I have posted this article on winterizing a bike the last few years here. Hope it still helps someone.
1) Surface Prep
Washing your bike when nobody will see it for a few months anyway can be a drag, but giving your bike a thorough cleaning before storage is important When you let bug guts or water spots or dirt spots sit on your paint over the winter can corrode the finish permanently. Wash your bike and dry it completely to get all the moisture off the surfaces. You can use an electric or gas leaf blower to get all the nooks and crannies completely dry.
Add a coat of wax, which will act as a barrier against moisture and rust. Finally, spray exposed metal surface with WD-40 to displace all moisture (fun fact: the WD in “WD-40” stands for water displacement) and to give them a protective coating against corrosion.
2) Change Oil and Filter
Change your oil and filter. It’s better for your lubrication system to have fresh oil sitting in it for several months than to have used, broken down oil in it, not to mention the last thing you’ll want to do when riding season begins is change the oil before you can go ride. Using a winter weight oil like 5W30 can help it start up easier come spring time as well.
If you’re going to be storing your bike for a long time (4-6 months or more) you will want to protect your engine’s internals against moisture by coating them lightly with oil. You may not be able to see it with your naked eye, but the cold winter air is perfect for moisture to gather in your engine and cause rust to form on your pistons and cylinder walls.
In order to do this, remove the spark plugs and put a little squirt (about a tablespoon) of engine oil into the holes, then turn your engine over a few times to coat the cylinder walls by spinning the rear wheel with the bike in gear. Once everything is coated, replace the spark plugs.
3) Lube Moving Parts
Keeping moving parts lubed up during the winter. This will help keep moisture from building up on them and causing any rusting or binding. Any part of your motorcycle that needs to be lubed at any point should be lubed again before storage. Some parts to check are: chain drive, cables, controls, fork surfaces, and any other pivot points.
4) Prep Fuel System
Gas tanks have a tendency to rust when not in use, and untreated pump gas breaks down and becomes gummy over time. To prevent rusting and make sure your fuel is ready to run after a few months in storage you will want to fill your tank completely with fuel treated with a product like Sta-Bil or Sea Foam both are great Fuel Stabilizers.
On your last ride of the season before you plan on storing your bike. Stop at the gas station nearest to where you live and add the proper amount of fuel stabilizer then top off the tank with a full tank of fuel. This will keep moisture from building up on the tank walls and adding the stabilizer before the short ride home will help mix the gas and stabilizer together and run it through your fuel system before storage.
5) Safeguard Battery
Batteries have a tendency to self-discharge when sitting over time, especially when they remain hooked up to the bike. The easiest way to combat this is to hook up a battery tender like the ones that uses smart technology to monitor the charge and keep the battery topped off without overcharging. Normally you should pull the battery from the bike for storage, but with a smart tender you can also connect the tender with the battery left in the bike. Before doing this, make sure the electrodes are clean and corrosion free if necessary clean them off and give them a light coating of grease.
6) Protect Tires
If your tires are left to sit in the same position all winter long, they could develop flat spots. Keeping the tires off of the ground will prevent this, so if you have a motorcycle stand/Jack you can put the bike up on them for storage. If you don’t have stands try to get at least the rear tire off the ground, or you can rotate your tires by rolling your motorcycle slightly every few weeks. If you need to leave your tires down on concrete put a piece of carpet or plywood under them to keep any moisture from seeping into them.
7) Check Coolant/Anti-freeze
If you are storing your bike somewhere that gets below freezing, make sure you have adequate levels of anti freeze in your coolant system. This is very important; if you run straight water in your coolant system and it freezes, you could come back to a cracked head in the spring!
8) Plug Out Pests
Mice and other rodents are notorious for hiding from the cold inside exhaust pipes and making homes out of air filters. In order to avoid any furry surprises when it’s time to ride again plug up your pipes with an exhaust plug. Or you can also simply stuff your air intake and the ends of your exhaust with some plastic bags – but do use bright colored bags or tie something to them so you don’t forget to take them off when you fire up the bike!
9) Keep it Covered
With your motorcycle fully prepped for winter, invest in a proper quality motorcycle cover. It will not only keep dust off the bike, but will keep the moisture out so it doesn’t get trapped underneath it, and create corrosion or rust. If you’re storing it outside, be sure to get a cover with tie downs to prevent it from blowing loose in wind. If you’re storing it inside you’re in much better shape, but you should still use a cover to prevent dust from building up on it.
10) Theft Protection
If you’re storing your bike outside, bear in mind that being parked unattended for months at a time makes it an easy target for theft. In addition to protecting your bike from weather, using a cover will conceal it from view, and securing it with a heavy lock and chain can give you some peace of mind. If you are going to be storing your bike anywhere it can be accessed by others consider investing in some security measures.
Michael Theodore National Road Captain
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ASR Ohio District Coordinator and National Road Captain at Azusa StreetRiders Motorcycle Ministry
Michael Theodore is married to Laureen, and both are devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Michael serves the Azusa StreetRiders Motorcycle Ministry as both National Road Captain and as Ohio District Coordinator. He is passionate not only about riding, but also using motorcycles as a witnessing tool to affect souls for the Lord Jesus.