5 Tips for Bike Storage & Winterization

If you live in Canada (or any other country where temperatures drop below freezing), the saying “all good things must come to and end” applies to your 2-wheeled passion.  As such, we’ve compiled a list of 5 important things you should do to your bike before putting it away for the cold winter months.

  1. Change your oil
    Dirty oil is a motor’s worse enemy

    • This is an obvious one but many people “don’t get around to it”
    • You may wonder whether it makes a difference to change your oil before putting the bike away vs doing it in the spring and the answer is that yes, it makes a difference
    • Here’s why: The oil in your motor plays several different roles, the obvious one being to lubricate the motor, drivetrain and other moving parts
    • The not-so-obvious role is that the oil (and filter) and trapping different types of minerals, chemicals and other waste products that are produced by the explosions and shearing forces created by the motor
    • Having all this “waste” sit in your motor for 4-6 months of incativity certainly doesn’t help with the health of your motor’s internals so any good mechanic will recommend an oil change before storing your bike for the winter so that the motor can bathe is beautiful, clean dinosaur juice
  2. Wash your bike
    • Whether or not you’re particular about how clean your bike is during the riding season, it’s a good idea to give it a good wash before storing it for the winter
    • Aside from having something nice to look at while you wait to ride again, your bike’s bodywork, metal surfaces and other polymer-based parts will all last longer and look better if they’re kept free of road grime (which can really contain everything from salt to solvents…and then some)
    • Another little-known fact: all those bugs you accumulate during the riding season have some nasty stuff in their guts and letting that sit on your bike longer than necessary won’t help your paint or plastics any
    • Applying a coat of wax to body panels in addition to a protectant to unpainted plastics will help preserve moisture and elsticity which in turn prevents drying, discoloring and cracking over time
  3. Put your battery on a tender
    You don’t need anything fancier than this simple Battery Tender Jr. to keep your bike’s battery charged
    • This is a simple but important step that, if neglected, will often lead to a dead battery, come spring time
    • Even when disconnected, your battery will slowly lose its charge and, depending on its age and quality, may lose its ability to hold a charge when under load
    • Sure, you can run to the garage every couple weeks and start your bike to keep the battery charged, but if your garage isn’t heated, you could be doing damage to the motor by repeatedly cold-starting it (depends on the motor and type of oil you are running)
    • The financial logic is sound: a simple 12v battery tender such as the Battery Tender Jr. costs $40 whereas a new battery will set you back north of $100…why risk it?
  4. Treat your fuel
    This isn’t an endorsement for Canadian Tire fuel stabilizer…although they do have a fine selection of products to help with all 5 steps in this guide!
    • Little known fact: fuel goes bad over time
    • The reason for this is that fuel actually absorbs moisture from the air when it’s sitting stagnant in a fuel cell and the resulting fuel will begin to lose its combustion properties over time (months, not days when stored in your bike’s fuel tank)
    • Today’s fuels contain all kinds of “interesting” additives such as ethanol, that, although better for the environment, don’t help your bike’s fuel system over the winter as they absorb moisture
      • If you’re really protective of your bike, try to run ethanol-free fuel as often as possible, including when you do your last fill-up before the winter
      • A list of local ethanol-free gas stations in the US and Canada can be found at Puregas.org
    • The solution that prevents this is simple: add a little fuel stabilizer (the quantity you add will depend on the size of your bike’s tank as well as the brand of fuel stabilizer you chose but it’s usually an ounce or two) and top up your fuel tank to “full” so that there’s as little air contact as pobbile within your bike’s fuel cell
    • It’s best to add the stabilizer BEFORE you do that last fill up, so that it has a chance to mix with the gas
    • It’s also a good idea to run your bike for a few minutes after treating the fuel so that it can work its way into the injection system
    • * If you are running an older carbuerated bike, it’s also a good idea to drain the carbuerators…but that’s a blog post for another time
  5. Clean & lube your chain
    You can never lube your chain too often and doing it before the winter ensures it won’t rust of deteriorate while it’s sitting idle
    • We can’t stress this one enough for those of you running a chain final drive: clean, well lubricated chains make more power!
    • There are 2 ways to clean your chain before putting your bike away and chosing the right one will depend on how dirty your chain is currently
      • If your chain is relatively clean, a quick wipe-down with a shop towel and a mild solvent like WD-40 is enough to get all the grime off it
      • For a really dirty chain, you’re going to want a full cleaning and we recommend a product like Tirox Chain Clean, along with its handy chain brush to get all the dirt out
    • Once you’ve got a clean chain, the last step it to lube it with the chain lubricant of your choice

There you have it.  5 easy ways to make sure your ride will be in top shape, come spring time and hey, if you’re one of the lucky ones who lives in a warm climate, you can still do most of these things to keep your bike in top shape!

We hope you enjoyed these easy tips and are here to help with any of your motorcycle modification or repair needs.  Be sure to follow us on Facebook or subscribe to our newsletter (below) for the latest news, reviews and DIY’s.

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