Time to Winterize Your Motorcycle ☹
Sadly, now is that time of year for motorcyclists in northern climates. The cold wind is starting to blow, some places have already had snow and those beautiful late summer/early autumn days have gotten short and gray. Time for your bike to take its winter’s nap.
My storage has already started thanks to a punctured rear tire from a nail I picked up a couple weeks back. I will likely wait until late winter to deal with the tire to be ready for the first spring days. We fortunate to now have a place with a garage, so for now Freya, my Tiger 1050, gets to snuggle up in a climate controlled environment for the next few months. She’s already gassed with ethanol-free fuel and added stabilizer.
I realize that not everyone has a garage and that was my circumstances for a number of years before we moved to North Carolina. If you don’t have a garage, you’ve got some additional things to consider. But with some planning and preparation, you can tuck your baby to bed for the winter and have it ready to roll when the good riding weather comes back.
The first thing obviously is to have a plan. In our view there are 3 likely winter storage scenarios for your bike.
Winter storage options for your motorcycle
Store your bike in your garage
This is probably the ideal solution. You’ve got space in your garage, your baby is safe at home and you can tend to it as necessary. And, if you get a few days of nice weather, you have the option of breaking hibernation and taking it out to stretch its legs. Just remember to go through the winterizing steps below again though if you break it out.
Store your bike outside
Maybe not the ideal scenario, but the only option for many of us and one many of us are accustomed to. Depending on your situation, your options may range from a carport to a shed, to parking your bike on the street or in your apartment parking lot. When we lived in DC, my bike over-wintered under the eave of the front roof at the top of the drive way.
Store your bike somewhere else
Maybe even better than storing your bike in your garage is storing it in someone else’s where they will take care of it. Many shops and dealers offer winter storage service. It’s good business for them helpng their cash flow during slower months and it is a hassle-free experience for you as the bike owner. If your budget allows for it, why not.
Other options might be a friend’s garage or maybe you and some riding friends go in on a storage unit rental for the winter months and you can all park your bikes together. A little creative thinking may reveal more options. Maybe your work environment has an indoor corner where you can park your baby for the winter.
Once you have your plan That said, there is general prep work you should do (unless you are paying someone else to do it!). Here are some best practices:
Nine winterizing steps for your motorcycle
- On your last ride, fill the tank with ethanol free gas.
- When you are finished with your ride, add a fuel stabilizer and run the engine to let it circulate through the fuel system
- Check all your other fluids. If it has been a while since your last oil change, now is a good time to take care of that. Better to overwinter with fresh rather than dirty oil
- Inflate your tires if needed. If you have stands, it might make sense to put your bike up on them to prevent the risk of your tires getting out of round from sitting or in case they leak
- Manage your battery. First, you will want to be sure you have a charger. The SmartCharge 800mA charger/maintainer on UTZStore.com is a great option. If you park in your garage or another indoor space with electricity, you can leave your battery in your bike and connect the charger directly. An SAE quick connect makes that a breeze. If you park outside, you are going to want to remove your battery and store it where you can connect it to the charger.
- Give your bike a good cleaning. You want to remove any grime, bugs etc. so it doesn’t over winter on your paint or metal. A fresh wax coat on your paint and chrome is a also good idea. It will form a moisture barrier and provide additional protection to your bright and shiny finishes
- Apply a vinyl or leather treatment, to your seat to protect it and keep it supple and minimize the chance of cracking.
- Plug your exhaust and other openings to keep moisture and unwanted hibernators like mice from taking up residence
- Finally, cover your bike. Whether indoors or out a waterproof cover keeps away dust, moisture and other elements. One caveat, if you are storing your bike outdoors, moisture can get trapped under the cover, particularly if you live in an area where the temperature can vary a lot. An option for dealing with this is to periodically remember to take the cover off and either hand dry or let your bike air dry. This works best on a sunny day.
And those are our tips. With a little preparation and planning its pretty easy to tuck your bike in for a long winter’s nap and rest assured it will be ready for you once the warm weather returns.
What steps do you take? Leave us a comment and let us know.
Thanks for reading and get out and ride!
Your friends at UTZStore.com