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Preparing Your Bike for Winter Storage

When colder weather comes and leaves start falling, many riders decide to park their motorcycles and scooters until spring. But before you do, follow these tips to prepare for winter storage!

Put a Lid on It

Exposure to the elements can cause all sorts of problems, so protect your investment and park your bike inside. A quality cover will keep things clean, and is a necessity if you store your bike outside. But even if you plan to park it inside, using a cover will reduce the amount of dust that will collect on the bike, and in a moment you'll see why doing that is important.

Wax On, Wax Off

Dirt is where corrosion starts, so before you store your bike, wash and dry it thoroughly, and wax any painted surfaces.

Rust-protect your bike by lubing the chain, and wipe down any bare metal and chromed surfaces with a lightly oiled rag. (An old washcloth and a small amount of clean engine oil are perfect for this.) You'll need to wash the oil off when spring comes, but that's a small price to pay for protection against rust. If your bike is parked in a common area, go as far as wiping down the rims as well, since cat pee can be detrimental to chrome, powdercoating and otherwise.

The Fuel System

When stored in non-airtight conditions, the volatile components of gasoline break down, and the ethanol in modern fuel absorbs moisture, resulting in varnish deposits and rust in the fuel system.

If your bike has a carburetor, shut off the petcock and drain the float bowls dry.

It's not advisable to drain your tank, however, as this will allow excessive condensation with so much air inside the empty cavity. Instead, fill the tank with 92 octane fuel, non-ethanol if you can get it, then top it off with liquid fuel stabilizer (available at your dealer or automotive stores) to treat what remains. Finally, coat the exposed neck of the fuel tank with some clean motor oil as previously described and give the rubber seal a light nourishment wiping of liquid silicone to keep it supple.

Protect Your Engine

Just as rust forms on exposed exterior surfaces, it can form inside your exhaust system and engine, particularly in humid environments. The best way to prevent this is to run your engine until the exhaust system is fully warmed, then let it cool completely. Cover the ends of your mufflers with plastic baggies and secure with rubber bands.

If possible, oiling the combustion chambers of your engine is a great idea. It does require some mechanical skill, so consult your mechanic or repair manual for instructions.

Battery

It's best to keep your battery in a state of constant charge, even if you're not riding. A trickle charger like a Battery Tender,  or better yet - an Optimate unit will maintain your battery's charge and lengthen its life. A trickle charger should only be used in dry environments, and remember that batteries produce flammable hydrogen gas as they charge, so keep them away from furnaces and other open flame areas.

Tires

Fully inflate your tires to prevent them from collapsing and cracking the sidewalls. It's best to get the tires up off the ground entirely so they won't change shape. Using wheel chocks or a center stand can aid in this. If that's not possible, mark your calendar to roll the bike monthly into a new position so no one area spends the entire winter on the ground.

Electric motors like those found in freezers produce rubber-damaging ozone, so keep them separated if possible.

Preparing your bike for winter storage isn't difficult, and you can rest easy knowing that your machine will be in excellent condition when spring comes!

Levi Stroppel/ Fall 13


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