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Since 1999, the #1 Motorcycling Magazine for Women and the Men Who Ride with Them









8 Steps to Prep Your Motorcycle for Winter Storage

Protect your bike’s battery, engine, tires, and paint so it’s ready to ride in the spring

By Tricia Szulewski, Editor
11/6/2019

6. Inflate the tires or elevate

If you leave your motorcycle parked in one position for a long time the tires may develop flat spots. The best way to prevent this is to elevate it so the tires are off the ground. If this is an option, you’ll want to reduce the tire pressure by 20 percent.

8 steps to prep your motorcycle for winter storage inflate tires
If you don’t have a way to elevate the bike, increase the bike’s tire pressure to the maximum recommended pressure. Then you should check the pressure about once a month during storage.

8 steps to prep your motorcycle for winter storage lift tire
My Suzuki Bandit’s centerstand effectively lifts the real wheel off the ground, but the front tire is still on the ground. So I reduce the tire pressure in the rear tire, but increase it in the front.

If you don’t elevate your bike, consider periodically moving the bike to prevent those flat spots.

7. Charge the battery

If you leave your bike without tending to the battery, you may as well save up to buy a new battery in the springtime, as all batteries naturally discharge over time. Purchasing a good 12V trickle charger is the best investment you can make to maintain your bike’s battery.

8 steps to prep your motorcycle for winter storage charging battery
If you have to store your motorcycle away from a power source, you’ll need to remove the battery and bring it inside. Good trickle chargers, like this Pulse Tech Extreme Charge unit constantly tests the battery and provides the right amount of charge to keep it maintained during storage.

8 steps to prep your motorcycle for winter storage charging battery sv650
If you install the lead that is included with your trickle charger to the bike's battery, like I did here on this SV650, you can simply plug the charger to it. No need to remove the battery in this case.

8 steps to prep your motorcycle for winter storage charging battery optimate
My BMW S 1000 XR has a can-bus electrical system. I bought this special Optimate battery charger for this bike so it doesn't damage the system. Check your bike's owner's manual before plugging in a charger to see if it is compatible with your electrical system.

Beware of cheap ($10) battery chargers. Most of them do not provide a float charge, rather, they provide a constant charge regardless of the battery’s condition, which can do more harm than good to a battery.

Many people think that just running your bike every few weeks during winter is a good method to keeping the battery maintained. Believe it or not, this is actually more harmful to your motorcycle. By idling your motorcycle in cold weather, you are essentially stripping oil from cylinders and pistons, which you’d coated nicely when you put your bike away properly. You’re also using fuel, which is creating more air in the tank (remember the corrosion lesson?).

If you have an opportunity to actually ride the bike, then certainly by all means ride! (Just watch for sand and ice, and inflate your tires, and do all your other pre-ride checks first.) But just know that idling the motorcycle doesn’t actually get it up to operating temperature, no matter how long you let it run. And if you do go out for a ride, you need to go through all the other winterizing steps all over again.

8. Cover it

The last step to storing your bike is to protect it with a cover. I’ve used old sheets, dropcloths, moving blankets, you name it. But a good motorcycle cover that fits your bike will protect it best.

8 steps to prep your motorcycle for winter storage motorcycle cover bmw
A motorcycle cover should fit your bike so that it stays in place and covers the whole thing down to the wheels. This one from Nelson Rigg has fit a variety of motorcycles I’ve had, including this BMW R nineT Scrambler.

8 steps to prep your motorcycle for winter storage motorcycle cover suzuki BMW XR
With two bikes winterized, covered, and plugged in, I'm not quite ready to put them all away yet! I'm going to keep my XR uncovered (but plugged in) in the hopes I still have a few more rides before the snow falls.

Related Articles
Winterize Your Motorcycle Insurance Policy and Your Bike
Setting Up Your Motorcycle Garage
Review: Weego Motorcycle Battery Jump Starter
Prepping Your Motorcycle for Summer

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