Things You Can Do with Your Bike in Winter

Frustration, longing, riding withdrawal anxiety and many more, you’ve most likely experienced them all during winter time, if you’re a motorcyclist. Some fellows are lucky enough and they can ride in any season, as weather in their area is never changing its rider-friendly nature, but for the rest, the cold season might bring a cycle which sidelines them.
A girl riding a classic motorcycle 1 photo
Then there are the equally lucky chaps who can equip their bikes with spiked tires and occasionally head for the frozen trails having their adrenaline overdose delivered in a most fun manner. And of course, there are the guys who either don’t have such bike they can spike up for riding in the frost, or who are simply not willing to do so. Age, insufficient skills, a dash of fear or various medical conditions might be behind the decision not to ride, and frankly, these guys seem to know better what’s good for them.

Still, there are certain bike-related things you can do in the winter to bring you closer to your two- or even three-wheeled machine, even though they are a rather poor substitute for actually riding it in your fav background. And without more ado, here are some of the things which can fill your non-riding time and be equally fun, instructive and profitable. The order, however, is random.

Check the tires

One of the things you can do is check the status of your tires and wheels. You can definitely check the air pressure from time to time as this will tell you whether your tires or tubes, if it’s the case, are leaking air or not. Needless to say, if defects are found, winter is a very good time to have them mended.

You can replace or repair a tube, check that your rims are alright, and of course, perform a close visual inspection of the tires for cracks and other defects. If you know that you should change tires before the new season starts, you can also take your time to look for new ones. Even though you may have your favorites, it’s always a good idea to look for the latest developments in the business, because you’ll be surprised to learn that, in some cases, good just got better.

Likewise, you could also check for balancing leads which may have fallen off during your late season rides, and replace them. If you have spokes, some tinkering with a wrench in them could reveal weak ones, too.

Leaks of any kind

Since your bike was parked for a couple of months or so already, it will be easy to spot leaks of any kind… or at least the spots on the floor these leaks caused. Since you’re not going anywhere anyway, you could take your time to inspect the brake and fuel lines, and if you ride a bike which also has a hydraulic clutch, the clutch line.

While you’re at this, you could also check the bike’s service book and remember the last time you replaced the fluids in the machine. This includes the brake and clutch fluids and the coolant. They are not expensive and will instead give you peace of mind when you start riding. Just make sure you bleed the systems thoroughly, just like you’d have done in the middle of the riding season.

Filter out the clogged filters

Air and fuel filters can make the difference between top performance and mediocre one. Most fuel filters are in-line inserts on the fuel line and changing them only takes minutes, as this operation can be carried out effortlessly even by non-techies. Even more, these can be had for several bucks in your local gas station or automotive parts store and there is really no reason strong enough not to have a clean one when the season starts.

Air filters are an equally important part in the health of your engine, so keeping them clean is always a good idea. A clean air filter will provide better intake for the engine, optimizing the fuel consumption and delivering better performance. If your bike works with a disposable air filter, it’s time you got a new one or have it air-blasted clean.

At the same time, you can also consider taking the step to a higher-performance setup involving aftermarket reusable filters. Since you have a lot of time now, it’s a good idea to do some internet research and decide whether the benefits of these high-flow reusable filters are what you need, and whether spending extra on them is worth or not.
As for those who already have such filters, trust me, it’s really nice to perform the cleaning before you actually think to get back on two wheels. When temperatures are getting friendly once more, you’ll be so anxious that you might forget about the air filter or will have to unnecessarily delay your first spring ride because your bike is not 100% ready. Clean and re-oil your filter now and you’ll be happier later.

Battery, if you still have it on the bike

Some prefer to take the batteries off their bikes for the winter, and this is a very good idea if you plan to store the bike in a non-heated place over winter. However, if you decide that temperatures in your storage place are not going to be a threat to the battery, you can very well leave it on the bike. Still you must make sure no parasitic current draw will bleed your power pack dry.

Using a trickle charger or other specialized gimmick to maintain your battery’s health once a month or two is also very smart and could spare you the costs of a new one in the spring. Even more, if you believe that your battery is simply getting close to its service life, you have all the time in the world to take it to a specialist and have it examined professionally.

If you’re lucky, the battery specialist will be able to restore enough life in it to last the season. And even if your power pack is beyond the point of no return, you still have time to save for a new one. Like always, when changing a replacement part, it’s wise to look around the interwebs for new technologies which are getting better by the year and ahem… more expensive.

While the battery is still on the bike, you can also check your lighting system and replace dead bulbs in case you find some.

Chain kit or shaft drive oil

It’s not uncommon to see riders who know that their bikes need a new chain kit before the end of the season but would rather ride carefully the extra miles with the old one until finally calling it a day and storing the bike for winter.

Well, you don’t need us to tell you that this is the right time to do this free of any constraints, since –again - you’re not riding anywhere. You can also take your time and perform a very thorough cleaning operation of the front sprocket housing and cover (if applicable), sprocket carrier and swingarm, as they most likely are full of grime and it’s a real shame to install new parts on them as they are.
In case you ride a belt-driven bike or a shaft final drive machine things are much easier. Even so, a peek in the service book might reveal that the miles before having to change your shaft oil are up, so you’d better get busy.

Techie stuff

If you know your way around motorcycle mechanics, the winter break is a good time to perform certain higher-level maintenance operations, such as checking the valve clearance, cleaning the carburetors or injection, checking and replacing the spark plugs, tearing down the steering stem and checking its bearings or even rebuilding the suspensions.

Many bikes have detailed service manuals and if you get the right tools and follow the “holy books” you can carry out maintenance operations which will save you a significant amount of money… if you do things the right way. If however, you feel like these operations are way above your skill level, you’d better wait and save some more and have your bike taken care of by a dealer.

Gear and add-ons

Finally, you can also inspect your riding gear and see if some items need to be replaced. If the last rain got through your jacket which was supposed to be waterproof, it’s the best time to remember how cold the last part of the ride was and start looking for a new one or other rain gear.

The same goes for pretty much all your gear, including trousers and other rain-specific clothing, gloves, and even helmet. Autumn usually brings a ton of new things with the specialized shows, and these are usually hitting the stores before the season starts. Therefore, learning more about new gear and saving for these is a smart thing to do in winter, so that you’re all set when the day of the first spring ride comes.

As for the add-ons, I guess there isn’t a guy out there who doesn’t need anything on his or her bike. From an extra 12V or USB outlet to new heated grips, new turn signals or mirrors, an aftermarket seat or a new set of side cases or crash bars, the motorcycle accessories market has something for all the bikes and all budgets. Even if you don’t have all the money you need, you can at least get informed, write down a prioritized shopping list and start saving. Or selling old stuff and forking out some money for the new things.

Fact is there are still a lot of ways to have at least some bike fun until the weather clears out, the asphalt becomes tire-friendly and you can plan your first outing. So, what’s it gonna be first? Still indecided? Check out our extensive Moto How-To guide collection.
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