Unless you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with perfect driving conditions year-round, it’s likely that your motorcycle ends up in the shed or garage during the winter months. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just rolling the machine onto some blocks and closing the garage door until the ground thaws. Without proper preparation, you put your pride and joy at the risk of corrosion, fuel rot, and rust, often resulting in extra hassle and cost when all you want to do is get out on the road for your first ride of the season. Next time you’re packing in your ride for the cold, make sure to follow these tips to increase your chances of getting the engine going in the spring with minimal fuss.
1. See to your gas tank
If left sitting idle too long, fuel will rot and cause costly damage. Motorcycle service options, once this occurs, tend to be limited to replacing the tank. Make sure you pour in fuel stabilizer and run the engine long enough to work the liquid into your carbs. From there, you can either drain the tank and coat the inside with gas-soluble oil, or fill up the tank with oxygenated fuel. Fuel starts breaking down after about 60 days, so don’t forget to go through this process any time you plan on leaving your bike in the garage for an extended period.
2. Take the battery out
Your battery contacts are another likely target for corrosion, especially if your storage area isn’t kept completely free of moisture. If damage spreads to the bike itself, you’re in for a trip to the motorcycle service shop- so take the time to remove your battery and wipe down both it and the battery box with a mixture of water and baking soda. Store the battery somewhere cool and dry, and take it out once a month to charge it back up to full on a low-amp setting. Most automotive battery chargers should give you a variety of options.
3. Don’t forget plastic, rubber, and aluminum
Even though these parts of your machine may not be affected by rust as much as the rest of the bike, they are still sensitive to the effects of light, temperature, and moisture. There are few things things you can do, however, to avoid costly motorcycle service down the line. To start, spray down plastic and rubber with a polymer preservative when you are getting your ride ready for winter. There are a variety of brands to choose from, but some DIY-oriented riders will use simple Vaseline or brake fluid- both have anti-corrosive properties. To protect these sensitive materials from UV light, though, you’ll need to either store your bike in an unlit part of your home, or keep it under wraps with a breathable fabric cover. Plastic will trap moisture close to the metal, causing more harm than good, so avoid using that old tarp lying in the corner! You can keep your aluminum shining throughout the year by applying spray wax to those shiny surfaces.