Motorcycle Maintenance You Will Get Done This Winter

Keep your bike on the road this winter by following this handy guide.

If you plan on keeping your motorcycle on the road this winter, then you’re going to have to be on top of your maintenance and cleaning schedule, and also remember to stay warm. Short trips, low temperatures, and roads covered in a corrosive slurry of sand and slime can really tear up a bike and its components. Here are six tips to make it easier on you and your ride when Old Man Winter blows in.

Maintain Your Battery

Winter is harsh on batteries, and particularly so when the bike sees only occasional use or is ridden on lots of short trips. Make sure the terminals are perfectly clean, the electrolyte—if you can open the battery—is topped off and keep that sucker plugged into the charger anytime the bike isn't being used. If you're running lots of electrical accessories, consider installing a voltmeter or battery monitor to keep tabs on the charging system.

Take Care Of Your Fuel

A big issue concerning gas is that there's a lot of ethanol in it these days, and ethanol is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water from the atmosphere. During the prime riding months, it's no big deal. Most of us probably burn a few tanks a week so the water goes straight out the exhaust. In the winter, it's just the opposite; our bikes sit and the water settles in the tank and fuel system creating all kinds of mischief. The fuel also degrades over time, creating gum-like deposits in the carburetor and fuel nozzles, which can cause real maintenance issues. The simple solution is to drop a few ounces of gas preservative (I prefer Stabil, but Sea Foam is another good one) into that tank before each fill up.

Ride On Good Tires

Tires are always important, that much is obvious, but they're even more so in the winter when traction can be dodgy. Watch the pressures and tread depth. As far as the latter goes, make sure you've got at least 50% of the tread left before venturing out on winter roads or leave the bike parked at home.

Change Your Oil And Filter

Combustion creates lots of nasty byproducts that we loosely classify under the heading of gunk. During warmer months the gunk burns off as the engine warms up. Unfortunately, during the winter, short rides and frigid temperatures may prevent the engine from warming up enough to evaporate the gunk, so it becomes entrained in the oil. When enough gunk contaminates the oil, it starts to break down, which I'm sure we'd all agree is a bad thing. The solution is to change the oil and filter at half the recommend interval during the winter months.

Wash Winter Grime And Salt Off Of Your Bike

Cosmetics can take a real beating on winter roads; frequent washing helps, but for many, a weekly scrubbing just ain't in the cards. When I can't bucket-wash my bike I hit the do-it-yourself car wash, and in between I keep the bright bits and the paintwork well soused with WD-40. The WD (or any other moisture displacing lubricant) will do a decent job of forestalling rust and won't attract dirt like a heavy grease might, plus it's a lot easier to wash off come first grass. Just remember to keep it away from the tires, grips, and footpegs.

Car Drivers Don’t Expect Motorcycles To Be On The Road

Winter roads are slick, visibility is low and car drivers have the windows up and the radio on. Most are preoccupied with a million things and don’t expect motorcycles to be on the road, so reduce your speed, wear a reflective jacket or helmet, and be careful.