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Prepping your motorcycle for the Winter break

Prue Mottram

Winter.

It’s cold.

It gets light late and dark early.
It’s cold.
Your gear gets a bit bulkier.
It’s cold.

Some people don’t like to ride in the cold. If they only have the weekend to enjoy time off, it’s spent doing indoor things as opposed to bundling up and riding through the wind and possible rain.

And that is ok. Some people are fair weather riders, and that’s their choice. No judgement here. Personally now that I have a car, if I don’t have to ride in the rain, I won’t. If it’s 5 degrees or 45 degrees I generally won’t ride if I don’t have to. 

To all the riders who live in the climates where winter equals snow, I know you’ll be storing the motorcycle and bringing out the snowmobile!

Some people think that you can just leave a motorcycle to sit for 3 months without being run, or without anything being done to check up on it. This isn’t a good idea. Let’s chat about some things that you can do to ensure your motorcycle will come out of hibernation happy and ready to ride!

Overall motorcycle
When was your motorcycle last serviced? Is it due for one soon? Maybe have a think about getting it serviced, even if it’s just an oil and filter change. Some motorcycles have a yearly service requirement, while others run off the kms that you do. It’s better to have it done a little early, rather than do it late and have other issues arise. 

Dirty, old oil is not going to do your motorcycle any good. When oil starts getting old, it loses its chemical properties, and more oil is required to do the same lubrication. This will lead to a drop in oil levels, as well as a possible recycling of dirt and grit through the system. This is why no matter how much oil you put into your motorcycle, you will always need to top it up!

Let’s keep everything fresh and only have clean oil in your motorcycle while it sits and waits for Spring.

Give your motorcycle a good clean, like a real good clean. Give the entire motorcycle a wash down. Detail whatever you can. You don’t want some grease or dirt sitting there for so long, that it becomes a part of the bike! Make sure you give the bike a manual dry down, don’t let the bike drip dry. Any water spots could corrode your finish permanently. Using a leaf blower, or even a hairdryer on cold will help ensure all the knocks and crannies are nice and dry.

Once it’s clean, lube and grease whatever needs lubing and greasing to stop the parts from drying out. You don’t want to come back to rusty bearings or a chain. 

If you are one of those people in the snowier climates, please find a spot inside to keep your bike. The lounge room, kitchen, bedroom…whatever it takes…this is your baby we’re talking about here.

Battery
This is a time where your trickle charger will steal the show. Having a battery sit there without charge won’t do it any good. In fact, a battery will die faster if it is not used, over if it is always used. Motorcycle batteries recharge themselves as they are used.

A good trickle charger will monitor the battery level, and top it up as required. This will also stop it from over charging, which is just as bad. 

You could just let it die and jump start the battery come Spring time, but I really wouldn’t recommend it. Keep in mind that it will not always work.

Tyres
If you can keep your motorcycle on a set of front and rear stands, then that is going to make the tyres a lot happier. 

Over time, your tyres will gradually lose pressure. Eventually, the tyres will gain a flat spot, and the side walls will be hitting the floor, causing damage to them. This all leads to needing a new set of tyres. 

If you don’t have a stand set, simply check the pressures every couple of weeks, and move the motorcycle around so all parts of the tyre get a turn on the ground. If you can give the tyres something softer to stand on, like wood or very thick cardboard, that will help a touch.

Fuel
You’ll hear some people tell you to drain the fuel from your tank. DON’T! Unless you know how to do it properly, i.e. can treat the inside of the tank with a fogging oil, and ensure that your jets and injectors have been flushed properly, steer clear of dumping the fuel. This method may be preferred for long term storage (over 6 months), but for just a winter, it’s perfectly safe, and a lot easier, to leave fuel in the tank. 

However, if any moisture gets into the tank, it could cause corrosion. It is best to have a full tank of fuel, and add something like a fuel stabiliser or a conditioner. This will help keep your fuel from degrading, and save your injectors or jets from clogging up. The full tank will leave no room for moisture to build up inside the tank.

Exhausts
You don’t really need to do much with your exhaust, except maybe plug it to prevent any creepy crawlies and pests making it, and your headers home for the winter. A rubber exhaust plug is cheap and readily available. If you own a dirt bike, you already have one for when you’re washing your bike.

Coolant
Especially if you are in one of those freezing areas, you should be ensuring that you have the right amount of coolant. You don’t want anything freezing and cracking when the temperature warms up again.

Riding Gear
Don’t forget about your riding gear! Your helmet, jacket, gloves, boots, pants etc can all deteriorate over the winter break. 

Give your helmet a good clean inside and out. Wash those cheek pads so that there is no sweat or anything that can eat away at your liners. Store it in somewhere dry, dark and cool. An airtight container is best.

Everything else, give a wipe over or wash, and put it away in a dry, dark and cool place. A suit bag or something similar will keep everything safe. When my gear was in storage, I put everything in plastic suit bags, then piled it all into a large duffle bag. I then covered the duffle bag with a blanket to keep dust and tiny creepy crawlies from sneaking in. 2.5 years later, everything was just as I left it!

Make sure your boots get a good cleaning as well. If there is any oil or grease, it may eat away at the boot, especially any rubber bits.

If you have any of those silica gel packets that you get when you buy almost anything now days, throw them in with everything! They will absorb any moisture that tries to make its way into your gear, as well as sometimes remove odours. I always chuck them in my shoes.

Follow these tips and your motorcycle and and gear will be just fine over the winter break, and will burst into Spring in great condition!

As Spring approaches, I’ll give you some tips on defrosting your motorcycle, and getting it ready for it’s first Spring ride!

Ride safe and have a good one!

Got questions? Send me an email at [email protected]

This advice is a guide only. It is general in nature. It cannot be relied upon for you to make decisions. All efforts are made for information to be accurate at the time of publishing. If you are unsure of your skills, please take your motorcycle to a qualified motorcycle workshop, and the mechanics can do everything for you.