Motorcycle Maintenance: How to Winterize a Motorcycle the Right Way (2023)

How to Winterize a Motorcycle

Winter is coming. No, seriously. Any seasoned biker will tell you that rust is the sworn enemy of their motorcycle, and the winter season is just full of opportunities to wreak havoc on your bike. That's why it's important to be diligent about motorcycle maintenance during the winter months.

No one wants to admit off-season is just around the corner, but it’s something we have to make peace with every year. It's better to get your motorcycle ready for winter storage than to worry about what to do when your motorcycle breaks down the next time you take it out. Here are some reminders on how to winterize a motorcycle and ensure that as soon as the first sign of spring rolls around, you will be rust-free and road-ready.

Fill the gas tank.

Motorcycle Maintenance: How to Winterize a Motorcycle the Right Way (1)

(Video) Winterize Your Motorcycle In Two Easy Steps | The Shop Manual

Leaving half a tank of untreated gasoline in your motorcycle during the off-season can cause damage. Full tanks will prevent rust from forming on the inside of the tank, and, even better, treated gas will prevent gunk and grime from building up in the engine while the bike is not being used.

Use a gas stabilizer chemical such as STA-BIL to keep the fuel fresh after storage. It also assists in removing water, preventing rust, and cleans the carburetors and fuel injectors.

After filling up the tank and adding the stabilizer, fire her up. Let the bike run for about five minutes to ensure the stabilizer mixes with the fuel and gets through all the gutty works of your fuel system.

Cover it up.

You know who doesn't like the cold? Critters, especially mice. Cover the exhaust with a plastic bag and rubber band to prevent winter stowaways from making a nest in your bike during the off-season. Covering your exhaust can also prevent moisture from sneaking into the engine.

(Video) How to Winterize Your Motorcycle | MC Garage

Board the battery.

Remove the battery and connect it to something like a battery tender so it won’t die or drain while it isn't being used. One of the most important parts of how to maintain a motorcycle battery is storing it where it won’t drop below freezing. It’s also a good idea to clean the terminals and leads, and apply dielectric grease to prevent corrosion.

Inspect your tires for the proper pressure.

A soft or flat tire can develop a permanent flat spot if left weighted in one position for extended periods of time, especially when it's cold outside. To prevent this, store your bike on a center stand, or front and rear elevation paddock stands. If you don’t have a stand, just prop it up on some blocks.

Pay a visit every so often.

(Video) How to Winterize Any Motorcycle - The Important Stuff

It's a good idea to start up your motorcycle every month or so during the off-season. If you're in a closed garage, open the door and let the engine run for five to ten minutes. Rev the engine a few times to flush out any old fuel that’s been sitting in the carburetors. Remember to make sure your bike cools down before re-applying the bike and muffler covers.

Motorcycle Maintenance: How to Winterize a Motorcycle the Right Way (2)

Check the fluids.

Change brake and clutch fluids as these can cause failure if moisture is allowed in. While you’re at it, go ahead and change the coolant (if applicable). Old fluid can sometimes cause deposits and buildup.

Lube it up.

Re-lube any moving parts such as the fork surfaces, chain drive (if applicable), cables, and controls to prevent rust or binding. And while you’re at it, give your bike a good ol’ oil change.

(Video) How to Winterize Your Motorcycle at

Old oil traps contaminants that can damage things like rubber seals. Changing the oil can help preserve your engine. Cold temperatures are also the perfect catalysts to allow moisture to build up in your engine and cause rust to form on cylinder walls and pistons.

Motorcycle Maintenance: How to Winterize a Motorcycle the Right Way (3)

Clean 'er up.

As you wash your motorcycle, treat it like a last hurrah before you board it for the winter. Spend some time with your bike: polish the chrome, wax the paint, whisper sweet nothings in its ear -- you know, the works. Just make sure it’s dry before you put the cover back on so condensation doesn't get trapped under the cover and undo all your hard work.

Cover it, and start the spring countdown.

Invest in a good motorcycle cover; it will be worth it. My suggestion is to use a breathable fabric cover. These help prevent any moisture or buildup of condensation much like a plastic tarp would.

(Video) How to Winterize a Motorcycle for Storage the Right Way

Here is the part where you say your goodbyes. Parting is such sweet sorrow, but it’s just a matter of time before you can ride again. Plus, I know you’re already counting down until next season. It’ll be here before you know it!

Note: RumbleOn is an Amazon Affiliate, dedicated to reviewing the best and safest gear and more, for riders everywhere. We may receive commissions if products are purchased from them.


What is the best way to winterize a motorcycle? ›

How To Winterize Your Motorcycle in 7 Simple Steps
  1. Fuel stabilizer is the engine's best friend. As fuel sits, it degrades and coats the inside of the tank and engine parts. ...
  2. Top off the fuel. ...
  3. Old oil becomes acidic. ...
  4. Add anti-freeze. ...
  5. Wash, dry, and polish. ...
  6. Stay off the concrete. ...
  7. Cover it.

Should I leave gas in my motorcycle over winter? ›

Empty gas tanks can rust while your motorcycle is in storage over the winter. Fill the gas tank about 90% full and add a fuel stabilizer to reduce the possibility of damage. Once you've added the stabilizer, run the motorcycle to let it flow through the engine.

Are you supposed to winterize a motorcycle? ›

You have to winterize your bike to make sure all its parts and fuel stay in good condition. Winterizing your motorcycle is not just about keeping your bike stored during the winter. You also have to ensure that your bike is ready to ride again as soon as spring arrives.

How long can gas sit in a motorcycle? ›

You should not leave unstabilized gas in a tank for more than 30 days. After that time it will become destabilized. However, you can add a fuel stabilizer that will ensure your gas can sit for up to six months. Keep reading to learn more about fuel stabilizers for your motorcycle.

Should I take my battery out of my motorcycle in the winter? ›

Whether you have a heated garage or not, you should take your battery out of the motorcycle or disconnect the negative cable, so the bike accessories don't continue to drain the battery. Check your battery posts and cables for corrosion.

What is the best fuel stabilizer for motorcycle winter storage? ›

Sta-Bil is our first choice here as it fights both corrosion and moisture buildup, but any stabilizer that's been proven to do the same works. Once you've got the stabilizer in your tank, fire the bike up and let it run for a few minutes to circulate the treated gas through your fuel system.

Is it good to keep your gas tank full in the winter? ›

Experts recommend keeping your gas tank at or near full during the winter to prevent your car from running out of gas. There are other reasons for this aside from preventing an empty gas tank (which causes car maintenance issues beyond stranding you on the road).

How often should I start my motorcycle in the winter? ›

Tenderize the battery

Some riders recommend starting their bike every week during the winter and letting it run. A much better solution, however, is to clean the battery electrodes and hook them up to a battery tender (or trickle charger) for the entire duration of the winter.

Is it better to store a motorcycle with or without gas? ›

Don't drain your tank

Unless you're getting your bike “museum-ready” to put it up for years on end, you'll have better luck with a full tank and a quality fuel stabilizer additive. An empty tank is vulnerable to corrosion and dried out seals, while a tank full of treated gas keeps everything fresh.

When should I put fuel stabilizer in my motorcycle? ›

You generally only need to stabilize fuel if you won't use it up within two months (but carbureted bikes should still be run every couple of weeks as described above). Adding a little new gas or stabilizer to old gas won't renew it, nor will adding more stabilizer to old stabilized gas extend its usable life.

Is it bad to leave motorcycle in the cold? ›

Leaving your bike outside, uncovered all year long falls into the shortening category. Especially when temperatures plunge, snow and salt could take a toll on your prized possession. By spring, your motorcycle could be rusted and the engine gummed up with old oil.

Can you mix old gas with new gas? ›

Old and new gas should not be mixed for a variety of reasons, the major ones are; The old gas degrades over time it should not be added because it has already lost it's combustibility. It can cause sputtering. It might fail to fire it up.

What mileage is too high for a motorcycle? ›

What is considered high mileage for a motorcycle? Usually, high mileage for a motorcycle is anywhere between 20,000 to 50,000 miles for all different kinds of bikes. But, just because a motorcycle has high mileage doesn't necessarily mean that it's in poor condition.

How long can oil sit in a motorcycle? ›

Most bikes can use all three, but mineral oils need changing after as little as 2000 miles while synthetics may stay good for 7000.

Can I leave my trickle charger on all winter? ›

Make sure you don't leave them hooked up to a charger all winter! This can be dangerous, and will damage your batteries. Once charged, the self discharge rate of the batteries will keep them up to snuff until June for sure.

How long can a motorcycle battery sit unused? ›

So, How Long is the Shelf Life of a Battery? If properly stored and maintained, most sealed lead acid batteries can sit on a shelf for about three years and should be expected to perform adequately for about another three years after they're put into use.

Can you leave a battery tender on all winter? ›

In theory, you can leave the Battery Tender® Plus battery charger connected to a battery forever. That's a really long time. Sales people like to say, “Just plug it in and forget about it!” However, practically speaking, it is a good idea to check on the battery at least once every couple of weeks.

What should I put in my motorcycle gas tank for winter? ›

Using a fuel stabilizer, such as Sta-Bil, in your gas tank will prevent this process. Before you put the bike away for the season, ride it until it's almost out of fuel. Bring the stabilizer with you to the fuel station and add it before topping off the tank.

How much Stabil per gallon of gas in motorcycle? ›

Sta-Bil fuel stabilizer, for example, recommends using just 1 ounce for up to 2.5 gallons of gas and starting with a tank that's almost full to prevent condensation from forming inside the tank over the winter. After putting the stabilizer in the gas, slosh it around.

Is seafoam good for motorcycles? ›

Sea Foam eliminates water and moisture in your fuel, and strips the power-robbing buildup in your fuel system, injectors, and valves. For motorcycles, only use 1/3 of a can per fill up. For cars, it's safe to dump a whole can at a time. Sea Foam is also very useful if you store your motorcycle for the winter season.

Is it better to fill up a gas tank when it reaches half of almost empty? ›

The less fuel in your tank, the greater the risk of running out completely in a bad spot. While different experts have different suggestions, it's typically agreed that drivers should refuel their vehicle when they have anywhere between a quarter of a tank or half of a tank left for maximum efficiency.

Can a gas tank be left in the sun? ›

While your tank should not be stored indoors, it should also not be stored in direct sunlight. On a hot sunny day, the temperature of a tank that's not properly stored could quickly go above 120°F.

How long should gas sit in your tank? ›

Regular gasoline has a shelf life of three to six months, while diesel can last up to a year before it begins to degrade. On the other hand, organic-based Ethanol can lose its combustibility in just one to three months due to oxidation and evaporation.

How cold is too cold for a motorcycle engine? ›

In general, you probably should not ride a motorcycle when the temperature is below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit) outside.

Is it OK to leave motorcycle idle? ›

But here's the thing—don't let your motorcycle idle too long! You could be doing more harm than good if you do. Today's engine-management systems make it so you don't have to worry too much about things like warming up your bike's engine.

How often should I charge my motorcycle battery in the winter? ›

Any type of lead acid battery should always be left in a fully charged condition. Having done that, you should either charge your battery every 30 days or so, or consider getting a smart battery charger to maintain your battery all the time.

Why put a motorcycle on a stand? ›

As already mentioned, a Paddock Stand provides solid stability to your Motorbike. Once engaged, the Paddock Stand ensures that your Motorbike stays put like a statue, which means no rocking or wobbling forward or backward. There is no better way to park your Bike upright than using Paddock Stand.

How do you winterize a fuel injected motorcycle? ›

How To Easily Winterize Any Motorcycle
  1. Step 1: Drain fuel or mix fuel stabilizer in with a fuel tank.
  2. Step 2: Keep your battery charged with a trickle charger.
  3. Step 3: Wash, wax, and clean your bike.
  4. Step 4: Clean and lube your chain.
  5. Step 5: Plug your airbox and muffler.
  6. Step 6: Put your bike on stands to prevent flat spots.
Oct 23, 2019

Do you put fuel stabilizer before or after gas? ›

Make sure you put the stabilizer in right before you add fuel so that it mixes in properly with the gasoline, he says. Also, moisture can get into the tank over time because gas tanks sweat, and moisture will cause the gasoline to break down even quicker, says Brannon from AAA.

Is seafoam a good fuel stabilizer? ›

Sea Foam Motor Treatment works to stabilize stored fuel up to 2 years. Adding Sea Foam to stored tanks helps fuel resist evaporation, preserves ignition vapors, adds protective lubricity, and prevents the formation of gum and varnish in fuel systems.

Can you ride motorcycle after putting in fuel stabilizer? ›

Read the instructions on the stabilizer you've chosen to use. Ride your motorcycle until the tank is nearly empty. Add the correct measured amount of stabilizer to the tank before refueling. Ride your motorcycle to distribute the treated fuel throughout the system.

How do I protect my motorcycle exhaust from rust? ›

Powder coating

This is one of the most effective methods of protecting against rust. It can only be performed on brand new or recently cleaned exhaust pipes. It can seriously improve the appearance of your exhaust, as well as protecting it from the elements.

Does WD-40 prevent rust on motorcycle? ›

Apply WD-40 Multi-Use Product

Spray the rust-proofing lubricant directly onto your bike – make sure you do not spray the product on the tyres or any braking surfaces. The innovative formula will create an invisible, water repellant protective layer, therefore deterring any rust from forming on the surface.

Should I cover my motorcycle in the garage? ›

Even if you're storing your motorcycle in your garage, it's still essential to cover it. Doing this will protect your bike's body from abrasive dirt and debris, as well as direct sunlight.

What happens if you don't let your motorcycle warm up? ›

Subjecting a cold piston to extreme heat and friction without first allowing it to warm up can cause rapid piston expansion and scuffing. The engine doesn't achieve optimal ​​clearance between parts until it reaches normal operating temperature.

Will seafoam help old gas? ›

Sea Foam Motor Treatment won't “restore” old fuel, but it will clean gum and varnish that formed as a result of the old fuel. It's a great way to clean a fuel system that has been sitting a while with old fuel in it.

How long does gas stay good in a gas can? ›

Though it naturally degrades and loses combustibility over time due to oxidation and evaporation of its volatile compounds, gasoline usually lasts 3 to 6 months when properly stored in a tightly sealed gas can or metal tank that's within the capacity limits recommended by your local fire department (usually no more ...

Will octane booster help old gas? ›

No. If anything it will work against it as octane boost is designed to suppress detonation and old gas does not detonate as well as fresh gas.

How far can you comfortably ride a motorcycle in a day? ›

For most motorcycle enthusiasts, riding 1,000 miles in 24 hours or even 1,500 miles in 36 hours isn't too tough of a challenge, but if you've never ridden further than 400-500 miles in a day, then two consecutive days of 500 mile trips could really put you over the edge.

What is the lifespan of motorcycle? ›

Motorcycle values depend on a handful of factors, one of those being mileage, but past accidents, consistent (or not) oil changes, fluid top-offs, and other regular upkeep matter, too. With a clean background, a bike could clock in at 50,000 miles or more without an issue.

How many miles does the average motorcyclist ride a year? ›

Motorcycles are typically ridden less often than cars, and the average car is driven between 10,000 and 15,000 miles per year. In contrast, motorcycles are usually ridden for around 3,000 miles per year on average, but this can vary based on the bike, rider's personality, and more.

Should you change your motorcycle oil before or after winter? ›

Change it before storage, and here's why.

Once rust starts to form, it doesn't stop. When you fire up the engine in the spring, rust particles can flake off into the oil and scour bearings and other parts during operation, leading to wear. Likewise, acids in the oil can cause problems.

Does synthetic oil last longer motorcycle? ›

Synthetic motor oils will last longer than mineral-based oils, and they only need replacing every 5,000 to 6,000 miles. If you use your bike as a daily driver, it is best to use synthetic motor oils since they are more economical in the long run.

Does synthetic oil break down over time? ›

Unlike synthetic blends or conventional oils, fully synthetic oils won't break down and will protect your engine for longer—sometimes as much as 250,000 miles.

How often should I start my motorcycle over winter? ›

Condensation in the air can find its way into the exhaust pipe, causing it to rot from the inside out, so it is always a good idea to start the bike and give it a good warm up every few weeks.

Can I put 50/50 coolant in my motorcycle? ›

Metal that corrodes can also create cooling-system leaks, leaving a mess on your garage floor and a large repair bill in your hands. For best protection, use a motorcycle coolant or other powersports coolant that's pre-mixed 50/50 with highly purified water. This eliminates contaminants that can hasten corrosion.

Can I put water in my motorcycle radiator? ›

Be sure you have used distilled water if you are diluting your motorcycle anti-freeze. You can use boiled tap water as an alternative – but as mentioned, do not use regular cold tap water, as it contains clogging and corroding minerals.


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