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Written by: Eddie Sisneros (aka Burned) ~ November 2003
The best and most successful method of winterizing your dirt bike is to not stop riding during the winter months. Unfortunately, many enthusiasts live in areas of the country where they really have no other choice but to store their bike for the winter. How you choose to store your machine will make your springtime start up a happy day or an expletive filled adventure.
Clean the entire bike with a mild detergent and water. Avoid directly spraying bearings and seals as to not force water into them. If you use a pressure wash, be VERY careful of this. If possible, start and ride the bike to evaporate any water trapped in the motor and drag your brakes to dry them as much as possible. Clean your chain with a bristled brush and mild degreaser, such as most household dish soaps. Liberally spray your clean chain with WD-40 (Water Displacement 40th Attempt) and wipe off the excess with a shop rage. Finish the process with your favorite spray chain lube. If you have an o-ring chain, make sure to use o-ring safe lube. While you’re still in lube mode, take your WD-40 and spray down the foot peg pivots, kick start pivot, folding shifter pivot and lever pivots. When doing this, it’s a good time to inspect brake pads, suspension linkage, chain and sprockets and such for wear. If your motorcycle is equipped with grease zerk fittings, go ahead and give them a few squirts of quality grease. Lastly, air up the tires to spec.
There are different methods of winterizing fuel systems, but these are the methods I prefer, having had good luck with them throughout my lifetime. If your bike has a steel fuel tank, it’s very important to fill it to the brim with fuel. Filling the tank completely will stop it from rusting, which is a major issue in some areas. Plastic fuel tanks are more forgiving, but keeping it full will minimize the formation of condensation. Fuel stability is another concern, as most fuels begin to breakdown after about 60 days. I prefer to fill the tank with race fuel. In contrast to pump fuels, race fuels can be left for longer periods of time and will not turn to varnish. The alternative is a product called Sta-Bil. Many people use this product with good results and it is a safe bet when race fuel isn’t available. Once the fuel has been stabilized, start the motorcycle and let the fuel circulate throughout the entire system.
Not all dirt bikes have a battery, but if you’re lucky enough to own a bike with a magic button, this area concerns you. I prefer to use a product called Battery Tender. It keeps the battery fully charged by using a float charge that keeps the battery peaked. Battery life has lot to do with the climate it’s stored in. If your bike is stored in an unheated area, remove the battery from the bike and store it in a heated a space. Basements, storeroom or a even a closet will work. Keeping the battery from freezing along with a Battery Tender or like product will keep the battery at its best.
Engine & Cooling System
A fresh oil change should be done before you store your bike. Dirty engine oil contains corrosive contaminates that you don’t want to leave in the engine over the winter. I also prefer to install a fresh spark plug at the same time. If you’re in a costal region, a fogging oil should be applied thru the spark plug hole also. The fogging oil will be available at some auto parts stores and definitely at boat/marine shops. With the spark plug out, shoot a few sprays down the spark hole and turn the motor over a few times. Once the fogging oil has been applied, install the fresh spark plug. The cooling system should also be prepared. You need to make sure that the coolant is up to spec. Fresh coolant is a good idea, but you can check the condition with a hydrometer that should be available at any auto parts store. With any motorcycle fluid, when in doubt change it. Besides engine fluids, the brake and clutch fluid (KTM or Magura Juice Clutch) should be topped off and replaced if there is any doubt. Brake fluid naturally draws moisture over time, so changing it before you store you bike each year is a good idea.
Now that your motorcycle has been prepared for storage, it’s time to choose a location. If you have the luxury of heated storage, all the better. The less you expose the motorcycle to extreme temperature fluctuations the better. Once the location has been chosen, I recommend putting the motorcycle up on a stand. Using a stand keeps the weight off the tires, eliminating the possibility of creating flat spots. This also allows the suspension to relax from the weight of the bike. If a stand is not option, using a piece of plywood to park the motorcycle on will keep the tires from dry rotting, sitting on a cold concrete floor. Once the motorcycle is situated, throw an old blanket or tarp over it. This will keep the dust to a minimum. If you are in a costal region, skip on the cover. This may trap moisture under the cover, contributing to corrosion. In fact, costal riders should also not be afraid to liberally apply WD-40 to the exterior of their motorcycle.
When the wonderful sights and smells of spring arrive, it’s time to ride! Since you did all the work when you stored your bike for the winter, spring start up will be a breeze. Install the battery if so equipped. Drain the carb float bowl to allow fresh gas from the tank in. Even though the fuel was stabilized, the small volume that is contained in the float bowl will deteriorate much quicker than the much larger volume in the tank. Double check all fluids and you may even consider changing the oil again if it was stored for an inordinate amount of time. Check the air pressure in the tires and your ready to fire it up. If you did your job correctly, the motorcycle should spring to life. Take a extra few minutes at warm to check for any fluid leaks or strange noises. If all is good, you’re ready to tear it up!
© 2003-2011, Nova Scotia Dual Sport