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Jarrod emailed me . . .
I am new to the motorcycle family and was wondering if during the winter just going out once a week or so and letting it run without riding would be ok, instead of winterizing it?
They say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and the same is true for storing your motorcycle. Spending some time at the end of your riding season will save you time and money when you are ready to ride again. While running your motorcycle periodically over the winter months will prevent clogging of the fuel system, it is the bare minimum you can do and may drain your battery. Everybody has a different way of doing it, but there are alternatives that will preserve your motorcycle over the winter months.
There are a few problems that motorcycles have when stored for an extended period. The first is that gasoline can break down and clog your fuel system. The best way to prevent this is by putting a fuel stabilizer in your tank and running the bike for a few miles. I have used products like ISO-HEET or Sea Foam in the past. They prevent the fuel from breaking down and restricting your fuel system from getting gas into the engine. The second advantage to these products is that they absorb moisture. Rust inside the tank is a major problem if you are storing your motorcycle, especially in cold weather. Moisture condenses out of the air in the tank and the alchohol in ISO-HEET will remove it. Some say to fill up your tank then add the stabilizer, some say to drain it. I don’t think it matters much, except you will need more stabilizer with a full tank than an empty one.
Washing and waxing your bike is an important step. You don’t want gunk sticking to your bike for 3 months, especially if the gunk has salts or acids commonly found in road-side dirt.
If you can, keep the battery above half charge. You will lose capacity if the battery stays at a low charge for an extended amount of time. A trickle charger can help with this.
Here are a collection of articles that outline in greater detail what you should do to store your bike for those months when you cannot ride:
- Caring For Your Motorcycle When It’s Being Stored
- Winter Season: Basic Steps to Winterize Your Motorcycle
From around the Web:
- Winterize Your Motorcycle from Rocky Mountain Harley Davidson
- How to: Winterize your bike from Superbike Planet
- Winter Motorcycle Storage from About.com