Motorcycle Winterizing Tips

You are at:

Download Gary's Motorcycle Winterizing Tips (Word format)

Download Gary's Motorcycle Winterizing Tips (PDF format)

Winterizing your ride...

This is difficult for me to write about because it means that the Michigan riding season is ending. Regardless, I hope you find these tips helpful. For those that live in a climate that does not have off road months, you can ignore this. Those of us in the snow belt... read on...

Oil Change and Lube It is good to change motorcycle oil prior to Winter storage. I change mine, then run it for a few minutes to get the new oil coated on the engine. (There will be differing opinions on this.) Regardless, change the oil before storing! Also lube moving parts (cables, etc.) with recommended lubricants.
Run Carb(s) out of Gasoline Purge the carb(s) before storage anytime, and add recommended amount of gasoline stabilizer to your tank (per the instructions).

One biker e-mailed and ask about completely draining his tank (the bike was to be storged in his basement)... my reply was to drain the gasoline then slosh (wood) alcohol around the tank and drain. Dry the inside of the tank (with compressed air if possible) before storing the motorcycle in an area like the basement (to lesson odor and possibility of a fire).
Wash Bike Thoroughly As noted in my Motorcycle Cleaning Tips, your motorcycle needs a thorough wash job before storage. Blow dry with a leaf blower, and then towel off excess water.
Belt Drive The belt is often ignored until there is a problem. Check the belt for signs of wear and damage, and clean the belt with mild soap and water when washing your bike. Towel dry while inspecting. Belts typically last in excess of 50,000 miles.
Windshield Splat!
This windshield cleaner can be found at Meijers. It is safe for my (removeable) Fat Boy windshield and does a great job removing bugs. Note: You should remove bugs and bug parts off as soon as possible. Some insects have chemicals that can etch paint and damage a windshield. Aside from the fact that bugs are harder to clean when dry. This is a YEAR-ROUND storage tip.
Painted Areas and Frame Apply a coat of wax on the painted areas of a bike to keep condensation from damaging the metal. Note: The frame is often neglected, but it should be waxed prior to winter storage just like other painted parts.
Chrome Parts and Rims Cleaning the chrome and aluminum parts, then coating them with a good chrome polish (e.g., Mother's Metal Polish) will keep these areas relatively clean, and easier for Spring clean up. But, if you are hard pressed to do a thorough job on these and want to keep the tarnish off (especially on the aluminum), a coat of silicone lube will give limited protection (to be thoroughly washed off in the Spring). My off-road bikes always got this treatment before Winter (even though I occasionally rode those bikes in the snow).
Drive Chain Adjust per the specification. If you have a chain drive, lube the chain with chain lube (SAE 90 works), or even a light grease (leave a note to clean excess in Spring). Put newspaper or cloth under this area to catch any drips.
Leather Eagle One Carnuba Leather Cream
This is one of the best leather conditioners on the market. No petroleum products added. I apply this to my leather seat, tank (leather) bib, and backrest. My leather riding gear also gets a thorough cleaning with leather cleaner (Mother's Leather Cleaner), and then a coat or two of Eagle One Leather Cream. Note: Several light coats are much better than a single heavy one. Buff with a soft cloth after the conditioner/cleaner is dry. Note: When your leather gets wet, a light coat of Lexol is an excellent way to condition and preserve the leather from water damage.
Vinyl Clean vinyl with a vinyl cleaner, then use a vinyl protector. There are several on the market. Buff with a soft cloth when dry.
Battery Use a battery conditioner during the Winter months. Remove the battery from the motorcycle. Clean the terminals. Check the fluid level (add if necessary). Hint: Use a flashlight to shine through the case to view the level. Attach a Battery Tender (a brand name as well) to keep the battery in good shape. Place the battery on a wood plank (not concrete).
Exhaust Pipes Little critters and bugs don't know any better, so stuff a clean rag in the end of your pipe, or cover with a plastic bag (secured with a rubber band). Leave a note to remove the rags or bags in Spring. (Note: A touch of fuel oil or WD-40 on the cloth or shop towel will discourage most critters from making a home in the pipe (dampen the rag). Be cautious on the amount of fuel oil or oil used. Lightly dampen, not soak, then stuff in the pipe(s).)
Tire Pressure Check the tire pressure. Adjust as needed and leave a note to check in Spring.
Cover Cover your motorcycle with a good breathable cover or a soft cotton bed sheet to keep the dust off. This does not prevent condensation from forming on your ride, but it keeps dust, etc. off the motorcycle. Note: Cats like to perch on warm places during cool days (like a soft seat). I put a box over my seat and backrest to restrict this activity.
Clean Helmet Liner Note: Wearing a helmet is a matter of choice (in my humble opinion), in Michigan it is still mandatory (law) as of January 2012.

There are products advertised to "freshen" your helmet that work well. However, a simpler and cheaper method is to use a little Ivory dish soap or Dr. Bonner's Peppermint Oil Soap and warm water along with a soft bristle brush to clean and refresh your helmet for use in the Spring. Note: A damp cloth rubbed around the inside does wonders every week or so. Allow the helmet to dry before using.

A fellow biker wrote that he "washes" his helmet in a "dishwasher" - I do not have a dishwasher to try this, but the man claims it works well. ** Do this at your own risk! ** (and the "wrath" of your wife!)
Remove Temperature/Moisture Problematic Equipment Take out your "temp guage oil" dipstick (if you have one). Put in the original for the Winter. Store the "temp guage" in a moderately warm place. Write down that you need to reinstall that dipstick in the Spring.

If you have other (removable) equipment, do the same with it.

Exposing to extreme cold temperatures may affect sensitive "guages" during (Michigan) Winter months. Just a suggestion.
Spring Note/List Write down all the things you need to do or recheck in the Spring, tape the list to the ignition or handle bars where you will readily see it.

Doing the above assures that your bike will be ready in the Spring (which does not come soon enough for me). Have a great Winter, go South if you can! Keep your knees in the breeze... :o)

Blue Bar

Gary D. Moore
5161 Howard Road
Smiths Creek, MI 48074-2023

e-mail winterizing tips to:

Updated: June 6, 2012