IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR
Winterizing is important and should be part of your maintenance routine!
Do you have a street bike, road bike, race bike or off-road bike? Every bike has it's specific needs but there are basic items that should be addressed on all bikes as they are stored away for winter. A proper winterizing routine will ensure your bike is ready to go in the spring. Having all your services complete gets you on the road or trails quicker!
GENERAL BIKE CLEANING
If you haven't already, now is a great time to do a thorough bike cleaning. Remove those skid plates, engine protectors, swing arm protectors and any other easily removable accessories and give that bike a deep clean. Removing those parts lets you get in the areas that mud, rocks, leaves and junk tends to build up.
Tip: Use compressed air to remove all water after washing. If you don't have compressed air, a leaf blower works well too.
Adding stabilizer to your fuel helps prevent the breakdown of your fuel. Even if you use ethanol free, or clear, fuel it is highly recommended. Even after only a couple weeks, fuel begins to break down, leaving nasty residue that clogs injectors and carb jets. Brand of stabilizer doesn't matter, just use it.
Tip: Drain your carb after each time you ride. Don't allow fuel to sit in your carb for any amount of time to maintain peak operating performance.
Tip: On fuel injected bikes, run your bike with the fuel stabilizer in the tank to circulate the stabilized fuel through the system.
Changing your oil before allowing your bike to sit all winter is a good idea no matter the use of your bike. If you haven't changed your oil recently, getting that dirty particle filled oil out before it settles or sticks to critical parts in your motor and clutch is critical.
Tip: This is a good time to examine your oil as well. During the riding season you may be in a rush to get your oil changed and not pay attention to the quality of the oil coming out. Inspect for metal shavings and large particles that can be a great clue to identify if parts are going bad.
One of the most commonly overlooked items on dirt bikes particularly is battery maintenance. No matter what kind of bike you have the best winter procedure is to remove the battery from the bike, store it in a warm place and put a battery tender on it. (Be aware that lead acid batteries contain liquid acid and should be stored properly.)
Tip: Get a battery tender for your specific battery type. A lead acid battery charger will not work on Lithium Iron Phosphate battery found in newer off-road bikes. Charging a battery with the wrong charger can cause permanent damage to your battery. The Battery Tender Jr. with selectable battery type is a great option for battery maintenance.
Do you have anti-freeze or coolant? Anti-freeze does just that, it will keep your coolant from freezing up and possibly cracking and damaging your radiators. If you use a coolant only that doesn't contain any anti-freeze you risk damage to your radiators. Products like Engine Ice and SuperCool work great for preventing overheating but if not mixed with anti-freeze you risk damage.
Tip: If you live in an area that is subjected to below freezing temps and you don't use anti-freeze, drain your cooling system prior to long term winter storage.
Your brakes need inspected for possible service or replacement. Look at the pads, discs, calipers, master cylinders, brake lines and FLUID. Brake fluid breaks down by either direct contamination or absorbing moisture.
Tip: Brake fluid is one of the items you want to replace prior to your riding season. Especially on race bikes, maximum braking efficiency is crucial, so reducing the chance of moisture contamination before the season is essential.
GENERAL SERVICE ITEMS
Although you should be doing it after every ride, winter service time is a great opportunity to inspect all the common service and wear items. Inspection of virtually every item on your bike is important. Don't just inspect your sprockets, chain, tires, brakes, filters and the other obvious items, inspect your seat, cables, grips, broken plastics or bent levers. All of these will play a big part in your comfort and ability to ride the next season. Inspection and replacement now will allow you to budget your needs for the coming riding season and maximize your time on the track, road or trail.
Tip: Make a list and prioritize. Not all parts are immediate needs. Make sure you prioritize the needs over the wants as well. Just because we want some cool new parts doesn't mean we need them right now.
If you put a season in of 30-40 hours or more or you noticed you have leaky seals, it's a great time to get your suspension serviced. Get new oil and seals installed or get a whole new suspension set up for you. A simple service of your suspension in the off season gives you more ride time and less down time during the season.
Bearings make your bike move and articulate. Off-road bikes particularly take a beating. From the big jumps to the mud, sand and grit, bearings take it all. Now is a great time to inspect your bearings and, even better, take your bike apart and lube and/or replace your bearings. This is certainly a job better done in the off-season then the riding season. Street and road bikes get more miles put on them and run at higher speeds which means more road grime and heat put into the bearings so they need attention as well.