Storing your motorcycle over winter

For a number of riders, riding during the winter just isn’t worth it. It isn’t worth the extra cleaning and maintenance brought about by winter salt that’s seemingly intent on eating your machine alive. It isn’t worth the discomfort of riding in the cold, rain and fog. And simply isn’t worth the risk when roads are affected by snow or sheets of black ice.

If that sounds like you, you’ll be looking to store your precious machine over the dark winter months. Storing doesn’t mean just sticking it in a shed though. To keep your bike in tip top condition, there are a number of things that you should do.

A simples guide to storing your motorbike in winter

  •  Cover the motorcycle

While bike covers won’t cost you the earth, any sheets, rugs or blankets could do the job of covering your bike when it’s not in use. This is just about keeping your bike a bit warmer during the frosty nights.

  • Think of your tyres

If you planned to just leave your bike in the same position on the floor all winter, don’t. The pressure on your tyres from the weight of the machine could lead to flat spots developing – which is bad news. The best answer is to lift your bike off the ground completely – perhaps suspending it on some paddock stands. If that’s not possible, a bike stand that suspends the back wheel is better than nothing. Simply rotate the front wheel every few weeks so that the pressure point is moved. If you don’t have a stand and end up with both tyres still firmly on the floor, simply rotate both wheels instead!

  • Block intakes and exits

Your exhaust or intake scoops might not seem like a cosy home to you but to all manner of bugs and small creatures, they might look like a sanctuary. If there’s any chance of squatters it’s worth putting some cloths into the holes to prevent them moving in. Just remember you’ve done so before you…

  • Start the engine every now and again

Left to sit indefinitely, condensation could form in the exhaust, helping your bike to rust and rot from the inside out. Starting the engine (after removing the cloths) and allowing it to thoroughly warm up is a good idea. You don’t have to take it for a ride, simply let it reach a normal running temperature. Let it cool properly too before you put your cover back on to avoid a molten mess.

  • Battery

If you’re going to be starting the bike, you need to make sure your battery is well maintained. Bike batteries hate the cold and they’ll soon give up their charge. Some advocate removing the battery completely but that can be a faff when you come to start it again. Alternatively, you can install a connector to the terminals and attach a trickle charger that will keep it topped up.

  • Petrol

As petrol loses its oomph when it sits idle in your tank, some experts advise emptying it over winter. This prevents you having to deal with a tank of fuel that’s at best of no value and worst case has gunked up your injectors or carbs when you tried to start the bike. As long as you start the bike regularly as advised above, keeping a full tank of fuel, with regular running, should be fine.

  • Tender loving care

You might not be taking your bike out on the road, but winter months are not the time to scrimp on the oil or wax. Keep your engine casing and other vulnerable parts heavily lubricated over the winter. Obviously, not so heavily lubricated that you coat your brake discs, so pay attention when applying it. Washing and waxing your machine before you put it into relative hibernation is also a good idea.

Finally, make sure your bike is well topped up with lubricants and if necessary antifreeze.

  • Insurance

Don’t forget that just because you’re not riding your bike on the road, doesn’t mean you don’t have to insure it. Your insurance will also be covering you against fire and theft so you need to keep it in place. It’s a good idea to tell your insurance provider that you won’t be riding over the winter though – your lower mileage might help keep your premiums down.

If you don’t want to insure your bike over the winter you'll have to declare your bike as officially off the road (SORN) with the DVLA. If you don’t and you cancel your bike insurance you risk a fine or having your bike seized.

Be ready to go come spring

Of course these practices aren’t simply about the winter months. A well maintained and looked after bike will be as raring to go as you come the spring. A few hours spent each month looking after your bike during winter, will really pay dividends when it’s time to get back in the saddle.

And having the right insurance is important whatever the season. Just make sure you compare before you buy so you get the right deal for you.

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