All-Season Motorcycle Maintenance: Preparing for Winter
As winter approaches, it’s crucial for bikers to prepare their motorcycles for the off-season. This means it’s time to think about how you’ll be storing your bike in the winter months.
This comprehensive guide provides insights into the process of winterizing your motorcycle, explaining its importance and effective methods. This guide is for seasoned riders and newcomers alike. Understanding what to consider for winter motorcycle storage and how to properly care for your motorcycle during winter is key to ensuring its longevity and performance.
What is Winterizing a Motorcycle?
Winterizing a motorcycle involves preparing and protecting it from the damage of cold weather and prolonged inactivity. This process includes steps from battery care to fluid maintenance, all aimed at preserving the bike’s condition.
Why Should You Winterize Your Motorcycle?
Winterizing is essential to protect your motorcycle from the effects of inactivity and cold weather. Fluids can degrade, batteries can lose charge, and tires can develop flat spots. This process helps prevent these issues, ensuring your motorcycle remains in good condition and is ready for spring.
What Happens if You Don’t Winterize Your Motorcycle?
Skipping winterization can lead to several problems. Nobody wants to deal with a drained battery, degraded fluids potentially causing engine damage, loss of tire pressure, or a clogged fuel system. These issues can result in costly repairs and delay your return to the road.
Do You Have to Take Your Motorcycle to a Mechanic to Make Sure It Is Winter-Ready?
Many aspects of winterizing your motorcycle can be done at home, though a mechanic can provide additional help.
What is a Battery Tender and Why is it Important?
One of the most important steps in this process of winterizing a motorcycle is using a battery tender. This device helps maintain the battery’s charge and prevents it from draining during the winter months. More motorcycles rely on advanced electronic systems than ever before. This alone is why it’s even more crucial to have a battery tender to avoid any potential damage. Failing to use a Battery Tender could force any rider to pay (what we like to call) “The Idiot Tax,” and buy a new battery.
Look, to put it simply, A Battery Tender is crucial for winter storage in the Midwest, especially for modern motorcycles with electronic systems that can drain the battery.
When Should You Winterize Your Motorcycle?
It is recommended to winterize your motorcycle before the first frost hits. This will ensure that your motorcycle is properly prepared for the cold weather and minimize the risk of any potential damage. By following these winter storage tips and best practices, you can ensure that your motorcycle remains in top condition and is ready to hit the road when spring arrives.
How to Properly Winterize a Motorcycle
Using a battery tender is a great start, but there are several other steps you should take to properly winterize your motorcycle.
Drain (and Refill) the Tank
Firstly, it is important to drain the fuel tank of old gas to prevent any fuel from deteriorating and causing damage to the engine. When refilling the tank with fresh gas, adding a fuel stabilizer is also recommended to keep the fuel fresh and prevent it from clogging the fuel system.
“Freshen up those Fluids”
Lubricating the moving parts of your motorcycle is another crucial step. As Harley-Davidson says, “Freshen up those fluids.”This will help prevent any rust or corrosion from forming during the winter months. It is also advisable to store your motorcycle in a dry and secure location, away from direct sunlight. This will further protect it from any potential damage caused by moisture or extreme temperatures.
Changing the oil and filter is another important step in the winterization process. This will ensure that your motorcycle’s engine is protected during the winter months.
Keep it Clean
Before storing your motorcycle, it is important to clean it thoroughly. This will remove any dirt or debris that could potentially cause corrosion.
Under Pressure: Inflate Your Tires and Cover Your Ride
Lastly, it is crucial to inflate the tires to the recommended pressure to avoid any flat spots later and cover your motorcycle with a breathable cover. This will help prevent any damage to the tires and protect your motorcycle from dust and debris.
How Do You Winterize a Fuel-Injected Motorcycle?
For fuel-injected bikes, stabilize the fuel, maintain the battery, and ensure fresh engine oil. Run the engine after adding a stabilizer to circulate it through the system.
Do Electric Motorcycles Need to be Winterized? If So, How is it Different?
Electric motorcycles also require winterization, though the process differs slightly due to their lack of a traditional fuel system and engine oil. Key steps include:
Maintaining the battery is crucial for electric bikes. Store the battery at a partial charge and in a cool, dry place.
Checking and maintaining tire pressure.
Lubricating moving parts like the chain (if present) and controls.
Storing the motorcycle in a dry, cool place and covering it with a breathable cover.
Here’s how one Electric Motorcycle owner winterizes his bike:
The Biker’s Complete Winterizing Checklist
Here’s a list of 7 tips for putting away your ride for the winter. Below you’ll find a more comprehensive and complete checklist and why it’s
1. Clean and Dry the Motorcycle
Why? Removes dirt, grime, and road salts that can cause corrosion during storage. Ensuring the bike is dry prevents rust and moisture damage.
2. Change Engine Oil and Filter (for non-electric bikes)
Why? Old oil can contain contaminants and acids that may damage the engine. Fresh oil provides better protection during the storage period.
3. Fill the Gas Tank and Add a Fuel Stabilizer (for non-electric bikes)
Why?: A full tank prevents moisture from accumulating inside the tank and causing rust. A fuel stabilizer keeps the fuel from degrading and clogging the fuel system.
4. Disconnect and Attach the Battery to a Battery Tender
Why? Prevents the battery from discharging and becoming unusable, ensuring it remains charged and ready for use.
5. Inflate Tires to the Recommended Pressure
Why? Helps prevent the development of flat spots on the tires due to prolonged storage and maintains tire health.
6. Lubricate Moving Parts
Why? Protects against corrosion and ensures that parts like the chain and controls move smoothly when you’re ready to ride again.
7. Check and Replace Worn Brake Pads
Why? Ensures your safety when you start riding again, as worn brake pads can significantly reduce braking efficiency.
8. Store in a Dry, Cool Place and Cover
Why? Protects the motorcycle from environmental elements like moisture and dust, and keeps it clean.
9. Inspect and Lubricate Cables
Why? Ensures smooth operation of the clutch and throttle, and prevents cable breakage due to wear or corrosion.
10. Check and Top Off Coolant/Antifreeze (for liquid-cooled bikes)
Why? Prevents the coolant from freezing in low temperatures, which could cause engine damage.
11. Inspect and Clean the Air Filter
Why? A clean air filter ensures optimal engine performance and prevents contaminants from entering the engine.
12. Check and Adjust Chain Tension (if applicable)
Why? Proper chain tension is critical for safe operation and to prevent undue wear on the sprockets and chain.
13. Apply a Protective Coating
Why? A layer of protective lubricant on metal surfaces helps prevent rust and corrosion during storage.
14. Block Exhaust and Air Intakes
Why? Prevents pests from entering and nesting in the exhaust system or air intakes, which can cause damage.
15. Remove the Battery (Optional)
Why? In extremely cold environments, removing the battery and storing it in a controlled environment can prolong its life.
16. Check Tire Condition
Why? Inspecting tires for wear or damage ensures they are safe and ready for use when you start riding again.
We hope you have found these winter motorcycle storage tips helpful as you find yourself preparing your bike for the off-season. Properly winterizing your motorcycle, whether it’s a traditional or electric model, is an investment in its longevity and performance and one of the best ways to protect your bike for many rides to come. This guide ensures your bike stays in excellent condition throughout winter, ready for spring adventures.
Now, keep in mind, we’re lawyers, not mechanics! So, our not-so-legal advice if you’re not comfortable with DIY motorcycle winterization is to check with a mechanic if you have any specific questions about winterizing your bike. We’re great at legal advice, but when it comes to the nitty-gritty of motorcycle maintenance, a professional mechanic’s word is gold.
Got any winterizing tips we missed? Drop a comment and share your wisdom! We’d love to hear how you keep your ride in top shape during the off-season.
Navigating the Roads and Laws of Iowa: From Licensing to Lane Splitting and Beyond
Motorcycling is more than just the thrill of the open road. It’s about understanding the machine, the laws, and the community. From Iowa Motorcycle Laws to Safety, we’ve got all of your questions answered in this comprehensive rider’s guide.
Ever found yourself pondering some of the more intricate details of the biking world? We’ve got you covered. Before we dive into the most burning questions riders have about motorcycling, we should remind you to check your local laws before riding in a new state or if you’re a new rider.
One great thing about these United States is that each State sets its own laws, so you might want to make sure you understand yours before you ride.
Your Top Motorcycle Questions Answered
After a chat with our community and audience on various platforms, we’ve gathered some of the most intriguing and frequently asked questions about motorcycling. Let’s break them down.
Licensing & Legality: The Basics
“What are the steps to getting a motorcycle license and how hard is it to get one?”
Just like driving a car, you need a special license for motorcycles. The process might differ slightly depending on where you live, but generally, you’ll need to pass a written test, show off your skills in a practical test, and ensure your eyes are road-worthy with a vision exam. Let’s dive a bit deeper.
Steps to Getting a Motorcycle License
Note:Laws and requirements may vary from state to state. Make sure you know yours before you hit the road!
Age Requirement: Ensure you meet the minimum age requirement, which varies by state. In many places, it’s 16 or 18 years old.
Motorcycle Learner’s (AKA Instruction) Permit: Before obtaining a full motorcycle license, many states require new riders to first get a motorcycle learner’s permit. This permit allows you to practice riding under certain restrictions. In Iowa, riders must be at least 14 years old to apply for a motorcycle instruction permit.
Motorcycle Safety Course: Enroll in a state-approved motorcycle safety course. These courses typically include classroom instruction and hands-on riding exercises. Completing a safety course can provide valuable riding skills, and safety techniques, and in some states, can waive the riding test requirement for the license.
Written Test: Schedule and take the written knowledge test at your local DMV or equivalent agency. This test covers motorcycle-specific traffic laws, safety rules, and best practices.
Skills Test: After passing the written test and gaining some practice (often with a learner’s permit), you’ll need to take a skills test. This is a practical examination where you demonstrate your ability to safely operate a motorcycle. The test might include maneuvers like turning, stopping, accelerating, and navigating obstacles.
Vision Test: Some states require a vision test to ensure you can see adequately while riding.
Fees: Pay the necessary fees for the motorcycle endorsement or license.
Receive Your License: Once you’ve met all the requirements and passed the necessary tests, you’ll receive your motorcycle endorsement or license. This might be a separate license or an endorsement added to your existing driver’s license.
How Hard Is It to Get a Motorcycle License?
The difficulty of obtaining a motorcycle license largely depends on your preparation and prior experience. For someone new to motorcycling, the skills test can be challenging, but with adequate practice and training, it’s entirely achievable.
The written test, on the other hand, requires a good understanding of the motorcycle manual provided by the state’s DMV or equivalent agency. Completing a motorcycle safety course can significantly help in preparing for both the written and skills tests.
“What happens if you drive a motorcycle without a license?”
Think twice before hopping on your bike without a license. You could face some hefty fines or even spend a night or two behind bars.
“Is it illegal to run a motorcycle or an auto repair business out of your house?”
Dreaming of turning your garage into a motorcycle repair shop? Check your local laws first. Some places might be cool with it, while others have strict rules against running businesses in residential areas.
Ownership & Costs: The Real Deal
“What are the pros and cons of owning a motorcycle?”
Bikes are awesome. They’re fuel-efficient, give you a unique sense of freedom, and let’s be honest, they’re cool. But they also need regular maintenance, and there’s always the safety aspect to consider.
Pros of Owning a Motorcycle:
Fuel Efficiency: Motorcycles typically get much better gas mileage than cars, making them more economical for commuting and traveling.
Cost-Effective: Initial purchase, insurance, and maintenance costs for motorcycles are generally lower than for cars.
Parking: Due to their size, motorcycles can be parked in smaller spaces, and some cities offer free or discounted parking for motorcycles.
Traffic Navigation: In some areas, motorcycles can lane-split or filter through traffic, reducing commute times.
Environmental Impact: Motorcycles produce fewer emissions than most cars, making them a more environmentally friendly option.
Freedom and Thrill: Many riders love the sense of freedom and the thrill of being on the open road with a motorcycle.
Less Space: Motorcycles require less storage space than cars, which can be beneficial for those with limited parking options.
Emotional Benefits: We touched on this before, but the social community aspect and camaraderie is amazing for a rider’s mental health and emotional well-being. Now, this may sound biased, but we’ve found that people who ride motorcycles often experience more stress relief, are more focused in many situations, and overall have a higher quality of life.
Physical Benefits: Riding a motorcycle can be physically taxing in that it works your core muscles and helps with posture which in turn (see what we did there?), helps with circulation.
Cons of Owning a Motorcycle:
Safety Concerns: Motorcyclists are more exposed and, therefore, more vulnerable to injuries in the event of an accident.
Weather Dependency: Although the purists and most experienced may say that it’s riding season all year, we all know our riding experience is tied closely to the weather. As much as we may hate to admit it, riding in adverse weather conditions like rain, snow, or extreme heat can be uncomfortable and risky.
Limited Storage: Motorcycles don’t offer much in terms of storage space, making grocery trips or transporting larger items challenging.
Passenger Limitations: Most motorcycles can only comfortably and safely carry one passenger.
Learning Curve: Riding a motorcycle requires a different skill set than driving a car. New riders need to invest time in learning and practicing.
Maintenance: While maintenance might be cheaper, motorcycles often require more frequent attention, especially if ridden regularly.
Seasonal: In areas with harsh winters, motorcycles might only be usable for part of the year.
Insurance Rates: While generally cheaper, insurance rates can be high for sport bikes or for riders with little experience.
Theft: Motorcycles can be easier targets for theft due to their size and accessibility.
Profiling: Motorcyclists are often pulled over simply for riding a motorcycle or wearing a cut. Don’t believe us? Check out the Motorcycle Profiling Survey.
“At what age are you too old to ride motorcycles?”
Age is just a number, right? When it comes to motorcycling, what’s more important is your physical ability and sharpness of mind. So, whether you’re 18 or 80, if you feel fit and alert, the road is yours!
Safety & Risks: The Hard Truths
Motorcycling comes with its risks, but being informed can make a world of difference. From understanding the odds of an accident to the protective power of gear, knowledge is your best defense.
“I’ve heard many riders say ‘it’s not if you go down, it’s WHEN.’ Is this true, do all Motorcyclists crash eventually?”
This is a common saying in the biking community, emphasizing the importance of always being prepared and cautious.
“What are the odds of surviving a motorcycle crash?”
The odds can vary based on numerous factors, including the severity of the crash, the protective gear worn, and the immediate medical response.
While it’s possible, the severity of injuries can vary. Protective gear and immediate medical attention play crucial roles in survival.
“Why do people ride motorcycles when it is so dangerous?”
The thrill, the sense of freedom, and the community are just a few reasons why many are drawn to motorcycling, despite the risks.
“Why are motorcycles legal if they are so dangerous?
Like many activities, motorcycling comes with risks, but it’s up to individuals to make informed decisions. Laws are in place to ensure safety standards are met.
“How protective are motorcycle protective suits?”
High-quality protective gear can significantly reduce the risk of severe injuries in the event of an accident.
Accidents & Aftermath: Navigating the Tough Times
Accidents happen, and when they do, it’s essential to know your rights and the best steps to take. Whether it’s understanding the complexities of lane splitting or navigating the aftermath of a crash, we’ve got insights to guide you.
“What is lane splitting and is it legal in Iowa?”
Lane splitting involves a motorcyclist riding between lanes of slow-moving or stopped traffic. Its legality varies by state, and in Iowa, it’s currently not permitted.
“Who is at fault in a motorcycle accident when lane splitting?”
This can vary based on local laws and the specifics of the accident. In places where lane splitting is legal, the fault might be shared between the motorcyclist and other involved parties.
“How is the family notified after a person dies in a car accident?”
When a person tragically dies in a car accident, the task of notifying the next of kin is typically carried out by local law enforcement or the coroner’s office. The process is handled with utmost sensitivity and care.
Officers are trained to deliver such news in person, rather than over the phone, to provide immediate support and ensure the family’s privacy. They often arrive in pairs and will usually ask to enter the home and ensure that the family is seated before delivering the news.
Officers also provide information about the incident and guide the family on the next steps, such as identifying the body and retrieving personal belongings.
“How do you survive a motorcycle crash?”
Surviving a motorcycle crash often depends on a combination of preparedness, quick thinking, and sometimes, sheer luck.
Here are six tips to increase your chances of survival while on the road:
1. Wear Protective Gear
Always wear a DOT-approved helmet, which can significantly reduce the risk of fatal head injuries. Additionally, wear protective clothing like jackets, gloves, boots, and pants made of abrasion-resistant materials.
2. Stay Alert
Be aware of your surroundings, anticipate potential hazards, and always keep a safe distance from other vehicles.
3. Defensive Riding
Assume that other drivers might not see you. Be prepared to react to their actions.
4. Avoid Target Fixation
Focus on where you want to go, especially in turns or when avoiding obstacles, rather than on the obstacle itself.
5. Practice Emergency Maneuvers
Regularly practice emergency braking and evasive maneuvers to be prepared for unexpected situations.
6. Stay Calm
If a crash is imminent, try to stay as relaxed as possible to reduce the risk of injury. Tense muscles can lead to more severe injuries.
“How does a person survive the aftermath of an accident- physically, emotionally, and financially?”
Seek immediate medical attention, even if you feel fine. Some injuries may not manifest symptoms immediately. Follow all medical advice, attend follow-up appointments, and undergo physical therapy if recommended.
Traumatic events can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other emotional challenges. It’s essential to seek counseling or therapy to process the trauma. Joining support groups can also help, as sharing experiences with others can be therapeutic.
If the accident was due to someone else’s negligence, consider consulting with a personal injury attorney to understand your rights and potentially seek compensation. Ensure that all medical expenses, repair bills, and any loss of income are documented. Additionally, reach out to your insurance company to understand the coverage and benefits available to you.
“How does insurance typically handle motorcycle accidents differently than car accidents?”
In my nearly 40 years of practicing law in Iowa, I’ve observed that insurance companies sometimes treat motorcycle accidents differently than car accidents, primarily due to the perceived risks associated with motorcycling. Here are some key differences:
Bias Against Motorcyclists: There’s an unfortunate stereotype that motorcyclists are “risk-takers” or “reckless.” This bias can influence an insurance adjuster’s perception of the accident, potentially placing more blame on the motorcyclist than warranted.
Severity of Injuries: Motorcycle accidents often result in more severe injuries compared to car accidents. This can lead to higher medical bills, which insurance companies might be hesitant to cover in full.
Total Loss: Motorcycles are more likely to be declared a total loss after an accident compared to cars. This can affect the payout from the insurance company.
Riding & Maintenance: Keeping Your Bike Happy
A well-maintained bike is a joy to ride. From understanding the dynamics of group rides to the simple steps of regular upkeep, we’ll ensure your motorcycle stays in tip-top shape.
“What is the best way to make sure my motorcycle is well maintained?”
Maintaining your motorcycle is crucial not only for its longevity but also for your safety on the road.
8 expert tips to ensure your bike is always in top condition:
1. Regular Inspections
Before every ride, do a quick visual inspection. Check for any leaks, ensure lights and signals are working, and look over the tires for any signs of wear or damage.
2. Oil Changes
Just like cars, motorcycles need regular oil changes. Refer to your owner’s manual for the recommended intervals and type of oil.
3. Tire Pressure
Check the tire pressure regularly. Riding with improperly inflated tires can affect the bike’s handling and can lead to premature tire wear.
4. Brake Checks
Ensure that the brake pads and discs are in good condition. If you hear any unusual noises or feel any changes in the braking performance, get it checked immediately.
5. Chain Maintenance
A well-lubricated and adjusted chain ensures smooth rides. Clean and lubricate the chain regularly and check for proper tension.
6. Battery Care
Ensure the battery terminals are clean and free from corrosion. If your motorcycle has a lead-acid battery, check the fluid levels.
7. Seasonal Care
If you’re storing your motorcycle for the winter, make sure to winterize it. This includes adding a fuel stabilizer, disconnecting the battery, and covering the bike to protect it from dust and moisture.
8. Professional Service
While many maintenance tasks can be done at home, it’s essential to have your motorcycle serviced by professionals at the intervals recommended in the owner’s manual. They can spot potential issues that might be missed during regular home inspections.
Remember, a well-maintained motorcycle not only ensures a smooth ride but also keeps you safe on the road. Regular maintenance can also save you money in the long run by preventing major issues.
“Should motorcycles ride side by side?”
No. Riding side by side does not allow motorcyclists enough space to avoid dangers. While riding side-by-side may not be a great idea, riding “staggered” is much safer.
How to Ride in Staggered Riding Formation
In a staggered riding formation…
The first rider would ride close to the center line.
The second rider would ride close to the fog line, and at least 1.5 seconds behind the lead rider.
The third rider would be close to the center line, and at least 3 seconds behind the lead rider and 1.5 seconds behind the second rider.
In staggered formation, the bike directly ahead of you must be at least 3 seconds ahead. The bike in the “staggered” lane should be at least 1.5 seconds ahead of you. This allows for better visibility and more space for maneuvering.
“Can a motorcycle slip on a banana peel?”
It might sound like a scene from a cartoon, but in reality, any small object or slick spot can pose a hazard. Always be alert!
Wrapping It Up
From the fun and quirky to the serious and technical, motorcycling is a world filled with questions. And as we’ve seen today, it’s not just about the ride. It’s about understanding the bigger picture, from the laws that govern the roads to the community that makes it all worthwhile.
Join the Conversation!
Did this guide spark more questions? Or maybe you’ve got some insights of your own to share? Dive into the comments and join the conversation. And if you’ve got a fellow rider who could benefit from this knowledge, spread the word. Until next time, keep the rubber side down and ride safe! If you’ve been injured in an accident, ride with us. Contact The Biker Lawyers for a free consultation.