This month the winter season will officially begin, but already the weather is becoming more and more inhospitable. Particularly inhospitable for riding a motorcycle. Though, for some, even the coldest weather doesn’t deter them from riding, for most it is quickly nearing the time of year in which to set our machines up for hibernation.
Faced with the reduced traction of cold tires, the potential for ice and slippery road salt, in addition to the distractingly cold temperature itself, my rides become significantly less frequent in the winter months. However, there are certain steps that I take to ensure that my two-wheeled pride and joys stay in their best possible condition while not in use. Here are some of them.
The first and likely most common step taken by many is the use of a fuel additive to stabilize the fuel. Modern fuel can turn rather quickly, causing significant issues for both carbureted and fuel injected bikes. To prevent this, a fuel stabilizer can be mixed with the fuel, and can be effective for extended periods of time. To do this properly, you should fill your fuel tank, then add the stabilizer and allow the bike to run for a few minutes. This enables the stabilizer to work its way through the fuel system in its entirety. Depending on the condition and age of your engine oil and oil filter, you may want to change them prior to storage.
After this, it’s a great idea to clean your bike, removing any potentially corrosive crud from your motorcycle while it will be stationary. After cleaning, a nice coating of wax on paneling will help to keep new contaminates from adhering, should your bike be exposed to them. Adding a bit of oil where appropriate and treating any leathers would also be best done at this stage.
Now, as the bike will be stationary, it is best to elevate the bike above the floor, keeping tires from getting flat spots. Some bikes already have a center stand, which will help to keep a lot of weight off of the bike’s tires, and the suspension as well. However, I’d still stick a patch of thick carpet or foam beneath the tires in this instance. In fact, for my older Beamer, I have a thick padded motorcycle mat which rest beneath the entire bike. For other motorcycles, a paddock stand set can be acquired to keep the front and rear wheel entirely off of the ground. These stands are very useful for maintenance as well, as is the center stand.
Next, you’ll want to connect your bike to a battery charger. A proper charger will accommodate your specific battery type and voltage, and will ensure that your battery isn’t drained. For some bikes, a battery replacement is more difficult than others, and more consequential. The latter can be particularly true of bikes with complex electrical systems. Also, for some bikes, battery access is less than convenient. Fortunately, you can utilize a battery tether which will allow you to very easily attach and detach your charger.
Lastly, I like to throw a sheet over the motorcycle to prevent dust from collecting upon the recently clean machine. I prefer a sheet to a proper cover as it is generally softer, and because it is secured by gravity alone, there is no significant added pressure on specific parts nor the paint. A heavy cover can turn small debris from a drying cloth into scratches if you’re not careful.
These are some steps which I take to prepare my motorcycles for short periods of storage. However, as always, you should refer to your machine’s manual and consult a certified mechanic prior to deciding whether or not these tips are a good fit for you and your bike. With that being said, some of you may have more suggestions, which I encourage you to share below in our comments section.
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