Depending on what part of the world you live in you may get to enjoy the thrill of year round riding. Waking up in the morning of what is considered winter and going for a ride is a pretty fantastic way to spend a winter’s day! The rest of us though have to put up with a more stereotypical winter and as a result are forced to put our motorcycles away for what may seem like an eternity. There are a couple of tactics though that will ensure your bike is mechanically sound for that first spring ride.
The first thing you want to do is an oil change. Having a bike full of used oil isn’t the worst thing in the world but every spring every bike shop gets absolutely flooded with service appointments and a two-week wait for a simple oil change is not uncommon. Getting your bike serviced in the fall or even the winter will mean that you’re out taking full advantage of any early riding season. It might even save you a few bucks as most shops offer some sort of winter service promotion.
Your bike is now back in your garage with fresh oil. Now you need to make sure the fuel system is looked after. This is a pretty easy step. Get yourself a bottle of fuel stabilizer from you local bike shop. The amount of stabilizer you add will vary on your gas tank’s overall fuel capacity so read the instructions carefully. Once you’ve added the appropriate amount of stabilizer fill the remainder of the tank up with gas. Fill it. Right to the top. This prevents any opportunity for condensation to develop inside the tank. Turn the bike on and idle it up to operating temperature. This gets the stabilizer infused gas through the entire fuel system. If your bike has a carb reach down and turn the petcock to the off position & let the bike idle until stall. This will ensure all the fuel in the float bowl gets used up and doesn’t get a chance to bung up your carb.
Next is your battery. If you don’t have a Battery Tender go get one right now! A tender is not to be confused with a battery charger. A charger will send a constant current to the battery and can potentially boil it rendering it useless. A tender will only send current to the battery if/when necessary, spending the rest of the time in ‘maintenance mode’. If your garage is heated then you can leave the battery in the bike while plugged in. If your garage isn’t heated and will get below zero degrees then I recommend pulling the battery and bringing it into your home and use the gator clips that come with the tender to keep it maintained. Either way, once the battery is plugged in you can forget about it. Once the light on the tender is solid green you’re done.
The final step is the one that typically gets overlooked the most. You’ve taken care of the bike mechanically so why not take of it cosmetically? Get the season’s bug guts and road grime off of it. Give it a wash! Pretty much every shop will have a huge selection of cleaning product for the wheels, motor and body. Once clean, apply a coat of wax. Finally, cover it. You’ve spent all this time cleaning and polishing so protect your work with a cover. Again, every bike shop will have several to choose from.
Your bike is now winterized. As sad as it is to have to do it there’s nothing left to do but look forward to taking advantage of the earliest available riding weather in the spring!
Until next time, keep riding…