How to store and protect your motorcycle this winter10/4/2022
Let’s face it, if you’re reading this article then your motorcycle is your most prized possession. When you store it for the winter, you want to protect your motorcycle from the elements and stash it safely, affordably, and in a place with easy access. Here’s how to store your ride this winter so it’s in great shape for your next big road trip.
1. Clean and wipe your surfaces
Never store your bike dirty. Before you put it away for winter, give it a thorough, all-over cleaning. If you let mud or other debris sit on your paint, they can corrode your finish. Wash and dry your bike completely to get all the moisture off the surfaces. Then add a coat of wax as a barrier against moisture and prevent rust.
2. Baby your battery
Your battery is a crucial (and costly) part of your bike’s operation. Proper battery maintenance and storage will help you get the longest service life.
First, if you have a lead acid battery with a screw-on cap on top, you want to check your battery fluid level. Low battery acid causes sulfation that can cause a short between your internal plates. This neglect is a common failure for lead acid batteries. If you never check your fluid level until there’s a problem, it’s usually too late to restore your battery.
If you have a maintenance-free battery, you won’t be able to adjust your battery’s fluid level because it’s sealed. That said, this type of battery still requires upkeep in the off-season. To get the longest service life out of this battery, store it in a warm place and charge it periodically. You can use a battery maintenance system like the Battery Tender Junior or Oxford Oximiser 600 to keep your battery fresh all winter.
3. Prep your fuel system
Protect your fuel system by filling your gas tank and treating your gas and fuel system with an additive that’s specifically designed to deal with the problems created by ethanol fuels. Two products, Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment by StarBrite and Sta-Bil Ethanol Fuel Treatment, will help you avoid fuel system problems while your motorcycle is taking its winter nap.
If you don’t already use one of these products on the regular, take your bike for a short ride after you add this product. This gets the treatment completely into your fuel system before you store your bike.
Is your motorcycle carbureted instead of fuel injection? Carbureted motorcycles need special consideration, even if you’ve properly treated your fuel. Carburetors vent directly to the atmosphere, which means the fuel you leave in them will evaporate. This leaves behind a thin film that restricts the flow of your fuel through the small jets and other fuel passages.
To best prepare your carbureted systems for winter, run a fuel treatment into the system. Switch the petcock to ‘off’ (if it’s not a vacuum unit), and then drain your carburetors. For vacuum petcock systems, you just need to drain the carburetors. Here’s a helpful DIY video on how to clean your motorcycle carburetor.
4. Change your engine oil
Your engine’s motor oil is not just a lubricant, it also helps in your filtration system. Your engine oil holds small particles in suspension until they reach the filter, where most will be trapped and removed from circulation. However, one major deposit that ends up suspended in your oil is carbon.
Carbon is created in your combustion chamber and it’s pushed past the piston rings every time a cylinder gets fired. When you put your motorcycle into storage with old or used motor oil, the carbon will slowly separate and rise to the surface. Carbon is extremely corrosive, and it will scratch and etch your metal surfaces like your transmission gears and bearings.
You should replace your engine oil and filter before storage to remove the dirty oil and harmful carbon deposits suspended within it. Three brands, Bel-Ray, Maxima, and K&N all offer top-quality products to help you keep the inside of your engine clean in winter.
5. Tend to your tires
Your motorcycle tires are porous and they’ll lose air when they’re in storage. That’s not good for your tires’ longevity, as soft or flat tires develop a permanent flat spot if you leave them weighted in one spot for a long period of time.
You can prevent this by storing your motorbike on its center stand (if your bike has one) or a motorcycle stand (a.k.a. paddock stand). If neither stand is an option, you can slightly over-inflate your tires and move your bike every so often, so your tires aren’t in the same position for months on end.
6. Wrap it for winter
Cover your bike up for the winter months to keep it looking and operating like new. A properly-fitting motorcycle cover gives you both outdoor and indoor protection. Indoors, it protects your bike’s body and paint from abrasive dust, plus minor impacts and dents that can happen when it’s in storage. It also keeps out moisture, so it doesn’t get trapped underneath and cause corrosion or rust. Here are some of the best motorcycle covers you can find to wrap your ride.
You also want to prevent mice, rats, and squirrels from hiding inside your exhaust pipes and building nests in your air filters. To avoid any furry surprises when it’s time for you to ride in the springtime, set mouse traps around your bike and cover your air intake and exhaust opening(s) with plastic bags. You can also strategically place moth balls to keep those pesky, wire-eating mice away.
We also recommend putting a few drops of peppermint oil on pieces of steel wool and tucking them into open holes on your motorcycle. Mice hate the feel of steel wool and the smell of peppermint. The two combined work well to keep mice and other rodents away. It also helps to drop a few toy snakes around your bike. If the plastic predators look real enough, mice won’t be able to tell they’re fake.
7. Protect your motorcycle with BCAA Optional Motorcycle Insurance
One of the best things you can do to protect your prized motorbike is to insure it with BCAA. We offer hassle-free, 12-month motorcycle insurance that provides Collision and Comprehensive Coverage.
Plus, you can save 5% on the Collision portion of your premium for BCAA Motorcycle Insurance if you’ve completed a recognized motorcycle training program, on top of the 10% you save for being a BCAA Member.
BCAA Plus and Premier Members also receive motorcycle and e-bike 24/7 Roadside Assistance coverage. Our BCAA roadside technicians are equipped with specialized motorcycle towing equipment so you can ride worry free.
BCAA Optional Motorcycle Insurance complements your Third Party Liability through ICBC. Although it may be tempting to remove your Third Party Liability coverage if put your bike in storage, we recommend keeping your Third Party Liability coverage in place with ICBC throughout the year, in case your motorcycle accidentally injures someone or their property while it’s in storage. Plus, this way you won’t be limited on when you can enjoy your well-maintained ride.
Visit bcaa.com/motorcycle to learn more and see how BCAA protects your bike all year round so you can focus on planning your next road trip!