How To Get Your Motorcycle Ready for Winter

Nobody wants to have to do this. But, if you need to, do it right.

byRobert Bacon| PUBLISHED Nov 17, 2022 2:00 PM
How To Get Your Motorcycle Ready for Winter
Jonathon Klein
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If you’re a motorcyclist and live in an area that experiences mild to harsh winters, you have an enemy. The elements are out to get your pride and joy. Sit with this for a second, and let it fuel you to take preventative action. Anyone who stores their bike during winter has their sights set on spring and dreams of their first ride of the new year. But, if you don’t prepare your motorcycle for storage, it’s unlikely that you’ll be going anywhere fast come spring. 

The best thing you can hope for if you don’t take precautionary measures before you stop riding is that your bike ages beyond its years. But, in reality, it’s likely that the inside of its tank will have rusted, and the battery will be flat. Wintery weather can cause plenty of superficial and more serious problems, but you don’t need to worry about that. You’re going to follow this guide and take the power back.

Some of these steps are absolutely necessary and will help prevent the majority of winter-related problems. I’ve included a few more measures for anyone who’s happy to go the extra mile, so do what you have the time and ability to do. If you’ve still got questions, I'm here to help.

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Motorcycle Winterization Safety

Winterizing your motorcycle isn’t particularly dangerous, but it can be a tad messy. So there are a few things you can get to keep yourself clean and err on the side of caution in terms of safety.

Here’s How To Get Your Motorcycle Ready For Winter

Once you’ve taken your final ride of the year, hit the kill switch, and sat for a moment to reflect on your spin, it’s time to tuck your bike away for winter. Follow the steps below, and in a few months, it should start as sweetly as it did on your last ride.

1. Wash Your Bike

Every piece of dirt and grime on your motorcycle plans to launch an assault on the frame, bodywork, and paint while it’s sleeping for winter. Thankfully, you can attack first, and all you need is a power hose and cleaning products. 

Wash it down, apply wax to the painted parts and coat the metal with a clear coat protectant. You could also spray WD-40 on any chrome or anodized parts. Once finished, wipe everything down with a microfiber towel.

This step is a must, so don’t skip it. 

Cleaning Products and Tools

Jonathon Klein

2. Time for a Service

If you want your bike to come out of winter storage ready to ride, put it in ready to ride. This means you need to perform any general maintenance before you stop riding. 

Adjust and clean your chain before lubricating it, and lubricate all pivot points. If you’re more than halfway to your next oil change, change it now. You should also check to see if the motorcycle’s brake fluid, antifreeze, or transmission oil need to be changed.

It'll be up to you to decide what service work you need to do. Depending on when you last serviced your bike, you mightn’t need to do anything. But, personally, I always show my chain some love before its winter nap.

Service Tools and Products

3. Protect Your Tank

When ethanol and oxygen get a chance to mingle for too long over winter, they can rust the inside of your gas tank. But preventing this isn’t difficult. Firstly, fill your tank to the brim with fresh fuel. Brimming the tank leaves less room for oxygen to get in and wreak havoc. Now you need to add a healthy dose of fuel stabilizer. Once you’ve added the stabilizer, let your engine run for a while. This allows the treated fuel to make its way through the engine.

This step is an absolute must.

Fuel Stabilizers

4. Hook Up a Smart Charger

If you store your motorcycle for winter and don’t do anything to protect its battery, the chances are it won’t start when you roll it out in spring. Looking after your battery simply means hooking up a smart charger. This is a necessity for any motorcycle that uses a lead-acid battery as they discharge relatively quickly. But if your bike has a lithium-ion battery, you can just disconnect the negative battery terminal, as these batteries have extremely low discharge rates.

Make sure you get a smart charger, which stops sending power once your battery is fully charged. If you have a motorcycle that uses a 6-volt battery, get a compatable charger and select the correct settings before hooking it up.

If you’re keeping your motorcycle outdoors for winter, you’ll need to remove your battery and hook it up to a charger. If you don’t know how to remove your motorcycle battery, worry not, we’ve got you covered.

Unless your bike uses a lithium-ion battery, hooking up a trickle charger is a must-do step.

Smart Chargers

Jonathon Klein

5. Seal the Exhaust and Airbox

This step isn’t a necessity, but everything helps when preparing your motorcycle for its winter nap. Place a plastic bag around your bike’s airbox and another around its exhaust and secure them with elastic bands. Alternatively, you could plug your exhaust. This will stop moisture from creeping into these exposed areas. It’ll also prevent rodents from getting into your exhaust.

You don’t have to do this step, although it’s recommended if the climate gets very damp or there’s a chance that a rodent will find a home in your exhaust.

Exhaust Plug

6. Inflate and Lift Your Tires

Once you’ve decided where you’re putting your motorcycle, inflate its tires to the maximum recommended cold-weather psi. Then prop the front and rear tires up on paddock stands to prevent flat spots.

This is another step you could get away without doing. But it doesn't take long and will keep your tires in good nick. 

Tire Inflators and Paddock Stands

Jonathon Klein

7. Cover It

The best place to store your motorcycle is a climate-controlled garage. But even if you keep your bike inside, you should still cover it with an indoor cover to stop dust from building up. If you have no choice other than to keep your pride and joy outside all winter, a heavy-duty motorcycle cover is a must.

If your bike is lucky enough to stay indoors all winter, covering it isn’t a necessity. But anyone who keeps their motorcycle outdoors needs to cover it. 

Indoor and Outdoor Covers

Video 

Check out this video from Motorcycle Magazine in which Ari Henning lays out how to winterize your motorcycle step by step.

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