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How to Winterize Your Motorcycle

If you live to ride and ride to live, you'll have a much happier life if you know how to properly maintain your bike over the winter.


  • Step 1: Remove the battery bolts and clean the posts. Apply a little grease to the bolt threads to avoid corrosion. Keep the battery charged while you're storing it with a "smart charger" so you can leave the battery in the bike. If your bike doesn't have a maintenance-free battery, top off the electrolyte with water.
  • Step 2: Lift the rear of the bike off the ground using your center stand. Clean away any debris and then apply a coat of polish to the chrome. Then wax the tank and apply rubber protectant to the rubber parts so they don't dry out.
  • Step 3: Check the coolant with a hydrometer to make sure your coolant has enough antifreeze in it to keep the system from freezing. If you store your bike in an area where rodents might crawl into the tailpipe, use a rubber plug to keep them out. Throw a tarp over your bike and look forward to riding a perfectly maintained machine in the spring.
  • FACT: Harley-Davidson opened a 130,000-square-foot museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in July 2008.
  • TIP: Fuel left in the float bowls for more than a couple of months will turn to sludge and you'll have to overhaul your carburetor to get it out.
  • Step 4: Protect the inside of the gas tank from rusting by filling it to the top with fuel that's been treated with a fuel stabilizer. If your bike's not fuel injected, drain the float bowls by using a screwdriver to remove the small screw on the carburetor's float bowl.
  • Step 5: Coat the cylinder walls, piston rings, and valve seats by leaving the plugs out and turning the engine over by hand. Then replace the spark plugs and drain the crankcase oil.
  • TIP: Put the bike in top gear and turn the rear wheel to turn the engine over manually.
  • Step 6: Fill the crankcase with fresh oil. Use the old filter if you're going to drain this oil in the spring, and replace the filter then. But get a new filter if you're going to use this oil.
  • Step 7: Warm up the engine to evaporate any moisture in the cylinders. Then turn the bike off and use your wrenches to remove the spark plugs. Using the turkey baster, suck up 25 cubic centimeters of engine oil and squirt it into each spark plug hole.

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