While there are a few die-hards who will ride their motorcycles in any weather, most of us tuck our bikes away once the weather turns cold and the snow starts falling. Heres what you need to know before storing your bike to be sure it will be ready to go come Spring.
If not used often, the lighter portion of the fuel in your tank will evaporate. This will leave you with varnish, which will cause clogging in your engine. You can prevent this by using fuel stabilizer. The simplest way to do this is to ride your bike to the store to buy the stabilizer, then ride it to the gas station. Pour the recommended amount of stabilizer into the tank and then top it off with fresh fuel. You will need to ride for at least 5 miles after that to make sure the stabilizer gets to every part of the system.
Change the oil before a long period of storage. Combustion gasses like to congregate in your oil and will form acids damaging to the inner metal surfaces if the bike is not used often. A new batch of oil will keep that from happening. Even if you changed the oil at the beginning of the riding season, youll need to change it again for winter storage. Yes, it is that important.
Exhausts and mufflers can rust quickly when theyre not being used. Spray a light coating of WD-40 into muffler ends and drain holes, then stick a plastic shopping bag lightly into each muffler hole to keep moisture (and mice) out. Then cover the whole thing with another plastic bag to keep moisture off.
Even if your bike is off and in storage, it often has a small current drain that will slowly drain the battery of power. Whats worse, a battery that has not been used for a few months will not be able to keep a charge. You can either get a low-amp charger and let it charge every couple of weeks, or a maintenance charger you can hook up and then forget about. A maintenance charger monitors the amount of charge in the battery and turns on and off as needed.
Waxing and polishing your bike before storage will help protect against rust and moisture. So even though it may seem counterintuitive to make your bike shine when no one will see it, it is an important step to keeping it in good condition.
Air condenses as it gets cold, so be sure the air in your tires is to the maximum recommended pressure. Underinflated tires puts pressure on parts of the tire that are not meant to withstand a lot of pressure, and it could damage the tires. Dont cover your tires with tire cleaning foam or the like. It will make the tires hard and cause them to crack. Place a thick cardboard or wooden plank underneath your tires to keep them raised from the freezing floor.
Now your bike is readywhere are you going to store it? You need a place that is dry and out of the weather. A carport or canopy is better than nothing, but your bike will still be susceptible to the changing temperature and to whatever the wind blows in. A garage is a good option, but if youre like me your garage barely fits your car, let alone allows for extra room. If that is the case, another option would be a dealer storage program. If you choose this option, the dealer will help prep the bike for storage. Another option would be a storage unit. They are secure, enclosed, and smaller units, like those provided by Arroyo, are very well priced.
Once your bike is ready to be stored, cover your bike with a good cycle cover instead of a sheet or tarp, as they trap moisture instead of repel it.
Following these winter storage tips will grant you peace of mind during the winter, and confidence that youll be able to get out and ride the moment the weather turns warm!