Beware The Elements

November 6, 2019 | By Mike Seate

The first spell of cold weather is fast approaching Western Pennsylvania and as surely as whitetail deer will hop across the path of a motorcycle this time of year, your streetbike needs some special attention. We’ve written countless times in the pages of Cafe Racer about the importance of setting up your bike for winter storage because its just plain smart. Taking a couple of hours to set up your pride and joy at the close of riding season can save untold hundreds- and in some cases, thousands- of dollars in repairs if you choose not to. The most common malady we hear when folks top by the CRM garage is how they parked up a motorcycle some years ago, without changing the oil, draining the gas from the carbs and tank or bothering to store the machine in a dry, warm space. This can potentially ruin an otherwise functioning motorcycle or at least make it unrideable when time comes to get back on the road. Today’s ethanol-laced fuels are pure mayhem on carburetors and some fuel injection systems and leaving it to do its nasty work on your bike for months at a time is a recipe for a steep service bill later.

Here’s a few helpful tips to help your ride survive winter and be ready for fun when the sun returns in a few scant months.
1. Drain the fuel. Adding fuel stabilizers is a good idea if you’re set to start your bike on a regular basis over the winter months. But if the machine will sit idle or in cold temperatures, drain not only the gas tank but the carburetor float bowls as well.

2. Trickle chargers are your friend. It takes only a few weeks of inactivity for a working battery to discharge, but when kept on a low-amp trickle charger, the battery life extends and the bike will be more likely to start without issue when spring comes along.

3.Change the oil. The oil that’s been heated, stressed, thinned and contaminated by combustion all year is bad for your engine when left to sit. Drain it and replace with a few fresh quarts of your machine’s specified fluid for best results. If yous is a water-cooled ride, swap out the coolant while you’re at it.

4.Clean It Up. The bikes in our garage receive a complete soap and water scrub-down before storage as months of exposure to sunlight, bugs and other road debris only adds to the UV rays and other elements working overtime to make your bike look a mess. Clean and then thoroughly dry the bike and treat the chrome and painted bits to a good polish before packing up for the winter. You’ll thank yourself first ride to bike night.

5. Bike stored indoors? This is a great time to tackle maintenance duties. Loose chains, un-lubricated cables, worn tires all should be tackled now. Take a few minutes to look over the bike axle to axle and if our ride is a classic type, tighten every nut, bolt and fastener in sight (and some that aren’t.)