As the weather gets colder, many motorcyclists start to put their bikes away for the season. Motorcycles don’t mix well with ice and snow, prompting most riders to switch to a more suitable vehicle to go to work and run errands and break out the skis or the snowmobile for recreation.
The end of “riding season” is a good time to think about preparing your motorcycle for next year. Timely maintenance can not only help you get your motor running faster in the spring, but it may reduce your risk of a motorcycle accident as well.
Here are tips to keep your motorcycle in top shape for your next ride:
Before putting your motorcycle away for the season, you want to make sure it is clean. While the weather is still warm, give your bike a wash. After allowing time to dry, apply wax to the paint, treat exposed metal parts to ward off moisture buildup, and condition the seat and any other leather components.
These steps won’t just make your motorcycle look good for its spring debut. Protecting the surfaces will prevent corrosion of parts that can impact performance.
Even if you won’t be riding your bike for several months, you want to put the machine away with a full tank of gas. Moisture can build up if the tank isn’t full, which can negatively impact the quality of the fuel.
First, fill up the tank on your last ride. Second, pour in some fuel stabilizer to prevent evaporation of the gas over the coming months.
Fluids will break down over time when the bike is not in use. This process is exacerbated by cold temperatures. Therefore, before storing your motorcycle, you want to drain the oil, brake fluid, etc. and top off the reservoirs with new fluids.
Perhaps the most important fluid to consider before winter, however, is antifreeze/coolant. Make sure the antifreeze you use is suitable for the winter temperatures in your area.
The last thing you want for your next ride is a chain that is corroded and/or choked with debris. Before you put the bike away for the winter, make sure you clean the chain and lubricate it.
Cleaning and lubricating the chain will prevent rust from forming. It will also save you time when the weather is right for a ride.
Cold temperatures cause a loss of tire pressure. Therefore, you want to make sure your tires are filled to the manufacturer-recommended air pressure before you store your motorcycle for winter.
When it’s time to ride again, be sure to check the tire pressure. You may need to refill the tires depending on how much air was lost to the cold weather.
Even if you fill the tires to the recommended PSI, you may find that they have lost a significant amount of air if your motorcycle rests on its wheels through the whole winter. Continuous, unrelieved pressure on the tires from your driveway or the floor of your garage will cause flat spots to form.
To reduce flats, you can use the center stand on your bike to raise one or both tires off the ground. If your motorcycle doesn’t have this stand, use separate stands or other equipment to keep the wheels up off the ground.
Areas like the handlebars, clutch, and stands can become stiff if they are not used for long periods. Therefore, you want to lubricate these parts now so your bike will come out of storage in good function.
Lubricate both the movable joints themselves and the wires and cables that control them.
You may be surprised to learn that the battery can still consume power even when your motorcycle is off and stored for the season. The last thing you want for your first ride of next year is to discover that the battery is dead.
The conventional wisdom is to remove the battery when you don’t plan to ride, and then reinstall it. You can also purchase a battery maintaining device that will automatically monitor and charge the battery as needed.
If you store your bike outside or even in a shed or the garage, the exhaust pipes will look very attractive for mice, squirrels, and other animals that are seeking shelter in the winter. Therefore, you want to make sure nothing can get in the exhaust while your motorcycle is not in use.
Place a cloth or plastic wrapper inside the exhaust pipe and secure it in place on the outside to ward off unwanted animal residents. This ensures that you won’t have to evict pests in the springtime.
The last step of properly winterizing your motorcycle is protecting it from the elements. If you have a garage or carport, this is the best place to keep the bike both for securing it against the coldest temperatures and inclement weather.
If, however, indoor or covered storage is not an option, the next best thing is to have a durable cover you can secure with ropes, tethers, or bungee cords. Don’t cover your motorcycle with an old tarp; you need something waterproof and able to stand up against cold temperatures.
At the Karl Truman Law Office, we hope you have enjoyed safe rides this year and will continue to be accident-free whenever you hit the road. If, however, you or a loved one suffers injury in a crash, our motorcycle accident lawyers are here to help.
Please contact the Karl Truman Law Office today for assistance. You can also call (502) 222-2222 for a free consultation in Louisville, Kentucky, or (812) 282-8500 for assistance in and around Jeffersonville, Indiana.