Hunter S. Thompson is quoted as saying, “Love is the feeling you get when you like something as much as your motorcycle.” No matter how deep your affection, the time will come when you’ll need to store your beloved steed if you live in a part of the country that experiences four distinct seasons.
There are several things you can do to ensure your bike will be just as ready to go as you are at the first genuine signs of spring.
Wash & Inspect
Taking the time to thoroughly wash and dry your motorcycle is an effective way to protect all of its surfaces. The sooner you remove dirt, road grime and prematurely expired insects the easier it will be. A great way to properly dry your ride, ensuring no water is trapped, is to go for a quick ride or used compressed air to blow the water off the bike. This is also a convenient time to do a comprehensive routine check to ensure no mechanical issues have arisen since your last ride and that there are no fluid leaks. Throttle, clutch and brake cables should be inspected and lubricated to prevent premature wear or seizing.
Check and Maintain Fluids
Pros recommend changing and topping up all essential fluids because dirt and other contaminants can accumulate inside your engine, transmission and crankcase while you ride. During storage, any foreign deposits, unburned fuel, exhaust gases or water vapor can do nasty things to the unseen and intricate inner workings of your machine. The gas tank should be filled whenever your vehicle is parked for extended periods in cold weather. The change in temperature will cause the inside of the tank to sweat, which encourages corrosion. Filling it with gas will displace the air and result in less exposed metal. However, gasoline can break down over time, setting the stage for gummed up fuel lines or injectors (or even carburetors, depending on the motorcycle.) Adding a simple fuel stabilizer-following its instructions-will greatly reduce the potential of this occurring. After changing and adding new fluids, run the engine for a few minutes to work the entire new blend throughout its intended route.
Tend to Your Battery
Paying attention to your battery over the winter months can mean the difference between hearing the soulful sound of your engine roaring to life or crickets, come spring.You can remove it from the bike and charge it monthly, or leave it in place and attach a trickle charger. When a battery is not used regularly, it gradually loses its charge, especially with the strain of extraneous electronics such as security systems.If you do find yourself with a dead battery, do not jump start it using a car. Motorcycle batteries are fragile and this will significantly cut into its life.
Keep an Eye on Your Tires
Tires are often overlooked, but they are the only part of your motorcycle that makes contact with the road. Inspecting your tires regularly to monitor treadwear and proper inflation is always a good idea. This is particularly important when the bike will be standing for a long period in one position. You don’t want flat spots where the tires contact the ground. Ideally, one or both of the tires should be raised.
Keep it Under Cover
Your bike should be kept indoors in a dry, safe place. Finding the right spot may just be the most important piece of the puzzle. Many variables such as freezing and thawing or exposure to dirt and chemicals in the air can have detrimental effects. And remember that furry critters may be searching for a place to nest.
Plastic tarps are often used to protect boats, cars and motorcycles from the elements when the vehicles are not in use. But some covers trap moisture, increasing the likelihood of corrosion. Breathable, waterproof covers range in price depending on quality and size, but are well worth the investment.
Keep your bike insured over the course of the winter as accidents often happen. Heaven forbid if someone were to unknowingly back into it, or unforeseen events like a flood or fire were to occur-you want to be protected. Also, with any luck there could be the odd winter thaw that allows you to go for a quick trip to calm your riding withdrawal symptoms.
Going through a comprehensive winter storage process takes time, but the effort will pay off when it comes time to wake the beast from its seasonal slumber.
Next article: Smart Ways To Keep Your Motorcycle From Being Stolen
By Dustin Woods
Originally published December 2014