For many of us, the arrival of winter means that we have to bid our motorcycles farewell, at least until spring when bikes come out of their hibernation. Even for the fortunate few who can ride during the winter months weather permitting, properly preparing and storing a motorcycle during winter ensures that it’ll continue to operate at its best. In this article, discover the ins and outs of motorcycle winter storage— complete these essential steps and you’ll be thanking yourself come the spring!
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Preparing Your Motorcycle for Winter
Take the onset of winter as an opportunity to check your motorcycle and give it such much-needed TLC. You’ve likely enjoyed a full summer and beautiful fall season of riding, but now it’s time to prepare your motorcycle for winter. As much as we don’t like to admit it, winter comes around each year and can put a temporary pause on our riding season when roads get icy and temperatures drop.
Clean Your Motorcycle
Even before any serious elbow (or real) grease is involved, all riders should take the initial steps of how to winterize a motorcycle. A clean bike is a happy bike and that’s even more important in the winter when grime, salt, and dirt can wear out parts faster than normal. Do a deep, thorough clean this time and we recommend applying a good coat of wax to the painted parts of your motorcycle that can act as extra protection during the winter.
Don’t Put Off Needed Maintenance
Complete a maintenance check before you store the bike. If you make repairs or bring the bike into the shop, do it now to avoid longer wait times in the spring when everyone is rushing to resuscitate their bikes from their long winter sleep. Cold temperatures and condensation can be especially hard on bike parts so it’s a good idea to get ahead of any mechanical issues before winter.
Note: Riders in more temperate climates like the Southwest or Californian coast can ignore these top tips and continue enjoying their endless summers! We know not everyone gets freezing temps and icy roads. We’re not jealous, we swear.
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Choosing the Right Motorcycle Stand for Winter Storage
Using a motorcycle stand for winter storage is the right way to go and it lets bike owners more easily complete regular maintenance, too. Not only does using a stand more securely prop up your bike, but it helps prevent flat spots on tires that press against the floor all winter long, although that isn’t much of an issue anymore due to modern rubber compounds.
It’s not always clear which type of motorcycle stand is appropriate for your specific setup. Check out the differences between the most common types of stands for motorcycle storage in the winter:
If your bike already has one of those dual-legged center stands, you’re good to go. Simply pop the bike on the stand to relieve pressure on the tires and save room in the garage with this space-efficient setup.
Dirt Bike Stand
Designed for dual sport and dirt bikes, this large block sits under the center of the motorcycle. Dirt bikes are typically light enough that you can get the bike up on the stand yourself.
Motorcycles with exposed frame rails can be easily lifted by a bike jack. Some riders don’t like leaving their bikes on a jack for long stretches, but many use them both as a reliable maintenance tool and storage solution.
These wheel-specific stands can lift up the bike’s front or rear wheels, typically compatible with sport bikes, naked bikes, and other motorcycles without weight-bearing structure along their bottom edge. Throwing your bike up on the wheel stand reduces pressure on the tires and makes it easier to do some basic maintenance.
Winterize a Motorcycle: Step-by-Step Guide
There are several steps to winterize a motorcycle that pay off big time when spring finally rolls around, allowing you to fully enjoy that first ride back in the saddle. They are fairly basic maintenance tasks and the entire process shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours.
Whether you already have your winterizing routine set in stone or are new to riding in cold weather, follow the step-by-step guide below:
Complete an oil change
Full gas tank with added fuel stabilizer
Coolant with antifreeze protection
Plug or cover exhaust pipes when stored
Connect battery to maintainer
Store under durable motorcycle cover
Protecting Your Motorcycle's Engine and Fuel System
You may think that emptying your fuel tank before the winter is the best way for a fresh start next season, but a full tank actually helps fight corrosion and dried-out seals. Draining a tank is reserved for museum-like storage of bikes that’ll sit there for years without use, instead of simply winterizing your motorcycle.
Another important step is swapping old oil for fresh oil before you put your bike away— an engine oil change in the winter reduces any potential damage from built-up carbonic and sulfuric acid that can wear down parts over time. New motor oil preps your bike for riding straight away once next spring arrives!
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Fuel Additives and Stabilizers
Keeping your bike healthy on the inside during the colder months means adding a quality fuel stabilizer to your gas tank that’ll prevent oxidation and corrosion in the engine during long-term motorcycle storage. On the coolant side of things, winter riding and motorcycle storage in cold temperatures means you’ll need to add some antifreeze protection, too.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Motorcycle Winter Storage
Indoor storage is always better when it comes to keeping a bike through the winter— not only will it be safer from potential theft, but there’s protection from the elements too. The best place is a heated garage but storage sheds or unheated garages do the trick just fine. Avoid using a motorcycle cover when keeping a bike indoors because it could encourage condensation or moisture build-up.
Outdoor motorcycle winter storage may be your only option and many bikes make it through the cold months this way. Just be sure to use a durable motorcycle cover to keep snow, rain, and dirt away from the bike and its metal parts. If you live in a region with mild winters, leaving a motorcycle uncovered outdoors or parked in the driveway should be totally fine.
Storing Your Motorcycle in an Unheated Garage
You’ll still want to winterize your bike when stored inside, especially when storing a motorcycle in an unheated garage or storage unit where temperatures can drop. Another garage tip is to plug entrances to exhaust pipes or open airboxes to prevent any unwanted critters from making a nest, such as mice. Cover the ports with rags, tape, steel wool, or fancy plugs— but don’t forget to remove them when spring finally arrives!
Battery Care During the Winter
Cold temps are tough on electronics but battery technology has come a long way and proper maintenance will keep your power pack nice and healthy. That’s where a battery tender comes in. Just hook up the battery during motorcycle storage and the tender will maintain an optimal level of charge.
Should I remove my motorcycle battery for the winter?
You should only remove the battery and take it indoors if you don’t have a power source nearby where you store your bike. Otherwise, hooking it up while on the bike is the most convenient way, saving you the trouble of taking out the battery. Cold temperatures won’t cause significant damage to batteries connected to maintenance or “float” chargers.
Step-by-Step Battery Maintenance Procedures
Taking care of your battery is simply, especially given the advances in battery technology making them more resilient and reliable than ever. Electrolytes in fully charged motorcycle batteries won’t freeze even in seriously cold subzero temps so you can leave your bike connected to a maintenance charger in an unheated garage without a problem. A battery maintainer— also known as “float chargers”— is your best friend during motorcycle winter storage!
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Charging and Storing the Motorcycle Battery
It’s most convenient to charge the bike’s battery while it’s still in the bike, but if you need access to a power source, feel free to remove the battery and charge it indoors. The most important step is investing in a good quality battery maintainer.
Beware of using a cheap trickle charger that constantly adds current and can overcharge the battery, rather than intermittently “floating” the charge and keeping it properly topped off. Taking time to do winter motorcycle storage this way gives you the best shot at simply revving up come spring and enjoying the first time out.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will I need to regularly start up my bike during the winter?
Not necessarily, idling or starting up the bike without actually going for a ride where the engine reaches full operating temperature won’t help your bike much. It’s actually best to limit cold starts that are hard on the engine system. If you’re going for a ride, make sure the engine warms up enough to fully cook off the accumulated moisture.
How can I prevent tire flat spots during storage?
The best way to prevent flat spotting your tires is using a motorcycle stand that lifts your bike slightly off the ground. Modern tires have better rubber compounds that aren’t as prone to flat spots, so there’s less need for old habits like placing cardboard under the wheels or overinflating the tires.
Get Ahead on Winter Motorcycle Storage
Do you and your bike a favor this winter by completing the quick steps in this article. The entire winterizing process shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours and any additional gear like stands and new fluids are great investments in the health of your motorcycle. If you’re interested in outfitting your bike with ROKFORM accessories this season, head on over to ROKFORM’s collection of heavy-duty motorcycle mounts!
ROKFORM: Motorcycle Phone Mounts and Accessories
ROKFORM delivers the best mounts and favorite phone cases for all motorcycle riders. No matter the season, these premium accessories are essential items on brisk winter rides, extended summer joyrides, and everything in between. Our cases’ heavy-duty construction and durable mounting hardware ensure that your device stays secure.
Have questions about the right motorcycle phone mount for you? We are available for online chat or in-person at our Irvine, California showroom. Call us toll-free at 855-765-3676, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit us at www.rokform.com