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Winterization Tips for Storing your Harley®

Winterization Tips for Storing your Harley®
This is from a fellow dealership - Wisconsin Harley-Davidson® - they know WINTER!
It's good, very detailed advice for the DIY'er.

Winterization Tips for Storing Your Motorcycle

Posted by Jason from South Dakota on October 05, 2016

I’ve known many people over the years, and surprisingly, when the conversation turns to one’s favorite season of the year, most of us say it’s the fall. I’m not sure why – maybe it’s the colorful leaves, a pause for reflection and recovery, or the approaching Holiday Season. But for those of us who live in climates not suitable for year-around biking, there are mixed emotions even if we rate "fall" to be our favorite season. There’s that tinge of disappointment knowing that another motorcycling season is coming to a close. And with that, comes a question. What do I do with my bike for the next 5 or 6 months? Here are some tips to help you get through that sad day when your bike is put away for winter.Harley-Davidson Bike Storage Breathable Covers

The first and most important decision to make is where to store the bike. By far and away, if your local Harley dealer has a winter storage program like Wisconsin Harley-Davidson does, call and sign up now before all the slots are sold out. Don't wait or hesitate - it's the best way to go! It’s relatively cheap, and they take care of all the winterization processes that must be followed to keep your bike in top shape for the next year. Many dealers will even pick up your bike. Additionally, they often offer discounts on accessory projects you might have in mind. It’s a great idea to get accessory work done in the winter-time anyway. There’s nothing worse than having your bike in the shop during summer for something that could be done in winter.


If you decide to keep your bike at home for the winter, the preparation and work fall on your shoulders. That means you’ll be doing the winterization work yourself. It's not hard, but it isn't easy either. If you don’t know your way around a motorcycle, then get a friend to help you that does. All it takes is some preparation time, and a free afternoon to actually work the project. If you follow the following checklist you can successfully lay-up your bike for winter. Don't skimp, or rationalize away these steps if you want the bike to start in the spring.

  1. Prepare ahead of time to make sure you have all the tools and winterizing products you’ll need. You’ll want rags, cleaning cloths, a spark-plug wrench, a battery tender, fresh oil and a filter for an oil change, an oil squirt can, fuel stabilizer, a motorcycle bike stand, WD-40, chain lube (if you have a chain bike), Vaseline, steel wool, plastic wrap, rubber bands, a breathable motorcycle cover, a large piece of plywood or carpet for the floor, washing and waxing products, and a heated garage is preferred. Make sure your fuel tank is full, too. You’ll need all of these items to be successful, so get them organized ahead of time.
  2. Wash your bike, thoroughly. I’m talking about a toothbrush type of cleaning session. Get all the dirt and grit off. Dirt is the enemy. It retains moisture which can lead to corrosion. You may want to do this a day before you actually winterize in order to ensure the bike is completely dry before it’s covered for the winter.
  3. Follow the label directions, and add a fuel stabilizer to your fuel. You can get this at your Harley dealer. This is important and should not be overlooked. Gasoline has ingredients that separate over time, leaving behind substances that corrode. Once the stabilizer has been added, start the bike and let it run to ensure the stabilized gasoline has run through all the lines, etc.
  4. Run the engine long enough to heat up the oil, then change the oil and filter. Just like gasoline, oil has constituent parts that separate over time, so we want a fresh oil change for winter.
  5. Remove the spark plugs. Then, squirt a good spoonful of oil into the cylinder through the spark-plug hole. Once you have squirted the oil into the cylinders, turn the engine over (without the spark-plugs) with the starter for about 5-seconds. Be sure to cover the holes with a rag because the cylinders will be pumping air and there will be a rush of oily air while the engine is turning over. Once this is done, replace the spark-plugs and wires.
  6. Remove the battery and place it in a safe place, on a shelf or on plywood or some other protective surface. Clean the terminals and put some Vaseline on them to prevent corrosion. Attach a battery tender to keep the battery charged throughout winter.
  7. For liquid-cooled bikes, now is the time to check the level and change your coolant, if needed. Ensure your coolant is rating for cold temperatures if you don’t have a heated garage. Don't store without coolant.
  8. Take some time to lubricate your cables.
  9. Clean and treat your leather with leather dressing.
  10. Roll the bike to the location where it is to be stored. Ensure you have plywood or a carpet on the floor. Do not store on bare concrete. Heat cycling over winter will cause evaporation which will rise up and onto your bike. We don’t want this. Next, jack the bike up and off the floor using a bike stand. Rotate the stand’s locks/blocks into place and release the stand's hydraulic pressure. The bike should settle on the stand's locks or blocks. This is where the bike will remain until spring. Why do this?  Because we don’t want the bike to have its weight on the wheels that an extended period of time.
  11. Wipe down all the surfaces on the bike. Spray some WD-40 up the exhaust pipes and then stuff steel wool into the openings to prevent unwanted creatures of the night crawling where they don’t belong. Also, use some plastic wrap to wrap around your air cleaner. This will prevent air from moving into the cylinders.
  12. The final step is the place your breathable motorcycle cover over the bike. Make sure it is breathable. This is a must.

Your bike is now ready for a long winter’s nap. And, resist the temptation to start the bike up mid-winter. All your winterization work will be for nothing if you do. Just wait for spring. Then, take the bike off the stand, remove the steel wool from the exhausts, remove the wrap you put over the air breather, and reinstall the battery. Chances are your bike will fire-up the first time you hit the starter. That sound will put a smile on your face because you'll know it's ridin' time again.

Have a great and fun winter.