Tucking It In For The Winter


Ok, you folks who ride Polar Bear can stop reading right now. This only applies to the sane people that put their bikes away for the winter and participate in more Winter-oriented sports, like skiing.

For those of you like myself who donít care to ride during the cold months, hereís what you should do to properly store your bike so itíll be ready to go in the spring.

The minimal:

1. Add a fuel stabilizer, such as Stabil, to the gas tank, following the directions on the bottle to ensure youíre adding the correct amount. Fill your gas tank all the way up. Start your bike and let it run for about 10-15 minutes, to get the stabilized fuel throughout the system and into your carbs or fuel injection system. You can run this gas in the Spring. I have been doing this for many years and have never had a problem. Itís much easier than draining the tank. If your bike is carbureted, you should drain the carbs. I didnít usually drain the carbs when I had carbureted bikes, the Stabil seemed to do its job. If your bike is stored for over 6 months, go ahead and drain them.

2. Change your oil and filter. Never store a bike with dirty oil, as it contains acidic breakdown products that can eat away at your engine over time. If your bike is stored less than 6 months, itís ok to use this oil in the spring. If itís been longer than 6 months, change it again in the spring, as condensation could have formed.

3. Clean your chain (WD40 works well) and give it a coat of chain lube.

4. Give your bike a good cleaning and waxing.

5. Remove your battery and bring it indoors. Make sure (if itís a battery thatís not maintenance free) the cells are filled with distilled water. Keep it charged. A Battery Tender can be hooked up and itíll take care of it for you. Or, once a month, charge it overnight with a 1-amp trickle charger. Starting the bike periodically to charge the battery is a bad idea. First of all, it wonít fully charge the battery; the bike needs to be ridden at sufficient rpms to accomplish that. Also, since it wonít be running long enough to be at operating temperature, so condensation will build up, and the bike wonít get hot enough to dissipate it. Water in your engineÖ.bad!

6. Cover the end of the exhaust pipe with foil or something to keep out dirt and/or rodents. If your air-box is open, cover that, too.

7. Throw an old sheet or some other breathable cover over it. Donít use plasticÖitís that condensation thing again.

Other things that are good to do:

1. Remove the spark plugs. Add about a teaspoon of fogging oil to each cylinder. Turn the bikeís engine over (not starting it) to coat the cylinder walls with oil. I donít do this, as itís nearly impossible to get to the spark plugs on my bike. It would take hours and lots of cursing. A trusted mechanic told me not to worry about it unless the bike was to be stored for more than 6 months.

2. Get the wheels off the ground. If you have a center-stand, put it up on it. Again, I donít do this; I have no center-stand. I park the bike on some cardboard to at least provide some insulation. Make sure your tires are properly inflated. If your tires need replacing, wait until spring. Cold winters arenít all that great on tires.

3. Go to the motorcycle show in January. Read motorcycle books and magazines. Dream about spring!

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