(Contributed Post for our Northern hemisphere readers)
There is no way to sugarcoat it – winter can be very tough on your motorbike. This does not mean, however, that you can’t get it out for a ride every once in a while. That, of course, with the right maintenance, to make sure your bike can stand any challenge that winter may throw its way.
Depending on how though winter gets in your area, you can either park your bike away and protect it from the cold, or if you want to still enjoy a good ride from time to time, ensure you are keeping your bike in prime condition.
No matter if you decide to keep using your bike for the winter, or store it away until Spring is approaching, this article is meant to help you take proper care of your ride, to ensure winter will come and go in a breeze.
Consider storing it away
Many bikers decide to store their bike away during winter, either because the roads become sort of dangerous when they get all snowy and frozen, or because they don’t want the shine to wear off. If you chose to park your bike away until the weather gets brighter, do keep in mind that there are some things you need to take care of before.
First of all, you need a good place to store it. You definitely don’t want kids or someone else in the family knocking it over or turning it into a storage shelve. If you have a big garage, then you can safely store it away there and put some protective sheets over it, or even build a cover. If you don’t have a garage, you need to find a good parking spot. A good option would be to rent a spot in covered parking. Just like this San Francisco monthly parking service, you can find such options in almost every city.
Once you decided on a place, you need to prepare your ride for the long hiatus. Make sure you plug and cover your pipes, to protect them from corrosion during winter. By spraying a little light oil into the pipe ends and covering them with some plastic bags, you should be able to keep moisture from getting in and give yourself some peace of mind.
If you, do however, decide you want to keep using your motorbike during the winter season, here’s what you need to do:
Check battery health
When the temperature starts to drop, there will be even more strain put on your battery life. Cold starts, lights turned on more often, bar warmers, they all drain your battery life more than they did before. Make sure to periodically check the power, to avoid unfortunate situations, such as being left with 0 life in your battery in the middle of nowhere.
A healthy battery such be above 12.6 v, but cold temperatures can make it drop significantly lower. Especially before a long ride, make sure to charge your battery and check the voltage periodically, to ensure you can enjoy a risk-free ride. Also, if you find your battery draining way too fast, you may want to consider replacing it before you take the bike for another ride.
Check tires before every ride
Tires tend to lose pressure from time to time, especially during the winter, when the air inside gets cold. If you didn’t already, you should get into the habit of checking your tires before every ride, to ensure there is no damage from previous rides, as well as to verify that the pressure is optimal.
Also, you need to make sure you change your tires with winter-ready ones when roads start to get icy so that you don’t encounter grip problems. On snowy or icy roads, summer tires may be too slippery or prevent you from breaking on time. Changing your tires will ensure you don’t run the chance of accidents.
Use a good antifreeze
Liquid-cooled machines need water in their radiator to keep it cool, but we all know what happens with water in cold temperatures – it freezes. This is why you also need to add anti-freeze to the cooling system, to ensure the radiator does not overheat, but to also avoid frozen water in your pipes.
Ideally, you need to use antifreeze or coolant that has a low freezing point, usually down to -68 °F, so you don’t risk it freezing if the motorbike is parked outside. Also, make sure to check the antifreeze level periodically, to ensure it does not go beyond the lower limit.
Don’t forget lubrication
During the winter, ice on the roads is usually melted with salt. The combination of water and salt can get to the chains and make them rusty. This is why you need to make sure you clean and lubricate the chains periodically, to prevent salt or dirt from accumulating and damaging them.
Other moving parts, such as the controls (brake, pedals, and throttle) can also get damaged from ice or salt, so make sure to lubricate them as well.
What’s more, you should also consider changing the engine oil, as it can get dirty over time, which again, creates the perfect environment for corrosion.
Protect from corrosion
Over time, but especially during winter, the metal on your bike tends to accumulate moist. The problem with moist is that it creates the perfect environment for corrosion to damage your motorbike when you least expect it. Washing, drying and waxing your bike periodically will protect it from damage and ensure it keeps its shine even in freezing temperatures.
You can also apply anti-rust spray to the areas you consider vulnerable, to protect them. For better protection, make sure you apply it regularly, after cleaning your bike, so you don’t seal in the dirt.
Also, keep in mind that corrosion can happen if your bike is stored away as well, you remember to take it out for a cleaning session from time to time.