If you ride a motorcycle, now is the time to start thinking about winterizing your bike to protect it during the cold winter months. Simply putting your motorcycle in the garage or leaving it covered in the driveway is not enough. A motorcycle battery can easily lose its charge over the winter. Exposed metal can rust. Moisture can build up in the engine. Bugs and rodents can find their way into your exhaust system. As with any type of motor vehicle, if proper care is not taken, it is very likely to lead to costly repairs or permanent damage.
Taking the time to prepare your motorcycle for winter can help you avoid complications and mechanical problems once warmer weather arrives. It can also help you avoid being seriously injured in a motorcycle accident as a result of improper vehicle maintenance and care. The following tips can help any motorcycle owner, regardless of the type of bike you ride.
- Clean Before Storing Away: Before you store your motorcycle away for the winter, you need to clean off all accumulated dirt and dust. If you can wax the painted exterior of the bike, then do so. You do not want to store a dirty motorcycle, as it can corrode and permanently ruin the exterior. Removing excess moisture can also help prevent future problems. Some people even advise spraying the entire bike with WD-40 to give it an added layer of protection.
- Perform Basic Maintenance and Top Off Liquids: Change the oil and filter. Remove the spark plugs and squirt a small amount of engine oil into the holes. Turn the engine over to coat the cylinder walls, then replace the spark plugs. Thoroughly lube the throttle, cables, kickstand, shifter and all other moving parts. Check tire pressure. Tires should be filled to just a little bit below recommended maximum pressure. Place your bike on a stand, section of carpet, rug or piece of plywood so that flat spots do not develop and water does not gather around the tires. Rotating your tires at least once every couple of weeks is key. Top off all liquids such as fuel, antifreeze and oil. Adding a fuel stabilizer will also help protect your engine.
- Keep Your Batteries Charged: Vehicle and motorcycle batteries tend to lose charge over time, particularly when not in use. If you plan on keeping your battery on your bike, hooking it up to a battery tender will allow your motorcycle to remain fully charged without the worry of it being overcharged. This one step will help ensure your motorcycle is charged and ready to use once the weather allows.
- Plug Up to Keep Pests Away: Another important step in the winterization process is plugging up the ends of your motorcycle’s exhaust pipes and air intake system with brightly colored rags, bags or other material so mice and pests cannot crawl inside and settle for the winter. Be careful to use materials you can easily see, so you do not forget to remove them before starting your bike again in spring.
- Cover for Protection: The final step you should take to protect your motorcycle during the cold winter months is to cover it up. A proper cover will help keep both dust and moisture away. If you are unable to store your motorcycle inside, be sure your cover has tie-downs you can use to prevent the cover from flying away in windy weather. The more protection you have, the better off your motorcycle will be in the long run.
Getting Your Motorcycle Ready for Winter Can Help You Avoid Future Accidents and Breakdowns
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that during 2012, more than 4,957 motorcyclists were killed and close to 93,000 were injured in vehicle-related accidents. While any number of factors can contribute to causing a motorcycle accident, proper maintenance and care is an essential part of motorcycle safety. Poor weather, inattentive drivers, bad road conditions and other factors make roads dangerous enough.
There is no reason to increase your risk of breaking down or being involved in an accident by failing to winterize your motorcycle. A few short steps can mean the difference between your motorcycle roaring to life come spring and it needing to go into the shop for repairs.