Prepping Your Bike for Hibernation | Parking It

Okay, Winter, You Win

By Jerry Smith, Photography by Tim Carrithers

Riding in the winter isn’t for everyone, especially if you live where it snows. Better to admit defeat, hang up your helmet, and wait for spring—but not before prepping your bike for hibernation. Here’s what to do:

Wash, wax, and detail your bike. Treat the vinyl and plastic with a protectant, and spray a thin coating of WD-40 on the mufflers and other shiny bits. A product called ACF-50 is a great corrosion preventative. Why all this? Dirt and grime can hold moisture against paint and chrome, promoting corrosion.

Warm up the engine, then change the oil and filter. This flushes out the contaminants (including moisture) in the old oil so they don’t do any damage over the winter.

While the engine is still warm, take out the spark plugs and squirt some light oil into the cylinders. This ensures there’s some lubrication near the rings and on the cylinder walls next time you crank over the engine. Truthfully, this step probably isn’t necessary with modern engines.

If your bike is going to sit for no more than three or four months, fill the tank (to the brim) with fresh gas and treat it with fuel stabilizer. If you’re storing your bike for longer, flush the fuel system (fuel injection) or drain the float bowls (carbs).

Connect the battery to a charger that senses when the charge is low and brings it back up to spec before returning to float mode (see MC Tested, page 77). That’s all you need to do to a maintenance-free AGM battery, but if your classic bike has a wet-cell battery, keep an eye on the electrolyte level and top it off when needed.

Inflate the tires to the maximum pressure listed on the sidewall. Put the bike on the centerstand to take weight off the tires so they don’t flat-spot. Use track stands for sportbikes.

If your bike has to stay outside, put a cover on it. Even if your ride remains indoors, cover it anyway. A cover made from a breathable fabric won’t trap moisture next to the paint and chrome, where it can slowly feast on your bike’s good looks until spring. Finally, stuff a clean rag in the airbox inlet and another in the end of the muffler to keep out moisture.

By Jerry Smith
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