Unfortunately, it is almost that time again. Unless you are inclined to ride through an entire winter, (which I did one year with the help of electric clothing ad heated handgrips), it’s time to prepare to store your bike for the winter.
Like anything else there are two ways of doing it. The right way, and the quickie non-committal way. I will be happy to share both ways with you.
The primary thing you will be combating over the winter is moisture. If your engine is left to sit for a long time, moisture sneaks in and attacks the internal metal parts
The most important part of the quickie non committal method is to start your bike once a week and ride it once or twice a month for a few minutes or a few miles. If you are not willing or capable of doing this then choose the other method. This is a good choice for riders who want their bike ready to ride at a moment’s notice.
Oil– If you change your oil when you are supposed to (3-5 thousand miles or 3-6 months), the oil should be clean enough for your weekly starts and monthly rides.
Gas– Fill your tank up all the way to the top and add some fuel stabilizer to it. I like to use Sta-Bil. You can find it at any auto supply store. If you ride the bike more than a few blocks over the winter, be sure to refill the tank.
Tires– Check tire pressure and make sure it is correct. Also, be sure to check it before each ride. Roll the motorcycle onto think carpet, or plywood. If you have a center stand use it. Whatever you do, be sure the tires are not in direct contact with concrete.
Battery: Invest in a trickle charger, I love Battery Tenders. Leave the battery on the bike and leave the charger hooked up to it.
Thorough Proper Winterization
Oil– Change your oil and filter. Oil chemistry changes over periods of extended storage. Old oil can develop acidic qualities, which can corrode engine parts. Pull the spark plugs and squirt about 1 teaspoon of oil into the cylinders, rotate the crank by hand (put it in top gear and turn the rear wheel) with the plugs still out to coat the walls, piston rings, and valve seats.
Gas– Fill your tank up all the way to the top and add some fuel stabilizer to it. I like to use Sta-Bil. You can find it at any auto supply store. If you have a carbureted bike, turn the fuel valve to the off position, and run the bike until it stalls from lack of fuel. This will drain the float bowls. If you ride the bike more than a few blocks over the winter, be sure to refill the tank. It is very important for the tank to be completely full throughout storage.
Tires– Check tire pressure and make sure it is correct. Roll the motorcycle onto think carpet, or plywood. If you have a center stand use it. Whatever you do be sure the tires are not in direct contact with concrete.
Battery: Batteries self-discharge Invest in a trickle charger. It will maintain the charge in your battery. I love Battery Tenders. Leave the battery on the bike and leave the charger hooked up to it. A thin coat of Vaseline to the terminals on the battery can prevent corrosion. Make sure you top off the electrolyte with water if your bike does not a maintenance free (or sealed) battery.
Coolant: If you live where it gets very cold, (like Chicago) then you should make sure your coolant has enough anti-freeze in it to keep the system from freezing.
Clean your bike: With a clean cloth, wipe good quality light machine oil over all the metal surfaces, except the disc brakes. Give the chrome the once over with a coat of polish to keep it from pitting. Wax the tank and squirt some rubber protector on the rubber parts to keep them from drying out.
Rodents: If you think you may have a rodent problem, cover up your tailpipes with something that will prevent them from making a temporary home in there.
Taking these steps to take care of your motorcycle will give you confidence in your machine, and help assure a hassle free riding season in the spring, (assuming you have seasons, like we do here in Chicago).
Always consult your motorcycle owner’s manual with any questions, and be sure you are sticking to the recommended maintenance schedule.
If you live in Chicago, and want someone to store your motorcycle and do all of this for you, call Motoworks.
For $50/month for motorcycles and scooters covers:
Give the bike a walk through/inspection to advise on any recommended service.
Stabilizing the fuel.
Draining the carb(s).
Maintaining the battery.
Detailing the bike when you are ready to ride again.
Contact Milan in the service department with any questions at:
(312) 738 4269 or