How to prepare your motorcycle for winter

How to prepare your motorcycle for winter
< Back 21/11/2019

How to prepare your motorcycle for winter

Let’s face it – winter’s not the best time of the year to be riding your motorcycle. The roads become icy, it gets dark too soon, and of course, the cold isn’t exactly pleasant either. So for many of us, the best solution is to put our bike away over winter and instead dream of the springtime.It’s a smart plan and it makes sense – however it’s only a smart plan if you don’t mind going without your bike for a couple of months. Something many bikers simply cannot do! To prepare your motorcycle for winter isn’t rocket science, and we’ll make sure you have all bases covered so you can sleep well at night knowing your pride and joy is raring to go!

Safety first

Anyone’s who’s a fan of Moto GP’s or even the F1 will see the discussion of which tyres to use quite often. Riding conditions are a lot different in the cold and wet weather. If your bike is shod with super sticky race tyres it is certainly worth changing them for the winter season as you simply can’t get enough heat in them to get the best from the rubber. Those tyres aren’t generally the best in the wet either as they have very few grooves to displace the water and almost none towards the edge of the tyre.
There is a huge range of tyres to choose from and most will be suitable for all seasons and offer more than enough grip in all conditions. We are always happy to discuss your requirements and make recommendations.

Mechanic testing tyre pressure of motorcycle
Checking the tyre pressure

With your tyres selected you’ll then want to check they’ve got the right pressure in them. We’re sure most of you give regular checks to the pressures already. However, it is important to remember that there’s around a 2psi drop in your tyre for every 10°C drop in temperature. This means going from a mild afternoon to a cold evening could have as much as a 4psi drop. Something to be careful of when you prepare your motorcycle for winter!

Check the battery

Mechanic testing a motorbike's battery
Testing the battery

One of the biggest components to take a hit over the winter months is the battery. In colder temperatures, the engine oil thickens which in turn causes components to drag. What this means is that your battery has to work harder to get the starter motor to turn the engine. With the motorcycle switched off a simple check of the battery’s voltage should be enough. Here you’re looking for 12.6v and ideally no less!
We always recommend connecting your bike to a battery optimizer, especially if the bike is not going to be used for a prolonged period. The optimate will monitor the voltage held in the battery and top up when necessary. This will ensure every time you hit the starter button you have full power available from a fully charged battery.

Of course, it’s not just the battery that suffers from the cold, it’s the entire bike. This is why we’d say you only want to be putting coolant into the radiator with anti-freeze properties. Sure, in the summer months you can get away with water just fine. But in the winter having only water in the coolant can lead to an engine or radiator freezing up and causing expensive repair bills which can be easily avoided!

Mechanic adding coolant to a motorcycle
Adding the coolant

Prepare your motorcycle for winter: The chain

When you prepare your motorcycle for the winter one thing you want to pay particular attention to is the chain. The chain takes an extra beating during winter thanks to salt on the roads. This means you’re going to need to make sure you’re cleaning the chain more than usual as well as lubing it up. Fortunately, you can take the hassle away from this process by using one of the many auto lube systems out here. These devices are held in high regard and will certainly extend the life of your chain and sprockets significantly!

Mechanic cleaning motorcycle chain
Cleaning the chain

Be smart – Ensure maximum visibility

Driving on winter roads means battling the elements. Rain, snow, and fog can have a disastrous impact on on-road visibility. This, in turn, means more dangerous situations and potential accidents. Mitigate the risk by ensuring you’ve got an anti-fog insert in your visor to prevent the quick misting that comes with the cold. A high-quality visor insert will cost no more than £25 and when it helps to keep you safe that’s a bargain!

A high visibility vest with reflective panels is also well worth some consideration so you are more visible to other road users.
Finally, check your lights. With less daylight available there is a good chance you will be riding in the dark at some point. Check all bulbs are working, but also keep your lights and reflectors clean to ensure optimum performance and visibility.

Prepare your motorcycle for winter: Protection

Of course, the last bit of advice we’ve got for you involves everyone’s good friend: ACF50! Anti-corrosion products like this are perfect for stopping the added corrosion that comes from the salty roads and damp conditions during the winter. Even if you have no intention of taking your pride & joy out of the garage it is worth treating the bike to protect it from any condensation/moisture that may be present in your garage.
Just remember that products like ACF50 should be used in addition to cleaning the bike yourself – not as an alternative!

Mechanic applying anti-corrosion to a motorbike
Applying ACF50

All Set

If you follow these suggestions then you can be confident you have done a great job at preparing your motorcycle for the winter. In the end, it’s all about safety, so making sure you’ve got every base covered is vital. That way when you hit the road you can focus on enjoying the ride out instead of worrying about an accident!

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