Six steps for winter motorcycle protection

How to prepare your motorcycle for winter riding

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rgo's picture
Submitted by rgo on Fri, 04/11/2011 - 12:24

If you're riding through winter, a few simple steps will ensure your bike won't let you down. They won't take long, they won't cost much, but they'll reduce the risk of you being stranded by the side of the road in the cold and they'll keep your bike from rotting away through the dark winter months.

Here are six steps on how to prepare for motorcycle for winter riding.


Battery

Batteries have a hard time during the cold months as the low temperature slows down the chemical reaction, therefore more current is needed to keep up with the demand.

If your garage has a power supply, charging the battery overnight is ideal, otherwise ensure that it is regularly charged during the winter to keep it fresh – especially if your bike has a bike alarm fitted and various accessories such as heated clothing plugged into it. Use a quality battery charger and fit the quick-connect adapter so you don't have to get under your seat to get at the battery.

It’s also helpful to apply a spot of grease to the terminals and making sure they are tight. To avoid salty water getting in and shorting your electrics out, unplug the connector blocks and spray silicone grease in – it will be free-flowing initially but will eventually solidify.

Chain

If you have a automatic chain oiler, like a Scottoiler, fitted turn up the flow an extra click. For those that don't have an automatic chain lubing system attached, make sure you apply chain lube weekly. The rule for lubing is little and often, and immediately after riding, not before. Applying after riding will allow the lube to move into the gaps and stick to the chain, rather than flying off as soon as you ride away.

Silicon Spray

Most motorcycles are well adapted to dealing with rain, the problem they can't cope with is the attack of salt corrosion. There are various spray-on products available on the market, we'd recommend Scottoiler's FS365 corrosion protector. It's a water-based spray, that when applied covers all the hard to reach places on a bike and then evaporates to leave a protective film on all surfaces. It does wash off easily, so you'll have to re-apply to keep your bike shielded throughout winter.

Grease Joints

Grease plays a major part in winter bike preparation, a necessity to any and all moving parts to avoid seizure. Starting with the handlebars, remove the levers, give them a good clean and apply plenty of grease before re-fitting.

On any parts unaffected by engine heat smear a liberal amout of grease for the best protection. Also cover any bare threads, including; chain adjusters, gear lever tie rods and wheel spindles. Before washing your hands, it is worthwhile removing the fairing and panel screws and dabbing them into a pot of grease. Laborious, but you'll stop them from perishing.

A downside to greasing up is that all the road dirt will stick to the bike. However, it's worth having a scruffy, but well-protected bike, over winter as you can easily wash it off with a de-greasing agent come Spring.

Anti-freeze

Water in your radiator will freeze, so ensure that you've got proper coolant or add antifreeze to your water to prevent the system freezing on a cold night. Change it promptly if the fluid is not dark green or blue, as if it is clear the system probably has very little or no anitfreeze.

Ready mixed coolants with all the necessary additives are available from most dealers. Draining and filling the system on most bikes is relatively simple – after draining remember to bleed the system while refilling, as improper bleeding can result in an air-lock which could block the flow and cause the engine to overheat.

Oil & filter change

One of the first jobs to do is to treat the engine with an oil and filter change. During the cold months is when an engine is at its most fragile, the low outside temperature means the motor takes longer to heat up, increasing the risk of damage.

Good equality engine oil contains all the additives that will protect an engine under cold starts but if it's old and dirty it won't work as well. Fresh oil, free from metal particles, will get to work quicker and ensure the engine is protected. Even with fresh oil, give the motor some time to get up to temperature before nailing it.

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