Winter is Coming: Is Your Bike Ready?
Featured in ThunderRoads Magazine, November 2016
By the Snyder's Riders Team
With winter around the corner, it's important to keep your bike in mind as you prep for the next change in season.
Even if you're done riding for the season, you'll still want to keep your bike in top-notch condition. Before putting your bike away for the cold weather, be sure to take the appropriate steps to properly winterize it.
- Fill your tank and use a fuel stabilizer. Be sure to use fresh fuel and fresh stabilizer – a bottle of stabilizer is only good for two years after opening.
- Check your antifreeze and coolant levels. Change the fluids and fill up if they're not where they need to be.
- Change the oil filter. Oil byproducts can be very damaging to your bike when left alone for many weeks. Be sure to change your oil and filter before storing your bike, even if you did it recently.
- Drain the carburetor. Turn off the main gas valve from the tank, and open the petcock and close the valve when it stops flowing.
- Lubricate the chain and pivot points. Use chain lube on your bike's chain and all pivot points – this will prevent any rust from forming.
- Remove the battery. Another option is to install a battery maintainer – the maintainer only charges the battery when it is needed. This way, you'll be able to start your bike right up in the spring without having to re-install the battery.
- Prevent mice from entering your bike. Here's a trick: Stuff steel wool into sandwich bags, then put them into the air intake and tailpipes to block any entry ways. Stick a piece of bright tape onto the locations where you stuffed the steel wool – this way you remember to take it out in the spring.
- Spray with WD-40. After washing and waxing your motorcycle, spray WD-40 to prevent corrosion. Remember to hose your bike down in the spring to remove any excess.
Like many motorcyclists expect, storing your motorcycle with a dealer or another professional can be costly. If you have the room, you can keep your bike just as safe – and closer to home – by following our motorcycle storage checklist.
- Give your bike a good wash and wax before storing to get rid of any lingering dirt, grime, salt, and other harmful substances.
- Store your bike somewhere flat, dry, and out of direct sunlight – preferably indoors.
- Fill the tires to the maximum recommended pressure, and, if you can, try to move the bike every few weeks to help keep the tires in good, balanced condition.
- Don't park your bike directly on a surface that will become very cold, like a garage floor. Be sure to either use a wooden board below your bike, or put your bike on a stand.
- Invest in a high quality cover. Get one that's breathable and waterproof, especially if you'll be keeping the bike outdoors.
Too cold to ride? Just because winter is upon us doesn't mean you need to distance yourself from the motorcycle community. Here are some ways to stay connected in the off-season:
- Think about a safety course. Use the downtime to research and visit motorcycle safety course locations. Find which one matches your skill level, and get enrolled over the winter to take advantage of early-bird enrollment specials and to secure your spot in the spring.
- Give your bike some T.L.C. The off-season is a great time to find a licensed mechanic to treat your motorcycle to a full tune-up and any upgrades you might have been considering. Doing this yearly can prevent serious problems while riding, and you don't have to sacrifice any time away from beautiful riding weather.
- Think about saying goodbye. You love your bike, but you've just got a nagging feeling that you need a new one (or maybe that list of mechanical issues has just gotten too long). Winter is the perfect time to look for and purchase a new bike – many dealers will be looking to clear out inventory in time for next year's models or snow utility vehicles. As a result, you oculd get a great price.
- Join a community. You're not the only one who wants to stay connected. Consider local motorcycle groups and organizations to meet riders, share advice and stories, and plan a group trip as soon as the weather warms up next spring. One option is Snyder's Riders, a community of motorcyclists committed to protecting themselves and their loved ones on the road. You can win prizes, attend events, and stay up-to-date on new technologies.
Join the hundreds of motorcyclists who have already joined Snyder's Riders. Sign up for free at SnydersRiders.com and we'll send out your membership kit including our official bandana.