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How to winterize a motorcycle

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Riders should know how to winterize a motorcycle to get ready for foul weather

The Big Freeze; itís coming, like it or not. Even if your neck of the woods isnít subject to Ice Age- like winters, in many parts of the country winter means itís time to pack up the bike for the season. For those who intend to let Ďer sit for months, a full-blown winterization is in order.

If youíre willing and able to get out and brave the elements once in a while through the winter, there are still some things you ought to know when you winterize a motorcycle.


The Big One

A lot of riders think a full-on winterization of a bike is overkill, and they may be right. But they likely live in the warm Southwest or on a beach somewhere where ďWinterĒ means itís only 70 degrees with a chance of a cloud. Doing it right takes a bit of work, but youíll thank yourself come Spring.


To winterize your motorcycle, the first and most important rule is this; moisture is our enemy. We donít like it, we donít want it and we must do whatever we can to avoid it messing with our bikes.


With that said, step one is to warm the engine. Not only does this help coat the cylinders with oil, it will eradicate excess moisture. Next up, turn the bike off and remove the spark plugs. Then, using a baster drop a little oil into each spark plug hole and turn the engine over manually by turning the rear wheel by hand while your bike is in top gear. This will shoot oil through the cylinders, pistons and valves, giving them all a good coating.

After youíve replaced the plugs, change the oil at the least. If you intend on running with this new oil after the Spring Thaw, youíll probably want to change the filter too.


Just a few more minor steps needed to winterize a motorcycle, and weíre ready for Santa. Fill your tank to the brim, leaving just a little room for a fuel stabilizer additive; this will protect the inside of your tank from getting rusted out. If your bike has a carburetor, drain the float bowls. A few months of sitting will turn the gas to gunk, and require a re-built carb. Fuel injected rigs donít need to worry about this one of course; lucky dogs.


Keeping the batter charged is next up to in your winter prep list. There are ďsmart chargersĒ you can hook up to your battery that will keep it charged throughout the Winter. Worse case, take the battery out and store it in a warm, dry place.


Your chrome needs a good polish before going night-night for the Winter, as does your tank. Donít let bird ďleft-oversĒ and other dirt and grime sit for months on-end, thereíll be a lot more work to do in the Spring if you do. Use a dab or two of rubber protectant as well; the cold will dry out untreated rubber leaving it worn and cracked.


Finally, get the back of the bike up and off the ground and check your anti-freeze levels. Avoiding a cracked head is always a good idea, and a little extra coolant should do the trick.


If youíre able, and the weather isnít too bad where you live, you may able to get away with a mini-version of motorcycle winterization. This will entail starting the bike and letting Ďer run for a bit at least weekly. If you can, the steps to winterize a motorcycle become much easier.


Keeping your tank full of gas and stabilizer fluid, even with the intention of starting it up once a week should be part of even a scaled down winterization. Hooking the battery up to a charger is another step that canít be ignored. The cold weather and lack of use is sure to eat up the battery, even with once weekly cranks.


There you have it, how to get your bike ready for winter in 17 steps or less; give or take. 

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