When old Man Winter shuts you down- save your scoot and winterize your ride

Posted by Wild Ride Radio Crew December 5, 2017 0 Comment

When old Man Winter shuts you down

Save your scoot and winterize your ride

Article by Dallas Hageman, Wild Ride Radio Host | Image by Wild Ride Radio

It is that time of year again unfortunately. Time to put the ol’ scoot away and start dreaming of summer to come. Each year old man winter sneaks up on me and I am always… ALWAYS caught off guard. Now, where we live there are times, albeit brief, when it warms up past freezing and we can back our best friend out of the garage for a quick spin. But let’s face it, those times are brief and don’t come around all that often. I used to ride all year round, yes even if there was ice on the ground. I continued this idiotic practice right up until I rode over a particular patch of ice and wrecked one of my scoots. Since then my policy has been: “If there’s ice on the ground, I won’t be around”. So if you are like me and now practice parking your scoot in the garage or tuck it away behind a wall of the house I wanted to impart what I do to winterize my ride. These tips were borne out of years and years of mistakes and tragedies and I share now what worked in winterization techniques with the hopes that you do not make the same mistakes I did. If you heed these tips your ride should be ready to roll this coming spring, barring you don’t take it out for a spin on the ice.

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1. Grab your gear

Before beginning this lengthy and meticulous process you should get all the crap together that you will need. I find that if this step is avoided in the hopes it will speed up time to prep the bike, it ends up costing way more energy than it needs to. Here is what you will more than likely need to get a hold of before beginning:  motorcycle cover (yes, even if it is going in a garage), plastic food wrap (or trash bags), gloves, wax, auto cleaner (the sudsy kind) chamois cloth (so it doesn’t scratch your bike), spark plug wrench, four/ five quarts of oil and new filter, fuel stabilizer and lastly- a trickle charger.

2. Wash that pig

If you are the kind of rider that always says “I’d rather ride it than wash it” then congrats! It’s now time to wash your scoot after a long riding season; after all, you have no excuse now… Give your scoot a good and thorough cleaning with some gentle auto wash and clean water. Be aware of all your motorcycle’s crevices and openings since if water gets inside and you winterize your ride too rapidly, some places (like exhaust openings) will rust. So, wash and dry your motorcycle THOROUGHLY to avoid this. Clean your motorcycle’s chain as well and get rid of any buildup residue from cleaning; after that, lube the chain as well. Then, wax your scoot as well as polish all metal and stainless surfaces. The idea of this step is to get off all the road grime and dead bugs that will undoubtedly destroy your scoots finish if left untouched all season long.

3. Change the oil

Start your scoot and let it warm up for a couple of minutes, after it gets good and warm you will want to change the oil now. Even though you may still have 1,000 miles or so on the old oil, if left in an engine that won’t get fired up for a while, that old oil will corrode whatever it is touching. See, old oil can become acidic and/ or develop condensation or water in it as well. I’m no mechanic but I do know that motorcycles don’t run on acid or water and this can present quite a problem if left unchecked. Drain the old oil, get a new filter and put in the good stuff (At WildRideRadio.com we are offering a helluva deal on Amsoil for motorcycles right now- hint hint…).

4. Fill ‘er up

Fill that gas tank to the brim with top quality fuel and don’t forget to add in a fuel stabilizer too. If you don’t top off the tank and there is space left over, that fuel will start to develop condensation and possibly rust your tank. Even though it is 2017 and I was promised flying cars by now, manufacturers still haven’t found a way to get motorcycles to run on water or rust, so fight this problem and fill up the tank. That fuel stabilizer helps too because gas nowadays is crap. It breaks down after a few short months and develops sludge and gross booger-ey substances that wreak havoc on engines.

5. Carbs are great

If you have a fuel injected motorcycle pass by this step. Spend your time relaxing, drinking six or seven bourbons or smoking a fat stogie while reflecting on how good it is to live the good life unlike other peasants. For the rest of us serfs with ancient scoots, we’ll have to take care of our carburetors. If you don’t know where the drain screws are on your motorcycle you can google it or if you have a user manual, it should tell you as well. Also, shut off the petcock and drain all the gas from the carb bowls.

6. Oil her up…

… and then go to the garage and oil up your motorcycle… see, you thought this article was going to be boring. Seriously though, grab one of those oil squirter thingies and squirt some oil on the stationary tubes on the front forks of the motorcycle and bounce up and down on the bike. The idea of this step is to get oil into the seals that keep the other oil in your front suspension from coming out. Those seals may crack if not taken care of so don’t skip this step.

7. Spark plugs ‘n such

 Remember that oil squirter thingy? You’ll want to use that again when you put motor oil in your bike’s cylinders. Take off your spark plug wires and remove your spark plugs with the wrench you got at the beginning of the process, also make sure that they do not arc or you may light up like a Christmas tree. When you squirt oil into the engine only use a small amount and spin the motor a few times with your starter just to spread the oil around the engine; don’t worry when oil shoots out, it is completely normal. After you’ve spread oil around, clean everything off and replace the plugs and wires. Also, and I feel the need to say this, do not start your motorcycle after completion of this step. If you do then you will need to do this entire and annoying process all over again.

8. Lube makes it easier…

… to preserve clutch cables. Lube all of your cables and lines that regularly take lube. Also, look at your drive shaft, if it needs lubed, now would be a good time to do that as well. Basically, give your motorcycle a once over and if something needs lubed, do it now.

9. Icy freeze

If your motorcycle has a cooling system on it then you will need to check the anti-freeze. You can use a hygrometer to see, however I would recommend just dumping the old antifreeze and replacing it with fresh stuff. Make sure to never leave antifreeze levels low because it acts somewhat like a low fuel tank and corrosion or rust can occur.

10. Charge it

In all of this attention to the outside of your ride you may overlook the battery. Batteries are something that become overlooked far too much and taken for granted. Some prefer to remove a battery all together but I like to put a battery tender on mine. It keeps the battery from draining too much and helps it maintain a good charge with the constant drain that today’s motorcycles have. Plug a trickle charger into the battery and put some Vaseline over the terminals. This will preserve the battery and have it ready to go when your bike is as well.

11. Final touches

If you have a garage or small storage place park your motorcycle in there on some sort of carpet or ply wood. Better yet, a motorcycle stores best if you can put it up on blocks so the weight is taken off of the tires. Also, keep it away from anything that emits ozone type emissions; things like refrigerators, freezers, furnaces etc. These will actually deteriorate rubber parts over time. Once your scoot is blocked up, put plastic food wrap or garbage bags around any opening on your ride. I like to put them over my exhaust ports and air cleaner. Why? Well, rodents look for small dark places to make nests over the winter and I don’t feel like hosting a two wheel house for Mickey Mouse… so I cover up the openings. Finally, throw a motorcycle cover over your scoot and give it a kiss goodnight. It’s not goodbye, it’s “I’ll see you later”.

Now I’m sure that I probably missed a couple of things you should do on a yearly basis and this list is by no means a complete and comprehensive checklist of what to complete before jumping off for the winter.  There are other items that can and should get your attention and each rider is different; if you care about your ride and want it ready to go for Spring, these tips should do the trick. Also (shameless plug) I realize that when riders can’t get on their bikes for extended periods of time it gets to be rather uncomfortable. I would like to invite you to listen to my radio show, Wild Ride Radio, to keep up to date and focused on riding even during the cold and dark months. We are able to get riders through every winter and I will have your back for this one as well with podcast episodes and very active social media sites. We will help you with your winter blues; stay warm and ride safe!

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