As winter is in full swing, most of us will have begrudgingly stored our bikes and will have to wait until spring before riding again. This is a companion piece to our car winterization post for those of us who enjoy two wheels instead of four.
This is a collaboration piece between sportbike moderators oHenry, Raid3n and Inaii. For more information, please visit our Sport Bike Forum
Storing your bike unfortunately isn’t as easy as throwing a cover on it. In order to keep your bike in optimal running condition, a few steps are required so that when Spring finally comes, it’ll start up when you want to go for that first ride of the season. In addition proper storage procedures will help in the prevention of costly repairs in the future.
Tools and Supplies Required:
Fuel Stabilizer + Full tank of fuel
Various Hand Tools
Additional Tools and Supplies Recommended:
Rear and Front stands
1) Take the bike for one last ride. (Optional)
Go for one last ride before you put it away for the year. While you’re out, might as well fill up on gas, and grab a bite to eat before starting.
2) Fill up gas tank and add fuel stabilizers
Fill up the tank with gas, and then add your fuel stabilizers. A full tank will prevent moisture build up and the stabilizer will prevent the gas from stratifying. When gas gets old, it separates and turns into a gooey substance which can gum up your carbs.
Don’t forget to read the label and follow directions in regards to how much stabilizer to add. In our case, we will be using Sta-Bil, which uses 10mL of stabilizer to treat 5L of gas. Run the bike for a bit, to get the stabilized fuel throughout the system.
3) Change the oil and filter
Self explanatory, but in case you need a guide, one can be found here. The oil and filter should be changed approximately every 4000 -6000 kms or every 6 months depending on whichever comes first. However these numbers are not definitive, so be sure to check your manual as all bikes are different.
The goal of winterizing is to remove moisture from your motorcycle. Moisture and winter can be a lethal combination as it can gather in your engine internals and cause rusting along with other damage. Depending on how long you plan to store your bike, this next step is optional.
3b) Lube and Oil
If you plan to store your bike for more than a few months, extra care should be taken to protect the internals of the engine. Start by removing the spark plugs. Inspect the spark plugs for abnormal wear. Next, put a few drops of fresh oil into the cylinders. Crank the engine over by hand to coat the walls and the rings. Reinstall the spark plugs. We recommend putting in new ones as you already have them out, but if they are still good, feel free to reuse them.
4) Disconnect and remove battery
Over time, the battery will slowly discharge, and as you will not be riding, it won’t get a chance to be recharged. Keep the battery somewhere safe and dry. Connect the battery tender and the tender will make sure the battery will be good to go come spring.
5) Lubricate and Adjust EVERYTHANG!!* (*Where applicable and required)
As moisture is our greatest enemy, as Lorenzo to our Rossi, we need to remove as much of it as possible. Start by checking the slack in the chain. If required, adjust. This way, when spring comes, you can just hop on and go. Be sure to thoroughly clean and lube the chain especially if you are storing it outside or in an unheated area. If not done, the links in the chain may rust and severely reduce chain life. Also, be sure to check both the front and rear sprockets for wear. While you’re in there, might as well clean them too.
Check your cables, adjust and lube as required. Here is a cable lubrication guide for those who are interested. Lube all moving parts as required. Check your fork seals and put some rubber protectant on it.
6) Motorcycle Inspection
Take your time to inspect all elements of the bike and make a note of what may need your attention in the future. Check your fluid levels, look for damage or worn items.
7) Wash and Polish
Wash and polish the bike. Bug splatter is acidic and will ruin the paint if left on for too long. Also, there is no better feeling than coming back to a shiny bike that looks brand new. Don’t forget to dry the bike thoroughly. We prefer to do this step last as we tend to be quite messy when we work so we don’t need to worry about overspray or oil drops on the bike.
It is recommended you store the bike off the wheels to prevent flat spots or abnormal wear on the tires. The best option is to get a set of front and rear stands for the bike. Investing in a set of stands pays for itself as it makes doing any work on the bike easier. Some bikes have a center stand. Use that at the very least to get the rear tire up. If you’re unfortunate like me to not have a center stand and do not have stands for whatever reason, be sure to roll the bike once in a while during storage to minimize the impact of flat spots. In addition, having well inflated tires will assisting in minimizing flat spots.
Put a rag or a cap on your exhaust to prevent bugs or rodents from calling your exhaust home.
Use a leather conditioner for the seat to prevent cracking.
Do a coolant flush. Doesn’t hurt.
Be sure to start the bike once in a while just to keep things moving and lubricated.
Of course this is only a basic guide in winterizing your motorcycle. Each bike is different and will require slightly different steps. Take care of your bike and it’ll take care of you. See you guys in spring!