Make Your Winter Storage Prep EASY With THESE Tips!
It may not be time yet but knowing how to put your bike to bed for the winter now can be very useful to you in the near future. If you gather what you need early, you’ll be prepared for when the weather really starts to change and you’ll have all of the gear on hand for that final afternoon of maintenance.
Putting your motorcycle away for the winter isn’t as simple as sticking in the garage under an old sheet; well, you could do that but you may find that when your friends head out for their first ride of the Spring, you’ll be left behind at home, fixing this, charging that and desperately trying to find an online guide about removing bulges from your tyres – of which there are none. If you prepare your bike properly, you’ll be able to get back on it as soon as the weather clears and you’ll only have to give it the minimum maintenance before hitting the road.
Ideal things to gather now are:
- A decent bike cover
- Fuel stabiliser
- A new bottle of decent motorcycle grade oil
- A new oil filter
- A battery tender
- Your usual washing supplies (including wax)
- A carrier bag
- Elastic bands or a cable tie
- A lot of WD-40
Prep The Nest
If you’re blessed with a garage or shed, then that’s obviously going to be the best place to keep your machine for the winter; having said that, there are decent motorcycle covers out there that can protect your bike from the elements but you run the risk of other natural occurrences ruining your hard work, such as strong winds, falling debris, chavs pushing it over and other unavoidable problems. Get your bike indoors or undercover at the very least and get her ready for winter!
The Last Ride
First things first, you’ll want to go out for a last ride. Why? Because some of the following steps will require a relatively hot engine and it’s good to enjoy one last ride before the heavy weather really sets in. Go for a quick blat down to the petrol station and fill the tank up; having a full tank is great because it’ll protect the inside of your tank from rust – we’ll mention fuel again later too. This is also a good opportunity to stock up WD-40 if you’re running low.
An Oil Change
Now that your engine has a bit of warmth, you’ll want to get it home and give it an oil change. If you change the oil now, it’ll keep the innards healthy until you give it another change when the season changes; it’s definitely worth it. While you’re on the tools, it’s probably a good idea to change your oil filter too.
As soon as that’s sorted, start your bike up and let that new oil filter through the system, protecting it completely over the winter months.
Now that you’ve got the oil sorted, move onto the fuel. You should add some fuel stabilizer to your petrol to stop your gas going off. Depending on your riding calendar, you might want to drain the carbs; fuel can turn into a pretty viscous liquid when left for more than four or five months, so if you’ve got a long hibernation in mind, drain your carbs, otherwise you’ll be left with clogged jets in the new year, which is less than ideal. Once you’ve added the good stuff, let your bike idle for ten minutes or so, allowing the stabilizer to work it’s way around the fuel system.
Never Enough Lube
You might want to consider lubing the inside of the cylinder if you’re going to be leaving the bike alone for a while’ the best way to do this is to remove your spark plugs and pour a small dose of clean oil or even WD-40 (about a tablespoon) down the holes. Turn the engine over to move the crank; this will make sure that the walls get an even covering. If the cylinder walls aren’t nicely lubricated, they may corrode which will be a big problem later on. When you’re done, give your spark plugs a decent wipe over with WD-40 and put them back where they belong.
The Exhaust System
Exhausts are a real pain to remedy when they rust – which they most certainly will if left alone over the winter – and who can afford a regular re-chroming? Even the toughest shop bought ‘heat-resistant’ paints aren’t really good enough for covering up the rust either, so take care of the exhaust before you put it to bed. A quick coat of WD-40 over the pipe will be enough for that area but pay attention to the end and wipe it down nicely; to really go to town by using a regular carrier bag and elastic band seal the end up altogether. It’ll stop any excess moisture from getting into the areas that you can’t reach.
This one, everyone should know but just in case we’ll go over it again. If you’re going to be storing your motorcycle for the winter (or for any significant period of time in any season) then you should remove the battery from the bike and store it somewhere with a mild temperature, nothing below zero! Removing the battery is a good idea because even when they’re switched off, motorcycles can still drain the battery. A dead battery is a dead battery. Whip it out and give the terminals a good clean and lube them up again with dielectric grease. If you’ve got a battery tender, now’s the time; they work to keep your battery healthy and come Spring, you’ll be good to go.
The Final Wash
Give your bike a good wash while you’re there; washing the bike and giving it a wax is a great way to protect it over the winter months, even if no-one is going to be there to see it…and washing your bike is fun, right? Once you’re done, make sure it’s completely dry before moving on to the last real hands on stage: the final application of WD-40. Give the bike a light mist of the good stuff over all of the metal parts, including the chain, frame and rims – not the brake system of tyres though! This’ll protect those areas from corrosion.
Before you put the cover on, find a good spot for the bike to sit in; ideally, it should be away from any windows, where the sun can damage anything and away from any patches of floor that get cold. Many riders also like to place their bikes on specific stands that keep the tyres off the ground altogether, protecting the tyre from accumulating bulges and flat spots and also to keep the load off of the suspension. If that’s not an option, check your pressures and return them to the factory specification and keep an eye on them throughout the winter; moving your tyres every now and again will also prevent flat spots from occurring too.
As soon as you’re done, it’s time to put that cover over the bike and say goodbye to it for a few months. Investing in a decent cover is well worth the minor expense; other coverings like tarps or old sheets can actually damage the bike rather than protect it. You have been warned!