How To Winterize A Motorcycle: The Vital Steps You Can’t Skip

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There’s a lot of joys that come with owning a motorcycle. Having to store it for the winter isn’t one of them. When those temperatures start dropping and you need more than just a jacket to keep you warm during a ride, you know it’s almost time to prep your motorcycle for the few months ahead.

Storing a motorcycle in winter can be difficult. In reality it’s quite easy and can be done in a few simple steps but it is vital that all these steps are followed. This article can explain everything you’d want or need to know when it comes to winterizing a motorcycle.

How to Winterize Your Motorcycle

I have owned more than a dozen motorcycles. I also lived in areas with severe winters. Through trial and error, I’ve been able to find the best ways to winterize a motorcycle and see the harmful affects not winterizing can do to your bike. Here are some steps that you should take to winterize your motorcycle.

It’s easy to clean: This is a step most people forget about when storing their motorcycle for winter. A lot of people wonder why it’s important to clean their bike before they store it for several months as no one will see it anyway. There’s a lot more to it than looks.

Cleaning a motorcycle before winter storage ensures that you won’t get any dirt or dust caked on parts that would be harder to get off come spring time. Also, if you’ve already ridden your motorcycle a little bit on wintry roads with salt on them, you’ll especially want to get that salt off before storage. Salt can cause significant damage to metal if it is left alone. See My article is here For more information about road salt damage motorcycles, please visit:

Gas: There are two main options you have when it comes to taking care of the gas in the tank of your motorcycle while you’re winterizing it. The first option you have is to remove the gas completely and take measures to ensure there’s no rust that gets inside.

To do this, you’ll need to run your motorcycle until the fuel runs dry. To absorb moisture, coat the tank with rubbing alcohol to evaporate any fuel left behind. Click here Check out my article on how to store an empty motorcycle gasoline tank.

The second option would be to keep the gas tank full. You’ll need to fill up the tank as much as possible and add a fuel stabilizer to the gas. After adding the stabilizer to the tank, start the motorcycle and run it for several minutes until the stabilizer is absorbed into the fuel system. This will prolong fuel life.

Oil: Winterizing a motorcycle must include changing the oil before you start. It may seem silly to keep a motorcycle oiled, but it is essential for the safety of your bike.

Even if you’ve recently changed your oil, it’s still a good idea to either change it again or at least top it off. Because it will just be sitting, it’s okay to use the cheaper brand of oil, just as long as those parts inside the engine aren’t sitting dormant without fresh oil.

Other fluids Don’t forget about all the other fluids your motorcycle might have! You’ll need to make sure you top off all other fluids to ensure there’s no space for condensation to build up inside. These fluids could include coolant or crankcase oil, brake fluid, and so on.

Battery: Many people don’t understand the importance of winter storage and how to properly care for your motorcycle battery. Unless you want to pay to get a new battery every spring, I suggest you make sure it’s well taken care of. A battery should last for several years, even with winter storage.

There are several options for battery care. First, you can remove the entire battery from your motorcycle and store it in a controlled temperature environment. You can store it in your house, just make sure it’s out of reach of children and pets and it’s placed in a container in case it leaks acid.

The second option is to connect it to a power source. Like this one has the following information. This is a small device that you can attach to your battery. When it is charged, it will turn to floating mode to recharge it.

The trickle charger is the third choice. This requires the most work but performs well if you’re on top of it. Under your supervision, a trickle charge can charge a battery. You cannot leave it charging, however, because it won’t stop once the batter has maximum voltage.

Tires: It can be costly to replace the tires on your motorcycle. And it’s completely possible for tires to get ruined over the course of winter time. Tires can become flat if they sit dormant long enough. Because they’re mostly made out of rubber, the lack of usage speeds up the flattening process.

You can either move your motorcycle forward or backwards a few inches every few weeks or you can elevate the tires altogether so you don’t have to remember to move it. You can also use motorcycle tire lifts. This kit includes a front and rear stand for your motorcycle. is a great site to keep your tires in good shape.

Plug openings Mice are always out and about, no matter the season. For winter, mice like to find warm places to nest and motorcycles are often a target.

Plug all holes or openings on your motorcycle, including the exhaust and air intakes. It is a good idea to use steel wool and a few drops peppermint oil to plug the holes. This will keep the rodents away. See My full article is here How to keep mice away your motorcycle

It’s your responsibility to cover it: Last but not least, you’ll need to make sure to put a good, quality cover over your motorcycle whether it’s kept outside or inside. I recommend the following cover: Dowco Guardian found here This can prevent dust, dirt and condensation from building up on the motorcycle.

Where can you store your motorcycle during winter?

Aside from prepping your actual motorcycle for the winter months, it’s important you think about Where you’ll be storing it during this time. It is important to store it in a safe place. This will make a difference in how it performs come spring.

Garages are the best place to store your motorcycle during winter. It will give you unlimited access and allow you to keep a close eye on your bike. It keeps your bike safe from the harsh elements.

But storing a motorcycle in a garage isn’t always possible either because there’s not enough room or there’s no garage to begin with. If you’re in this situation, try asking around to close by friends or family members and see if they’d be willing to let you store your bike in their garage or shed. It might be worth offering an incentive, such as taking them out for dinner or paying them.

If you don’t have any friends or family who have a shed or garage, you might consider renting one. This is an excellent alternative because it still keeps the motorcycle inside a confined area and you’ll also know it’s safely locked away.

The average national cost of a 5×10 storage unit is about $60-$70 a month. Keep in mind that most units require that the motorcycle be functional, that it has insurance and that you can provide proof of ownership. Click here You can read my article on how to keep a motorcycle safe in a storage container.

If money is tight and a storage unit is out of the question, it’s completely possible to store your motorcycle outside for the winter. I’ve done this successfully many times myself. You’ll need to follow the same steps stated previously to winterize it in addition to a few other steps.

Elevating the tires may be a little tricky when you have to keep the motorcycle stored outside for the winter whether because you’re afraid someone will knock it over or the motorcycle will be sitting on uneven terrain. You can prevent flat spots by placing old carpet under the motorcycle. You’ll need to move it a few inches forward or backward every few weeks though.

It is best to park it in a quiet area. Don’t forget to use some sort of security device, such as a disc lock (Click here See my recommendation for a disc lock in my list of recommended motorcycle security. Also, ensure that the cover you put over your motorcycle is securely secured so that wind doesn’t blow it off or scratch any parts. See my for more information on how to store your motorcycle outside during winter. You can also read this article.

Common Questions about Winterizing a Motorcycle

These are some common questions I’ve heard and often asked myself during the process of storing my motorcycle for the winter. Even if you haven’t asked yourself these questions before, they’re still good to know as a motorcycle owner.

Do I need to start the motorcycle every other day? You’ll hear a lot of debate about whether or not you should start up your motorcycle during the winter to get all the fluids moving around. This depends on how you define it. “starting it up.”

If you plan on starting up the motorcycle for a few minutes and leave it idling, it’s best to just not do that at all. Doing so could cause more condensation build up inside the engine and doesn’t really do anything for the fluids.

If you do plan to take the motorcycle on a 15-20 minute spin around the block, it could be a great benefit for your motorcycle. This will not only move the fluids around but also exercise the tires, gaskets, and engine.

Can I store my motorcycle without oil? Unlike storing a motorcycle without gas in it, it’s not a good idea to store a motorcycle without any oil inside the engine. No matter how careful you are about preventing condensation from building up on a motorcycle in winter, it will still happen.

It is better to leave the engine running than it is full. This gives condensation more time to build up and cause rust. See My article is here For more information on how to store a motorcycle without oil, click here

What are some useful ways to start a bike in freezing temperatures? If you haven’t noticed before, starting a motorcycle in freezing temperatures can be pretty difficult. In cold temperatures, machines can slow down and become slower than us humans. Make sure the battery is fully charged because anything less than a full charge won’t work in cold temperatures.

You could place a space heater at a safe distance from the engine and let it blow directly onto it. This will heat the engine and oil. I’ve done this many times myself and it works like a charm. Click here Find out how I start a motorcycle when it is freezing cold.

Is it possible for a motorcycle to be stored in my house during the winter? It all depends on the type and size of your home. If you live in a house that is not attached to anyone else’s, then yes it is completely possible to store your motorcycle inside your house for the winter (see My article is here Learn how to do it.

You should not store your bike inside an apartment or condo during the winter months. This poses a risk to your neighbors and could lead to fire codes violations that could result in a fine from your landlord.

What Happens To Your Motorcycle When You Don’t Winterize It

To put it into perspective, let’s discuss what will happen to your motorcycle when you don’t properly winterize it. I, unfortunately, have fallen victim to some of these things because I didn’t properly prepare my motorcycle beforehand.

First, if you don’t fully fill up the gas tank and put fuel stabilizer in it, the tank can develop some rust in the empty space and the gas will develop gunk and varnish deposits from lack of usage. The stabilizer stops that from happening.

Varnish buildup in your gas can cause it to settle at the bottom your tank. This fuel will then be used as the first fuel once the motorcycle starts in the spring. Even if you have a fuel filter, that gunk can still find it’s way through the fuel system and clog up your carburetor or fuel injector which will in turn cause running issues.

You could see a quicker breakdown of the parts if you keep old oil in the engine. Used oil has gone through many cycles in your engine and been through some extreme heat which ultimately changes some of it’s chemical compounds.

This can make the oil more acidic and can be harmful if it sits inside an engine. Fresh oil isn’t broken down as much and will be much more helpful for the insides of the engine.

Your tires will also begin to fail. Rubber lasts longer when it is used. It’s like the muscles in our body; the more we exercise, the more our muscles maintain their mass. The rubber can become brittle and may even break down if it isn’t used regularly.

Air will eventually leak out, and the constant pressure from the motorcycle’s weight will cause the tires to become flat. If the motorcycle sits in that spot for too long, those creases can become permanent and the tires will be destroyed.

A motorcycle battery can lose its charge over time, especially in cold conditions. Regular rides give the stator a full charge which in turn maintains the battery. When the motorcycle is sitting during winter storage, the battery isn’t getting that normal charge.

Parasitic drain occurs when the battery is not connected to a charger or unhooked from the bike. This means the voltage is slowly diminished by some sort of electric current that still using it’s power. Once a battery is low enough in voltage, it can be damaged by cold temperatures. For more information about what happens when you don’t properly winterize your motorcycle, see My article is here.

Winter is Over: Take Your Motorcycle Out of Storage

Once you’re ready to take your motorcycle out of winter storage, review this check list to make sure your motorcycle is up to par.

First, inspect the gas tank inside, especially if it was empty during winter months. You’ll want to get any rust out that may have formed. Otherwise, you can top up your tank with gasoline.

Next you’ll need to get another oil change. It seems redundant and unwise to get rid perfectly good oil (or at the very least, oil) Looks good). Oil has been sitting there for a while, and oil does have an expiration date. It’s properties have broken down over the last few months so it would be beneficial for your bike to change it.

All other fluids should be topped up. It may seem weird to have to top off fluids you didn’t even use, but winter has a tendency to make some of those fluid levels drop a little bit. You should also inspect your tires for cracks and brittle rubber. Fill the tires to the right PSI.

Now you’re ready to take your motorcycle out and see how it did during the winter! You’ve taken good care of your bike, you deserve a much needed ride.



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