Until global warming makes snow and ice a fond and distant memory, motorcyclists in some parts of the country will still have to put their bikes in storage for the winter. If you’re one of them, here are the most important things to do so your ride will be ready in the spring.
Fill the gas tank and add fuel stabilizer. Run the engine long enough to distribute stabilizer to all parts of the fuel system. If your bike has carburetors, now’s a good time to drain the float bowls.
The most common casualty of long-term storage is the battery. If the charge gets too low it’ll never come back. Hook it up to a maintenance charger that brings it up to the recommended charge, shuts off, and then comes back on if the voltage drops below a specified level.
If it routinely gets below freezing in your garage, now’s the time to check your engine’s coolant. Use a float tester—like the kind with the floating balls in a tube—to see if the coolant needs a boost.
Engine oil collects and suspends contaminants until the oil filter removes them. But there’s always some bad stuff in the oil, and giving it the entire winter to nibble away at your engine’s innards is a bad idea. Change the oil and filter before storage, and run the engine long enough to distribute clean oil to all the internal parts. A bonus here is that when you take the bike out of storage in the spring there’s one less thing to do to get ready for the riding season.
Inflate the tires to the recommended pressure. Put the bike on the centerstand and rotate the front tire now and then to prevent a flat spot from forming. If you don’t have a centerstand, roll the bike occasionally to rotate the contact points. Don’t put protectant on the sidewalls—many tire manufacturers recommend against it—and certainly not on the tread.
Wash and wax the bike, then put a breathable cover on it to prevent moisture from building up underneath and causing rust.
If you share your garage, however unwillingly, with small furry critters, block the airbox inlet to keep little mousies from building their little housies inside.
Get a tune-up before you park your bike for the winter. When the weather warms up and everyone else is trying to book an appointment at the dealer, you’ll be out riding.