Winterizing and Storing Your Bike


Before we get into the discussions of HOW to prepare your bike, I'd like to also remind everyone that proper storage of your bike is just as important.  If you want to keep your bike looking good and ready to ride you should keep your bike out of the harsh weather.   Heated storage is best (much less moisture to condense on your bike).   If you don't have a place to put your bike indoors then click here for a list of local places where you can store your bike.


Here is a short version (for those without much time or mechanical abilities) and a longer version (for those with time and not worried about getting into the bike).  The important things to remember are:

Short Version

  1. Make sure your bike is cold, top off all fluids to factory spec's including battery.

  2. Add fuel stabilizer to fuel tank, using the required amount for your tank . Fill the gas tank with highest quality gas you can find.

  3. Wash your bike with S100 or the cleaner of your choice and dry completely.

  4. Now start the bike and run for about 3 minutes or until the engine oil is warmed up.  With the bike running shut off the fuel at the petcock and let run till the engine quits. This will empty your carburetor(s).  If you have fuel injection, you have pushed the stabilizer through the injectors and the are good for the off season.  Turn off bike at ignition.  

  5. Change your oil  & filter.

  6. Disconnect battery, removing the negative terminal FIRST. Now if you would like to store your battery in a warm place, you can take into the house. Trickle charging the battery once a month at the lowest setting (3 amp rate).  The "Battery Tenders" sold in many local shops and catalogs are very good for winter maintenance of the battery.  The output is very low and they will not overcharge the battery.  If you chose to leave the battery in the bike remember that a dead battery can freeze (and crack) if left in an unheated area.  When it thaws you could get battery acid dripping on your bike.  Definitely not good!

  7. Now for the finishing touches spray S100 Corrosion Protectant following the instructions on the can.

  8. Park in a safe place and wait for spring. Try to refrain from starting and running it for short periods of time, this only turns the condensation in the engine to water in your oil.


Long Version

The tools and supplies you will need include rags, screwdrivers (slotted and Phillips), a spark plug wrench, open/box wrenches and/or a socket set, a trickle battery charger, distilled water, four or five quarts of oil, a new oil filter, an oil can with oil in it (the kind with a trigger for squirting out the oil), a can of chain lube (if you have a chain drive), a bottle of fuel stabilizer, a can of WD40, a small piece of 1/2" plywood or similar, and a motorcycle cover. The steps to do this winterizing are as follows:

  1. Find a secure, dry, heated if possible, out of the weather shelter for the motorcycle to sit unobtrusively for several months. Make sure water is not likely to drip on the motorcycle.

  2. Wash the motorcycle thoroughly and wax the painted parts.

  3. Clean and lube the drive chain if you have one. This should be done on a warm chain, so ride the bike around first. You can clean the chain by centerstanding the bike, and spraying WD40 on the warm chain, holding a rag below where you are spraying to catch the sludge. Turn the back wheel (bike in neutral) as you go along. Once you get all the way around, apply the chain lube (available at bike shops) to the chain, working along by turning the wheel. This operation should actually be done every 200 miles of riding, or every time the chain looks dry.

  4. Gasoline gums over time, which can cause various fuel system components to need cleaning or repairs. To avoid this, buy a bottle of fuel stabilizer ("Stabil" is available at many auto parts stores). Dump half the bottle in the tank and fill the tank completely with gasoline. (This means on the center stand). Run the engine for a few minutes to warm up the engine oil and to get the stabilizer into the carburetors/fuel injectors.  Alternatively, you can remove the gas tank, dump all the gas out, put a half of a pint of engine oil in the tank, swish it around in there, dump it out, and keep the tank inside your house for the winter. The full tank or the oil coating will keep the inside of the tank from rusting.

  5. With the engine warm, change the oil and filter. Used oil has acids which can corrode engine parts. Besides, in the spring you'll want to ride, not do maintenance.

  6. Drain the carburetor float bowls.  Shutoff the gas petcock and drain the gas from the carb bowls. (there are usually drain screws.)  There isn't anything to drain on bikes with fuel injection.

  7. Take your oil can and your finger and spread some oil all over the upper metal-colored part of the front forks. Then hold the front brake and bounce your weight on the front of the bike to work the front suspension. There is oil inside the forks and a rubber fork seal which seals the sliding parts so the oil stays inside. This operation will keep the rubber from drying and protect the exposed metal slider.

  8. If you are ambitious, you can prevent some possible cylinder corrosion this way:

         Remove the spark plug(s). (This involves removing the plug wires and unscrewing the plug with a plug wrench. Don't mix up the wires if you have more than one cylinder.)

         Squirt a teaspoon or so of engine oil (or 2-stroke oil if you have some) in each plug hole.

         Use the starter to turn the engine over a couple seconds to distribute the oil. (Don't look into the plug hole while doing'll get splashed in the face with the oil)

         Clean and gap the spark plug(s) while it's (they're) out.

         Replace the plug(s). Do not strip them. Hand tighten, then 1/4 turn more.

         Re-connect plug wire(s).

  1. If you have any other scheduled maintenance to do, do it now. In the spring you'll want to ride, not wrench.

  2. Remove the battery from the motorcycle. Fill it with distilled water up to the marks. Take it home with you and charge it on a trickle charger (or preferably a "Battery Tender") once a month. If you do not do this you will have a permanently degraded battery in the spring, if not a permanently dead one.

  3. Put the motorcycle in its storage location on the center stand or better yet, block the bike up so there is no weight on the wheels.  I have heard some folks suggest that you REDUCE tire pressure for storage while others suggest that you RAISE tire pressure for storage.  I don't change the tire pressure.  Whatever you do, remember to check tire pressure in the Spring.  If the motorcycle is resting on concrete or other potentially damp surface, you should get the front tires off the ground by parking the bike on a piece of plywood. If bike has weight on tires, try to roll the bike to a different tire position occasionally.

  4. Get a breathable motorcycle cover to keep the dust off.


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