How To Store Your Motorcycle During Winter

This article gives step-by-step instructions on how to put your motorcycle up for the season.

Motorcycling isn't a winter activity. Yes, there are the brave and foolhardy who try riding through the winter in places like Maine or Alaska, but for most of us winter means an end to our motorcycling season.

This article will give you step-by-step instructions on how to put your motorcycle up for the season. Storing your bike improperly could have disastrous effect, especially for those who live in areas with harsh environmental changes. Remember to perform a thorough safety check at the beginning of every season to ensure you bike has not sustained damage through the winter. Take special note of your tires, which may have become dry rotted depending on the care you took when you put your machine into storage.

First, clean and wax your machine. Inspect your bike for any loose nuts or bolts as you wash it and replace any parts that seem damaged. Use a good quality hand wax to help cut down on damage that might occur to your bike due to atmospheric changes. Use a leather cleaner / preserved on your seat and rubber hoses, but do not apply any to the tires.

Clean and lube or wax your chain, making sure to de-gunk it where it has collected road debris throughout your season. Be sure to apply wax or lube to your entire chain. Lube and wax act as a water repellent and help protect your chain through damp and cold weather. For this same reason it's a good idea to lube all pivots and apply a thin coat of oil or WD40 on chrome to prevent moisture from eating away at your bike's precious metals and use a quality lubricate on your cables and switchgears.

Put your bike on its center stand to get as much weight as possible off your tires. Place blocks of wood between your tire and the ground, especially if your machine is being stored out-of-doors. You may also want to spray your fork lowers with WD40 or Marvel Mystery Oil to help prevent rot on your fork seals.

It's a good idea to replace your oil and filter when you put your bike up, since most oils have a shelf life. Keep in mind that you will be changing your oil again in the early spring, so it's not necessary to use the most costly oil available.

Top off your gas tank and turn your petcock in the off position. Use a gas stabilizer in your tank and drain your carburetors of any gas that might be in the bowl. Usually there are Philip head screws at the bottom of your bowl with a nipple that has a hose attached to it. If for some reason you cannot reach the screws, run your bike with the petcock off until you use up all the gas in the carburetors.

Plug your exhaust to discourage vermin from nesting in them through the winter and take care to make sure there are no holes through which mice and other critters can burrow their way into your air box and damage your seat.

Remove the spark plugs and fill each cylinder with a teaspoon of Marvel Mystery Oil or two-stroke oil. Screw the plugs back in hand tight and don't attach your plug wires to remind you to change the plugs first thing in the spring. You may want to kick the bike over with the kill switch engaged to spread the oil throughout the cylinders.

Remove your battery to store in a warm climate or use a charger to keep a trickle charge on it throughout the season. Keep an eye on the electrode levels in each battery cell and fill them if they grow low.

Use a breathable cover even if you store your bike in your garage or basement. Try to operate your controls throughout the winter and move your back wheel so that weight settles on a different spot while the bike is on its center stand. Avoid storing your motorcycle near items that use high levels of electricity like a hot water heater or dryer--the ozone created will dry-rot tires more quickly.

Winter is the best time to catch up on routine maintenance on your machine or perform upgrades. Working on your bike through the winter will help you notice any problems that might develop, like mice making a home out of your air filter, and will help you deal with the seasonal disaffected syndrome that hits every biker who has to go without their machine.

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