With winter months soon ahead motorists are starting to prepare their motorcycles, choppers, dirt bikes, and ATV vehicles for winter storage. Following a few simple steps for winterizing your motorcycle will prevent your bike from seizing on ignition.
Bikes and other motor vehicles should not only prepare their bikes for winter storage, but also for any non-riding period in excess of 1-2 months. Proper preventative measure and maintenance ensure optimal engine health and function after storage.
The most common issues arising from motorcycle storage are body and parts rust, fuel contamination, battery drain, and engine corrosion.
This article will address the following issues:
- Where to store your bike
- How to cover your motorcycle(s)
- Changing the oil
- Preventing rust and other surface body defects
- Disconnecting and storing the battery
- Monitoring tire pressure
- Preventing engine cylinder damage and corrosion
- Using fuel stabilizer
- Fluid change
- Ideally your motorcycle or dirt bike should be stored in a temperature regulated environment with low humidity and away from UV light. Your local motorcycle dealer or bike shop may offer winterizing and storage service for a nominal fee. Most motorcycle enthusiasts will store their bike in their freezing garages which is why proper winter preparation and maintenance is necessary. Covering any windows in your garage will prevent temperature changes and condensation from the sun’s radiant heat.
- It is important to choose the right material for covering your motorcycle. Sheets absorb moisture and hold it against your motorcycle causing rust. Tarps trap condensation by not allowing air exchange leading to rust. Another unfortunate problem with tarps is that they will often bond to your bike’s body paint in the cold and ruin the paint job when removed. Specially designed motorcycle covers prevent moisture absorption and allow air exchange.
- Changing your oil to a winter grade oil will ensure easy start up in the spring. Even if you are not due for an oil change it is a good idea to perform an oil change as combustion created acid byproducts in motor oil which can corrode your motors inner surfaces. What to do with used motor oil? Read disposing and recycling used motor oil
- Waxing your motorcycle before storage will create a protective barrier against rust and moisture. A light spray of WD-40 on engine parts and the frame will protect your bike against corrosion.
- Batteries should be disconnected and removed from the bike to prevent current drain. Dead batteries are the most common start-up problem motorcycle enthusiasts face in spring. Charging your battery every few weeks will maintain its charge
- Cold temperature inversely affects tire pressure; meaning that the colder it gets the more the air in your tire compresses, lowering your tire pressure which causes premature wear. Continually monitor your tire pressure and use a motorcycle paddock, lift, or stand to raise your bike’s tires off the frigid garage floor. Examples of motorcycle lifts and stands
- Lubing your engine’s cylinder walls with engine oil will prevent corrosion and rust. Without lubricating your motorcycle’s cylinders premature ring and piston wear is a very real possibility.
- Gasoline breaks down overtime creating compounds that clogs the fuel system. Filling your tank with fresh gas, draining your fuel line and carburettors, and adding fuel stabilizer will prevent gasoline from decomposing and prevent moisture collection.
- Brake fluids are water-absorbing, or hygroscopic, by nature. If you haven’t changed your fluids in the past year or two chances are a good deal of moisture has been absorbed which can cause engine corrosion.
Following these steps will prevent problems with starting your motorcycle after the winter months.