How to winterize your motorcycle

How to winterize your motorcycle

I can say I'm one of the lucky ones.

Living in Portugal I get around 300 days of sun a year, so I get to ride all year round and long term storage of my bikes is a non-issue, however, for many that is not a reality.

Either because riding in cold days is not your thing or because riding itself is impossible due to snow or any other natural occurrences, winterizing your motorcycle may be a must!

So what steps should you take to store your bike for the winter?


NOTE: Be advised that a good winterization means doing maintenance on your bike, so if you do not want to get your hands dirty, talk to your mechanic as some do home visits for this purpose.


    Since the bike will be stored for quite some time, it is important that you take your time and give it a proper clean.

    As a rule of thumb, a clean bike is a happy bike, and that extends to storing.

    Take your time and aim for a detailed wash, and if you are like me and are unable to get the bike properly cleaned, consider taking it to a specialized washer.

    Avoid getting any water onto the exhaust or airbox, and if you have aluminum or chromes parts, it's a great idea to polish them and give them a good wax, as those will serve as protective coatings.

    It is also smart to wax your fairings and take moisturize your seat cover.


    Now that the bike is clean from the outside, it is time to do the same on the inside, and get some finishing touches on.


    Fill up your fuel tank with fresh fuel mixed with fuel stabilizer and let the bike run up to temperature, the idea is to get the stabilizer all over the fueling system.

    Once you turn off the bike, fill the rest of the tank with fresh fuel, as that will prevent rusting and decay of the system over the winter months.

    If you have a carburetor bike, it is key that you drain the carburetor float bowls.

    If you have a fuel injection system, you do not need to do any further steps.


    Oil chemistry changes over time, so it is important to replace your oil filter and your engine oil.

    Old oils become acidic, and that can create serious problems on the engine.

    Once you are done with that, aim for your spark plugs and remove them.

    Once they are out, squirt a tinny amount of oil onto the cylinders and turn the engine.

    This can be done with WD40 or any other multipurpose oil.

    You are aiming to get a light oil coat on the cylinder walls, not to soak the engine in oil.

    Once you are done, install new spark plugs, and if needed, replace the old spark plug wires.

    NOTE: If you turn the engine by pushing the starter, make sure that you tuck the spark plug cables to avoid arcing, and that you keep your face away from the spark plug holes, as oil will squirt out.


    Replacing the coolant if necessary, and topping it up as well as topping the brake fluids is key for a good motorcycle winterization.

    Low levels of fluids will give space for corrosion and rust to show up over the winter months.

    If your brake oil is old or shows signs of moisture, use this time to replace it for fresh one instead of topping it up.


    Spray a small amount of multipurpose oil onto the sliding tubes and force the suspension up and down, both on your forks, and your shock.

    That will make sure oil will properly coat the seals, preventing cracking, and it will also coat the sliding tube, preventing corrosion. 

    Using the same oil you used to coat your suspension, coat your engine case as well as all metal parts at the exception of your brake discs.

    In the same token, you should also clean and lube your chain.


    Lube all your cables such as throttle and clutch, and your pivot points, such as side-stand, footrests, and any other pivoting points of your bike.

    Having a good coat of lube over pivoting parts will make sure they are in working condition come spring.

    As before, any multipurpose oil such as WD40 will do the trick and keep costs down.


    Unplugging your battery is key, and if you have a battery charger, it is smart to set it up for storage, as many chargers have that option.

    Cleaning up your battery connections as well as battery terminals with a soft sanding paper or scotch-brite, and coating them with vaseline is also advisable.

    Rust free connectors and terminal will allow for flawless electrical flow.


    Air up your tires to just below the maximum allowed pressure, as that will prevent under-inflation as the air gets colder over time.

    Once that is done, set your bike on a stand in a way that the tires are off the ground, as you want to prevent flat spots.

    If you do not have a stand, remember to rotate the tires every few weeks.



    Rodents and other kinds of animals like to find cozy spaces for the winter, so it is vital to plug any entrance to your bike's engine.

    Plug the exhaust pipe, and the airbox intakes if you have them.

    As you are at it, it is also a great time to replace your air filter, and coat the inside of your airbox with a thin layer of air filter oil.

    Set your bike on top of a carpet, plywood, cardboard or anything that will prevent it from staying on top of bare concrete, and cover it up with a cover.

    You want to try to keep all moisture, dirt, and dust out of the bike, so it is spotless when the good weather comes out.

To help you keep on top of the steps you need to follow, feel free to download our winterization cheat-sheet.

Now that your bike is safely stored, its time to turn on the fireplace, and go over all the pictures and footage you got from your riding summer days.

In no time you will be back on the road making new memories!

How to winterise your motorcycle

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