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How To Prepare Your Motorcycle for Winter Storage

How To Prepare Your Motorcycle for Winter Storage

Yesterday I turned off the air conditioning and turned on the furnace. That means we’re down to the last couple months (weeks, for some people) of Riding Season 2018. For those who don’t have the benefit of living in a year-round riding climate (Global warming, hurry up already!), it’s time to start thinking about how to get your motorcycle ready for winter storage.

The goal of storing your motorcycle for the winter is to have it in as good a shape (or betfter) in the spring as it was when you put it away in the fall. That means no new corrosion (rust), no flat spots on your tire, and no unnecessary wear done to your battery. Here are a few tips on how to prepare your motorcycle for winter storage.

1) Take care of your battery

Ctek battery chargerThe best way to do this is by connecting your battery to a trickle charger. A trickle charger charges your motorcycle battery only until it is full, and then it stops charging and rechecks your battery periodically. It also charges at a very low amperage, unlike a car battery charger which is too powerful and will damage your small motorcycle battery.

Some trickle charges cost as little as $35 and are super reliable, like this Battery Tender Jr. Others have special features, like this Ctek battery charger that can desulphate your battery to make it last longer and can also be used for cars as well. I own both of these chargers and love them.

If you can’t afford the $35 for a battery charger, at the very least, disconnect your battery from the motorcycle so there won’t be any draw from the bike. If you can, you should also bring the bike indoors and out of cold temperatures for the duration of the winter.

2) Wash your bike and apply wax to protect the paint

Stuff pitted onto your motorcycle for months is the perfect storm for pitting and fading. Get rid of dirt, grease, and grime, and protect your surfaces with a quality wax or other appropriate product.

3) Protect your metal and chrome

Likewise, you’ll want to clean everything metal, especially if it’s shiny and chrome! You can apply WD-40 to the metal, chrome, and other non-plastic parts to prevent corrosion during the winter months.

WD was never intended as a lubricant and it isn’t one. It stands for water displacement, and it’ll keep your metal and chrome from rusting and pitting. Spray it on and wipe it off in the spring.

4) Lube and oil chains and cables

MotionPro Cable LuberLubricating your cables can help you to avoid sticky or inconsistent operation of your controls, while lubing your motorcycle’s chain (if it has one) helps to avoid rusting and kinks while stored.

When it comes to a quick way to lubing your cables, Motion Pro’s $10 cable luber is king.

5) Take care of your fuel and gas tank

StabilRust can form in your gas tank if there’s too much empty space and moisture gets in. Rust forming in your tank is bad, and any rust that does form can flow down into your engine. Is that what you want? Nope!  Instead, fill up your gas tank to avoid this problem.

But what if the gas goes bad? That’s right. Gas can start to gum up. This can block your fuel lines, or block your carburetors or fuel injectors (see: How To Increase Motorcycle Fuel Economy for more on that). Using a fuel stabilizer keeps your fuel fresh and free of deterioration for up to two years before it should be drained. Bonus, if you get one like the Sta-bil 22208 Fuel Stabilizer it’s super easy to pour the exact amount and only costs $5.

6) Don’t neglect your tires

Sitting still for long periods of time, especially in the winter, is hard on your tires. Whether you’re storing your motorcycle in a warm or cold environment there are a few things you need to do.

First of all, fill up your tires. Not only will this help you get better mileage on your last few rides of the year, it’ll help to avoid premature damage from storage as well. Second, if you’re storing your motorcycle in a cold environment, use pieces of carpet, wood, or find other ways to keep your tires off of frozen surfaces to help them avoid freezing and cracking.

Lastly, whether you’re storing your bike in a warm or cold environment, be sure to roll the bike forward every few weeks. This will help you to avoid any flat spots.

7) DON’T change the oil

Stop changing the oil BEFORE you put your motorcycle away for the winter! Changing the oil before your storing your motorcycle is one of those pieces of advice new motorcyclists take without ever questioning why they’re doing it. Stop it.

Let’s think about it. You’re spending money on oil, and on a new filter, and you’re either spending your own time too, or else you’re spending money on labor at a shop, right? So you get the fresh oil in. Now what? You run the bike for a moment, it gets hot. Then it gets progressively colder. Some days are above freezing. Other days are below. Some days are dry. Some days are raining. And still the bike sits.

What’s happening and around that oil? Condensation. Moisture. Stuff that you don’t want getting into your oil! How do you get rid of it? You do an oil change in the spring time and put fresh oil in! So now it’s spring time, and you’re doing an oil change, and you’re wasting money again, and wasting time again… Wouldn’t it have been better if you had only done this once?

Do your oil change in the spring, people. Not the fall. Your wallet, and more importantly, your motorcycle, will thank you.

That’s it!

Can’t be bothered? If you’re in the Toronto area and want motorcycle winter storage, check out this $325 motorcycle winter storage with free pick up and drop off.

I wanted to find a sweet spot between being both informative, and brief. I hope you found this article helpful.

Do you have any comments or tips on motorcycle winter storage? Is there anything I missed? Is there something you do differently? Let me know in the comments!

About YouMotorcycle

YouMotorcycle is a lifestyle motorcycle blog to be appreciated by those who see motorcycling as a lifestyle and not simply a hobby, sport, or method of transportation. Most of the posts on the site are written by past and present motorcycle industry staff. We remain fiercely independent, innovative, and unconventional. Our goal is to encourage more people to enjoy the world's greatest outdoor sport by helping new riders get started and inspiring current riders to get out more. We motorcycle, do You?

2 comments

  1. Oh contraire mon frere…….As much as I dislike contesting the opinions of a friendly, fellow bikers, lots of “sources” will take issue with your comment about when to change the oil of a vehicle being stored.

    You say to do it coming OUT of storage.
    Many others say going IN to storage. (That’s MY camp.)
    Still others say BOTH! (the rich guys, apparently…OR, the guys who really LOVE their mount!)

    There’s precious little air inside an engine. The amount that is “breathed” in and out by expansion and contraction is MINISCULE.
    How much moisture do you suppose is contained in the cubic inch or two of air that might pass in and out of your crankcase ventilation valve over the course of 4 or 5 months? How much water do you suppose the average crankcase is going to suck out of the universe?

    To NOT change your oil in the Fall, before storing, means you’re leaving a whole season of pollutants, including gas, dirt, water (from humid SUMMER air) inside the engine to eat away at metal surfaces…most importantly rings, cylinder walls, gears and bearings.

    So I say, change it BEFORE storage and get the clean stuff spread over all the internal workings by driving the vehicle for half an hour before “putting it away.”

    Then, in the Spring, if you want to test the theory about “water settling in the pan over the Winter”…pull your drain plug and let 4 or 5 ounces of oil (and the single of moisture that might be in there) flow into your catch-pan. I guarantee a mouse’s thirst wouldn’t be quenched by the amount you’ll get!

    It would be tough to get an unbiased answer about this from an oil company (they want you to change in the Fall AND Spring, of course!)…but Edmunds, the renowned automotive info company and even Ford Motors instruction manuals (as just TWO major, credible experts) agree with the “pre-storage” change method.

    Still not convinced? Just Google the hell out of the topic…but watch for “credibility” in the sources. (i.e. avoid “My uncle Harry always said…….)

    Cheers, and be safe, whatever you decide!

What do you think?