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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

3. Top off the tank and add fuel stabilizer

The longer a fuel tank sits, and the larger the volume of trapped air, the more havoc that can be wrought on your fuel system. Temperature fluctuations will cause moisture in the air to evaporate in the sealed environment and condensation will occur. A metal tank will begin to corrode under these conditions and cause rust to form, which can weaken your tank and eventually clog fuel filters, injectors, and jets.

8 steps to prep your motorcycle for winter storage fuel pump
The best way to combat rust from forming inside the fuel tank is by storing it completely full of gas so there’s the least amount of condensation inside the tank. Make your last stop of the season the gas station and top it off.

8 steps to prep your motorcycle for winter storage fuel fill
If it's already too cold to ride, you can top it off with some fresh gas from a portable gas can.

Also, fuel breaks down as it ages; its components separate into layers. The water evaporates and what’s left becomes a sticky varnish. Using a fuel stabilizer, such as Sta-Bil, in your gas tank will prevent this process.

Before you put the bike away for the season, ride it until it’s almost out of fuel. Bring the stabilizer with you to the fuel station and add it before topping off the tank. Then, during the few miles back home the stabilizer will have a chance to get through the system.

8 steps to prep your motorcycle for winter storage sta-bill sv650
If you can’t get back out to the gas station, you can still add stabilizer to the tank, but you’ll want to run the engine a few minutes to allow it to be distributed through the whole system. Don’t forget to top off the tank with gas.

4. Empty the carburetors

If you have a fuel-injected motorcycle, you can skip to the next step. But if you have a carbureted motorcycle, you need to get all the fuel out of the carbs to prevent the jets and needles from getting plugged with the old fuel. One easy method to run them dry is to turn your fuel supply valve (petcock) to the off position and let the bike run until it’s simply out of gas.

8 steps to prep your motorcycle for winter storage petcock
On my Suzuki Bandit the fuel-supply valve doesn’t have an off position, so I have to drain the fuel out of the carbs manually.

8 steps to prep your motorcycle for winter storage carb float
You’ll need a small plastic tube, jar, and a screwdriver to manually drain each carb float bowl. Attach the tube to the drain nipple at the bottom of the carb and have the jar at the other end to catch the fuel. Then turn the drain screw so that it opens up. After the fuel is done draining, tighten the screw again, but be careful not to overtighten. This screw is very soft and strips easily! Repeat for each carb.

5. Plug the exhaust and airbox

Anytime you store your bike for a long period of time, you run the risk of critters getting into your engine to make a nice home for themselves. One easy way to prevent this from happening is to plug the entrances, such as exhaust pipes and open airboxes.

8 steps to prep your motorcycle for winter storage steel wool
Covering airboxes with rags or tape and stuffing steel wool in the exhaust ports will keep critters out of your bike’s engine. Don’t forget to remove it before starting the bike back up though.

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