You may not get to drive the motorcycle in the winter like you always do, but that shouldn’t deter you from ensuring that your bike is in prime condition. Your responsibility as a motorcycle owner is knowing how, when, and if you need to winterize your motorcycle.
You need to winterize your motorcycle if you live in an area where it gets cold, to prepare it to withstand the cold winter weather. You don’t want to begin the spring with a rusty motorcycle that takes forever to start, hence the need to take care of your bike.
Many new motorcycle owners don’t see the need to ensure their machine is in peak physical condition after the winter. They don’t even know what it means to winterize their machine. Read on as we explain what winterizing means and also walk you through the steps to winterize your motorcycle.
What Does Winterizing Mean?
Winterizing is the process of getting objects (your motorcycle, in this case) ready for use after the winter. You don’t just want to park your bike in your garage for the cold season, because leaving it there without winterizing makes the motorcycle susceptible to damage from the harsh weather.
How Do You Winterize A Motorcycle?
1. Clean Your Motorcycle
The first step in winterizing your bike is to make sure it is clean. To clean your motorcycle, use an automotive-specific soap instead of your regular dishwashing soap. This kind of soap does not leave corrosive residue behind like your regular soap. Take care that your motorbike is fully dry after washing, as leftover water can cause permanent damage to the paint if care is not taken.
2. Mix Your Fuel With A Suitable Stabilizer
The last refueling you do before you park your bike is essential, and you will need a fuel stabilizer to be added to your gas tank. By doing this, the moisture in your tank is preserved, and your tank doesn’t dry up. You are advised to add your stabilizer during your last refuel because the stabilizer should mix well with your fuel as you drive home.
3. Change The Oil And Oil Filter
Changing your oil is essential to avoid acid forming over the winter and to keep your oil fresh over the cold season. To change your motorcycle’s oil and oil filter, you first need to drain the old oil into an empty container. Next, remove the filter. After that, you replace the filter and then the oil. Consult your manufacturer manual for detailed steps in removing the oil and filter.
4. Drain The Carburetor
Draining the carburetor is the next step in ensuring your motorcycle is in peak condition for service after winter. Only motorcycles with carburetors should be drained, so skip this step if your bike has no carburetor. Note that you can either drain the carburetor yourself or get a mechanic to help you do it.
To drain your carburetor, switch off the main gas valve. Then, open the draincock, which is usually found at the bottom of the carburetor. Ready your towel in case of any spillage. The nozzle of the draincock should only be open for about 15 seconds. Close it afterward.
5. Change The Gear Lubricant
Changing the gear lubricant to a fresh one helps to keep the motorcycle gear in optimal condition until the end of the winter. To change the lubricant, you need to first drain the old lubricant by removing the drain plug, then replace it with a fresh one. It would also help if you replaced the filler plug after pouring the new lubricant.
6. Seal The Small Openings
Over the winter, rodents and bugs tend to make openings in motorcycles their homes. Unfortunately, places like your exhaust pipe can be a haven for pests. To prevent this, clog the openings on your motorcycle. Ensure it is fully sealed, and constantly remind yourself to unseal the openings before you start riding again.
7. Lubricate The Motorcycle
Now that you’re done lubricating the inside of the bike, it’s time to get its outer part in post-winter condition. To do this, oil the chain and all the essential points of the motorcycle. Lubricating aims to prevent your bike from rusting over the cold season. Therefore, you will have to constantly lubricate your bike to prevent rusting over the cold season.
8. Remove The Battery And Store It Properly
You will also need to preserve the engine over the winter. If you leave the battery connected to the engine over the winter, it will likely lose its charge and spoil. You don’t want to begin the spring by replacing the battery, so remove it and store it in a cool, dry place over the winter.
9. Add Antifreeze
Keep your motorcycle safe in your garage or storage facility by adding antifreeze to the coolant system. Antifreeze prevents your bike from freezing in sub-zero temperatures. Remember to frequently check the coolant system so your bike doesn’t run out of antifreeze. If it does, water expansion after thawing may cause cracks in your motorcycle.
10. Use A Motorcycle Cover
Covering your motorcycle correctly over the winter prevents your efforts from being in vain. A simple cover is all it takes to stop prime rust agents like dust and moisture from gathering on your bike. If your motorcycle will spend the winter outside, make sure the cover is fully attached to either the bike or the ground. You should also see that the bike is fully enclosed in the cover.
11. Store Your Tires Properly
After doing the above steps, you will want to keep your motorcycle tires safe and away from places that can quickly lose their integrity. Keep your tires on a stand, if you have one, to stop tires spoiling and deflating. If you don’t have a stand, you can rotate your motorcycle tires periodically over the winter.
12. Store Your Motorcycle Properly
Once you follow all of the above-listed steps, the next step is to store your motorcycle. Cover your motorcycle adequately, place it on a stand and store it in your garage. This way, your bike will be safe from harsh weather, dust, rodents, and insects. You should check and clean your bike and other parts regularly to keep it in prime condition for after the winter.
Should You Winterize Your Motorcycle?
You should winterize your motorcycle. Like any other seasonal vehicle, your motorcycle will most likely be in storage for an extended period of time every year. While it is in your garage or in a facility, especially for an entire season, numerous things could happen to it due to lack of use.
Winterizing your motorcycle means that when the winter is over, it will start when you first use it, you won’t have to spend time and money on fixing it, and all the body parts will be as good as when you put them away. There is no reason not to winterize your motorcycle and plenty of reasons to prepare it for use after the winter.
What Happens If You Don’t Winterize Your Motorcycle?
If you don’t winterize your motorcycle, you risk damaging your bike’s battery, tires, and engine. Your bike could suffer corrosion, and you might have rodents and other pests living in the exhaust pipe. Ultimately, you could spend money to fix problems you could have prevented.
A State Of Disrepair
Failing to winterize your motorcycle may result in a discharged battery. You cannot leave your battery plugged into your motorcycle for the whole winter without it running out of charge. You will most likely have to change the battery after the winter.
Additionally, an un-winterized bike may result in deflated tires from lack of use. Motorized vehicles must constantly use any tires they have so as not to compromise their integrity. If you don’t use the tires, you should at least remove them and store them properly.
Not preparing your motorcycle for the winter may also risk dust or corrosive materials gathering onto it. Rust spots will likely develop on the shiny surface of your motorcycle, thereby destroying its beautiful paint, which will most likely lead to you wanting to paint it again. If you can’t do it yourself, you’ll likely spend money on that.
It Might Not Start
The winter is over, and spring has begun. You neglected to winterize your bike and now it isn’t starting. While your bike can withstand rain now and then, continuous exposure to wet conditions may cause unforeseen damage. This is why it’s important to cover your bike over the winter.
Leaving your motorcycle without attendance for an entire winter can also freeze up your engine. Additionally, rodents or insects might enter little openings in your motorcycle to clog or otherwise damage something without your knowledge.
Moisture, engine failure, and an exhaust pipe clogged with pests are not optimal conditions for a healthy motorcycle. If this happens, your bike won’t start, and you may have to spend money to fix the damage. Hopefully, repairs are possible, and you don’t have to buy an entirely new bike.
How Much Does it Cost To Winterize A Motorcycle?
Winterizing a motorcycle can cost between $200 to $400 if you get professional help. It may be cheaper to do it yourself, but you will have to get materials, and even a cheaper DIY option may run close to $200. How much you pay depends on how you decide to winterize your bike.
Here are 14 things you need to winterize your motorcycle:
1. Fuel stabilizer
2. Synthetic motorcycle oil and filter
3. Fogging oil
6. Plastic Tupperware or container
7. Steel wool
8. Sandwich bags
9. Wrench set
10. Flexible funnel
14. Motorcycle cover
The cost of these parts depends on where you live and where you source the materials from. You may already have some of these items in your garage, like the wrench set and funnel, and there’s no reason you can’t reuse them to winterize your bike.
Winterizing your motorcycle prevents unnecessary damage to your engine and tires, and stops bugs, vermin, and corrosion. Winterizing your bike might be expensive, but it’s for the good of your motorcycle, and you can do it in a single afternoon. Not doing so may end up costing you time and money.