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Robin DeanFeb 18, 2014 (Updated Dec 22, 2020)CommentShare

How To Properly Winterize Your Motorcycle

Consult your schedule to ensure you have ample time to winterize (between one and three hours, depending). The information below provides a fast track summary of what’s to be done. That stated, check back often for updates and in-depth explanations for individual steps.

Our order of operation to winterize creates a workflow that’s both efficient and effective. In the event that you’re unable to complete the effort in one session, try and coordinate your stopping points logically and with safety in mind. It’s better to finish step seven, for example, once it’s started. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself reinstalling the spark plugs so that dust and debris don’t enter the engine. That means restarting step seven at the next opportunity.

Once finished, avoid running the engine for the duration of the storage period. Doing so attracts condensation courtesy of combustion byproducts in the oil. Ready to winterize? Great! Let’s start by checking to be sure you’ve got these products or a preferred substitute on hand.

Clean and Lubricate Everything

(1) Before you winterize, thoroughly wash, degrease and detail the bike.

Clean ChainLubricate Chain

(2a) Lift the rear wheel and put the bike in neutral.
(2b) Wipe kerosene over the chain while spinning the rear tire.
(2c) Use your grunge brush to loosen any build up along the links.
(2d) Apply a second round of kerosene using the same technique as before. Loose grime falls away.
(2e) Spray-rinse the chain with a hose and water, making sure not to “blast” it directly.
(2f) Dry it gently with terrycloth. Let it air dry for 10+ minutes.
(2g) Apply chain lubricant, i.e. PJ1 blue.

Winterize Empty TankWinterize/Stabilize Fuel

Winterize Fuel, Oil and Seals

(3a) Add Stabil (blue) and/or Seafoam to winterize a near-empty gas tank, then top off with fuel.
(3b) Start the bike and allow the chemicals to mix into the carburetor and engine.

Change Oil

(4) Once the engine is warm, change the oil and filter.

Drain Floats

(5a) Turn off the petcock and run the engine until it dies.
(5b) Allow the engine to cool.
(5c) Drain the carburetor float bowls (there’s still some gas in there).

This concludes our effort to winterize the fuel/oil system.

Oil Stationary Tubes

(6a) Using a rag, gently wipe oil over the stationary tubes and seals on the front forks.
(6b) Straddle the bike, hold the front brake and work the front suspension up and down. This will keep the rubber seals from drying out and protect/winterize the exposed fork tubes.

Remove Spark PlugsOil Cylinders

Winterize Engine, Electrical and Pivots

(7a) Remove the spark plugs.
(7b) Using a turkey baster, apply motor oil to the cylinders. About one teaspoon (25cc) works well.
(7c) With the plugs still out, turn the engine over (shift to high gear and spin the rear wheel).
(7d) Clean and gap the plugs before putting them back in.

(8a) Remove the battery.
(8b) If necessary, top it off with distilled water.
(8c) Apply a thin coat of grease to the terminal and connectors (prevents corrosion).
(8d) Connect the battery to a tender and store it in a safe location.

(9) Lubricate the cables, suspension and pivot points.

Treat FabricProtect Plastics

(10a) Apply a fabric treatment to the seat, selecting a product based on it’s intended purpose.
(10b) Apply Armor All to the plastic and rubber parts (chassis/non-mechanical only).

Inflate TiresLift Tires

Raise Rubber and Jacket Metal

(11a) Inflate your tires to the maximum recommended pressure.
(11b) Place plywood, MDF or thick carpet between the tires and floor – or – suspend both wheels.

Jacket Unpainted Metals

(12a) With a clean cloth, spray/wipe chrome polish over the non-painted metals.
(12b) Apply a thin coat of Turtle Wax over the painted metals.
(12c) Spray a little WD40 into the tail pipe(s) and drain holes to winterize.

Cover ExhaustStuff Exhaust

Vermin will make winter homes of any outlet they can find, so …

(13a) Lightly stuff a small garbage bag into the end of each exhaust pipe.
(13b) Now cover each exhaust pipe with a tall garbage bag and seal it with a rubber band.
(13c) Lastly, cover the air intake and drain hoses with plastic wrap + rubber band.

What’s Your Motorcycle Winterization Process?

The above instructions are taken from multiple sources. Some prefer a more simple approach while others might feel these aren’t enough. What do you do to protect your motorcycle during the cold months? How does the bike respond come spring? Your input is invited. Post an article!

This is the end!
Robin Dean

About Robin Dean

Motorcycle advocate, enthusiast and traveler. Founder, The Riding Obsession (2014). MSF RiderCoach credentials: BRCu, BRC2u, MSRCu, ARCu, 3WBRCu ~ Spotify Playlist

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