It’s best to remove the grit and grime from your chain before you grease it up for the long winter. After its clean, be sure to lube your entire chain. Good grease, thicker than
your usual chain lube is a great water repellent!
Change your Oil and Oil Filter
Changing the oil (and we always change the filter at the same time) will get rid of all the sludge and dirt before it begins to deteriorate. You’ll also be changing the oil again in the early spring, so it’s not necessary to use the most expensive top notch oil available. Remember to get the correct oil weight designed to handle the lowe cold range of those freezing winter temperatures!
Fill or Empty Your Gas Tank
There are two methods you can utilise pertaining to the care of your gas tank - leave the tank full of gas or drain it. You’ll have to decide which is more relevant to your personal storage situation. Some elect to drain the tank, completely , then starting up the bike and running it out of fuel where most commonly the tank can be left full with the addition of a fuel stabilizer. Personally, as my motorcycle is stored in a heated area, I keep a full tank and add a stabilizer. Works just fine! Again, you’ll have to decide-there are pro’s and con’s to both. An empty tank can rust inside due to condensation (there are substances you can use to the coat the inside of the tank to prevent this). Fuel in the tank starts to deteriorate after three or four weeks. This can lead to oxidation and varnish harmful to our fuel system. However, fuel stabilizer if added correctly will prevent this! The product best is called “Stab-ile” Add the specified amount depending on your tank size, then run (or ride) your motorcycle to ensure the fuel runs all the way through the fuel system, then turn off the bike and you’re set. If applicable make sure your fuel tap is in the off position, and draining your carburetors is a good practice as well.
If your motorcycle is liquid cooled, chances are you have a radiator. It should be filled with a proper coolant/antifreeze. If you’re a track rider, check this as often substitutes are placed in the radiator, for example “Water wetter” as anti-freeze is prohibited on the track. These substances will freeze and could cause expansion in your engine when they freeze, cracking your block!
Remove the Battery
Remove your battery and store in a warm dry environment using a battery tender to keep a trickle charge on it throughout the season. If it’s not a sealed battery, keep an eye on the electrode levels in each battery cell and fill them if they get low.
Pump up Your Tyres
Make sure your tyres are properly inflated because low tyre pressure can damage them over the winter. If you’re going to store your bike in an extreme cold situation, try to elevate the bike to minimize the load on the tires as this can leave flat marks. Double check the bike is firmly secured and that the method you’ve chosen won’t fail from long term standing. If you have a centre stand use this, but place blocks of wood between your tire and the ground to alleviate some of the weight job off the centre stand -
especially if your machine is being stored outdoors.
Plug Your Exhaust
You can stuff some old cloths into the exhaust to prevent small rodents from moving in through the winter. Be sure you do this properly to ensure there are no holes as mice will find burrow their way into your air box or quite often, the foam of a motorcycle seat! Its also been proven that placing moth balls around the air box or elsewhere (under seat storage) will discourage mice.
Cover it Up
Use a breathable cover (specific motorcycle designed covers are best!) even if you store your bike indoors so that you do not trap moisture on your bikes metal surfaces. You want to make sure to avoid condensation and allow for good ventilation. Be sure the cover you purchase is waterproof- many are just water resistant.
EXTRA TLC (Tender Loving Care)
Lube the cylinder(s) - Another important task is to lubricate the engines cylinders. Gasoline is an excellent solvent and removes most oil from the cylinder walls if the cylinder wall is left unprotected for a long period of time it will rust and cause premature piston and ring wear. It may be easier for you to have this done by your mechanic if not set up to do this yourself.
Remove the spark plugs and fill each cylinder with a teaspoon of oil. Screw the plugs back in hand tight and don’t attach your plug wires to remind you to change the plugs first thing in the spring. You may want to kick the bike over with the kill switch engaged to spread the oil throughout the cylinders.
Operate your Controls - Try to flex your levers and rotate (if on centre stand) your rear wheel.
When indoors, avoid placing your motorcycle near heating or hot items. The heat will dry out and harden your tyres. I’ve covered my tyres with cooking foil in such a situation to reflect heat and keep tyres soft for the spring!
Out of Storage and Back on the Road
Before you head out, you’ll want to perform a thorough safety check to ensure you bike has not sustained damage through the winter. Check all fluid levels and turn on the fuel. Check for anything wrong on the motorcycle (cracked tires, broken parts/plastic, leaking oil, etc.). Set the tyre pressure back to your usual riding specs.
Remember that your riding skills will be rusty so head to a parking lot and take yourself through turning and emergency manoeuvre exercises.
Watch out for dirty road surfaces, there’s usually a lot of debris and sand left on the roads from clearing the snow over the winter. Until the first spring showers wash it away it and can be hazardous especially at corners.