How to Prepare the Bike for the Winter Break

Sadness descends over the Northern hemisphere as with each passing day, winter makes it clearer and clearer that the riding season is over for most motorcyclists. However, until the riding cold turkey settles in and starts messing up with our minds, the bikes need some preparations for the upcoming months of rest.
You can choose to ride in the winter or stay out of trouble 1 photo
There are few things which are more exhilarating in the spring than reuniting with the motorcycle and having no trouble getting it started and running well once more. So here are some quick tips for laying the bike at rest during the winter months or even more, as is the case.


It matters little whether you're riding a cheap quarter-liter dual-sport machine or a big-buck cruiser: storing the bike in a good place over the winter will benefit any motorcycle.

This phase is one you can accomplish way before you hang your leathers, and you'd better find the "bedroom" before the season ends: it will be much harder to find the place with all the other guys as your rival.

If you have a garage, then you're lucky. If not, you can rent space by yourself or with your buddies and split the costs. And with only your bikes in there, there's even less chance of interference. Of course, a heated space would be great, as having the bike resting at decent temperature is way nicer than in the freezing cold.

Make sure it does not block the passageways and so it will not be knocked down. Be smart when parking the bike, and everything will be OK.
You should also have a cover at hand, preferably a breathable one, so that humidity is not retained under it. A moist atmosphere is not the moist desirable thing for your bike over 3 or more months. There are hundreds of covers to choose from, selling for anywhere between a few bucks and 200.


Storing a dirty bike is unworthy of a rider and will dramatically reduce the pleasure of unwrapping it in the spring. So just before you ride it the last time, make sure you wash your bike, the chain, wipe off the chain lube spots from the rear rim and so on.

Ideally, you should bring your bike in such a good state of cleanliness as if you were readying it for selling. Good looks and a clean bike not only bring is some extra bucks when selling, they are also putting a big smile on the rider's face in the spring.

Top up, stabilize

Most manufacturers and mechanics agree that a tank which is full is better for the winter rest. A full tank leaves little room for air, and so lesser chances for oxidation on the inside. However, when fuel sits for several months, it starts to deteriorate and some gunk might form and stick to your bike's fuel pathways. And this is not good.

That's why you should add a special fuel stabilizer you can get at any gas station to your full tank. Read the instructions on the bottle and ready the needed quantity: fill half of the tank, add the stabilizer, then fill up.

This is the easiest way to mix the two fluids. Have your bike started for several minutes, so the stabilized fluid flows through all the usual places. This is especially important for carbureted bikes: once the fuel chambers are filled with stabilized gas, you will have an easy start in the spring.

Fill some more if needed, and cap the tank. You're one step closer to the winter sleep.

Lube and similar protection

It is extremely wise to lube your chain (if you've got one) prior to letting the bike "sleep". This keeps the chain from being in contact with dirt, dust and air humidity and will maintain the rubber rings lubed and in good condition.
You can also use the mighty WD-40 and spray some into the exhaust ports: WD-40 and water hate each other and it will keep moisture and rust away. You can use some plugs to cover the ports or some clean rags/towels in case the ports are too big. Champagne corks work very well, too...

You can choose to use some waxing on the metal parts to further prevent moisture from acting against them, but this is not mandatory.

Cheap new oil and fluids

Many recommend changing the oil before storing the bike, because the gunk, combustion by-products and all the impurities in the old oil might corrode the engine internals.

For this, you must use the cheapest bike oil you can get. You won't be running with it so don't be afraid to use the absolute cheapest oil you can find. Add a new filter and run the engine for a short while to make sure the new oil reaches in all the places and dilutes the old oil remnants.

Some say you must use winter-specific oil, but again: you're not going to ride so you can use the money elsewhere.

You should also make sure all the rest of the fluids are in sufficient quantities and your coolant has enough anti-freeze component in case you're leaving the bike in the cold.


The best you can do is literally suspend your bike so that the tires don't have to support the weight of the machine. That is, because they will not move, and some areas will have to deal with excessive pressure for a long time. And this, again, is not good for them.

You can get some stands and have a friend help you raise the bike, making sure you do this minding the space people need to move through the storage space. Or you can raise the bike on the center stand.

Even if you can't do any of the above and are forced to leave the bike on the side stand, the same rule applies: make sure your tires don't leak air and ALWAYS have them inflated at the pressure specified by the manufacturer.

This is especially important to do so because the right pressure helps the tires maintain structural integrity and strength. You can also clean them and add some special protection coating if you believe this is necessary.

Battery does the trick

If your bike is in good running condition, all it will need in the spring as you fire it up once more is enough cranking amps. This means that your battery must also be in top shape, but leaving it on the bike all these months will only drain it.

So before you cover the bike, unloading the battery is a very good idea. If your garage is warm enough, you can leave it there; but if your storage space is not heated, you should carry the battery indoors.

Leaving it connected will slowly discharge it, even if the ignition is off, so the best way to tend for your power pack and make sure it is in great shape in the spring is leaving it connected to special trickle charger.

There are plenty of such devices available, from basic models to more complex ones which also run diagnostics and perform all sorts of other tasks. It doesn't really matter which you'll be using: the most important trick is to use one.
If you don't want to spend too much on one, you can always share the costs with a friend and alternately use it. Or you can take it to a battery dealer/ care center, and have it taken care for.

Lock, kick back and visit your bike

After all the above are done, you could do well and lock your bars and add some additional safety-focused measures. You can never tell what can happen over so many nights so it's better safe than sorry.

Have your Jaegermeister chilled down to freezing before you invite your buddies over for the official end-season party and don't forget to visit your bike every now and then, to make sure all is OK.

As for myself, I am still riding at 26F (-3 C), but these things are coming my way, too, including the Jaegermeister. Peace!
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