Motorcycle Preparedness: Six Ways To Protect Your Bike During Winter Hibernation
When you're a motorcycle enthusiast winter time often means sitting
around waiting for the roads to clear up and the weather to break
so you can finally get back in the saddle. That is, unless you're
one of the lucky ones who lives in a part of the country where you
have the pleasure of experiencing year-round riding weather. For
the rest of us, our bikes become like bears as they're hidden away
in a cold, dark place, hibernating until the spring thaw.
Just like bears prepare for hibernation by foraging on food so they can make it through their winter sleep, it's important to prepare your ride for its three-to-four months of down time with some basic motorcycle maintenance. It doesn't take a lot of work or even a lot of money for that matter to get your motorcycle prepped for a winter's nap. The important thing is to heed some, if not all, of these steps ahead of time, otherwise it could cost you a lot of time and money when the time does come to start riding again.
When gas sits for an extended period of time it can lead to
degradation of its original chemical composition which can result
in hard starting and rough running engines. Old gasoline stored in
your motorcycle can also cause internal issues such as oxidation,
turning to varnish and gumming up fuel lines your fuel filter or
your motorcycle's carburetor. To keep good gas from turning to bad
gas when your bike is stored, your best bet is to add something
like [mageProductLink sku="353-0051" title=""]Sta-Bil Fuel
Stabilizer[/mageProductLink], [mageProductLink sku="275-0066"
title=""]Motorex Fuel Stabilizer[/mageProductLink] or
[mageProductLink sku="19-1131" title=""]Yamalube Fuel Stabilizer
and Conditioner[/mageProductLink] before you store the bike for the
winter. When you know you'll be taking your last ride of the season
fill up your tank, add the recommended amount of fuel stabilizer,
and then ride around for a few mile. This will allow the stabilizer
to adequately mix with the fuel and work its way into the fuel
lines and carb (if your bike is equipped with one). Also, fueling
up before you store your bike will help reduce the chance of rust
building up on the inside of your motorcycle's gas tank.
Before you put your motorcycle to bed you should give it a thorough
wash, detail, and wax. Storing your bike with a bunch of dirt,
gunk, and road grime can lead to accelerated break down of delicate
components like rubber fuel and oil lines, rust build up, and the
accumulation of other unsightly blemishes on paint or chrome
surfaces. There are many areas to clean and tend to from your body
work to your chain, brakes, and seat. S100 offers a long line of
cleaning products from its [mageProductLink sku="353-5100"
title=""]Total Cycle Cleaner[/mageProductLink] to its
[mageProductLink sku="353-5112" title=""]Shine Enhancing
Cleanser[/mageProductLink] which is a great pre-wax treatment. A
good degreaser on your motorcycle chain like PJ1's Spray & Wash
Degreaser will dissolve grease, oil, and dirt without harming your
rubber, plastic, or painted components. [mageProductLink
sku="344-0010" title=""]Bel-Ray's Brake and Contact
Cleaner[/mageProductLink] will do wonders cleaning out those tight
gunk-filled crevices around your motorcycle's brake calipers. Don't
forget to hit the engine; S100 can help bring back the black to
your motorcycle engine with its [mageProductLink sku="353-5113"
title=""]S100 engine Brightener[/mageProductLink]. Be sure to wrap
up your bike's spa treatment with layer of protective armor by
applying a nice coat of wax on the body/painted components with
something like [mageProductLink sku="353-2004" title=""]Mothers
California Gold Liquid Carnauba Cleaner and Wax[/mageProductLink],
give the wheels a good once over with [mageProductLink
sku="0513.1501" title=""]Liquid Performance's Metal
Polish[/mageProductLink], and finish up by applying some Yamalube
Saddle Soap to your leather seat.
Just like gasoline, old/used motorcycle oil sitting in your system
can be bad for your engine as well. Used oil contains contaminants
that once sitting for extended periods can leave nasty deposits and
just muck up your internal passages. So it's smart to drain your
old oil and change out the filter for a new motorcycle oil filter.
Most likely your engine will still be pretty warm from when you
rode around to mix in the fuel stabilizer, so the old oil should
flow out pretty easily. Once drained and the drain plug is
cleaned/reinstalled, screw on a new motorcycle oil filter
and top off your oil tank with the recommended motorcycle oil for
your ride. A little tip, if you haven't discovered them already,
[mageProductLink sku="340-1450" title=""]K&N Oil
Filters[/mageProductLink] are very handy in the fact that they come
with a 17mm nut on the end making it very easy to remove. When it
comes time to ride in the spring, drain the oil and put a couple
quarts of fresh motorcycle oil in. This
will ensure your engine and internal components will be getting the
benefit of fresh oil right from the start. And if you replaced the
oil filter before storage you don't need to replace the filter
again before you ride.
Since you degreased and cleaned up your entire bike, be sure to spend some time adding fresh lube to items like the chain, swingarm, steering stem, and other components that need it. Also check the rest of your fluid levels like your transmission, master cylinders, and primary to make sure they are in good condition and topped off. Lastly, you should stuff the ends of your mufflers and cover up your intake system with something like plastic shopping bags. This will help keep small animals from sneaking into open areas and turning the insides of your motorcycle components into their own personal condominium complex.
Nothing is more frustrating than heading out to the garage for the
first ride of the season and hearing nothing when you click the
starter. Your battery hates sitting idle just as much as you do.
However, your motorcycle battery has a much more adverse reaction
to inactivity-it will die. In order to ensure your battery will be
good to go when you are you need to tend to its needs, which means
you need to connect it to some kind of maintenance device. When
most people think of battery maintenance they think of Battery
Tender, and for good reason, it's very easy to use and very
effective. [mageProductLink sku="321-2100" title=""]The Deltran
Super Smart Battery Tender Plus-12V[/mageProductLink] will
constantly monitor your battery and keep it properly
maintained/charged without damaging it. The unit will automatically
switch to Float Mode when the battery is fully charged and even
though a constant charge is being applied to the battery there is
no danger of overheating or overcharging and damaging the battery.
It's designed to work with AGM, sealed maintenance free, lead
calcium, and flooded batteries. You can leave the battery in your
bike with the Battery Tender hooked up or you can remove the
battery. Keep in mind, batteries hate cold weather and even with a
Battery Tender hooked up to it, extreme cold can cause damage, so
if you live in an area that is prone to freezing conditions it's
recommended to store the battery/Battery Tender in a warmer area
that is not susceptible to freezing temps.
It's important to check your motorcycle tires
before storing your bike. You want to inspect the tires and make
sure there are no foreign objects, slow leaks, or major cracks in
the tires that can lead to loss of air. Once you are sure the tires
are in good shape fill them up with the proper air pressure.
Letting your motorcycle sit with too little air pressure or leaking
tires can lead to flat spots in the tires, possible damage to your
wheels, or cracking/deterioration of the tires. If you have one put
the bike up on the center stand as this will help take some
pressure off the tires and suspension.
Once you've addressed everything you wanted to on your motorcycle
and you're satisfied it will hold up through its winter hibernation
it's time to tuck it into bed with a cover. Sure a standard blue
tarp will work, but you won't like the results if moisture gets
trapped underneath or if your motorcycle is stored outside and the
wind picks up, the tarps course surface continually brushes against
your gas tank or motorcycle fender can really work the paint over.
You need a cover that breathes and won't trap moisture and will fit
tightly over your motorcycle and won't blow away. Nelson-Rigg has
been in the motorcycle cover business for quite some time, so they
know a thing or two about ensuring your baby is protected and has
an undisturbed slumber. [mageProductLink sku="204-2602"
title=""]The Nelson-Rigg Falcon Cruiser Deluxe
Cover[/mageProductLink] features top quality Tri-Max treated
polyester that is guaranteed to be 100 percent waterproof. It also
comes with heat shield lower panels so that if you store your
motorcycle with warm or hot pipes the cover won't melt to your
motorcycle exhaust. If you have a windshield the motorcycle cover
has a soft windshield panel protector so it won't scratch your
windshield. The exclusive Perma-Venting system incorporated into
the cover prevents condensation build-up and allows moisture to
dry. Then to ensure the cover stays put it has a snug elastic
bottom with one inch grommets to provide additional security.
Okay so that's our list of things you should do when storing your motorcycle for its winter hibernation. Now keep in mind, just because you took care of these things doesn't mean you should just leave your motorcycle unattended to for four months straight. You should check on it every once in a while and make sure you don't have any oil leaks or critters nesting in your leather saddlebags and making a meal out of your motorcycle seat-we've seen crazier things happen.