Re-commissioning the bike for the first ride is another subject in itself as not only the engine lies dormant – the brakes, suspension and even the alarm do too. Again the ownersʼ manual is the first port of call, however itʼs not only the machine that needs gently coaxed back into full performance – Our riding skills have also become a little rusty!
With spring only a few months ahead of us it may seem a little late to discuss winter storage practices, but as with all aspects of life good preparation rewards us with satisfying results.
There can be nothing more soul destroying than to pull back the cover from your pride and joy to find a very different motorcycle from the one parked up only four months ago. From flat tyres, flat batteries, corrosion or even rodents nesting under your seat, then you realise your MOT is due and you never got round to sorting out that bald back tyre.
As each bike is as different as its owner, the first and best resource on hand will be your specific model ownerʼs manual. It may be an odd bedtime read but it holds some gems of advice.
For example did you know that running your motorcycle in the winter for short periods can cause condensed water to form in the oil lines that will then freeze and restrict oil flow?
The ownersʼ manual suggests more regular oil changes during these winter riding months; you might be surprised to hear that anything below 16 degrees C is considered as winter riding!
Two other important nuggets of information relate to battery maintenance. Harley-Davidson recommend that a battery tender is NOT just for Christmas, but should be used all year round to extend battery life and performance, particularly if your motorcycle has had the alarm activated. Needless to say the tender needs to be connected and switched on during the storage period, donʼt forget that some tender models will need to be reset after a power cut. If the battery is an old style lead acid type it really needs to be removed from the bike as acid can drip and cause lots of damage. The current generation of sealed for life gel batteries can be left in the bike.
ʻʻSoʼʼ I hear you askʼʼ what about that second battery?ʼʼ, because of course there is a battery in each of your key fobs. These small but very important batteries have a limited life span, typically two years – a sure way to spoil your first riding day of the season if neglected. (On the subject of limited lifespan your brake fluid collects water too and needs regular replacement).
Itʼs about this time of year that we start to plan our new adventures. Whether itʼs an annual holiday based around the bike or planning what Rallies to attend, then there is no better time to review the condition of your bike, think about updating your riding gear or even treating yourself to a new tent!
These following pointers may be of help:
• Store your bike somewhere safe and dry, away from damp and tumble driers
• Coat metalwork with a Corrosion Protectant to minimise the effect of surface water
condensation. Wax the paintwork
• Keep battery connected to battery tender, preferably at room temperature. Remove if lead acid type
• Maintain tyre pressure, supporting bike on a stand is optional but good practice
• Fill fuel tank to minimise condensation, add winter fuel staliliser
• Review legality of machine – MOT, Insurance, Tyre wear
• Consider service requirements for new seasons mileage
• Remember even short winter rides require thorough cleaning to remove salt