You spend a lot of time and money on safety while riding and the more you can do to protect your bike, the better. That's why it's essential to have a suitable place to leave your bike when you aren't using it. Whether your bike is in a garage or locked up outside, there are some steps you can take to make sure that the temperature will not affect the performance of your motorcycle during winter.
Your winter bike storage facility could be either indoor or outdoor. There are differences between the two that can help you decide your storage situation. Indoor locations tend to be more secure than outdoor ones. However, both offer their advantages when it comes to keeping your equipment in good condition.
Steps in Storing Your Bike During Winter
In many cases, the longer you store your bike away, the better. Make sure that it will not get too hot during the day or too cold during the night. It is best stored in a room with adjustable temperature to help compensate whether it's daytime or nighttime and if the weather is cold or hot.
Winter weather can be quite messy, it is impossible to precisely predict what will happen when it's going to snow or if it's going to rain. Fortunately, there are some simple steps that you can follow to ensure that you are doing everything in your power and keep your bike safe during the winter months.
The first step is to make sure that your bike is stored away from trees and other potentially dangerous objects.
Using metal or wood racks are the best way to go, as they can be kept dry and free of leaves while also ensuring that your bike doesn't blow over or, worse, get damaged by moisture or wet leaves. It will be much too easy for snow and rain elements to damage your bike if it's left out in the cold and exposed to the elements. A better solution is to lock up your bike when it's not used and remove it from your garage or shed as the winter months approach.
Snow and rain can build up on your bike, and it can be very slippery when it gets wet. Also, your wheels may begin to lose their grip on the road, which can lead to a hazardous situation. If you leave it out in the snow, the snow's weight can crush the bike, especially if you have a front-wheel that doesn't have much contact with the ground. It can be extremely dangerous and can result in serious injury.
Keep in mind that you should not just stick your bike somewhere and hope for the best.
Place your bike in a garage, shed or any other container that you are sure will be safe. This is to be done before actually leaving it out in the cold. An old mechanic saying is, “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.” It referred to the fact that if you paid for maintenance when it was due, you wouldn't have to pay for repairs when it breaks down. The same goes for winter storage. If you do the work in the fall, you can avoid having to do it in the spring when you want to ride. Usually, 15 minutes of work in the fall will cost you 60 minutes in the spring or else potentially a lot of money because you didn't prepare your bike for storage.
Things to Do Before Storing Your Bike
Storing your bike when you don't use it can be one of the more dreaded tasks of the year. When you're ready to store your bike, do a few things beforehand to make sure the process goes smoothly.
● Fill the tank with fuel. It is to minimize any air space that could collect condensation. Use a premium ethanol-free fuel like Shell premium.
● Add a Fuel Stabilizer. It is advisable to stabilize the fuel system by driving the bike long enough. The fuel stabilizer is your safeguard to prevent the gumming up of carb jets or injectors. If your motorcycle does have a fuel shut-off or drain, you may choose to remove all fuel from the system by draining or running the bike until it runs out of gas.
● Wash and Wax Your Bike. It is good to wash your bike and wax or spray it with a motorcycle-approved protectant. Then, run your bike to evaporate any condensation. This few-minute job before winter can help you avoid doing an hour of removing the caked-on dirt & grime in spring.
● Clean and Lube Your Chain and Pivot Points. The bike and its chain must be well-cleaned and lubed. Adjusting the chain is also necessary. If you have a belt-drive, check the condition and adjust if necessary.
● Change Oil. The products of combustion cause acidic conditions in the oil. You better change the oil and filter before the winter than doing it after the season. It applies to motor oil, transmission oil and driveshaft oil.
● Flush the Hydraulic Fluids. Hydraulic fluids in your brake and clutch need flushing. It would be best if you flushed them with clean fluid when they are not honey-coloured. These are DOT 4 fluids that attract water or moisture and must be flushed before storing or using them. They are different from DOT 5 that are non-hygroscopic, and do not collect moisture over the winter.
● Protect Your Battery. Charging the battery is the best way to protect it, especially using a smart charger that does not overcharge the battery. The great add-on in this kind of charger is its pigtails that are attached to the battery. It allows the rider to plug in the charger anytime. With the absence of smart chargers, use low amp chargers that do not exceed 2 amps. Make sure not to overcharge your battery. Charge it for at least 6 hours. For a brand new 12-volt lead-acid battery it will take 5–8 hours to charge to reach 70% capacity by using a continuous current charger. The remaining 30% will take another 7–10 hours to complete before it is ready to be installed on the motorcycle.
● Protect Your Tires. Storing your tires away from the cold hard ground is one of the best ways to protect them. You can use an old rug, rubber mat, or cardboard underneath the tires. You should also bring your tires to maximum rated inflation as indicated on the sidewall and avoid using chemical cleaners on them.
● Do a Safety Check. Do a quick once over to determine if anything needs to be replaced. It is better to order parts off-season than to wait until spring and expect to have them the next day.
● Use of Tapes to Weak Spots. Another essential thing to remember about winter bike storage is making sure that you use plenty of tapes. The tapes are used to cover any weak spots. Secure straps to attach your handlebars to your bike. It is to ensure that the handlebars are securely fastened.
● Keep Your Key Safe. Do not forget to remove your key and store it where you can find it easily after a couple of months of not using it.
● Lock Your Bike. There are lots of options on how to lock your bike. You can lock it with a lock & chain, cable or disc lock. You can place your bike somewhere that is easy to check and keep it well-locked.
● Use a Good Cover. A cover is also a great form of security. Tuck your baby in with a promise to use it first nice day in the spring. Make sure to use a durable cover that can last long enough to use your bike again.
If all these steps sound like way too much work for you or if you don't have a proper storage place, you can always check with your local dealer. Many dealers offer storage plans that can include all the services mentioned above for your bike. A 5 by 10 storage unit costs on average $60-$70 per month, while a 5 by 5 storage unit costs on average $45-$55 per month. Dealers like to keep their good mechanics busy & and employed over the winter months. Putting new tires or accessories on bikes in storage employs mechanic's during the off-season. In return, most of them will offer discounted parts, accessories and labour rates.
Finally, if you run your motorcycle periodically over the winter, make sure to run the bike long enough. It brings it up to operating temperature and flashes off any accumulated condensation.
Be safe and keep riding!