Riding in the Winter can be great – we do get the odd dry, sunny day to get out, but a lot of us cannot be bothered with the extra work and care that riding your bike through the Winter needs… Freezing temperatures, black ice, rain, and dark nights make Winter riding a challenge, whilst the salt on the roads means a wash after every ride to avoid your bike looking rather furry and rusty in the Spring!
Sometimes it’s just easier to wrap your bike up safe for the Winter, open a beer, sit back, and enjoy Netflix in the warmth of your house, instead of cleaning your bike off in the cold, then spending a few hours defrosting!
Prepping your bike for Winter storage is essential if you want it to roll out of the garage in spring and look as good as it did when it went in… It is also essential to make sure it fires up easily too! Below are a few useful tips for storing your bike over Winter….
Make sure it’s clean and avoid corrosion
This may sound a little obvious but putting your bike away for hibernation clean is a must! Putting your bike away clean and dry avoids any excess dirt and moisture festering over the Winter and turning into unwanted corrosion (especially around your brakes, chain & sprockets and electrics). After washing, a good coat of wax or polish on the paintwork will protect it from dust, dirt and moisture. It is also worth using a good corrosion inhibitor, such as Muc-Off HCB-1, Silkolene Pro-Prep or ACF-50 to protect plastic, metal, rubber and electrical connections from corrosion or oxidation. Cleaning your bike will also show up any damage to the bodywork or any issues that you need to sort while it’s stored away.
Take care of that battery
The battery on your bike is one of the most vital components! It’s probably the one thing we, as bikers almost always forget about – until it stops working! Proper maintenance of your battery over winter will ensure you get the most out of its service life and also ensure no surprises in the Spring, when you wheel your bike out, hit the starter and “CLICK”!…
There are many different types of batteries fitted to motorcycles today: lead acid, sealed acid, AGM, Gel and lithium, but the one thing they nearly all have in common is that over Winter, they love a nice, warm environment with good periodic charging.
Battery chargers/conditioners are an essential piece of any bikers Winter storage plan and unlike years ago, are easily affordable and excellent pieces of tech, with Optimate, CTEK, Battery Tender, NOCO and the Oxford Oximiser ranges boasting a wide range of battery conditioners with good entry-level products, right up to multi bike chargers.
For those of us lucky to have a nice, warm brick-built garage with power, it’s easy! Simply fit a permanent battery lead to your bike, plug in your charger and away you go! For those of us who don’t have electricity in our garage – another option is to use an Optimate or Oxford solar charger to keep your battery topped up over the Winter. If your bike is stored outside, or in an uninsulated garage where the temperature is likely to drop drastically over winter, then the easiest solution is to remove the battery from the bike and bring it inside the house to keep it topped up (this is a personal favourite of mine, as you can periodically charge numerous bike batteries over the Winter and not be worried about leaving things connected outside).
One last thing! If you’re charging factory sealed, AGM or Gel batteries then it’s just a case of hooking them up, but before you charge an older style lead acid battery, you will have to check the electrolyte levels first and if you are using a Lithium battery – make sure you purchase a specific Lithium charger.
Get it off the ground!
Our tyres are like our batteries – almost always forgotten about over Winter! Tyres are porous and over time lose air. If we leave our bike over Winter in the same position on soft tyres, eventually they could form permanent flat spots. To combat this, ideally, a pair of front and rear paddock stands, or a bike lift will keep the wheels off the ground. If you don’t have any stands, or physically do not have the space etc, then it is advisable to increase the pressures in your tyres to keep their shape longer and move the bike around every month or so that it is sitting on a different part of the tyre (just remember to re-adjust them before riding). A garage mat or piece of old carpet is ideal to store your bike on too, just to remove direct contact with the floor.
Fill her up!
Prepping the fuel system on your bike is a must when storing your bike for a few months! We’ve all experienced or met someone who has had to strip the carbs or have the injectors cleaned on their bike after leaving untreated fuel to get stagnant in the fuel system. Another swerve ball is the introduction of E10 Ethanol fuel! Ethanol is hygroscopic – so the more ethanol in the fuel, the more water is absorbed into the fuel system, which can lead to corrosion in our fuel systems.
The best way to combat this over Winter is to fill your tank and add a fuel additive – best to take your bike for a quick spin, or at least have it running for a short while to make sure the treated fuel is all the way through the fuel system. If you have a carburettor bike, then it could be advisable to drain the carbs to prevent the fuel from evaporating and leaving a residue.
Some people prefer to start their bikes every couple of weeks to keep the fuel flowing through the fuel system. This can have other benefits too… if you run the bike up until it’s properly warm (or until the fan kicks in), this helps to get everything nice and hot and will get rid of any condensation that’s sat on the bike – just remember to let it cool fully before putting that cover back on!
Cover it up!
Another good way to stop any moisture from forming on your bike is to cover it with a well-fitting bike cover (indoor or outdoor). A cover helps to protect your bike from the elements if it is kept outside, but a cover indoors also helps to protect your bikes paintwork from dust and minor knocks. A well-fitting cover also helps to let air circulate around the bike and keep moisture out (which could lead to corrosion).
Lock it up
When the dark nights set in and we’re chilling with a beer watching TV, we sometimes forget that our pride and joy is sat in the garage hibernating away until Spring! Unfortunately, there are plenty of other people that haven’t forgotten (yes, we’re talking the unscrupulous kind!). Even though it is under lock and key in the garage, or tucked away out of sight in the garden, do not forget security! Fit a good lock and chain and use a ground anchor if possible, to keep your bike safe. An alarm/immobiliser or tracker is also advantageous and some insurance companies give discounts on premiums with these fitted!
There are numerous other things you can do to prep your bike for winter storage, but we think we have the basics covered above – and if you’re the sort of motorcycle owner that likes a tinker, then we can guarantee that we will all be in the garage over Winter at some point, doing those little jobs that we forgot throughout the Summer, or busy planning next year’s modifications. At least by following a few simple steps, we know that when we open the garage door in Spring, we won’t be left feeling flat!