Here’s How I Winterize Motorcycles For Minnesota & Wisconsin’s Cold, Snowy Offseason
For non-psychopath motorcycle riders, it's pretty much the end of motorcycle riding season in Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. For the psychopaths, I mean that with love and give all of you who ride at least once a month year-round the 'hardcore rider' award, it's just not me.
People always argue over how to winterize a motorcycle, but I've done a few simple things every season and don't seem to have many problems come spring when I wake the bikes up. Please note that I ride fuel injected bikes, so you may have an extra step or two that you need to consider with a carbureted motorcycle.
Add fuel stabilizer for winter motorcycle storage
Even if you're running great quality non-oxy premium fuel, it can still breakdown pretty easily over time. If you can, top off the tank with quality fuel and add a stabilizer such as STA-BIL to the tank per the instructions on the bottle. Then just run the bike for a while so it can work into the fuel lines. It won't take long for you to notice a difference in the exhaust smell, as that particular treatment will make it smell sweeter. Having the tank full of fuel leaves less space in it for condensation to form helping to keep water out of it and hopefully preventing any corrosion while it sits.
Change the motorcycle oil
This is one that opinions vary on. A good mechanic friend changes his bike's oil every spring, others say to change it before storage if it's due, and others say to change it before storage even if it's not due. If I'm within a few hundred miles of needing to change it when winter hits, I usually do it. If I'm much more than that I leave it be and while that might be wrong, I've never had an engine failure because of my oil change habits. Do what you feel comfortable with, but if it's incredibly overdue which I know some of you might be guilty of, consider switching it out before your bike goes for a winter nap.
Keep your motorcycle battery charged
I've maintained motorcycle batteries a couple of ways, one of which is simply hooking it up to a battery tender in the garage and leaving it that way all winter. I've also taken my batteries out and had them on a tender in the garage or in my basement. However you do it, having it hooked up to something that maintains it is key. In the past I've just left them in my basement not maintained and found a dead battery come spring. Also, on one bike I did have it throw a code because of the tender I had on it, which isn't that big of a deal, and it cleared itself.
Put a cover on your motorcycle
I usually don't do this on the older bike, but it does help to keep dust off of it when storing for long periods of time. It also will reduce the chances of it getting scratched if you're working around it in the garage.
Move your motorcycle around when stored
Arguments can be made to just let it sit, but if I store it in an unheated garage or shed, I move it a couple of times a winter to reduce the chance of flat spots on the tires. I have never had that happen to my tires from not moving it but have friends that it's happened to.
Plug your motorcycle exhaust
My garage will get the occasional critter roaming about trying to stay warm in the winter. I've come back to one of my bikes and found a nice collection of sunflower seeds and other debris left behind before. Ball up a rag or two and put in the exhaust pipe or pipes to help keep any unwelcomed guests out.
That's my simple and pretty basic motorcycle winterization list. I'm sure many of you can think of other things to add, but just those simple things can make a huge difference when we put our bikes into hibernation.