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Winter storage tips for your bike

10-22-2013

by Pascal Bastien , moto123.com

Motorcyclists need to take good care of their rides at the end of the season to avoid bad surprises the following spring. Here are a few tips to properly store your bike this winter:

Fluids
First, pour a healthy amount of fuel stabilizer in the tank (refer to the instructions on the bottle to determine the specific amount needed for your bike) then fill the tank with gas.

Change the engine oil, especially if it came in contact with contaminants such as unburnt fuel particles and wear debris. This will prevent rust from attacking the internal parts like the valves, piston rings, and cylinder lining during the off-season.

After these two steps, start the engine and bring it to normal operating temperature (between 80-90 degrees Celsius), then shut it down.

2013 Harley Davidson Breakout gas tank
Photo: France Ouellet

Internal parts

On modern, fuel-injected models, there is a vacuum-type, automatic fuel valve. For other models with a manual valve, simply turn it off. In the case of an older, carburetor-equipped motorcycle, flush any leftover gas in the float chamber using the drain plug underneath. These precautions will eliminate gas particle buildups while preventing the internal parts of the tank, intake system and engine from corroding.

You also have to take care of the combustion chamber if you plan to store your bike in a damp area with significant temperature changes. Pour a teaspoon of oil into each cylinder through the spark plug hole. For areas that are tough to reach, use a big syringe or a small funnel connected to a rubber hose. Have the crankshaft complete 1-2 rotations (after you remove the spark plug caps to ensure the engine doesn't start) to spread oil across the entire cylinder walls and pistons.

Check the coolant and make sure it can withstand low temperatures if you store you bike in a non-heated area during winter. Coolant must be changed at least once every two years.

2013 Harley Davidson Breakout engine
Photo: France Ouellet

Battery
Your motorcycle's battery needs to maintain a proper charge throughout winter using a specifically designed trickle charger that automatically controls charging and turns off when the battery is full. Of course, you should ensure your battery is stored in a heated area.

If you have to adjust the battery fluid level, always use distilled or ionized water (same thing for the radiator, actually). Tap water contains sediments that would damage battery cells and leave deposits in the tight radiator area.

Tires, suspension, and paint
Ideally, you should keep your motorcycle off the ground using a jack and stands in order to eliminate stress on the tires and suspension. If you can't, you should at least make sure your tires remain properly inflated (check the manufacturer's recommended pressure) throughout winter to minimize deformation.

Motorcycle tires -- especially performance tires -- tend to dry and harden after months in the cold. When spring comes around, gradually test their grip and handling; if they're still hard and dry, and they feel slippery when braking or cornering, buy new tires. Remember that tire grip is crucial on a bike; after all, you only have two wheels, and their combined contact patch is barely the size of a credit card.

Finally, carefully lubricate the chain, and grease the various pivot points (levers, swingarm, etc.). Apply quality wax on the tank, fairing, and tail before you throw a cover over your bike to protect it against dirt.

Oh, and keep your bike insured during the winter just in case it gets stolen or vandalized.

20132 Harley Davidson Breakout rear wheel
Photo: France Ouellet


Read more on the subject
WINTER SURVIVAL TIPS