The first step in getting your bike ready for its winter hiatus is reading the owner's manual or service repair manual. These manuals will give you valuable tips about maintenance that should be done before storing the bike for the winter. Even if the repair manual does not go into the steps of preparing for winter, it will outline maintenance and tune-up procedures for trouble free riding when the weather warms up in the spring.
Winter Storage Tips
Here are just a few tips for preparing your motorcycle for winter storage.
1. Clean and wax the bike. A clean bike will keep grease, oil, dirt and corrosive materials from damaging the paint or parts of your motorcycle. An inexpensive cover can also limit the amount of exposure to the elements if the bike is stored outside or in a dusty area.
2. Park the bike in such a way that both tires are sitting on wood. This will protect the rubber from cracking or rotting. If the bike is outside for the winter months, you certainly do not want the rubber sitting on the ground where the tires can become weathered, rot and crack. Bike stands work great for storage.
3. Drain the oil and flush the crankcase. This will keep corrosive and gumming deposits from building up over the winter months. Replace the oil and filter at this time while you are at it. You might as well begin the spring with new oil & filter.
4. Lubricate the chain and any exposed cables. This will prevent rust from forming that can damage the chain while the bike is in storage, especially if the bike is stored outside or exposed to moisture.
5. Drain the fuel from the fuel tank and the carburetor if storing for long periods of time (4 months or more). Sediments in gasoline can clog fuel lines. Old fuel can create a harmful varnish on carburetor parts and fuel lines. Old gasoline can also get stringy, clogging carburetors and fuel line filters. You can also use a good fuel stabilizer such as Star Tron, Stabil or Seafoam to help keep the carbs clean. Ensure the mixture gets into the carbs. Storing the bike with ethanol free fuel helps keep the carbs clean during long storage as well. Fuel Testers has more tips and info on gasoline and additives.
6. Go over the wiring. Run your fingers along all exposed wiring to check for cracks or breaks in the insulation. If any are found, repair or replace the defective wiring right away. While you are at it, be sure and check to make sure all wiring connections are corrosion free and tightly fitted together.
7. If you do not plan on starting or riding the bike at all, disconnect and remove the battery. The battery will discharge during the winter months. The acid in the battery can freeze when the battery discharges. This freezing can also crack or damage the battery case. Utilizing a battery tender will help ensure the battery is charged and ready for the next riding season.
8. Clean the battery cable connections. This is a good time to clean the battery cable connections and the battery posts. These connections can become glazed during use. Fine steel wool or a battery cleaner will brighten them back up. Once they are cleaned you can coat them with die-electric grease, battery terminal protectant or vaseline to seal them. This grease can be easily removed next spring.
9. Check the brakes. Check the wear on disc brakes and make sure the brake fluid reservoir is filled.
10. Clean or change the air filter. This is also a good time to clean and change the air filter.
11. Check your radiator coolant to ensure it is at the proper levels. If it is close to the recommended time ( or due in the spring) for coolant replacement, now would be a good time to do a flush and re-fill.
12. Check your insurance policy. Some insurance companies offer special reduced rates for motorcycles that are in winter storage.
A Kawasaki service manual will give you all of the how-to information that you will need to perform these simple maintenance procedures. The manual will also tell you the correct filters to use when replacing filters and other components. You can also check with your dealer for additional how-to information to help you get your bike ready for storage.
Winter winds, ice and snow may force you to park your bike for a few months, but with a little end of the season maintenance, your bike will be quickly ready for spring.