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?

Image of a man walking away from a motorcycle with a gas can. A golden retriever sits behind the bike.

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?

Image showing a motorcycle on a trickle charger

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. 

Image of a man who is regretting forgetting to attach a Battery Tender to his motorcycle's battery before storing it for the winter.

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

Image of a man checking his motorcycle's tire pressure

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

Image with 7 tips for storing a motorcycle in the winter

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.


A dedicated rider with arm tattoos cleans and maintains his motorcycle.

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.

And remember, if you’re injured in an accident, The Biker Lawyers are here to help. Ride with us! Give us a call for a free personal injury consultation any time of year!

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