Indeed, a very sad day. Some of us in the Northern climates must put our bikes away for dreaded cold and icy season. Those of you in the South, that can ride all year… please pray for our sanity.
Gather together all the tools necessary to get the dreaded winterizing job done. You’ll need cleaning cloths, hand tools including a spark plug wrench, a trickle battery charger, four or five quarts of high quality oil, a new oil filter, an oil squirting device (to get oil in the cylinders), chain lube (if you have a chain drive), some fuel stabilizer, a spray can of WD40 type stuff, a breathable motorcycle cover. Some plastic wrap from the kitchen, a few rubber bands, surgical type rubber gloves (keeps your fingernails clean!) all your typical detailing supplies (wash, wax polish, etc.).
- Find a nice place for you bike to spend the winter. A heated and secure garage would be good. Avoid wind, dripping water and vermin. Damp and musty places will make your bike unhappy.
- Completely wash the bike, thoroughly dry the bike, lovingly wax the bike and polish all the shiny bits!
- Clean the chain (if you have one). Spray off all the built up gunk with the WD40 type stuff. We hold an old towel underneath the chain to catch all the sludge.
- Lube you chain (if you have one… again).
- Gasoline gets a little weird as it ages; it gets gummy and can clog things up. To avoid this use a fuel stabilizer! Add the amount recommended on the bottle in the tank and fill the tank completely with gasoline. Run the engine for a few minutes to warm up the engine oil and to get the stabilizer into your carbs/fuel injectors.
- If you have carburetor(s) Drain your float bowls. Shutoff the gas petcock and drain the gas from the carb bowls (there are usually drain screws, consult your manual). Of Course, if you have a fuel-injected bike, there isn’t anything to drain… move on.
- Now that the engine is warm, you can change the oil and filter. Oil chemistry changes as it is used and the old oil develops acidic qualities, which can corrode engine parts.
- Take your oil-squirting device and put some oil all over the stationary tubes on the front forks. Get on the bike, Hold the front brake and bounce the bike up and down to work the front suspension. This will keep the rubber seals from drying out and protect the exposed fork tube.
- Now, pull the spark plug wire(s) get your spark plug wrench and remove the plug(s). With your oil-squirting device, get some motor oil in the cylinder(s). About a teaspoon of oil will do. Tuck the plug wires away somewhere safe so they don’t arc and spin the motor with the starter for a few revolutions to get the oil spread around. Remember to keep your face away from the spark plug holes. Oil will squirt out! Clean and gap the plug(s) and put them back in. Put your plug wire(s) back on.
- Take your battery out of the motorcycle. Make sure it’s full, if not, put distilled water in… up to the marks. Use a trickle charger every four weeks or even better, a “Battery Tender” type of charger. They can be left on through the storage period. Dead Batteries really suck in the spring, so take care of it over the winter and you won’t get any surprises when it time to ride! Batteries build up sulfates on the plates during inactivity and cold… then they die. We coat the terminals on the battery and on the bike with “Vaseline” to prevent corrosion.
- If your bike has a liquid cooling system, check it’s level and anti-freeze with a hygrometer. Drain, flush and replace anti-freeze if necessary. We do it every two years. Do not leave it low or empty, it will rust and corrode your cooling system.
- Go ahead and check all the other fluids while you’re at it!
- Lube your cables. Lube suspension and pivot points. Lube you drive shaft (if you have one) Check the air cleaner and the fuel filter. Look at brake pads. You know… give your bike a good once over.
- Clean and treat your leather with a high quality dressing.
- If your motorcycles storage location is bare concrete (most garages are), we suggest using a piece Plywood, MDF, old thick carpet or some other material like that to insulate the bike from dampness.
- We also suggest storing your bike with all the weight removed from the wheels. A bike stand or some blocking works if you have a wheeled lift. A center stand and some blocking will work too. If not, try to roll the bike around every now and then.
- Do not store your bike near any ozone creating devices, such as motors. Freezers and furnaces have them, electric heaters make it too… bad for the rubber parts, be careful.
- With a clean cloth, wipe good quality light machine oil over all the metal surfaces except brake discs. Actually… we use Pledge, comes off easy, works quite well and the bike is lemony fresh! Pay a lot of attention to polished and raw aluminum.
- Spray a little WD40 ish stuff in the tail pipe(s) Cover your tailpipe opening(s) and the air intake with plastic wrap and a rubber bands… keeps vermin out. (OK… you laugh now, but hot mouse turds smell really bad when they get hot… trust me on this one!) We cover all the drain hoses too.
- Use a good breathable motorcycle cover to keep the dust off. Don’t use plastic covers, they trap moisture.
- Do not run the engine over the storage period… You’ll just create condensation in the engine and combustion byproducts (acids, etc) in the oil.
- Lock it up and say goodbye for a few short months… sigh.
Now you can enjoy the winter months without worry and dream of riding in warmer weather on a very shiny bike!