Tips on Storing your Motorcycle for the Winter
Riding in winter, whilst it can be tricky, is great fun. Many of you may be fortunate enough that winter doesn’t affect your riding season, but for many others, it does.
If you haven’t discovered the joys of riding through winter or would just rather not ride in the snow, then we want to help you make sure your bike is kept safe and will be ready to use once the spring comes round.
The truth is that winter salt will try and destroy your bike, turning all your nuts, bolts and fasteners furry and grizzly like the polar bear you expect to see walking the streets any day now. Black ice and freezing cold rain are hazardous to ride in regardless of your experience. And when there is a foot or more of snow outside, well, sometimes you just have to admit defeat, take a step back and ensure your beloved bike is stored somewhere safe and dry.
But what is the best way to make sure your bike will be safe for the cold hardships of winter? An even bigger question is will it start again come Spring? These are our top ten tips for storing your bike for the winter and making sure it will start again come the new riding season.
1. Get It off the Ground
Tires are not designed to withhold the weight of the bike for extended periods of time without moving, as this can cause flat spots. The best thing to avoid this is to suspend your bike if possible off the ground, with paddock stands or a hoist. If elevating your machine isn’t possible, then lay a soft material, like a piece of carpet, on the floor between your tires and concrete, and remember to rotate the wheels every so often.
2. Trickle Charge
Batteries die in the cold. The best way to save yours is to either completely remove the battery or simply connect it to a trickle charger to keep its levels topped up. The trickle option is the best alternative, as this way you don’t need to reconnect the battery every time you want to start the bike up, which you should do regularly, as we explain in the next point.
3. Start It Up
Condensation and moisture in the air can find its way into your exhaust pipe, causing it to rot. It is good practice to start your bike up every couple of weeks to not only prevent this from happening, but also to prevent the engine from seizing up. You don’t need to leave your garage, just warm your machine up and then let it cool down before putting the cover back on.
4. Top Up
Depending on who you ask they will either store their bike with a full tank or an empty tank. Here at VMR we recommend keeping the tank full, so long as you start the bike up regularly. The petrol prevents the tank from rusting; however, modern day fuels loses its octane and leaves a mess that can cause blocks in your carbs or injectors. Prevent the mess from accumulating by using a fuel additive and running the engine for a few minutes to circulate the additive.
5. Block All Holes!
Before you do anything, write yourself a note saying, ‘holes blocked’ and leave it on the windscreen or dash, somewhere easily visible. Then proceed to fill your exhaust and airbox intake scoops. Mice love to next in these kinds of areas and the last thing you want is to suck up a mouse in your engine!
And the warning sign stops you from running the bike with all the holes plugged too.
WD40 or similar products work amazingly at protecting the finish on your engine and valuable parts, especially if you have some high-quality motorcycle paint you want to keep looking fresh. Apply it to all the areas you wish to protect, avoiding brake discs and calipers. The best way to prevent getting any on your discs and calipers is to put some on a cloth and rub down your chain and wheels, rather than spraying loosely. It will smell as it burns off while the engine is running, but that is nothing to worry about.
7. Cover Up
Covering up, even inside is a great way to protect your paintjob and keep your bike warm during winter. You don’t have to spend huge numbers of dollars on a fancy cover, some old blankets, duvets or rugs will do the job just fine. If you are using such things, look out for zips, buttons, and other items that could scratch your bike when pulling them off.
8. Insure It!
Most insurances will run all year round. However, some don’t. Just because your bike isn’t on the road, shouldn’t me it isn’t insured. Thieves still work during the winter, snow and other bad weather can cause roofs to fail and other damage to property, or you may accidentally knock something over in the garage. The old saying ‘best to be safe than sorry’ rings very true.
9. Top Up Tires
Slightly over-inflating your tires will help them keep their shape during the long winter months. This becomes an even better idea if you are storing your steed with the wheels on the ground rather than elevated. Make sure you remember to return them to the correct pressure before your first ride after winter.
10. Do the Jobs that Need Doing
You wanted to give your bike a paintjob? Replace some old, scratched fairing? Install a new windshield? All those things we notice and think about while riding but never have the time to get done. Well, now there is no excuse, get those odd little jobs done during the winter to make sure your bike is looking awesome when the Spring comes, and you get to ride again.
Hopefully these pieces of advice will help you with storing your bike over winter. And for those who don’t have to… We truly envy you.