Pittsburgh Rides: Putting it away for winter

As riders starting to put their bikes way for a long winter's nap, many seem to have their own winter ritual. Some practices are pretty ingenious, while others really aren't necessary.

We actually have a customer who takes the "summer" air out of his tires and replaces it with "winter" air. He swears that it works. (There is no difference, but it is a good idea to check your tires in the spring as the air will escape if the bike is just sitting, which is more or less what he's doing, only he's going the long way about it.)

So, if you are considering putting your bike away, you may want to consider some helpful tips that can save you both time and money.

At the parts counter, you can usually hear guys debate on when you should change your oil. Do you do it before or after winter? It's best to do this before you put your bike away for the winter. It's always best to have clean oil in your bike, especially if it's going to sit idle for a few months.

Some people go out of their way to take off their seat and pull their battery out for the winter. Taking the seat off can be a little cumbersome and having the battery on full charge all winter on your workbench is unhealthy and it will shorten the life of your battery.

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The best remedy is to invest in a battery tender. Most tenders cost less than $40. You simply have to put pigtails on the battery leads and tuck the pigtail plug under your seat. When it comes time to let your bike sit, whether it's for winter storage or if you know you won't be riding for a few weeks during the season, you can simply untuck the tender and plug the other end into an outlet. No more mess and it saves time and space.

Many people will work real hard at draining their fuel tank before putting the bike away. There really isn't a need. If you are worried about your fuel going bad, simply add fuel stabilizer. Again, it will save you time and prevent a mess.

Wax on or wax off?

It's always a good idea to wax your bike before you put it away for the winter, especially if you are keeping it in an unheated garage. By applying a coat of wax, you are covering any unprotected metal, which will help prevent rust. Be sure to wipe the dry wax off the bike when you are finished.

Another great way to keep your bike from rusting is by using WD-40. It's metal's best friend and rust's worst enemy. You can spray WD-40 all over the bike. Make sure you don't get any on the seat or windshield, though. It will stain the seat and it's very hard to get off of plastic.

Many dealerships offer winter storage as well and most will change the oil, add fuel stabilizer to your gas, put your bike on a tender and detail it while it is kept in a climate-controlled secure location.

There are many ways to care for your bike before putting it away for winter storage. Please feel free to e-mail me if you would like more tips or if you have questions on winterizing your motorcycle. My e-mail address is rocky@hotmetalharley.com.

Rocky Marks is operations manager at Hot Metal Harley-Davidson in West Mifflin and host of "On the Road with Rocky" on 660 AM Thursdays at 10 a.m. First Published December 11, 2008 5:00 AM


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