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Often overlooked and more often underestimated is the importance of winterizing your Harley-Davidson® Motorcycle for storage over the winter. Taking the proper steps prior to storing your Harley® can dramatically increase the longevity of its key components
Prior to storing, you should have a few things on hand.
One of the most important steps you can take is to change the oil and filter prior to storage. Oil has a nasty habit of absorbing combustibles and other junk. You don't want to leave this in the engine over the winter. So, take your Harley® out for that final ride of the season to get it good and warmed up. On the way home, stop by the gas station and top off the tank, allowing just enough room for the stabilizer additive.
While your Harley® is still good and hot, change out the oil and filter. Given the price of lubricants vs. the price of your drive-train, it may also be a good time to change out the transmission and primary chain case fluids.
Next, following the directions, add fuel stabilizer to the topped off fuel tank. Gasoline is made of compounds that over time can evaporate and leave behind sludge that can gunk up the fuel system. Depending upon where your bike is stored, temperature changes during the winter months could cause condensation build up inside the fuel tank and the key reason it is important to make sure the tank is full prior to storage.
Run your Harley® for 5 minutes or so to get the fresh oil and stabilized fuel throughout the engine. If it has a petcock, turn it off. It is not necessary to run the carburetor out of fuel if you are using a stabilizer.
Give your Harley® a good wash and wax. Not just a quickie, but the full treatment. All of the dirt and grime will eat away at its finishes over the winter months. A good wash and wax will go a long way to protect the shiny stuff over the cold months. Areas to be particularly aware of are around the wheels and brake components. Brake dust can become corrosive and can quickly eat away at the finish of your wheels and other parts in the area. Harley® Glaze™ is an excellent product that will take care of areas of your bike during this process – from Chrome accessories to aluminum wheels and paint.
Check the air in the tires, and suspension if it applies, and adjust appropriately.
Pick your storage spot well. You want to store your Harley® in a well ventilated area and cover it with a BREATHABLE storage cover. Don't use a cover designed to keep the rain out, because it will keep the moisture in which will diminish the finish. Pick a nice out of the way place, away from extreme temperature changes, chemicals or electrical appliances. Keeping the bike away from chemicals can seem fairly obvious, but did you know that many appliances such as heaters and electric motors can create ozone which is hard on rubber and other surfaces. Also, don't store the bike on dirt or gravel surfaces. As moisture rises from the dirt or gravel, it can become trapped on the underside of your Harley®.
If possible, get both tires off the ground. This is not crucial, but if you can't do this, at least roll the bike back and forth a few times over the winter to prevent flat spots.
Finally, connect the battery to a SMART battery tender that will keep the battery charged, but not overcharged. Harley-Davidson® battery tenders are specifically designed to keep your battery at a low 1.4 amp charge. Too often batteries are destroyed over winter by using automobile devices that, even at their lowest settings, are too high for a bike battery.
Tuck the bike into its cover and dream of warmer days.
One more thing, it is NOT a good idea to go out and start the bike once in a while during the winter. If you start the bike and it does not get completely warmed up, condensation can develop inside the motor. As a rule, don't start your Harley® in the winter unless you intend on riding it to reach its full operating temperature. Cold moisture can cause moisture problems leaving corrosion on chrome & hardware. Moisture also builds up internally and if not serviced, can cause engine damage. Batteries are also very sensitive to cold weather and will have increased life if stored properly.
A reminder that Vandervest Harley-Davidson® has all of the products and supplies you will require for the do-it-yourselfers as well as several on-site winter storage options.
Our policy is to treat each and every Harley-Davidson® motorcycle that comes into our shop as if we owned it ourselves. We can change your oil & filter without making an appointment - just bring your Harley® in and we can take care of that part for you. All bikes stored at our facilities also receive a complimentary 22-point safety inspection to identify any items that may need attention during the winter months. It is important to us that your motorcycle is ready for worry free riding in the spring.