Unless you live in Florida or Southern California, chances are that the temperature drops and the rain and snow moves in during the winter. Fighting the biting cold or slipping on snow isn’t much fun, so many motorcycle cruiser owners choose to put their bike away for the winter season. A cruiser is a significant investment of time and money, so it’s worth protecting – it needs to be kept clean and safe while the weather is damp and cold.
First, fill the tank up and add your manufacturer’s suggested amount of fuel stabilizer. Fuel stabilizer will keep the fuel from breaking down during storage – fuel breakdown will produce a dark brown residue that can coat and damage your carburetor. Gas is flammable, of course; so don’t store a cruise with a full tank of gas anywhere where there are open flames, running motors, or pilot lights. Second, give it a good cleaning. Once you’ve washed and waxed your motorcycle, cover it with a cloth cover that will breathe. This will keep dirt, dust, and any other airborne debris from your garage or storage area from landing on your bike and possibly damaging the paint or finish.
Next, change the oil – used oil sitting in your engine all winter can become corrosive and damage the crucial innards of your cruiser. Then, check the coolant. Motorcycles aren’t used in below-freezing temperatures, so many riders won’t think of using coolant; use a floating ball device to check if you coolant level will prevent freezing.
Also, take a minute to charge your battery. You can remove it and store it somewhere above freezing temperature and trickle charge it once a month. If you’re storing your cruiser where you’re able to run your bike once a month, leave the battery in and disconnect the negative cable terminal.
Finally, don’t forget the tires. You’ll want to store your bike off of the ground if possible. If you’re not able to do so, make sure the tires are fully inflated to the recommended levels, set the bike on its center stand, and rotate the tires once a month to avoid flat spots.
Once the long winter is over, make sure you take care of your cruiser before you take it out for the first ride of spring. It’s a good idea to have it serviced before taking it out; however, since you’ve already changed the oil and trickle charged the battery, just double check these items and have the service check your tires and coolant checked (if your bike is liquid cooled). Just in case of any tire problems on the road, you’ll want to carry tools to repair a flat.
Always make sure you ride wit ha tire repair kit and are familiar with how to plug a damaged area and inflate a tire using CO2 cartridges or a pump. If you can do this, you can likely make it to a service station to have the tire replaced. If you need to, practice on an old tire. If you’re planning longer trips, it’s advisable to carry spare headlight bulbs, fuel filters (if your bike has them), a spare electrical relay, and any other items that might easily malfunction. Make sure you’ve got a cell phone for emergencies as well.
Properly preparing your cruiser for storage, and for the first ride of spring, can save you time, money, and frustration in the long run.
Matt Gonglach is the owner of LaserJammer.net, a site dedicated to laser jammer information and resources.