Motorcycles in the snow

Autumn is a beautiful season in Canada, enjoy it while you can because for most of us the riding season is coming to an end. Now some people don’t ever put them away, just waiting for those nice days to go for a little ride. But not everyone has a garage at home to keep their motorcycle close by. A lot of people have to store it at a friends house or pay to store it somewhere.

Also once it starts snowing they use salt on the roads and that is deadly for our bikes, I want to keep him looking his best for a long time.


A clean bike is a happy bike. Bug guts, dirt or water spots can corrode the paint finish. Give it a thorough soapy wash and dry it completely to get all the moisture off and wax it to protect against moisture and rust. This is so important but I am guilty of not doing this very regularly, hopefully I get it done soon. Not much fun washing your bike when it is cold out.

Fuel System – You’ve got Gas

Filler up, you need to fill up the gas tank to prevent condensation developing in the tank. This will lead to water in the system and eventually rust out the tank. Use only highest grade of gas (no ethanol) then add stabilizer, let the bike run for a bit to get it through the engine. Even in proper storage 87 octane gas can start to degrade in 3 months, 93 octane fuel should last closer to 9 months before degradation is noticeable.

Fuel Stabilizer
Fuel Stabilizer

If your bike has carburetors, any gas left in the float bowls will deteriorate relatively quickly over the winter months. (i.e. don’t leave the fuel switch on, or in the prime bypass position during storage).

Change that Dirty Engine Oil

Dirty oil has particles that will corrode your engine after sitting all winter. Drain out the old oil, change the filter and top it off with new oil. Synthetic is better, it doesn’t break down as quickly as petrol-based oils and it is created to coat the engine parts better while sitting. Because of this when you start the bike it is better lubricated and less metal particles end up in the oil.

Shell Synthetic Motorcycle Oil
Synthetic Oil

Tend to the Battery

If your bike is not in a heated area, I would recommend removing the battery and bringing it inside for the winter and put it on a battery tender. The battery tender will keep it fully charge and be like new in the spring. If it is difficult to access the battery, a permanent lead can be added so you don’t have to remove the battery and you can just plug it in.

I have been reading on the differences between battery tenders and trickle chargers. I have the former but the battery tender is a better option. The short explanation is that the battery tenders only charges when the battery has self-discharged below a certain levels; it tops it off, then it stops charging. The trickle charger keeps sending a continuous current regardless of the charge therefore it can over charge the battery. This isn’t good for the battery and shortens the life of it. Looks like I need to go shopping.


Put the bike on a center stand or paddock stand so the tires don’t develop a flat spot. They will lose some air over time, if you can’t raise the bike off the ground, inflate the tires another 10 psi or so above the recommended pressures and move the bike around every now and then, to rotate the tires, thereby preventing flat spots.

Motorcycle Paddock Stand
Paddock Stand

Cover it Up

A fitted motorcycle cover for indoor and outdoor use is very important as it will keep dirt off your bike as well as keep moisture from forming on the bike and causing it to rust. Use cotton cloth to cover not plastic as it will breath better. Also to keep critters out you should cover up the air intake and exhaust with plastic bags, just make sure to remove them in the spring.

This is my basic list of how I get my motorcycle ready for storage, it is not necessarily a complete list, do what you think is best.

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