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Winter Storage Motorcycle Guide

Keep your motorcycle in first class condition this winter (or if not in use for any long period of time). Follow these simple steps to help you ensure your bike or scooter is properly protected.

Prepare to put your bike in storage for the winter months but do not be tempted to regularly start it up. Instead, get it warmed up on your last ride as this dries the condensation from the exhaust systm. Try to fill your tank right to the top just before you get home as unleaded petrol can evaporate when in contact with air and leave a residue that may clog-up your carbs. For the same reason, turn off the fuel tap and run the engine until it stalls, then drain any remaining petrol from the float bowls. If the bike is more than four years old, consider emptying the tank instead because water can accumulate in the base of the tank and may cause enough rust to create a leak. The best way to do this is to unbolt it from the bike and after draining, turn it upside down, it'll also give you the chance to clean a load of otherwise inaccessible areas.

  • Apply a penetrating oil spray (WD40 or similar) to all exposed metallic surfaces of the machine, except, of course, the working surfaces of brake discs, control levers and footrests. The film of protective chemicals left behind slows down corrosion, but small regular doses are better than one drenching.
  • Regularly inspect and keep brake components clear of a grit and grime build up. Cold and wet conditions promote the collection of grime, which make brake components seize up if neglected.
  • Clean individual components where muck and water tend to collect even more frequently than the rest of the machine. The engine and radiator, plus the shock absorber linkages need special attention, as this is where road dirt thrown up from the tyres pepper the machine.
  • Ensure that all electrical connectors receive a dose of penetrating oil, especially on 'naked' machines, where there are more exposed components than fully faired models.
  • Fit mudguard extenders to protect the bike from being 'sandblasted' by salt and road grit.
  • Try to wash the salt and traffic film from the machine after each ride (first cold then warm). If you use a pressure washer, be careful to avoid exposed bearings and brake callipers. During the cold and wet winter season it's also best to wipe your machine dry after washing.
  • Pay special attention to the tyres in winter, as they have to work harder in cold and wet conditions. Over inflation is as bad as under inflation, reducing grip levels and making for a harsh ride. Winter tyres are a good option for both motorcycles or scooters when temperatures are consistently below 7 C.
  • Keep the drive chain well lubricated, as rust attacks the exposed surfaces of the hardened steel at the first opportunity. Again, little and often beats one big application, then weeks of neglect.
  • Make sure all pivot points on the bike are well lubricated with grease, with footpeg pivots needing special attention, as road salt and dirt collect there from the soles of your boots.
  • Act at the first sign of corrosion, to prevent its further spread, and make sure you inspect behind panels and fairings. Rusty or furred-up fairing fasteners, being mounted on or embedded in brittle ABS or plastic, cannot simply be forced to separate like engine or chassis fasteners, or you run a strong risk of breaking the plastic.

These practical winter tips do not claim to be comprehensive, rather they are a general guide to good bike care. Proper maintenance and servicing always require you to visit your motorcycle/scooter service dealer. They will be able to advise you on all aspects of keeping your bike running smoothly all year round.