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10 Steps to Winterize Your Motorcycle

Protect Your Precious Ride When You Can't Ride

from Twisted Road

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I didn’t want to write this article and have been procrastinating for a few weeks. Why? Because the idea of storing my bike for the next 5-6 months really gets me down. But as the Chicago temperatures approach the 30s, I know it’s time. Not only to write this damn article, but also to store my moto.

I vividly remember the first time I needed to store my bike for the winter. I had only owned my Moto Guzzi for four months, when fall started shifting into winter and I knew I needed to be prepared. But what did this even entail? I didn’t know how to winterize a motorcycle. I wasn’t handy, and the closest I ever got to working on my bike was when I read the first three chapters of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

I learned what needed to be done, and I’ve perfected this art of moto-hibernation annually over the past five years. So, I now bring you the 10 steps to winterize a motorcycle:

1. Ride Her One Last Time
Go ahead. Really appreciate the ride. You’re going to miss it. Trust me.

2. Fill Up the Tank
Make sure that the tank is completely full of fuel. This minimizes the amount of air in the tank, which in turn decreases the chances of rust forming.

3. Add Fuel Stabilizer to the Tank
This will prevent evaporation, and in doing so, it also prevents fuel from forming sticky resins. Then run the machine for a minute or two.

4. Change the Oil
Look — your beast is going to be sitting for a few months. The least you could do is drain the oil, replace the filter, and refill it with fresh Texas tea, right?

5. Wash and Wax

Give your bike one last wash. Get into all the tight spots and make sure it’s really clean. This will prevent rust from starting in moisture collecting dirt. Then apply a layer of wax to the bike and leave it there. The wax will protect the bike from moisture and other damaging elements.

6. Take Care of the Battery
Batteries tend to slowly self-discharge over time, and when you get back on your two-wheeled beauty in the spring, you want her to start the first time you turn the key. So, get a trickle charger (Battery Tender has the best reputation), connect the pigtail to the battery terminals, and then plug her in. The trickle charger will provide a slow steady charge to your battery so it doesn’t die.

Editor’s note: Battery tenders are cool, but they have drawbacks. I don’t advise leaving a battery tender plugged in all the time. It could cause a bad battery to fail and start a fire. Also, battery tenders keep a failing battery charged. So the battery looks good in the morning, but not at the first gas stop.

I would suggest charging the battery for a few hours once a month. When the time comes charge the battery before your first ride. --Bandit

7. Critter-Proof It
Where do chipmunks, mice and other rodents like to take winter naps? That’s right. In tight, warm spaces. So, get some plastic bags, wrap them around your exhausts, and use a rubber band to keep them in place. Stop the rodents from getting too comfortable.

8. Prep and Elevate the Tires
Make sure that the tires are at the correct air pressure (I know, this should be the case all of the time but make sure now), and then find a way to get them off the floor.

There are two reasons for this. First, tires that sit for a long time can get misshapen, and second, the cold garage floor can be damaging. To elevate the tires, invest in two motorcycle stands (under $100 for the pair). If this is too pricey right now, just make sure that the tires are sitting on a piece of plywood, which will get it off the garage floor. Then, every few weeks, go to the garage and move the bike about 6-12 inches. This will rotate the tires enough to minimize the issues.

9. Cover It Up
Buy a motorcycle cover that’s sized for your ride, put it on the bike, then close and lock the garage door.

10. Travel and Rent
We both know that in about two weeks, you’ll be itching to hop back on two wheels. So, plan your next trip. Take a break from the cold. And rent a bike. Want to ride Los Angeles? Or Vegas? How about renting a motorcycle in Austin? We have plenty of bikes to choose from in warm climates that are ready to go!


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Reader Comments

Good article and I think it will help a lot of people. I live in Florida, so get to ride all year so my motorcycle stays more in a Maintenance State than Storage

Palm Bay, FL
Saturday, November 7, 2020
Editor Response You'll make the guys at Twisted Road proud.

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