Motorcycle Winterization & Storage

Jon Fesmire |
Preparing a motorcycle for winterization is a somewhat involved process, as motorcycles have many specialized components. Overall though, it’s not difficult once you have a good procedure. The directions here should help. Also make sure to check your owner’s manual for advice specific to your ride. [caption id="attachment_3186" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="A motorcycle rider in front of the Golden Gate bridge."][/caption]

Preparing the Bike

Take your motorcycle out for a ride. The idea here is to warm it up, get everything running, and burn off condensation. Then, take your bike to where you are going to winterize it, preferably a garage or its final storage location if possible. Clean the motorcycle with running water and a gentle detergent to remove grime and dirt. Motorcycle wash may be available at an automotive supply store. Remember though not to spray water into the muffler opening and air cleaner housing, as this could cause rust. Dry completely with an absorbent cloth. Clean the chain with brake cleaner and cloth, and protect it with spray chain wax. If you have your bike on a lift, you can rotate the back tire by hand to do both of these procedures.

The Internals

Fill your gas tank as much as you can, then add fuel stabilizer. Read the specific instructions to see how much it will need, but generally this should be 0.5 oz of fuel stabilizer per gallon of gas. Run the engine. This will distribute the stabilizer through the system and prevent the gas from turning to sludge as it ages. Next, turn off the engine, disconnect the fuel source, and run it again until the bike stops. This burns off excess gas in the engine. Put on vinyl or plastic gloves to protect your hands for this next step, as gas and oil have components that absorb right through skin. You will not need to do this step if you have a fuel-injected bike, only one with a carburetor. Turn off the gas petcock and drain the excess gas out of the carburetor bowls. Pull the side case and change the oil and filter. Oil gets full of grit and more from riding. Replace the side case. Apply oil to the front stationary tubes with either the fogger or an oil can and bounce the bike to get the oil down along the tubes. Disconnect the spark plug wires. With a spark plug wrench, remove the actual plugs. Spray your fogging oil into the cylinders. This will create a cloud of oil inside that will settle against the motor walls and protect them. Clean and replace the plugs and wires. Your battery may need to be hooked up to a tender. If this is the case, remove it from the bike and get it hooked up. Otherwise, remove it but apply a layer of Vaseline to each terminal. This will help prevent corrosion while it’s in storage. If your motorcycle has a liquid cooling system, use a hygrometer to check the level of antifreeze. If it’s really low, drain it and replace it with new antifreeze. If it’s just a bit low, top it off. This also protects the cooling system from corrosion.

The Body

To keep your cables in top condition, give them a final lube. Also add lube to the drive shaft, suspension, and pivot points. Leather can crack during the winter, so treat the leather parts of your motorcycle with leather dressing. Wipe down the metal parts, aside from the disk breaks, with light machine oil. If your bike has vinyl instead, rub that down with vinyl protector. Whether in your own garage or in a self-storage facility, place your bike on a section of carpet and keep it off its wheels by elevating it with a bike stand. Cover the opening of the tail pipe with a plastic bag or latex glove and seal it with a rubber band. Do the same for any drain hoses. Pests love to make a winter home in the pipes of vehicles, and this will keep them out. While your bike is in storage over the winter, leave it alone. Do not run the engine or take it out for a winter ride. The former will only invite damaging condensation into the vehicle. The latter will require that you repeat at least some of the winterization process. With your bike in storage, enjoy the snow and the holidays, knowing that your trusted cycle will be ready for you come spring. StorageFront makes no guarantees or warranties regarding the information contained in this article and is not responsible for any damages. We’re enthusiasts and provide this guide as a starting point. Consult your mechanic for questions.