winterhWinter Hibernation

By Dennis P. (Wombat) Dougherty



As the 2013 riding season comes to a close it’s time to find a comfy spot for your iron steed as it hunkers down for a long winter’s nap. But before you extend your farewell with a heartfelt, “See you next Spring”, there are a few things you should do to help it weather the winter and be ready to go when you first push the start button or give it it’s first kick start when the road first beckons you to hop on board next year.

Give Your Bike a Thorough Cleaning

Remove road grime and insects. Clean and polish all the shiny stuff. And while you’re at it, finish it up with a good coat of quality wax. If you have a chain, clean and lube it.

Add Fuel Stabilizer to Your Gas Tank

Fill the tank to the top and run the bike to make sure the gas and stabilizer mix. Shut off the fuel valve, if you have one, and let the bike run dry.

Drain the Carburetor, (if you have one)

Shut off the gas and follow MOM on how to do it. Don’t let gas pool in the carburetor over the winter.

Change the Oil and Filter

Once the engine is warm, drain the crankcase and change the filter. Don’t leave old or high mileage oil in the bike over the winter. The suspended particulates condensate out and end up as sludge at the bottom of your crankcase. Changing your oil and filter is probably the best ‘mechanical’ insurance you can buy for your bike.

Lubricate the Slidey Parts and Seals and Lube any Cables and Pivot Points

Bounce the bike up and down to work the front suspension. Lubricate the exposed tubes and rubber seals. Do the same for other ‘friction’ points and all cables on your steed.

Add a Teaspoon of Oil to each Cylinder

Remove the wires and plugs carefully. Add the oil and spin the motor a few revs to spread the oil around in the cylinder. It helps to keep moisture from clinging to your cylinder walls and can help keep all the parts moving freely. Clean and gap the plugs and put them back in. Reinstall the plug wires.

Tend to the Battery

Remove the battery and bring it inside, (if in cold storage) and put it on a Battery Tender designed for your type of battery. If you leave it in the bike, put a thin film of lubricant (e.g. Vaseline) on the terminals to help thwart corrosion.

Check the Coolant Levels

If your bike has a liquid cooling system, check the level of anti-freeze and top it off as necessary. Drain and refresh the anti-freeze as MOM recommends.

Replace any Dirty Filters

Check the air cleaner and any fuel filters. Take a look at the brakes while you’re at it. Give the bike a good once over. Fix anything you can before you park it for the winter. Make note of those items you’ll need to repair before you take your first ride next year.

Clean and Treat All Leather with a High Quality Dressing

Animal hide, like your skin, likes a good moisturizer to keep it supple and moisture tolerant. Use one that is specifically designed for your type of covers.

Store Bike on Its Center Stand

Remove the weight from the wheels if possible. Keep the bike away from ozone-emitting devices like motors, freezers, furnaces, electric heaters, etc. The gasses can deteriorate rubber parts. If you’re storing the bike on concrete, put a piece of carpet or plywood underneath to insulate the bike from the damp ground.

Cover the Bike with a Quality Cover that Breathes

It not only keeps the dust off, but it helps to manage the moisture that is naturally attracted to cold metal surfaces.

Pat your Favorite Summetime Friend on the Headlight and Bid it Adieu Until Spring

As much as you may want to wake it from its winter hibernation just to hear its reassuring purr and throaty roar, avoid doing so until you’re ready to ride in the Spring. Short engine runs can lead to condensation from engine and combustion byproducts in the oil.

Have a Happy Winter and Always Ride Safe!



(Note: The preceding article was compiled from a variety of sources).