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Preparing Your Ride for a Winter Nap

Preparing Your Ride for a Winter Nap

Preparing Your Ride for a Winter Nap


Directorate of Assessments and Prevention
Ground Division
U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center
Fort Rucker, Alabama


Properly preparing your motorcycle for winter storage can save time, headaches and money, especially once nice weather rolls around and the riding season begins. Since every motorcycle has different designs and specifications, these instructions are intended to provide a general overview of the process. You should refer to your motorcycle owner's manual and repair manual for additional information.

Step 1: Give it a transfusion

Change the oil after you complete your last ride of the season. Oil is the lifeblood of the engine. Giving it a fresh transfusion of new oil will ensure your bike is ready to roll come spring. Each motorcycle is different, so be sure to consult with your owner's manual and/or repair manual for the specifics (particularly the type of oil, size of the oil filter, amount of oil, etc.) for your model. If you’re mechanically inclined, clean the carburetors so they don't gunk up over the course of winter. If you plan on storing your bike for more than three months, this idea makes a lot of sense. A quick internet search of the type of motorcycle you own should provide you enough additional information about how to remove and clean your carburetors.

Step 2: Give it a bath

Cleaning the previous season's grit off your paint will ensure it won't damage the finish over the course of winter. Using soap, a sponge, a bucket and water, thoroughly wash the dirt, grime and bugs off your motorcycle and leave it out in the sun to dry.

Step 3: Give it a drink and a shot

A half-empty fuel tank and untreated gas can create major, expensive issues over the course of time. A full fuel tank helps prevent rust from forming inside, and treated gasoline will help prevent gunk and varnish from forming in the engine. After your bike has thoroughly dried from the washing you gave it in Step 2, remove the fuel cap, grab the gas can and give it a “drink” by filling the tank three-fourths full. After consulting the directions on the fuel stabilizer, give it a “shot” by pouring the appropriate amount into the gas tank. Then fill the rest of the tank with gas, which will help prevent the inside from rusting over the winter. After putting the gas cap back on, start your bike and let it run for about five minutes so the stabilizer will have a chance to treat the entire fuel system. At this point, drive the bike to the location where it will be stored for the winter.

Step 4: Put it to bed

Drive your motorcycle to its winter storage location, preferably a warm, dry spot such as a garage or shed. If you don’t have a garage or shed, a parking spot will do. Turn the motorcycle off and allow the engine and mufflers to cool down. If possible, to save wear and tear or prevent flat spots on your tires, set the bike on jack stands just high enough to break contact with the ground or place carpet or cardboard under the tires. Then fill the tires to the maximum air pressure. If you don’t place your bike on jack stands, be sure to check for flat spots before operating it again.

Step 5: Protect it from unwanted guests

Critters love to climb in dark, cozy locations — like a motorcycle muffler — during winter months. To prevent them from nesting in your mufflers, place motorcycle exhaust plugs (recommended) in them. If you don't have motorcycle exhaust plugs, simply put a plastic bag over your muffler and use a rubber band to hold it in place.

Step 6: Prepare it for a bypass

For exact instructions, refer to your owner’s manual or repair manual. Remove the connectors to your battery and lift it out of the battery case. Remember which side the red wire was attached to (and that red is positive).

Step 7: Connect it to a bypass machine

A trickle charger is highly recommended to provide a steady, low stream of electricity to the battery, enabling it to stay charged through long periods of inactivity. Follow the instructions on connecting your battery to the charger, being careful to make sure the clamps don’t touch. Don’t forget to plug in the charger!

Step 8: Tuck it in

Finally, cover your motorcycle. Use a cover designed for your bike. It should be made of breathable material that will not trap moisture. For those of you storing your motorcycle outside, this step is a must and can be augmented by adding a more weather resistant or waterproof tarp. If storing your bike outside, make sure you secure the cover to prevent it from blowing off. A cover will help shield the bike from the elements, namely snow, ice and other particles that may scratch the paint or cause rust. If you are storing your motorcycle indoors, the cover will also add an extra layer of protection — but hopefully your bike will not be as susceptible to winds or snowstorms. That's it! Your motorcycle is now properly prepared for its winter hibernation.

One final note

If you plan on storing your bike for longer than three months, it's a good idea to re-install the battery, remove the muffler covers and start the motorcycle about once a month, letting it run for 5-10 minutes. Rev the engine a few times to help clear gasoline that has been sitting out of the carburetors and then shut the engine off and allow it to cool down. Afterward, repeat Steps 5 through 8. See you again when the riding season begins!




  • 1 October 2020
  • Author: USACRC Editor
  • Number of views: 608
  • Comments: 0
Categories: Off-DutyPMV-2