Home / How to Winterize a Motorcycle

Did you know that, out of over 126 million households in the US, over 10 million of them own motorcycles? If you belong to this bike-owning population, then you’re probably wondering how to winterize your motorcycle.

So, how do you store a motorcycle in the cold winter months? You need to take extra precautions when placing your bike in storage for long periods, especially if you don’t plan on riding it. This includes topping off your gas tank, washing and waxing your bike, and treating your fuel.

The steps in this article will help you ensure your bike is ready for winter weather, both inside and out. Interested in learning more? Keep reading to learn more about winter motorcycle maintenance.

Service Your Bike

The first step for a winterized motorcycle is to service your bike. Inspect all chains and belts and check to see if any require lubrication. This is also the best time to replace your tires if you’re due for a new set.

Your motorcycle’s owner manual will advise you, and if you want to feel extra secure in your service job, you can visit your closest Harley-Davidson dealership for servicing.

Idle Your Bike

Next, run your bike’s engine and ride it around the block. This works to remove contaminants or residual water in your bike’s oil.

Driving your bike around the block also heats the chain, which makes it easier to lubricate.

Fill Your Gas Tank

It’s best to fill your gas tank. This helps to remove water and air. These two components are what make your oil go bad or turn into a gummy consistency.

Since the majority of modern motorcycles are fuel-injected, there’s no easy way to care for your gas tank. This is why you don’t need to drain your fuel system, as people used to do with older bikes.

Treat Your Fuel

After you fill the gas tank, it’s time to treat your fuel. Since modern gas contains a lot of ethanol, when it sits idly for a long time, the gas separates and can go bad.

Add some fuel treatment and top off your gas tank. Make sure there’s no space for water or air to get in, and you’ll have properly stored gas for months at a time.

If you choose to ride your bike at all during the winter months, you’ll need to re-treat your fuel every time you return it to its storage area. If it’s easier, keep a can of pretreated fuel near where you store your bike.

Once you treat your fuel, you’ll need to run your bike so the treated fuel can work its way through your fuel system. This allows it to reach the injectors and intakes.

man on Harley motorcycle

Lubricate Your Chain

You’ll have to treat your chain next unless your bike is electric.

As previously discussed, you need to run your bike to heat the chain. This is because a warm chain is easier to lubricate.

The heat pulls in the lubricant and spreads it easily around the O-rings, links, and rollers. From there, the lubricant protects your chain from any rust or salt should you drive it during the cold winter months.

Replace All Fluids

Now it’s time to replace all your fluids, including the transmission fluid, primary fuel, and engine oil. These fuels can go bad if you’re not regularly maintaining your bike during the winter.

If your oil turns gummy, it can cause damage to your transmission, its components, and your engine. Replace all these fluids before storing your bike to avoid possible damage.

If your bike is liquid-cooled, you’ll need to remove the coolant from the radiator. Coolants can turn acidic when left to sit idly for long periods. They can damage the aluminum components of your radiator or even the inside of your cooling system.

Charge Your Bike’s Battery

Once you replace all fluids, it’s time to charge your battery. When not in use, your battery will lose charge.

However, you can purchase a charger that cycles on and off, keeping your battery at the perfect level of charge all winter long. You don’t want your battery overcharged, as it can lead to overheating and eventually destroy your battery.

Fog Your Cylinders

The next step in winter motorcycle care is fogging your cylinders. Keep in mind that you only need to do this if you plan on storing your motorcycle for months at a time. Fogging the cylinders lubricates the inside of the motor.

Begin by removing the spark plugs. Next, use a heavy lubricant called fogging oil.

Fogging oil protects your engine’s internal parts, but you only need to do this if you plan on storing your bike for six to eight months.

Clean Your Bike

Before storing your bike for winter, remember to wash and wax it. This removes built-up dust, dirt, and grease.

It also removes environmental pollutants such as bird droppings. You’ll need to use a special type of wash geared for the winter months.

After your bike is dry, wax it to seal the finish in. Wax keeps your bike’s paint, chrome, and aluminum parts in pristine condition.

Come spring, your bike will be washed, waxed, and ready to ride.

Store Your Bike Somewhere Warm

The last part of winterizing your bike is storing it somewhere warm.

You can store it indoors in a garage, or in a shed. You can also store it in a storage unit as they’re usually climate-controlled.

However, if you store your bike outside, you’ll need to cover it.

If the area you reside in is not too cold in the winter, you may be able to store it uncovered in your driveway. However, if you’re parking it in a garage or storage unit, don’t cover it up. This can lead to moisture build-up which may contaminate your bike’s paint.

Harley Davidson of The Woodlands

Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands has been serving Southeast Texas for more than 20 years. We provide the Greater Houston area with new and pre-owned motorcycles, riding apparel, parts, maintenance service, and more at our state-of-the-art dealership. Whether you’re a new rider or a seasoned Harley vet, our friendly team of Harley-Davidson experts is ready to help you find the perfect bike today. Stop by and visit the Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands Showroom off of I-45 North in The Woodlands, TX.