Certain habits lengthen the life cycle of your motorcycle, while others can truncate it. Leaving your bike outside, uncovered all year long falls into the shortening category. Especially when temperatures plunge, snow and salt could take a toll on your prized possession. By spring, your motorcycle could be rusted and the engine gummed up with old oil. What else can happen if you forget winterization?
Decreased Tire Pressure
All vehicles run this risk. For every 10-degree drop in temperature, tire pressure drops roughly one to two PSI. Once spring arrives, your bike’s tires may be down at least six pounds. If you kept the tires directly on the ground instead of elevated, they could also be sporting a few flat, uneven spots.
It’s unsafe to ride on underinflated tires. While overinflated tires can blow out, below PSI:
- Can’t always support the load you need to carry
- Feel sluggish, which can affect your steering
- Have lesser ground clearance
- Might separate from the rim
- Have to flex more, which causes a greater amount of internal damage
- Will start to experience uneven tread wear and fail sooner
When your bike is left unprotected outdoors, it’s only a matter of time before its exterior and metal parts to rust. Moisture is all it takes, whether it accumulates on the exterior or builds up inside the fuel tank. Leaving snow to pile up, while passing cars spray salt and slush from the street, accelerates this process. In turn, rust may eat away at the exhaust pipes, forks and wheel spokes before the season is over.
To combat these effects:
- Keep your motorcycle indoors all year long, ideally in a climate-controlled area.
- Fully wash it off and replace all fluids before placing it in storage.
- Wax the exterior before you put it away to reduce corrosion.
- Consider spraying the pipes with WD-40 to repel condensation and stuff them with a clean rag to prevent moisture and keep pests from building nests inside.
Draining the Battery
Cold weather quickly drains a battery’s charge. Two factors are at play:
- Colder temperatures slow down the battery’s natural chemical reaction
- Radios, lights and your motorcycle’s computer continue to draw a charge
Keeping these factors in mind, proper battery storage must be part of your winterization strategy. You have a few options to consider:
- Remove the battery and keep it on a trickle, so it doesn’t overcharge
- Throughout the season, recharge the battery to keep it from draining all the way
- Depending on the state of your battery, replace it once spring arrives
Fuel and engine oil are the biggest culprits, although moisture may affect your brake fluid and old coolant could turn acidic. Cold weather causes these two key fluids to lose viscosity and, without taking appropriate steps, your fuel tank and engine could have thick, sticky deposits by spring. If you left the old solution, debris may bring on corrosion and could leave abrasive deposits on the carburetor.
- Flush out all fluids before winterizing your bike.
- As you refill the tank with new gas, add fuel stabilizer to prevent the substance from separating in storage. Let the bike run for a bit to get the fluid flowing.
- Check the state of the brake, clutch and coolant fluids. Never leave an old, debris-filled, deteriorating solution in your motorcycle.
- Use antifreeze to keep key parts from freezing and cracking.
- Lube the throttle, shifter, clutch cables and kickstand to combat moisture and rust.
- Replace all filters to get rid of potentially corrosive debris.
- Replace all fluids again before you go for your first spring ride.
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