pests from taking cover in your bike during the cold months. Treat the leather surface with high-quality dressing and lube the cables. Lube the bike’s pivot points, driveshaft, and suspensions.

Where Should I Store My Bike?

The best place for storing the bike during winter is inside a garage with a reliable air conditioner. If the garage has bare concrete, you should cover it with a thick carpet or plywood. This will help insulate the motorcycle and prevent it from becoming damp. We also suggest that you store it with no weight on its wheels. This means the bike should sit on its center stand and some blocking. Also, avoid storing it near devices emitting ozone like electric heaters, furnaces, or freezers. This is because ozone gasses will damage the rubber parts on the bike.

Final Thoughts

The cold season can be tough on everyone. Therefore, you must do everything humanly possible to protect your bikes. The cold months can damage the bike, leaving you with an enormous repair bill to pay when the riding season begins. So to winterize your motorcycle, you should first clean it, making sure that the water doesn’t get into the muffler’s opening. Add fuel stabilizer to the gas tank before changing the oil.

Remove the battery and apply some Vaseline to its terminals before storing it separately. If your battery loses charge faster, then you should charge it after every four weeks. Add some antifreeze into its cooling system before covering the tailpipe and wiping its metal surfaces. Before you finally store it, make sure you treat the leather seating region. These simple tips will help keep your bike safe during the cold months and save you some cash.

Avatar for Joshua D. Mattie

    Joshua D. Mattie

    My motorbike addiction began with 50cc at 5 years old. I rode motocross as a teenager & into my 20's when I worked as a mechanic. This helped me to see the light—sportbikes & cruisers became a passion. Now I'm building BikersRights to be the #1 resource for everything on 2 wheels!

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