Sunday, December 5, 2010

Winterizing Bikes

This morning was a bit sad. I decided it was time to winterize the last of the bikes. I had be delaying it in hopes that I might get to ride one of them again this year. I think that opportunity has passed. I did my wife’s bikes a while back. I’ll be on the Ural the rest of the winter.

Bikes on stands and battery tenders stored for winter

Since I have five bikes, I keep them on a battery tender when not in use. I don’t get to ride each one every week, but I try. It also gives me a handle on the charging system.

When I plug the bike into the tender, it should start flashing green/orange right away to indicate that the charge on the battery is nearly full. If it stays on orange, then I know that there is a problem. After a couple minutes, the light should go to green to indicate that the battery is at full strength. It is a quick, easy way to keep track of many bikes.

My winterization routine is pretty simple. There are more elaborate things to do, but this has worked well for me so far.

1) Clean the bikes. this helps me find problems and detect leaks easier. Unfortunately, skipped this year. I’ll get back to it if it gets warmer.

2) Fill the tank with non-oxygenated gas (no ethanol), and add marine stabil to the gas tanks at the recommended dose. For example 1oz per 5 gallons. This keeps the tank from rusting (it’s full of gas, so moisture can’t get in) and won’t gum up the carburetors/injectors with corn residue aka ethanol.

Stabil treatment for gas. Used to store bikes for winter

3) Run the bikes for 10-15 minutes to make sure the stabil gets into the carbs/injectors. Usually, this involves a ride. (fun!) This year, I was late, so I just parked them in the driveway and ran them all at once. I got some strange looks with four bikes running. It did make a pretty cool racket. (video at end)

Winterizing bikes - letting them run for a bit after stabil Winterizing bikes by letting them run for a bit after putting stabil in

4) Put the bikes on a battery tender to keep the battery at full strength. I have two four-way battery tenders which cover the seven bikes in the garage. (five are mine, two are my wife’s)

four-way battery tender 

5) Put the bikes on stands or center stand if equipped. This keeps them more stable than just the side-stand. It also gets the tires off the ground; a long storage might cause a flat spot.

SV650 on front and rear stand for the winter WR250R on stand for the winter


In the spring, I replace oil, anti-freeze, brake/clutch fluid, spark plugs, and air filter. I also check valves, chain, tires, bearings, etc to make sure the bikes are ready for a trouble-free season.


I made almost all of this video with my phone (Droid X). The editing was with my computer. 

YouTube Video:


Vimeo Video:

includes affiliate links to support the blog


  1. Sounds pretty simple - but for $150. per season I get somebody else to do it, that way I avoid paying the $20,000 it would cost to build a garage to store it properly in. But then I have only one! Let it snow - it's time to strap on the ice skates.

  2. VStarLady: One bike is much easier to deal with! A friend has a walkout basement, and he puts his bike there for the winter. I'm a horrible ice skater, but excellent at falling down. I can rollerblade ok, but it doesn't transfer to ice for me. Thanks for commenting. :)

  3. Oh I remember those days back when I lived in the cold snowy north Chris...I'm really hoping to be able to ride every now and then here this winter. But I guess a little winterizing wouldn't hurt!

  4. I put the Symba on the tender when I bring her in now. Rode in some "sorta" flurries today, you know the kind, when the temperature is just wringing the moisture out of the air.

    After the ride today I came home and ordered a pair of genuine Hippo Hands. The ones I have were just good enough to convince me of the concept, but they would have taken too much modification. I'm going to give the ones I have to a friend who has a Genuine Buddy. I think they will fit her scoot much better.

  5. Eve: I think you'll be fine to ride all winter. I saw your posts with the beautiful flowers still blooming! (in december?!) lucky.

    Keith: I know exactly the flurries you speak of. We had them here today. Not enough to collect, but enough to make it look nice.

    I hope you like the hippo hands. I really enjoy mine on the Ural. Lucky friend to get your old ones!

  6. Late last evening I received a message from the owner of Hippo Hands. He sent it from his iphone. He was thanking me for my order and telling me he intended to ship them out today. I was impressed . . . and pleased.

  7. Don't you fog the cylinders before you put them to bed for the winter?

  8. Don't you fog the cylinders before you put them to bed for the winter? I do that, and spray some WD-40 in the tail pipe to displace moisture and then cover the pipes with a plastic bag and wrap electrical tape around the bag, just for good measure.

    1. nope, I store my bikes in a garage with relatively constant temperature. I've not had any issues with any of the seven bikes yet.