winter bike storage...........................

Guys what are the tips on keeping a bike for the winter, i know the usuall up on stands, oil all metalwork what about the fuel do i have to put anything in it to keep it from gumming up on a fuel injected bike???

I just start them up once in a while (every two weeks for me) and leave them running for about 20 mins, to bounce off the fan a couple of times. I had the pop-pop sitting in my garden for ten months, and didn’t do anything to it at all. It fired up first time and the fuel ran fine. I’m sure other people have had different experiences, but for me, winterising a bike hasn’t been necessary.

As Jay says really, try to get the bike up on stands. You should not really have a problem with the fuel if its unleaded, its the old leaded stuff that used to gum up the carbs. Due to moisture in the petrol it can be better to keep a full tank on board, this should prevent any rust from forming in the tank. If you are water cooled make sure that you have anti-freeze. If the bike is kept inside you should have no other issues. Perhaps either start it up every other week and make sure that you run till warm or you can trickle charge the battery to stop it going flat.

Mine sits outside and i don’t ride it much in the winter. I use the optimate charger on it once a week and also start in once a week too and let it run till it gets nice and hot. Worked well last year.

Here’s the proper way to ‘winterise’ your bike.

How to “Winterise” your Bike

Everyone seems to have different ways of packing away their baby for the winter, but if your idea of winterising your bike consists of parking it up round the side of the shed & draping a blanket over it, then please take note…

The main areas you are likely to encounter problems with winter storage are a dead battery, congealed fuel, oil corrosion, tire rot and security. If the motorcycle is stored in a wet, salty environment, such as outside in a parking lot or near an ocean, rust and paint corrosion is also a problem. Most of these problems can be avoided by spending a few hours preparing the motorcycle for storage. The tools and supplies you will need include rags, screwdrivers (slotted and Phillips), a spark plug wrench, spanners or a socket set, a trickle battery charger, distilled water, four or five quarts of oil, a new oil filter, an oil can with oil in it (the kind with a trigger for squirting out the oil), a can of chain lube, a bottle of fuel stabilizer, a can of WD40, a small piece of 1/2" plywood or similar, some plastic tubing, a chain and lock, and a tarp or motorcycle cover. Once armed with all that…

  • Find a secure, dry, heated if possible, out of the weather shelter for the motorcycle to sit unobtrusively for several months. Make sure water is not likely to drip on the motorcycle. Note that small animals can nest in places in a motorcycle if given the opportunity which may result in unwanted appearances come your first Spring ride

  • Change the oil and filter. Used oil has acids which can corrode engine parts and quite frankly, in the spring you’ll want to ride not carry out maintenance. You can do this step before you get the bike to the storage location, but don’t go more than 100 miles or so on the fresh oil.

  • Wash the motorcycle thoroughly and wax the painted parts. Mix up some warm water & some sort of car detergent for this. Oil all the moving pivots, like lever and pedal pivots. Stay away from the steering head, wheel bearings and brake pads with the oil. Tighten any loose bolts or screws. Replace any missing fasteners.

  • Clean and lube the drive chain if you have one. This should be done on a warm chain, so ride the bike around first. You can clean the chain by centerstanding the bike, and spraying WD40 on the warm chain, holding a rag below where you are spraying to catch the sludge. Turn the back wheel (bike in neutral) as you go along. Once you get all the way around, apply the chain lube (available at bike shops) to the chain, working along by turning the wheel.

  • Gasoline congeals over time, which can cause various fuel system components to need cleaning. To avoid this, buy a bottle of fuel stabilizer. Dump half the bottle in the tank and fill the tank completely with gasoline. (This means on the centerstand). Run the engine for a minute or so to get the stabilizer in the carburetors. Alternatively, you can remove the gas tank, dump all the gas out, put a half of a pint of engine oil in the tank, swish it around in there, dump it out, and keep the tank inside your house for the winter. The full tank or the oil coating will keep the inside of the tank from rusting.

  • Drain the carburetor float bowls. The carburetor is behind the engine cylinder(s), and on the bottom of it you will find the float bowl. There is a screw at the bottom of the float bowl and a little nipple, often with a drain hose attached. The purpose of the float bowl is to give the engine a stable gasoline reservoir and to allow water and dirt to gather at the bottom and not be ingested into the engine. If there is no hose there, attach one temporarily, because gasoline will drain from the nipple. Be sure the pet**** on the gas tank is in the OFF position (or RUN on a Kawasaki). Take a suitable screwdriver and loosen the screw until gasoline drains out. If the pet**** is in the OFF position, it should stop after a cup or so of fuel drains out. Tighten the screw (don’t strip it). This operation removes the main source of potential fuel gumming from the engine. If you don’t do this, you will need to ride the motorcycle around for a few minutes (enough for the engine to warm up) once a month over the winter.

  • Take your oil can and your finger and spread some oil all over the upper metal-colored part of the front forks. Then hold the front brake and bounce your weight on the front of the bike to work the front suspension. There is oil inside the forks and a rubber fork seal which seals the sliding parts so the oil stays inside. This operation will keep the rubber from drying and protect the exposed metal slider.

  • If you are ambitious, you can prevent some possible cylinder corrosion this way: Remove the spark plug(s). (This involves removing the plug wires and unscrewing the plug with a plug wrench. Don’t mix up the wires if you have more than one cylinder.) Squirt a teaspoon or so of engine oil (or 2-stroke oil if you have some) in each plug hole. Use the starter to turn the engine over a couple seconds to distribute the oil. Clean and gap the spark plug(s) while it’s (they’re) out. Replace the plug(s). Do not strip them. Hand tighten, then 1/4 turn more. Re-connect plug wire(s).

  • If you have any other scheduled maintenance to do, do it now. In the spring you’ll want to ride, not wrench.

  • Put the battery on a trickle charger and charge it once a month over the winter. If you do not do this you will have a permanently degraded battery in the spring, if not a permanently dead one.

  • Put the motorcycle in its storage location on the centerstand. Lower the tire pressure to 5 or 7 psi on both tires. If the motorcycle is resting on concrete or other potentially damp surface, you should get the front tire off the ground either by placing a piece of wood under it (not so high as to make the rear tire touch), or by putting something under the engine case of the proper size to lift the front.

  • It’s often a good idea to chain the motorcycle to something, Motorcycles are very easy to steal, and sitting over the winter makes them attractive. Get a motorcycle cover to keep the dust and eyes off.

  • In the spring, re-connect the battery, fill the tires with air, check the oil, put the pet**** ON for a few seconds to fill the floats (or PRIME for Kawasakis), and start the engine. It will take a little cranking to get the engine going, because the all the fuel was drained out. If you have put oil in the plug holes, it will smoke a bit when it starts, but don’t worry about it. Don’t race the engine until it warms up; there is effectively no oil in the valve head, and you could damage the engine.

  • Be extra cautious for a while. Your riding skills are rusty, but at least your bike isn’t!

Maintenance Tips

In order to keep your motorbike in good working order, it’s essential to carry out some simple maintenance routines whenever you can. Regular weekly maintenance will not only help to keep your bike’s value, but also keep you as safe as possible on the roads. It’s not worth learning this the hard way as it only takes a few minutes of your time to keep your bike in good working order. It’s also a great way to get to know how your bike works and ultimately improve the way you ride. There are loads of online maintenance guides available which will deal more specifically with your particular bike, but there are a number of basic maintenance tips that apply to all…

Tyres -

It sounds obvious to say check your tread on a regular basis, but I’m always surprised to see the amount of bikes on the road with hardly any tread left at all. You can check the tread visually or by using a depth gauge which you can obtain from any motorbike accessory shop - make sure you take the reading from the centre tread as this is typically lower than at the edges.

Before and after riding, visually check the tyres for any embedded stones, nails, glass, unusual bulges, etc. Stones can usually successfully be prised out, but anything that has potentially broken through the tyre wall should be immediately replaced with a new tyre. Never attempt to patch a punctured tyre as ultimately you’ve only got two and if one were to blow unexpectedly at speed, it could prove fatal.
Tyre pressure should be checked on a regular basis from cold. Don’t trust the garage forecourt machines as they can be notoriously inaccurate, but buy a quality handheld gauge instead. Your owners manual should specify the correct tyre pressure settings for one or two up and I tend to exceed it by 1 PSI to allow for leakage when you remove the air nozzle from the tyre. For reference, you’ll also usually also find this setting on a sticker somewhere on your bike.

Brakes -

You need to regularly check the fluid levels on both the front and rear brake reservoirs - this should normally be between the minimum and maximum level as marked on the reservoir. The fluid is rated in “dots” where 3 is the lowest and 6 is the highest - the standard dot to use is 4. Be careful when handling the fluid though as it’s extremely corrosive - don’t get it on your paintwork as it’ll eat straight through it and be sure to wear rubber gloves whilst using it. Pump the brakes a few times and check the brake lines leading to the calipers for any fluid leakages - especially around any joining T pieces where the direct line is potentially weakened.

The brake pads are visible within each of the brake calipers clamped onto each brake disc. Use a torch to look into the side of the caliper and you should see a minimum wear grove mark in the centre of the brake pad. The general rule of thumb is to replace the pad when you get down to about 1mm, but I’ve been caught out before where I ground through to the metal and the whole disc had to be replaced - quite a few more quid than a couple of replacement pads!! In short, if in doubt, replace them or consult your dealer.

Chain -

It’s important for your chain to be the correct slackness - too tight or too loose and it can reduce the life of the chain, be noisy, inefficient and most importantly dangerous. A locked or broken chain whilst riding can be scary and possibly fatal. You can check the chain’s tension by measuring the amount of vertical travel at the midway point between the front and rear sprockets. There should be between 35-50mm of free play at the tightest vertical point (approx. two fingers worth).

Again, consult your owners manual for the exact measurements - you may find it slackens over time, but it can easily be tightened as outlined below. A common misconception made here is that a chain “stretches” - metal chains of course don’t stretch. Chain links come in pairs, an ‘inner’ link (with a hole at each end) and an ‘outer’ link (with a pin at each end which passes through the holes in the inner link). As the pair of links pass around the sprockets on the bike, the pin rotates in the hole which is where the ‘final wear’ occurs. It’s called the final wear as this is typically what ultimately finishes off your chain. By splitting a link on a worn chain, you’ll see a step on the pin where it’s been worn away - add all these steps together across the entire chain and that’s why it appears to be longer or “stretched”.

Raise the bike onto it’s centre stand or paddock stand
Loosen the main spindle nut holding your rear wheel in place (bolt runs directly through the middle of the wheel)
By tightening the chain adjusters located at the rear of the swing arm, you can pull the rear wheel back and subsequently tighten the chain. Be sure to turn the adjusters the same amount of turns for each swing arm to prevent any lateral wobbling. This can be confirmed by consulting the small marks on the adjuster blocks to check they’re the same on both sides, but it’s important not to rely on these as they can be quite inaccurate - use them as a rough guide only.
When the chain’s adjusted as required, tighten the main spindle nut to the correct torque setting as dictated in your owners manual (invest in a good torque wrench as you’ll use it for a lot of bike maintenance)
When you’re happy everything’s lined up, re-tighten the adjusters.

(click the thumbnail for a labelled diagram)

Obviously, check the chain slackness again as it may have slightly altered as you tightened the nuts and correct as necessary. There can be a knack to this and you may need to try a few times to get the hang of it.

Suspension -

Sit on the bike and play bouncy bouncy. When you’ve had enough, get off and check the front forks for any oil leakage coming out of the fork seals. These are located where the shiny fork leg enters the lower stanchion on each fork. If there is any oil at all, the units need replacing and you should contact your dealer as it’s quite a big job to take on yourself.

Oil -

Another extremely important regular routine check is the oil level - serious damage to your engine could result from not keeping an eye on this. Get in the habit of checking it before every ride and you’ll be fine. Depending on the bike, you’ll either have a dipstick or a sight-glass. The level should be checked with a cold engine and the bike completely upright and on level ground. Can be a bit of a nightmare if you don’t have a centre stand, so get someone to hold it for you whilst checking. If it’s running low, top it up with the recommended manufacturers oil type and only at small amounts at any one time to prevent overfilling or spills.

Lube -

Good chain lube or wax is essential for smooth running of the drive chain. Modern ‘O’ ring chains are assembled in an oil bath with an ‘O’ ring sandwiched between the two side plates at each end of the pin, (as described in the Chain section above). This effectively seals a small amount of oil inside with the pin - the outside of the rubber ‘O’ rings however, run in free air and are therefore subject to loss of lubrication and rust. When the link turns around the sprocket, the ‘O’ ring finds itself jammed between two steel plates which are twisting in opposite directions - the plate turns whilst the dry rubber will try to hold it still. Results in a lot of friction which at best can waste a few BHP and at worst can wear the ‘O’ ring away between the plates.
The answer is simple; put a little lubrication between the plates and the ‘O’ rings. You’re looking to achieve a constant gungy build up of lube that seals the chain and lubricates it over the sprockets effectively. There are a number of lube products on the market - I swear by Blue Label PJ1 as it gunges up really well, but I know a lot of other people who successfully use wax to seal their chains.
Take the bike out for a quick ride to warm up the chain. Apply the lube by lifting the bike onto it’s centre stand or paddock stand and whilst spinning the rear wheel, spray the lube all over the chain. Don’t be tight here, really work it into the links on all sides and leave to sit for a couple of hours before riding (ideally leave it over night to ensure none flies off when you get going).
Or go shopping, buy a touring Scottoiler, top it up once in a blue moon and ignore this section - a good constant oil will always beat spray lube hands down!

Cooling Fluid -

More and more bikes are now liquid cooled and as such, the coolant fluid levels need to be regularly checked and topped up as necessary. The coolant tank can be located in all sorts of weird places, but when you find it, check the level is between the minimum and maximum marks.

Top up with coolant, water and antifreeze as necessary (mixture dictated in your owners manual and on the back of the bottle!)

Battery -

The battery is usually located on the right of the bike or under the seat. Disconnect the earth (negative) terminal first and reconnect it last. Check the acid levels indicated on the side of the battery and top it up with distilled water if necessary (don’t use tap water!) - recharge with a bike specific charger (not a car battery charger as the current is too great). Don’t top up jelly filled or sealed batteries - chat to your dealer for advise on replacing these. Make sure the connectors are the right way round when reconnecting and reconnect the breather pipe. Job done

Keep it clean -

Nobody likes to be seen on a dirty bike and everybody is better seen on a sparkling clean one. Big believer that the condition of your bike is a good indicator of how much you care about it. You can take this to chroming extremes, but here’s my regular routine which keeps my unfaired bike looking like new:
Wash it regularly with a good car shampoo / conditioner (regular applications of “AutoGlym Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner” is ideal for this) and chamois it down
Coat it with a good high gloss car wax (Turtle Wax High Gloss)
Chrome polish for the chrome bits (I use “Comma Chrome”)
“Armorall Protectant” is excellent for restoring and protecting black plastic or leather seats
Tar spots and ground in oil marks can be cleaned off the engine mount with a good metal parts cleaner (Castrol do a good line of these). Combine this with an old toothbrush and you can get right into the brake calipers to remove all the brake dust that can build up.
Polish up those downpipes with AutoSol and buckets of elbow grease and touch up any rust spots with a small tub of Kurust
To finish it off, I usually cover any moving parts (such as rider/passenger footrests, clutch lever, brake lever and throttle with WD40 just to waterproof them and keep them all moving freely

Finally -

Check everything works correctly - especially electrics and all bulbs. Apparently we’re hard enough to see on the road anyway

I ususally get as far as shoving the optimate on it and leaving it!!!