Storing a Motorcycle for the Winter
Each year as the weather turns from warm to cold, and thousands of motorcycle owners have to store their bikes for the winter months. Most vehicles can be left for quite a while without the need to do anything for winter storage. A motorcycle however, will require some maintenance to make sure it runs well when the weather warms back up for some spring and summer riding.
The most commonly recommended thing to do is, fill tank full and add some fuel or gas stabilizer. Fuel stabilizer will help prevent the old gasoline from getting gummy and clogging items when the motorcycle is run in the spring. Be sure when using stabilizer to add it and let the motorcycle run for a few minutes so that it can circulate through the entire system.
If you have a carbureted motorcycle it is also recommended to close the motorcycle fuel shut off valve or petcock, and run the engine to burn any remaining fuel from the system and carbs.
If the motorcycle will be sitting idle for longer than two months, remove the sparkplugs and add a little engine oil into the sparkplug hole. Put the motorcycle in gear the turn the rear wheel. This will move the pistons to coat the cylinder walls. You can then put the sparkplugs back in.
If the motorcycle has a chain drive, be sure to clean and oil the chain as well. This will help prevent moisture from collecting on it.
Make sure that the tires are inflated to the recommended pressure. As the weather gets colder and changes, it is important to check the pressure every once in a while to make sure it is still accurate. While checking the tire pressure, move the motorcycle so that the tire is not always sitting on the same spot. If keeping the motorcycle on a cold floor, a good idea is to place a piece of cardboard or wood under the tires to keep the rubber off the cold cement.
Remove the battery from the motorcycle. This will prevent it from continuing to drain throughout the winter without being recharged. Some people will place the battery on a charger or tender and leave it attached throughout the winter. While others will let it sit for the winter, and place it on a charger about a month before planning to put it back into the bike. The important thing is to keep the battery in a warm place such as a heated garage while storing.
Cover the Motorcycle
If the motorcycle is going to be stored outdoors it is important to cover it for the winter with a proper motorcycle cover. Even if storing it in the garage it might be worthwhile to consider throwing a sheet or tarp over it to keep dust or other stuff that might be floating around from gathering on it.
What to Do If Not Able to Properly Store
If it is not possible to properly store a motorcycle, because of space or location, it is still important to do a few things throughout the winter to keep the motorcycle running properly. If you are unable to remove the battery from the motorcycle for the winter, be sure to start it up once or twice a month. When doing so, let the engine run for a while to get up to proper temperature. Also remember to move the motorcycle around to prevent the tires for sitting in one location. If storing the motorcycle outdoors, use a motorcycle cover that is fitted properly to prevent water from collecting on the motorcycle.
In the Spring
If a motorcycle has been properly stored for the winter, a rider will have little to do in the spring when taking it out for that first ride. Lube the chain, check or possibly change the oil and fluids. Replace the battery, and do the usual pre-ride checks and the motorcycle should be good-to-go.
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