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Winter Storage Recommendations

It’s that time of the year again, snow will be falling soon and in certain parts of the country motorcycle enthusiasts will be tucking their 2-wheeled babies away for the winter. Bel-Ray is going to give you some helpful Do-It-Yourself information and tips on winter storage and maintenance.

Step One. Find a safe and secure location for your motorcycle. Ideally a climate-controlled facility would be best. However, not everyone has access to those locations. Pick a spot in your garage, shed, carport, etc. that is safe, in a low foot traffic area and away from any debris that could cause damage. If possible try to choose a location away from windows, because direct sunlight can fade paint, plastic parts and possibly cause cracks. Leaving your motorcycle in direct light will also raise and lower the storage area temperature which may lead to the development of condensation and moisture. A good alternative is to use a motorcycle cover specially designed with breathable mildew-resistant material that offers protection from ultraviolet rays. Bel-Ray’s solution to this is to use Bel-Ray 6 in 1. It willprotect the plastic and paint from fading, will protect all metal surfaces from rust or corrosion, and will dissipate water. Bel-Ray 6 in 1 is safe to use on all surfaces of your motorcycle. Using a clean cloth, spray a small amount of Bel-Ray 6 in 1 onto the cloth and then wipe the Bel-Ray 6 in 1 onto all plastic and metal pieces or parts of your motorcycle.

Step Two. When storing your motorcycle for any length of time, it is a good idea to add a fuel stabilizer. It is suggested to fill your gas tank to the recommended level and add fuel stabilizer as directed. Once the fuel stabilizer is added, it is a good idea to carefully shake/rock the motorcycle which in turn will create a better mixing of the gas and fuel stabilizer. At this point turn your motorcycle on, start and run your motorcycle at idle up to operating temperature. Doing so will condition and protect your motorcycle’s fuel system—in both carbureted and fuel injected motorcycles—from “gumming” and will protect against clogged carburetor fuel jets and any sticking of fuel injectors.

Step Three. Change the oil. The engine was brought up to operating temperature in Step Two. With the engine still warm, it is the ideal time to now change the oil because it will drain faster and more completely. When changing the oil, change the filter too. Adding fresh oil will remove foreign objects and any build-up of any deposits. Remember to use a winter grade oil. Bel-Ray EXS Synthetic Ester 4T Engine Oil 5W-40 (99150) is our most popular for winter storage. You ask why? Because, just like in cars, a colder winter grade oil will allow your bike to start easier in cold weather. Bel-Ray EXS Synthetic Ester 4T Engine Oil 5W-40 (W stands for WINTER) will protect your motorcycle and flow through your engine at -30°F and it offers the best protection and help with initial start-up and running of your motorcycle on that early spring morning. NOTE: it is also not uncommon to use the same oil—Bel-Ray EXS Synthetic Ester 4T Engine Oil 5W-40— to lubricate your cylinder walls and rings for the duration of storage. Put just a teaspoon down each of your spark plug holes.

Step Four. Service all fluids. If the brake or clutch (if applicable) fluids haven’t been changed in the last two years or 11,000 miles (18,000 km), do it now. The fluids used in these systems are “hygroscopic” which means that they absorb moisture. Contaminated fluid will cause corrosion inside the systems which may cause problems when the motorcycle is used next spring. Be sure to use the correct fluids and note the warnings and instructions in the service manual. If you don’t have the experience to service these systems, contact your dealer, he will be happy to assist you in both of these applications for the brake and clutch system fluids. Either Bel-Ray Super Dot 4 (99480) or Bel-Ray Silicone Dot 5 (99450) brake fluids can be used. Bel-Ray Super Dot 4 and Bel-Ray Silicone Dot 5 will meet or exceed any recommended or standard products for this application.

If your motorcycle is liquid cooled, generally the coolant must be changed every two years or 15,000 miles (24,000 km). Make sure that the engine is cool enough to touch before draining the system. After draining the system fill your cooling system back up with a 50/50 coolant/antifreeze mixture if recommended. We recommend Bel-Ray Moto Chill Racing Coolant (99410). Bel-Ray Moto Chill Racing Coolant has a boiling point of +267°F as well as a -36°F freezing point that offers protection from freezing for those cold winter nights during storage. Bel-Ray Moto Chill Racing Coolant is pre-mixed ready to use, non-toxic, biodegradable, and can be used for topping off a cooling system. Moto Chill Racing Coolant will mix with any other coolants that are already in the system. It will ensure a clean system for the next two years or 15,000 miles (24,000 km)

Other tips Bel-Ray would like to share for winter storage:

  Clean your drive chain and then lube with Bel-Ray Blue Tac Chain Lube (99060) which will ensure your chain will stay free of any rust, binding of the chain or kinks in the chain throughout the duration of the storage time. Bel-Ray BLUE TAC sprays on with a tint of blue, so you can see where the lube is being applied. Bel-Ray Blue Tac will dry clear. With a 15 minute stand time, Blue Tac is guaranteed to not fling off. This was tested up to 200 mph at Bel-Ray.
  Tire pressures - fill to the maximum psi, this will prevent the creating of flat spots on the tires.
  Disconnect the negative battery cable lead and wrap with electrical tape. This will ensure there isn’t any unwanted loss of voltage during the storage months. Add a battery tender to the battery to ensure the battery will stay charged and ready for next season. Keeping your battery charged also prevents shortening the life of the battery through sulfanization which kills batteries.

Last but not least, if you have any questions regarding what viscosity oil to use or the capacity of oil your engine holds, Bel-Ray invites you to use the Bel-Ray Lubricant Advisor found at www.belray.com/lubricant_advisor. All you need to do is select a category and know the make, model and type of unit you’re looking up. Bel-Ray will tell you the rest.

A little preventative maintenance now will make next spring’s first ride a pleasant experience.