Attention Bike Owners: Don’t Start Your Bike During Winter, Until You Read This.
Professional bike mechanics and motorcycle riders alike have debated if motorcycles should be started during the long cold winter months or while in storage. Most bikers agree, if done properly, it lubricates the inside of the engine. Others say no, that it can be harmful to the battery and may lead to condensation build-up inside the engine and exhaust. So, what's the best practice for starting your motorcycle during winter?
Mike Bakos, Certified Master Technician & Service Manager at Hot Metal Harley-Davidson® believes that it could be beneficial to start your motorcycle on occasion provided it's done correctly. Mike says, “Sometimes condensation may occur when a bike is started and let idle for a short period of time but does not reach the optimal temperature to eliminate moisture build-up. But if you’re unsure and don’t want to risk damage. Please schedule service for your bike..”.
SAFETY TIP Before you attempt any of these tips below, we recommend you do so in a properly ventilated area for your own personal safety.
Step 1 – Starting the Motorcycle
A battery tender will help protect your bike’s electrical system. Removing the battery is no longer necessary with newer models. However, always check with your manufacturer. Removal of the battery may also cause the loss and/or malfunction of saved electronic settings. Having your motorcycle on a tender allows you to quickly start your motorcycle in Winter without the hassle of connecting and disconnecting battery wires. A quick detachable plug is an ideal solution If you decide to transport your motorcycle.
Step 2 – Letting Your Motorcycle Run
The best thing you could do for your motorcycle is to let it run so that it gets up to normal operating temperature. This may take up to 15 minutes depending on the year, make, and model. By not letting it warm up to the optimal temperature, you risk engine and exhaust condensation build-up, which may have critical consequences come riding season. Older motorcycles are more susceptible to plug filing and carbon build up, and carburetor issues. The rule of thumb; let it run, heat up and evaporate the condensation through the exhaust system.
Step 3 – Move the Motorcycle
When your motorcycle sits during Winter storage, gravity takes over and the oil pools to the bottom of the case and the gears at the top remain exposed. By moving the motorcycle, you can lubricate internal parts and reduce the risk of oil starvation at start-up. However, If the roads are snow packed, icy or have salt residue, moving the bike around the inside of the garage should do the trick. Again, ensure your garage or storage area is properly ventilated to avoid inhalation of exhaust fumes.
Step 4 – Check the Air in Your Tires
Letting your motorcycle sit for any period of time will allow air to escape from the tires. The cold weather will often speed up the tire pressure loss process. It's crucial that you maintain the proper tire pressure so that your tires don't develop flat spots from sitting in one location too long. We recommend, you visually inspect your bike tires for any worn tread and dry rot spots by manually rotating them and inspecting left, right and center of the tires.
Step 5 – Inspect for Rust
Winter can be lead to your bike’s chrome's greatest enemy, rust. An affordable way to prevent rust from appearing by spraying a generous amount of WD40 on the metal surfaces of your motorcycle. As spring rolls around, simply clean off the oil with normal washing, just be sure to protect get any on the fiberglass, seats, or windshield from any WD40 overspray or oil spots.
Step 6 – Shutting off the Gas
Then the final step, once you get your motorcycle up to normal operating temperature, shut the fuel petcock off and let the bike run till it dies. The next time you start it, turn it over for 15 seconds or so to pump oil to the top-end of your motor before you turn the fuel on and fire up your motorcycle. This will keep the varnish from old evaporated gas from building up in your carburetor and keep the wear down in your engine's bearings and top end.
These 6 steps above will keep your motorcycle in the best shape during its winter hibernation. If you don't want to start your motorcycle over the winter, no need to panic, it’s perfectly fine to choose this option. However, if you do choose to start up your motorcycle in winter (a nice mild weather day in winter) keep some of these tips in mind so that you won't be doing any more harm than good!