It’s that time of year again, the nights are drawing in, the roads are covered with wet leaves and you’re starting to think a canoe would be more practical than a motorcycle right now. It may only be the start of winter, but we’ve already had floods and our first snow. As reluctant as you may be to admit it, it’s probably time to put the motorcycle into hibernation for the winter.
However, before you shut it away in the garage for the next few months, it may be worth taking a little time just making sure its comfy and more importantly, going to be good-to-go as soon as the weather picks up. Here are just a few simple tips to ensure that your motorcycle will be ready to go the second you are.
First up, take it for one last ride. Any niggling noises you’ve been ignoring or anything that doesn’t feel right should be addressed now. Once the motorcycle is warmed up, any condensation from the exhaust will evaporate too. On your way back top up the fuel tank. Half empty tanks are a great place for moisture to build up which coupled with any exposed metal could damage your bike. Once you’re back home, top the engine up with some fuel stabilizer and run the motorcycle for a few minutes to allow it to work its way round, even if your motorcycle doesn’t have carburettors, a fuel stabilizer will stop any compounds from the fuel tank breaking up and damaging your engine.
Changing the oil and filter is very important too; any acid compounds developed by the oil will need to be flushed out. As this oil will need to be drained before you next ride, it doesn’t need to be the most expensive oil on the market. Submerging some of the more sensitive parts of your motorcycle, like the bearings, in oil will help prevent corrosion. Remember that any excess oil has to be drained before starting the engine as too much oil can damage the engine just as much as too little oil. You will also need to top up the antifreeze. If you’re able; drain the float plugs. Alternatively, if a stabilizer is added to the fuel and run through the system this should work just as well. Before you put your motorcycle into storage, you will also need to lube the chain, if left; the chain can corrode and rust. Remember to keep any lubricants away from the breaks or tyres, assuming you want to stop without the aid of a tree next time you try to break. Any other exposed metal is going to need some WD40 to prevent any rust and corrosion.
It may sound obvious, but give the bike a good clean. This will enable you to notice anything out of the ordinary as well as removing any dirt or grime which could damage the motorcycle over the winter months, just remember not to put it away whilst it’s still wet. If there’s anything worth repairing or maintaining this is a great time to get it out of the way, so that in the spring the motorcycle will be ready to go as soon as the weather permits. Chances are with most motorcycles these days everything will be ok, but your motorcycle maybe close to a valve adjustment or something similar and now is a great time to get that done.
Next you’ll have to remove the battery, especially if your motorcycle is going to be left to brave the elements outside all winter. Batteries contain water which can freeze and expand, this can cause the battery to crack and once it melts it can then leak. If you can, leave your battery hooked up to a small charge for the winter. A battery tender will give it just the charge it needs without letting it over charge. If you leave your battery alone to stand in your bike all winter, you’ll have trouble even getting to the shop to buy a new one!
All that’s left now is to find somewhere nice and dry to store you motorcycle. Ideally your bike would prefer to be left in a garage but if that’s not possible try and make sure it’s covered. It is worth bearing in mind though, if its left with a cover outside, condensation could build up and you’ll have a very impressive pile of rust to take on your first ride out in the spring. If you’re going to have to leave your motorcycle outside make sure it’s secure and preferably out of sight. Nothing says challenge like an unattended motorcycle with nothing more than a glorified keychain round it. If you can, leave your motorcycle on a stand as this will take any weight from the suspension.
Well that’s it, time to relegate yourself to the car for the next few months. Next time you’re at a loose end on a bright clear Sunday afternoon, refrain yourself from taking your bike for a quick mid winter spin, you’ll only end up creating condensation in the engine, instead get on with a bit of routine maintenance.