Winterize Your Motorcycle: A Guide From Demon’s Cycle

If you’re thinking about storing your bike for the season, our guide for how to winterize your motorcycle can help. Here at Demon’s Cycle, we’re not just dedicated to helping you find the perfect parts to fit your bike’s needs. We also want to ensure that your bike is in the best shape possible all year long. Winterizing your bike is easy and can make all the difference. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

How to Winterize Your Motorcycle

When it comes to preparing your Harley-Davidson motorcycle for winter, putting a cover over it simply isn’t enough. Take the time to settle your bike in properly to ensure that it continues to run right come spring. That means a little work on the mechanics and on the exterior, as well. Here are some essential steps you’ll want to take before the cold weather comes.

Go for a Ride

Firstly, you deserve one last great ride before winter sets in, so take some time and enjoy the open road. But riding your bike before winterizing has other purposes too. You’ll also get a sense of any problems or complications that should be addressed before you put it away for the winter.

Keep it Lubricated

Certain parts and systems of your bike need to be lubricated regularly, including your chain drive, cables, and controls. If you would lubricate the pivot point during a routine service, you’ll want to do so now, as well. This will help to prevent rusting, especially since moisture builds up in the cold weather.

Change the Oil and Filters

A lot of the work you’ll want to do before storing your bike for winter will feel like a regular bike service, and it is. Even if you changed the oil relatively recently, your bike will fare far better if the oil sitting for months is fresh, rather than dirty with road grime and grit. You’ll also want to change the filter at this stage, as well.

Now is a good time to check your air filter and either clean it or replace it, depending on the condition. The more you service and prep your bike, the better shape it will be in come spring.

Add in a Fuel Stabilizer

Bikes don’t really like having old fuel sitting in the tank for months, and it can cause rust and damage over time. You’ll also find that untreated fuel becomes gummy, which isn’t great for when you want to take that first ride in spring. Head to the gas station, add in a simple fuel stabilizer, and then fill your bike to the top. You want to run your bike with the stabilizer to ensure that it’s thoroughly mixed with the fuel, and you want to keep your tank as full as possible, to prevent moisture build-up in the fuel tank over the winter.

Pull the Battery

There are a couple schools of thought when it comes to winter battery prep. Ideally, you’ll take the battery out of the bike and store it someplace dry and safe for the winter, since batteries are particularly susceptible to damage and reduced capacity in the cold.

Your other option is to hook it up to a battery tender, which uses a computer monitoring system to ensure your battery is run without overcharging. Either option will work for your bike, but if you are keeping it on a tender, it’s a good idea to clean and grease your electrodes before the hookup.

Lift It

It’s no surprise that tires don’t like to sit, especially in the cold. If you’re not planning to ride your bike at all this winter, it’s a good idea to invest in a pair of bike stands. This will help prevent your tires from wearing down in specific spots and collecting too much moisture. You can also make sure they’re propped up off the ground on a piece of wood. It’s also a good idea to roll the bike every couple of weeks, to keep the tires in safe, drivable condition.

Check your tires for signs of damage and fill them to the proper weight before you store for the season.

Plug Your Pipes

In cold weather, mice and other pests like to make their homes in the covered spaces of exhaust pipes, which can be a problem for many reasons. Keeping them out is simple. Just pick up an exhaust cover or use plastic bags to fill in and cover your pipes so they’re difficult to nest in. Don’t forget to take the bags out come spring!

Check Your Antifreeze

Antifreeze is essential to keeping your bike safe in cold weather, even if you’re not storing it for the winter. Once temperatures begin to drop, you’ll want to make sure you have enough antifreeze, but always top off before you store.

Inspect Your Brakes

Brake inspection, repair, and replacement are important maintenance and service checks any time of the year, but you really want to go over your braking system before you put your bike away for winter. No part of your motorcycle particularly likes sitting for months, and you really don’t want to find out you have a brake problem on your first ride of spring. Inspecting and replacing your pads and fluid in advance can help to reduce the risk of damage and corrosion.

Clean Your Bike

Storing a dirty bike isn’t just a bad idea because you’ll be in for a gross surprise when the snow melts. If dirt, grime, or bugs sit on the paint or chrome for too long, they can cause damage and removal that will require a lot more time and money to repair than if you simply clean them off before storing. Make sure to give your bike a very thorough clean, since it will be sitting for several months.

It’s also a good idea to give your bike a wax and detail before you cover it for winter. Wax helps to keep the moisture off your paint and metal, which can reduce the risk of damage and rust. Don’t forget to add a little leather protectant to your seat, as well.

Cover it Up

A high-quality motorcycle cover is worth its weight in gold. Covering your bike protects it from the elements, but it’s really moisture that you want to watch out for. A good cover will help to prevent moisture from building up and causing rust and damage to your bike as it sits over the winter.

It’s worth noting that covering your bike outside isn’t always the best option. While the cover can help keep your bike safe from snow and rain, chances are high that water and moisture will gather inside and sit, which can be very damaging. Especially if you’re storing your bike outside, it’s essential to find the best motorcycle cover for your bike.

Safe Riding in Cold Weather

Are you planning to ride your bike this winter? Awesome! Here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind before you hit the road.

Layer Up

There’s no cold quite like winter air at 60 mph. You have many excellent options for winter face, hand, foot, and neck coverage, and it’s really worth investing in quality pieces, to ensure you can actually enjoy your winter ride.

Find the right pair of gloves to keep your hands warm and protected while still allowing you to move them freely, and always wear boots that will keep your feet dry. Extra traction on the shoes is a good idea, especially in the winter.

Check Your Tires

Tires don’t love the cold weather, so while it’s a good idea to keep up with tire maintenance and care all the time, it’s an essential safety step in the winter. All-weather tires are really your best bet, but if you can’t pick up a new pair, make sure your current tires are relatively new, with at least 50% tread life.

Winterize Your Bike

Even if you’re planning to take your bike out on the road during the winter months, you’ll still want to take the steps above to ensure it’s safe and ready for cold-weather driving. Check your oil and filters and inspect your brakes and battery. The better shape your motorcycle is in before the cold, the safer it will be to ride now and in spring.

Stay Alert

Whether you’re a new rider or a master biker, winter roads are more dangerous and have more unexpected obstacles than the roads any other time of the year. It’s essential that you pay close attention to damage, cracking road surfaces, and ice, and be very careful when you ride.

Keep the Salt Off

No surprise, salt isn’t good for bike paint or surfaces. It’s a good idea to wash your bike regularly in the winter months, if you’re riding, to prevent salt build-up and paint damage or corrosion.

Ride Intentionally

There’s nothing better than heading out on the open road without a destination, but in the winter, when riding is more dangerous and there’s a greater chance of obstacles and challenges, it’s smart to have a plan and destination in mind. Make sure you pay attention to the forecast, ride in areas where you get phone service and can stay in touch with civilization, and stop often to keep yourself warm and well-hydrated. It’s easier than it seems to become dehydrated in the cold, which can prove very dangerous, so always ride with intention and a plan in the cold weather. It’s also a good idea to have the number of a motorcycle towing service at the ready.

Go Home

If it starts to snow, get off the road as quickly as possible. Snow makes the street surfaces very slick and it can be incredibly dangerous for you to ride in snow or worser conditions. Be safe and turn back when the conditions warrant it.

Avoid Short Rides

Short rides can have a detrimental impact on your bike in the cold weather, which is why you want to avoid a quick spin around the block. It’s better to keep your bike locked up for the season than hard start it and risk getting moisture and road debris in essential systems. If you are planning to ride, make sure your bike gets warm enough to heat the moisture off and you’re not putting unnecessary strain on the starter.

When you’re ready to repair, customize, upgrade, or winterize your Harley-Davidson motorcycle, Demon’s Cycle is here to help. We make it easy to keep your bike running right, so explore our growing catalog of parts and accessories and speak with our expert team today

safe motorcycle riding in winter