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    Depending on the climate where a motorcycle rider lives, it may be necessary to store a bike during winter months. Each bike owner will tend to develop their own techniques for preparing the motorcycle for storage or winterizing their bike. I will try to provide different options and opinions on maintenance procedures for storing a motorcycle. Winterization varies from bike to bike so also refer to the motorcycle owner's manual before beginning.

Manufacturer's Recommendations (Extremely thorough)

  • Perform any scheduled maintenance on the motorcycle
  • Wash and wax the motorcycle top to bottom
  • Run the motorcycle engine for about five minutes to warm the oil. Drain the oil and replace with fresh oil.
  • Drain all fuel from the bike's gas tank and carburetor
    • For the injected version disconnect fuel pump power supply under tank. Start engine and run fuel line dry then drain the gas tank completely.
  • Remove the motorcycle's gas tank and pour in about one half pint of motor oil. Roll the oil around in the tank so that it coats it completely. Drain out the excess oil.
  • Remove the spark plug(s) and spray fogging oil into the cylinder(s). Crank the starter for a few seconds to coat the cylinder walls with the lubricant. Reinstall the motorcycle's spark plugs.
  • Reduce tire pressure by 20% (a good Tire Pressure Gauge is a must have)
  • Set the motorcycle on stands to keep the front and rear tires off the ground.
  • Spray oil on all unpainted metal surfaces. Avoid getting oil on rubber surfaces or on the brakes.
  • Lubricate the motorcycle's chain, all cables, and all pivoting parts (foot peg joints, etc).
  • Remove the battery and store it away from moisture, sunlight and freezing temperatures. Trickle charge the motorcycle battery about once a month during storage.
  • Tie a plastic bag over the motorcycle's muffler.
  • Cover the bike with a motorcycle cover.

     There is no doubt that taking following all these steps will keep your motorcycle in great shape over the winter months. If you've got the patience to do it every year - good for you! Unfortunately, if the sun decides to show its face and you get a nice day for a ride in the middle of January, you'll have to spend all day putting your motorcycle back together just to ride. Most motorcycle enthusiasts I've spoke with have a more streamlined approach.

Normal Human Being Approach

  • Wash the motorcycle, wax it if water does not bead
  • Sta-bil Concentrated Fuel Stabilizer
    Sta-bil Concentrated
    Fuel Stabilizer
    Fill up the gas tank and add STA-BIL. Run the engine for a few minutes. By gassing up, you minimize the amount of air in the fuel tank. Air will accumulate moisture and can lead to rust. Filling the tank is a lot easier than emptying it, removing it and oiling it - plus you can ride a bike with a full tank of gas a lot easier than one that has its gas tank on a shelf somewhere. Adding a fuel stabilizer to the gas in the motorcycle is critical. Gas will break down faster than most people think. The fuel oxidizes and separates out and gummy deposits will build up and engine or carburetor parts can become varnished. Running the engine for a few minutes is important to make sure the treated fuel gets into the engine and carb. Some argue this is better than draining the gas completely since seals are designed to stay immersed and can dry out and become ineffective if the bike is without fluids too long.
  • Bring the battery inside or connect a battery tender. If the bike is in a heated garage, just leave it in the bike.
  • Put wood board or carpet scraps under the tires. The whole purpose of getting the bike off the ground is that moisture will build up where the rubber is in contact with a concrete garage floor. Moisture is bad for just about everything. Keep the tires on something that won't accumulate moisture and they should be fine.
  • Lubricate the drive chain - you should be doing this on a regular basis anyway.

If you want the low maintenance approach or live in an area where you are likely to get some good weather and ride, here is the abridged version.

  • Fill the motorcycle's gas tank and add STA-BIL
  • Start the motorcycle once a week and let it run a couple minutes.
     Almost all motorcycle winterizing procedures revolve around avoiding moisture. Bikes that are run naturally heat up and burn off any moisture that may be trying to creep into the oil or the engine parts. Running the motorcycle also helps ensure that no fluids are stagnant too long so they don't have time to build up nasty deposits. You still may benefit from a trickle charger or you may be able to get away with just giving the battery a good charge once spring rolls around. Neglecting the battery may shorten its life a bit but batteries are pretty lazy and eventually need replacing no matter what you do. Following the manufacturer's rules is always best but for many it just is not practical. In the end, it is better to find a winterizing technique that you will diligently follow through with each year because any maintenance accomplished is better than the best good intentions you just never got around to.


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