If you live somewhere with cold winters or anything other than year-round riding seasons, you’ll want to winterize and store your bike properly in the off-season.
Proper motorcycle storage will ensure you’re back up and riding as soon as possible when the weather warms.
Improper winter storage can lead to:
- Leaking seals and gaskets.
- Dead batteries.
- Worn tires.
- Bad gas.
- Broken cables.
- Seized engine.
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Maintaining Your Motorcycle in the Winter
A simple winterization routine will suffice for most motorcycle owners, this includes:
- Keep the gas, oil, and other fluids topped-off.
- Charge the battery regularly or keep it on a tender.
- Start the bike a few times a month and let it run to warm up to operating temperatures.
- Roll and rotate the tires and check to make sure they are properly inflated – tires will naturally lose pressure in colder temperatures.
Where to Keep your Motorcycle During the Winter
The best place to store a motorcycle in cold temperatures is somewhere indoors and warm, like:
- A heated or insulated garage.
- A heated storage unit.
- Near an electric motorcycle heater.
Next best options include:
- In a garage or parking canopy.
- In a shed.
- In your house.
Last resort options for motorcycle storage would be covered outside.
Can You Start a Motorcycle in the Winter or Below Freezing Temperatures?
Most motorcycles – especially older bikes – are going to be more difficult to start in cold and freezing temperatures.
However, you can and should start your bike when it’s cold – at least periodically throughout the winter.
Starting and running your bike during freezing cold temperatures is part of good winterization and helps to:
- Keeps the components properly lubricated.
- Prevent gaskets and seals from drying out.
- Prevent condensation and gunk from building up.
- Charge the battery.
- Keep the carbs clean.
Starting your motorcycle in freezing temperatures will be easier if you:
- Heat up the engine with a block heater or electric heater.
- Turn the engine over a few times.
- Have a fully charged battery.
How to Winterize a Motorcycle for Long-Term Storage
The biggest thing you’ll need to take care of is the gas in the tank and the carbs. Overtime, gas will go bad and gunk up your carbs. That’ll cause a lot more downtime when the off-season is finished.
To fully winterize your motorcycle:
- Add fuel stabilizer to your gas tank and run the engine so the stabilizer gets through the carburetors.
- Fill the gas tank all the way with oxygenated gas and add the proper mix of stabilizer.
- Turn off the petcock and drain the carbs completely.
- OR remove all gas from the tank and add some gas-soluble oil to coat the inside of the tank to prevent any rust from forming.
- Remove the battery and add distilled water to top it off if necessary.
- Clean the battery and battery area with a water & baking soda mix.
- Keep the battery charged throughout the winter by charging it at least once a month.
- Elevate the bike to keep the tires off the ground, if possible.
Some other good steps to take to fully winterize your motorcycle for storage include:
- Washing and waxing the bike.
- Changing the oil and oil filter.
- Change all other oil – fork oil, brake fluid, etc.
- Remove spark plugs and add about a tablespoon of engine oil down each spark plug hole. Turn the engine over a few times and replace the spark plugs.
- Cover your motorcycle with a breathable cover. Not a plastic tarp that will trap moisture.
- If possible, keep the bike indoors.
- Plug up any holes.
- Once a month, turn the engine over a few times.
- Keep the bike out of direct sunlight as to avoid any paint fading.
That’s all there is to it. With proper motorcycle winterization and storage, you’ll be back to riding in no time once the winter is over.
Riding Your Motorcycle in the Winter
Riding a bike on icy or snow-covered roads can be extremely dangerous. Riding in freezing cold temperatures can be uncomfortable and dangerous as well.
If you do have to ride in winter conditions, you’ll need to:
- Ride much slower than you normally would.
- Dress warm.
- Make sure the battery is fully charged.
- Make sure the gas and oil is topped-off and good.
- Ensure cables and chains are in good condition and properly lubricated.
- Make sure your tires are in good condition and ready for the snow or ice:
- Use motorcycle snow chains, if necessary.
- Use snow or studded tires.
- Properly warm up the engine before starting your ride.
How Cold is Too Cold for a Motorcycle?
It’s best to avoid riding a motorcycle in temperatures below freezing (32 F or 0 C)