The weather out there is not too biker friendly right now. After howling winds came the big freeze. Brrr. Given the hostile climate you’d be forgiven if thinking of hanging up your leathers for winter. But if you are, remember that when the spring sunshine breaks through you’ll want to find your bike in tip-top condition, ready to ride. So what should you do now…..?
Take cover pt I.
Don’t just bung your bike in a shed or garage and hope for the best. Cover it with a breathable sheet or, better still, a specially designed vacuum storage system. These are well worth the small investment as they’ll protect your beloved bike with an airtight seal which inhibits moisture and so prevents rust and corrosion.
Take cover pt II
Don’t think that because your bike is tucked up off road that it’s safe from thieves. A few years back we examined our claims records and found that some 45 percent of thefts occurred between November and April. As we insure fewer bikes over winter this suggests that you are more or less at the same risk of suffering a theft in winter as you are in summer. Now you can take the risk but we believe, as well we might, that it’s important to have motorcycle insurance in place all year round. You may mutter “well you would say that wouldn’t you?” but you’ll be muttering far worse if you open the door to an empty garage where your uninsured bike used to be.
It might seem counterintuitive but when sticking your bike away for a few months, fill the tank. Why? Because otherwise condensation can form in the tank. Whilst often this may not be a problem sometimes it can be, with water in your fuel preventing your engine turning over and, in the worst cases, cause your engine to seize.
Make sure you give your bike a good clean and finish by using a solvent spray such as WD-40. This will shift moisture and layer your bike with an oily sheen to prevent corrosion. It’s one of those decidedly simple but well worthwhile jobs.
If you encounter a relatively mild spell which means the roads have not been salted, try and get out for a quick ride. Turning over your engine and giving it a quick winter work out will help keep it healthy.
It’s important to remove the battery because even when laid up your bike may still use a small charge. If the battery drains it may no longer be able to hold a charge, meaning a costly replacement. So whip it off and plug it into a charger which will help keep it in tip-top condition.
Don’t forget to inflate your tyres to the maximum pressure listed in the manufacturer’s manual. As the temperature drops so will the pressure, as the air condenses. Poorly inflate tyres can therefore suffer winter damage. Another tip is to ensure your tyres are not in direct contact with a cold concrete floor. Shove an old bit of carpet or cardboard underneath to minimise the risk of rubber damage.
If you’ve decided not to tax your bike over winter it’s now vital you declare your bike is off road by completing a Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN). That’s because in 2010 the DVLA launched its latest war on the estimated 1.5 million uninsured drivers and riders on UK roads. This takes the form of the Continuous Insurance Scheme launched with the Motor Insurers Database. If you don’t SORN your bike and fail to act on DVLA warnings you could face a hefty fine or even have your bike seized and destroyed. For more details click here.
If your bike has a carburettor it’s advisable to isolate and run it dry so that fuel is only stored in the tank. It’s a two minute job, which will prevent a film being left as petrol evaporates. Just switch fuel off and run your bike
Location, location, location
Don’t just bung your bike wherever there’s an available space. Don’t let it bathe in direct sunlight which can cause paintwork to fade and try and make sure your storage area isn’t damp or humid. If you can as well as locking it, fix your motorcycle to a ground anchor as a deterrent to those winter thieves. Then sit back and wait for the sun and the glorious biking season to return! Maybe you might sit back and muse on what would make your dream bike?