Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Winterizing your Motorcycle

If you live in a cold weather climate, sadly, another riding season is about to wrap up.  Soon the snow will be falling.  Now is the time to get your bike ready for winter.

Here are some tips to protect and preserve the bike so it is in the same shape you store it in come spring time.  Some preparation now will ensure that you are out riding in the spring instead of waiting in line at the dealers or fixing it yourself in your garage.

 1. Location

If possible, choose a location away from windows. The ultraviolet light can fade paint and plastic parts.
Direct sunlight can raise the ambient temperature of the storage area which will promote condensation when the sun goes down, so cover plain glass with some sort of opaque material.
Cover your bike with a specially designed bike cover, not a sheet or a tarp.  These materials will promote rust underneath them.  A specially designed motorcycle cover is made of a mildew resistant, breathable material.


Change the Oil

Even if the oil is not due for a change, byproducts of combustion produce acids in the oil which will harm the inner metal surfaces.

Warm the engine to its normal operating temperature, as warm oil drains much faster and more completely. 
Change the filter and add fresh oil.

3. Add Fuel Stabilizer and Drain Carbs

Fill the tank with fresh fuel, but do not overfill. The correct level is when the fuel just touches the bottom of the filler neck. This gives enough room for the fuel to expand without overflowing the tank when temperature rises.
Shut off the fuel petcock and drain the carburetors and the fuel lines. Add fuel stabilizer to prevent the fuel from going stale, and help prevent moisture accumulation.  It also prevents the small ports in your carbs from gumming up.

4. Lube the cylinders

Note: You only need to do this if your motorcycle will be stored for 6 months or longer.

Remove the spark plugs and pour a tablespoon of clean engine oil or spray fogging oil into each cylinder. Be sure to switch off the fuel before you crank the engine or else you may refill the drained carbs!
Ground the ignition leads to prevent sparks igniting any fuel residue. Turn the engine over several revolutions to spread the oil around and then reinstall the plugs. Refitting the plugs before cranking the engine could result in a hydraulic lock if too much oil was used in the cylinder.



 5. Battery Storage

The battery must be removed from the motorcycle when it is in storage. Motorcycles often have a small current drain even when the ignition is switched off (dark current), and a discharged battery will sulfate and no longer be able to sustain a charge.

A conventional battery should be checked for electrolyte level. Add distilled water to any of the cells that are low and then charge the battery.
Battery charging should be performed at least every two weeks using a charger that has an output of 10% of the battery ampere hour rating. 
Be sure to store in a warm area off of the cement floor, as the harsh winter temperatures are hard on batteries.

6. Surface Preparation

Waxing and polishing the motorcycle might seem like a waste of time since you are putting it away and no one will see it. But applying wax is a very important part of storing your motorcycle.  Wax will act as a barrier against rust and moisture.
Don't forget to spray any other metal surfaces (such as the frame or engine) with a very light spray of WD-40. This will keep these areas shiny and protect them from corrosion as well.

 7. Exhaust and Mufflers

Mufflers are known to rust fast when they are not used, so making sure they are properly stored for the winter on your bike will save them from any rust. 

Spray light oil (such as WD40) into the muffler ends and drain holes.
Lightly stick a plastic bag (shopping bag is fine) into the end of each muffler hole (to keep moisture from getting inside the exhaust).
Cover each muffler with another plastic bag to keep outside moisture off.

 8. Tires

Check both front and rear tires with your air pressure gauge. Make sure each tire is properly inflated to the maximum recommend pressure.
As it gets colder, air condenses in your tire so it is important to pump them up as to keep your tires healthy. Rubber is a flexible material and does not like to freeze (it cracks when it freezes). It is wise to keep the tires off of the freezing floor.  JS Jacks’ Big Wheel Motorcycle Lift work great for winter storage.  It keeps the weight of the bike off of the tires as it sits through the winter and prevents flat spots.
DO NOT use a tire dressing on tires (such as Armor-All or tire cleaning foam) as this will make the tires hard and slippery.

 9. Service all fluids

If the brake or clutch fluids haven't been changed in the last two years (or 11,000 miles), do it now. The fluids used in these systems absorb moisture. The contaminated fluid will cause corrosion inside the systems, which may cause problems when the motorcycle is used next spring. 
If you don't have the experience to service these systems, contact your dealer for assistance.
If your motorcycle is liquid cooled, the coolant requires changing every two years or 24,000 or (15,000 miles). Make sure that the engine is cool enough to rest your hand on it before draining the system.  Coolant/antifreeze is available from your dealer and has been developed to provide the correct protection for your motorcycle engine. Mixed 50/50 with distilled water will ensure a clean system for the next two years (or 15,000 miles).

 10. Cover it.

Now you can cover the bike with the cycle cover and look forward to the first warm day of spring!

Now is the time to get your Sled Jack for the winter season!

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