What possible harm could come to an unused bike, tucked away safely in the garage? Actually, quite a lot.
Hibernate your bike this winter
Parts & accessories
25 November 2008 15:56
Planning on hibernating your bike this winter? Storing a bike well takes the same meticulous level of preparation as braving the elements. Read on for top tips from RiDE magazine on how to do it right.
What possible harm could come to an unused bike, tucked safely in the garage away from the evils of winter-ravaged road? Actually, quite a lot. Depending on how long a bike is left unused, alot of preparation is required for a machine to come out of hiding in as good condition as it went in.
Ideally the bike should be kept indoors. Using a bike cover can help prevent accidental damage, make it harder for small creatures to nest in the machine and also stops people from seeing your bike. For complete cryogenic status, companies like Airflow UK offer bike chambers for £250 that have filter systems to keep away moisture and dust. www.airflow.com.
After the last ride before storage give the bike a really thorough clean, paying special attention to metal parts and linkages. Not many garages are moisture free, so manually dry the bike and coat metal parts (not brakes) with an anti-corrosion formula (ACF-50, Scottoiler FS365) or GT85 or WD-40. Remember to re-grease any parts (linkages, cables etc) that might have been stripped of their lubricants.
The battery of an unused bike left in a cold garage will start to drain flat. To avoid that, trickle chargers or optimisers can be left on the bike to keep the power level topped up. There’s an argument that these reduce the working life of a battery, but they are still the best option for bikes fitted with alarms. Read our test of the top 5 rated battery chargers. Another option is to remove the battery and store it in a cardboard box, somewhere dry and out of reach.
Brake fluid attracts water like the Brecon Beacons. As most garages suffer from a little damp, you’ll need to re-bleed the system with fresh fluid when it’s time to ride again. Don’t take chances when it comes to brakes! Some owners strap the lever close to the bar to keep air bubbles out of the brake system, but ultimately, putting undue pressure on the seals may damage them over time.
The octane level of fuel reduces after a month, which can affect engine performance or cause pre-ignition. Leaving fuel in an unused bike can leave an enamel-like residue on the fuel system and can clog injector nozzles or carburettor needles and jets. If laying the bike up for 12 weeks, use a course of products like Silkolene Pro FST in the fuel tank for the last ride. For longer periods drain the fuel tank and float bowls.
For bikes stored for any great length of time, blank off the air intakes. It’s suprisingly quite common for small, furry animals to treat an airbox as their new house.
Collector boxes on standard exhaust systems are usually made from the world’s most corrosive metal. They’re also difficult to repair and expensive to replace. After cleaning the bike (see cleaning) make sure the top of the collector box (usually directly under the engine) is completely dry and coat it with GT85 or WD-40. This is worth removing the fairing for.
After cleaning the bike, make sure there is no moisture sitting around the fork stanchions – especially behind the mudguard where it can’t usually be seen. Water can corrode the chrome, causing pitting that can potentially rupture fork seals.
Ever left a wet bike for so long that the brakes need a good knock to unstick them? If left for long enough, the pad material can eat into the disc and bond to it. Not good. Put a piece of paper or cardboard between the discs and pads to prevent this.
Ideally both wheels would be kept off the ground by paddock stands to avoid tyres deforming from long periods of inactivity. But if that’s not possible, place blocks of wood under the tyres to prevent contact with a cold garage floor. Too much exposure to the freezing temperatures absorbed by concrete can affect the performance of the rubber. If the bike’s not up on a paddock stand, try to rotate the wheels through a quarter turn every three weeks and keep pressures up.
Consider a winter hack
No doubt the two-wheeled missile that resides in the garage was the end result of a thoroughly thought-out and level-headed purchase. Despite its awesome array of performance abilities, ploughing through cack-covered roads in sub-zero temperatures was not part of your blue-skied and corner-strewn dreams when you signed on the line.
Winter is a great excuse for purchasing a left-of-field motorcycle in slightly less than mint condition, which is usually only fit for riding in a straight line. You can use it as a winter bike without worrying about something happening to it.
In case justification is needed for increasing the bike collection with something a little different, do a little homework by working out some depreciation costs and the price of components that could be ravaged by salt, should you ride your bike having ignored our 'prepare your bike for winter' pages.
Not planning on putting the bike away this winter? Click here to check out the MCN winter guide for tips on preparing yourself and your bike to brave the elements.