How Often Should You Start Your Motorcycle In The Winter? 8 Things You Should Know

There’s nothing more exhilarating than riding a motorcycle on a warm day; it’s a fantastic experience that never gets old – just what these machines were made for. In many parts of the world, motorcycling season is short due to bad weather and freezing temperatures, with many riders having to park their bikes for about three to four months until the weather becomes warmer.

Motorcycling experts recommend starting and running your motorcycle for a minimum of fifteen minutes per week in the winter. This practice lubricates each engine component and gasket. In addition, it prevents condensation build-up and the carburetor from getting blocked up; also, the battery gets a chance to recharge.

You might have to start your motorcycle in sub-zero temperatures, and since some machines don’t cooperate in winter, you mightn’t be able to start your bike at all.

This article will expand more on the upkeep of your motorcycle for easier starts in the winter. The components of a motorcycle will be explained about how each one works and what could happen if you don’t take proper care of your bike and its system.

Should I Start My Motorcycle During The Winter?

Yes, you must start your motorcycle during the winter to lubricate the engine’s components and ensures that they are working correctly. A lack of proper lubrication causes many motorcycle engines to fail; this includes using old oil, the wrong oil, and not enough oil.

The small parts of the engine have a thin layer of oil covering them. This keeps them cool while reducing abrasion between moving pieces. In addition, starting your motorcycle periodically prevents the metal pieces from sticking together and getting stiff, so you don’t have problems the next time you start your bike.

Aside from lubrication, starting your engine for fifteen minutes once per week eliminates condensation build-up as even a tiny amount can cause serious damage:

  • The valves stick in their guides
  • The piston rings adhere to the cylinder wall
  • Rusty cylinders
  • Rusty crankcases

Starting your motorcycle ensures that the engine goes up to full operating temperature and evaporates any moisture out of the engine.

Ensure that you allow the engine to run for the entire fifteen minutes and not just for a brief amount of time. Otherwise, the engine will condensate even more – in this case, it’s better not to start the machine at all.

Let’s look at the rest of your motorcycle’s components and how vital it is to start and run your motorcycle for better efficiency.

Gasket And Seal

When gaskets are not used often enough, they tend to weaken and crack within a month of not being used. Therefore, it’s essential to start your motorcycle and let it run to lubricate the gaskets, bearing, and seals inside the engine.

Gaskets can be very unforgiving when they fail, and they often do so without warning. For this reason, you need to watch them all year round and not just in the winter.


Carburetor rebuilds are the number one motorcycle repair worldwide. If you don’t start and run your motorbike in the winter and just let it sit idle, the gas can break down and become sticky.

Running your motorcycle allows fresh fuel to be cycled throughout the carburetor and burn the fuel sitting idle in the carburetor bowl.

It’s wise to fill up your fuel tank and add a fuel stabilizer in the winter so that rust doesn’t form in your tank and the gas doesn’t gum up.


Tires are costly, so it makes sense to extend their life as much as possible. To achieve tire longevity, you need to stretch and exercise them. When starting your motorcycle once a week in cold weather, sit on the seat, rolling it back and forth for a couple of minutes.

When tires sit in one spot for an extended period, they relax and begin to deform, decreasing their strength and longevity.


Batteries tend not to function well in winter weather, and if left uncharged, the battery will be completely ruined. Starting your motorcycle during the winter for just fifteen minutes allows the battery to charge up to full capacity. Simply by starting up your bike periodically during the winter, you can save a lot of cash annually on maintenance.

How Do You Start A Motorcycle In Cold Weather?

How Do You Start A Motorcycle In Cold Weather
How Do You Start A Motorcycle In Cold Weather

The first thing you must do is check the battery life because if you have a dead battery, your bike won’t start regardless of the temperature outside. You can use a multimeter to see the battery’s voltage. You need a minimum of 12.2 volts to start your motorcycle.

If you see that the battery is low, let it charge for a few hours before trying to start it up. Be aware that freezing temperatures are hard on motorcycle batteries and can rapidly drain them.

Secondly, when trying to start your motorcycle in cold weather, you must turn on the choke. This may seem apparent, but many people forget this step.

Thirdly, you need to warm up the engine as it can get sluggish when exposed to freezing temperatures. This may seem tricky, but you can use an electric heater to warm the engine up manually.

This heats up the metal, aluminum, oil, and other fluids inside, making starting the bike much more straightforward. Be sure that you are always present and watchful when using a heater to warm your engine, ensuring that it isn’t in contact with anything flammable.

How Do You Maintain Your Bike In The Winter?

Now that you understand the importance of starting and running your bike in the winter, you must understand how to maintain it. How you store your bike is essential for maintaining it in the cold weather. A motorcycle is an investment, and you want to ensure it performs as it should when you use it again.

If you don’t have storage for the off-season at home, you need to find a dry and storage location away from the elements. Consider the following steps for maintaining your motorcycle in the winter:

STEP 1. You must clean all outside surfaces of dirt and debris. Cleaning may not seem like an essential job, but dried on bugs, spotting, or dust can become harder to remove once it’s been through a hard winter.

STEP 2. Ensure all components are thoroughly lubricated; essential internal parts need a light coating of oil to prevent moisture build-up. Begin this step by removing the spark plugs and putting a tablespoon of oil into the holes. Spin the rear tire when the bike is in gear to coat the cylinder walls. Then return the spark plugs.

Be sure to lubricate the bike’s parts before putting it in storage; also, check the chain, controls, and cables to ensure that they are well-oiled to combat the dry, cold winter air.

STEP 3. Top up the fuel tank and add a fuel stabilizer before going for a short ride to the storage location. Don’t add a fuel stabilizer at the storage destination as it needs to mix into the fuel system. You may want to consider completely draining your fuel tank, but be sure to line the tank with fogging oil to stop it from rusting.

STEP 4. Change the old oil sitting in storage as it can corrode the engine’s components and replace the filter. Consider adding the right amount of antifreeze to your coolant system.

STEP 5. Think about removing the battery for long-term storage or keep it on the bike for the short term. If you decide to keep the battery on, don’t forget to turn the bike on to charge the battery.

You might consider removing the battery and storing it in a different location that doesn’t have temperature fluctuations. Once you have disconnected the battery and cleaned the electrodes, you can hook it up to a trickle charger for the winter.

STEP 6. Try to alleviate the bike’s weight as much as possible by using a stand, as this prevents flat-spotting and uneven tire wear.

STEP 7. FILL the exhaust pipes and air intake with muffler plugs to prevent pests from taking residence inside. This step is critical, especially if you are storing your motorcycle outdoors or in a barn. Be sure to remove the muffler plugs or other items before starting your bike up.

STEP 8. Wipe down the bike’s surface and coat it with wax to prevent unwanted moisture and eventual rusting. Use WD-40 to spray down all exposed metal; this goes a long way to prevent moisture from building up.

It’s also a good idea to get an appropriate-sized cover to protect your motorcycle from dust and debris while letting your bike breathe.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, motorcycles need to start and run for fifteen minutes once per week in the winter. Cold temperatures can be brutal on motorcycles, and they need warmth to operate efficiently, which is why running your bike is great for its longevity, even if you can’t use it for a few months.

Follow the steps outlined above to maintain your bike in winter weather and ensure its efficiency when the weather improves.

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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.