Do I Need To Winterize My Motorcycle? 11 Step Detailed Guide

Protect and winterize your motorcycle with our detailed guide

11 Step Guide To Winterize Your Motorcycle

  • Mix Fuel Additives Into The Fuel
  • Clean And Lubricate The Chain
  • Drain Coolant
  • Drain Drive Shaft If You Have One
  • Fog Engine Cylinders
  • Wash & Wax
  • Store The Baterry
  • Block Exhaust
  • Check Tires
  • Stop Moisture
  • Cover Bike

For those of you who have to deal with winter conditions you probably put your bike away for at least some portion of the winter. If you properly winterize your bike correctly it will be ready to run the first day of spring.

This checklist is going to make sure that you have a bike that’s ready to ride when the weather gets better. The first thing I like to do when I’m getting ready to winterize my bike is to take it for a ride, It does a couple of things.

As the weather gets colder most of us don’t ride so much so water and contaminants collect in the oil. The heat from running it around will help drive off some of that water, it will also get your chain hot.

If you happen to have a chain drive motorcycle it will make lubricating the chain easier, that’s something you also want to do before storage.

The first thing I like to do as far as the actual winterization steps are dealing with the fuel.

Do I Need To Winterize My Motorcycle? The answer is yes and we have 11 detailed tips to explain exactly how best to store your bike for winter.

Mix Fuel Additives Into The Fuel

There are a couple of ways to do this. Some people like to drain the fuel system out entirely, drain the tank and drain the carbs. That way they figure there’s nothing in there that can gum up the carburetors and that’s a valid way of doing things.

A lot of bikes these days are fuel-injected so they don’t have a petcock. There’s not an easy way to get the fuel out of the tank, short of removing the tank and physically emptying it out through the top or perhaps pumping out the fuel pump.

Rather than try and empty that out what I’ll do is the exact opposite, I’ll fill up with fuel. Now when you fill up a tank with the fuel you’re doing a couple of things.

You’re driving out air space, there’s no more air space actually inside the tank and you’re also driving off the possibility of water because you have fuel vapor in there. It really doesn’t give water much of a chance to form.

How To Winterize a Fuel Injected Motorcycle

Water and oxygen really are the things that wind up causing fuel to go bad so at that point I also like to treat the fuel.

Modern fuels have a lot of ethanol in them. The ethanol winds up separating into its component parts in a tank if it’s left to sit for long enough.

For those of you who ride all the way through the winter, you’re going to need to retreat your fuel after every journey.

One of the things I like to do is mix up a can of using regular gas and a fuel stabilizer called Seafoam which is available from AmazonOpens in a new tab.. so if I do go out for a winter ride I can top it up with the already treated fuel. I then don’t have to keep filling it up with fuel and then retreating and then running the bike.

The next step is to run your motorcycle for just a moment, the reason you need to do that is to get the treated fuel moving through the fuel system. It’s going to get through the intakes and the injectors and all the way through the fuel delivery system.

Clean And Lubricate The Chain

Because the bike is now warm the chain is going to help draw in the lube, it’s going to help the lube get in between the links and the o-rings and the rollers so the first thing you want to do is get the chain lubricated.

Getting lubricant working is the most effective way to get your chain lubricated and protected from salt and rust from the wintertime.

The other things you should consider are replacing some fluids. If you’re riding your bike through the winter you’re going to do your maintenance as usual, but if you’re storing your bike for a little while you don’t want to drain the fluids out of your motorcycle.

This can include your engine oil, your primary fluid, your transmission. These can all take on water, moisture and all sorts of dirt, so rather than having acids on your engine components get that out of the bike and replace your fluids.

Drain Coolant

Those who ride liquid cool bikes start by draining the coolant out of your radiator. It’s very easy for radiator coolant to go acidic and when it’s acidic and sitting up against that thin aluminum of your radiator you’ll wind up having an acid hole into some of your motorcycle parts.

Drain Drive Shaft If You Have One

If you happen to have a shaft bike you want to drain and refill the rear end, it’s not a difficult job and in spring you will thank yourself for not being lazy.

Fog Engine Cylinders

One other thing you may want to consider is fogging the cylinders. Fogging the cylinders is the act of lubricating the inside of the engine. The way to do that is by removing a spark plug or two and spray oil into the cylinder.

Fogging oil is a very heavy lubricant except that it’s an aerosol available from Amazon, what that means is once you get this into a spark plug hole and you spray some of this oil it lubricates the cylinders against corrosion. It’s a cloud of lubricant inside your engine so it protects the internals which is really hard to get to.

An alternative to fogging oil is to add a couple of tablespoons of plain old motor oil, it will do almost the same thing without the aerosol action. Again it’s something you want to think about if you’re definitely not going to ride your bike through the winter.

Wash & Wax

The reason you should wash and wax your bike is as you ride around the bike picks up grime, oil and the odd bug or two. Washing is going to remove all that grime.

Use a bike-specific wash as it’s not going to be harsh on any paintwork. It’s not going to strip down any wax you already have on your motorcycle.

Washing is going to remove all of that grease and grime and then once you have dried it off you can rewax it again to help seal in the finishes on your bike.

It will protect the chrome, perhaps polished aluminum like the wheels. If we get them clean and then we dry them off and we seal them up with wax we make sure a couple of things.

First, they’re going to look good come springtime. Secondly and most importantly if you do happen to take your bike out during the winter the wax is going to help to repel some of the saltwater you find on the roads.

It’s going to keep the bike from corroding and that’s going to keep the bike looking good. You don’t want to have a rusty bike simply because you didn’t take care of it during the winter.

Store The Baterry

The next big concern is the battery. Traditional lead-acid batteries tend to self-discharge over time. Over the course of the winter, it might lose enough voltage so it can’t crank your motorcycle come spring.

It’s really important that you hook the battery up to a smart charger, that will ensure the battery stays topped up and is ready to crank when you need it.

There are a lot of different chargers and maintainers out there to choose from but you need to make sure that you get one that only feeds current to the battery when it needs it.

If you’ve got a lithium-ion battery in your bike you can get away with just disconnecting the negative terminal.

Lithium-ion batteries have an extremely low self-discharge rate and if there’s no draw on the battery it can sit for up to a year and not lose as much juice.

Block Exhaust

Blocking off your exhaust will first help discourage rodents from nesting in your muffler or airbox. Second, it helps seal out moisture that could potentially corrode your valves and cylinder walls.

Another thing you could do is block off the airbox inlets, you can use plastic bags and rubber bands or zip ties to block them off.

Check Tires

Sitting still is not good for the rubber so to help prevent flat spots and dry rot there are two things you want to do. First, make sure your tires are properly inflated. Next, prop the bike up on stands so the tires aren’t loaded.

If your bike has a center stand that’s great, if not it’s worth investing in a set of bike stands. They’re really useful not just for winter storage but also for regular maintenance like oil changes and lubricating the chain.

Stop Moisture

One of the other things a lot of people like to do is put something underneath the tires of the motorcycle. A lot of people use cardboard or perhaps some old carpet squares.

The theory is that moisture is in a lot of concrete garage floors, it can’t come through the cardboard or carpet so it acts as a moisture barrier to keep those delicate painted and polished chrome surfaces from being destroyed by moisture.

Cover Your Bike

Finally, you’re going to give your motorcycle a nice comfy blanket to sleep under, something as simple as a little cotton bed sheet will do the trick.

However, cotton tends to attract moisture and it may mildew, you are better off using a synthetic bike cover. You can get bike covers from Amazon from around $20. A lightweight bike cover is perfect for storing your motorcycle indoors.

Can you store a motorcycle outside in winter?

If you’re forced to park your bike outdoors this winter it’s going to be exposed to the elements so it’s really important that you upgrade to a heavy-duty waterproof bike cover. There are a lot of waterproof motorcycle covers on Amazon so check them out.

While your bike has to stay outside this winter your battery doesn’t. It’s definitely a good idea to take the battery out of the bike and bring it indoors to hook up to a trickle charger.

So to recap when you’re putting your bike away for the winter or storing it for an extended period of time it’s very important that you treat the gas with a fuel stabilizer.

Hook the battery up to a maintainer, it’s also a good idea to wash and wax your bike to inflate the tires and prop it up on front and rear stands. Block the exhaust and the intake and of course put a cover on it to keep it clean.

This is going to keep your motorcycle happy and that means you’re going to be happy when the weather finally warms up and you can go out and ride.


Keith Mallinson has been a motorcycle enthusiast for the past 20 years. He has owned a variety of bikes during this time, ranging from sport bikes to cruisers. Keith has a passion for all things motorcycle related, including riding, maintaining, and customizing his bikes.In addition to his personal experience with motorcycles, Keith has also kept up to date with industry news and trends. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and insights with others through his motorcycle blog.When he's not out on the open road, Keith can be found tinkering in his garage, planning his next road trip, or spending time with his family.