Motorcycles, motorbikes, and other motor-driven vehicles face more of what winter throws at them than cars or trucks. If you feel exposed as a rider, cycling through the snow and ice and slush, imagine how much more exposed your motorbike is to the elements. However, with some basic maintenance, proactive measures, and a little TLC, you can get your bike through this and all future winters. Here are the ways winter can damage your motorbike and how you can stop it.
Stay Clean and Dry
Keeping a motorcycle (or indeed any vehicle) clean during the sloppy, grimy, icy days of winter seems like a tall order, but keeping it clean can add years to its life and ensure its resale value stays up. On any rainy day, you’re facing the damaging effects of water, but during winter, water has a bad ally in road salt. Wipe down the frame with a chamois cloth after a long ride through the icy streets. If the temperature is above freezing, give it a good weekly wash with a motorcycle cleaner. Don’t use household cleaners—they can damage the finish and let water and salt get in and do even more damage.
Top off All Fluids
Winter makes your engine work extra hard. Keep it happy, well-fed, and lubricated by insuring the gas tank is full and all the assorted fluids are at optimal levels. Pay close attention to the oil and make sure it’s clean, fill the oil pan, and ensure the filter is up to date. You should be changing it every 2,000 miles, but keep an eye on it during winter. Naturally, you’ll need to maintain all other fluids too, including the brake fluid, transmission fluid, fork oil, brake fluid, and clutch fluid.
Obviously, temperatures can affect motorcycle performance, but in very particular ways. It’s best to store your bike indoors or at least somewhere mostly sheltered so you’re not digging your ride out of several feet of snow every morning. You can consider covering it when you’re not riding it; however, be sure to choose an actual motorcycle cover or some sort of sheet or blanket rather than a tarp or plastic sheeting. Covers can induce moisture build-up in your bike, which can lead to corrosion. Finally, consider detaching and bringing your battery inside so it can keep the charge during especially cold days and nights.
Check Those Tires
Compared with all the other parts of your car, tires put up with the most damage. They meet the road face first, and winter doesn’t make their job any less damaging. As mentioned above, it’s the season that pours salt into a tire’s “wounds,” like punctures, cracks, and worn treads. That can take an even greater toll on tires than the body, engine, and chassis.
Those are the basic ways winter can damage your motorbike. Keep on top of them and you and your bike will keep on cycling for years to come!