Vertu Motorcycles' Guide To Winter Maintenance
For a good few months of the year, many motorcycle owners put their bike into hibernation. For others, winter’s a time to keep on top of their bike’s maintenance and be vigilant when riding in more challenging conditions.
Whatever you choose to do over winter, motorcycle maintenance is a really important factor – always try to keep your bike in tip-top condition. That way, you maximise your bike’s performance and minimise any risk of your bike failing the next time you take to the seat.
When the seasons change and the temperature drops, here’s a couple of things you should do to keep your motorcycle safe and ready for optimum performance:
Change The Oil
Dirty oil contains contaminates that can increase corrosion, leading to premature engine wear.
Even if your bike never rolls onto the road, winter is a great time to change your oil.
When doing this:
First, turn the engine on and keep it running for several minutes to get it up to operating temperature.
Second, drain the old oil and refill the engine with whatever viscosity is recommended in your motorcycle’s ownership manual.
Regularly Clean/Lube The Chain
This is a really quick and simple task that really does make a difference to the lifespan and performance of your motorcycle – clean and lube your bike’s chain regularly to keep it at its best.
Especially if you don’t have a good, automatic chain oiler fitted, you should lubricate your chain weekly if you’re out on your bike often.
Popping your bike on a paddock stand will help you with this, as it allows the rear wheel and chain to move freely whilst you apply.
Top Tip: Lubricate your bike’s chain after riding it, rather than before, to allow it to settle into all the gaps. If you do it right before, you’ll be flinging it off on the road even quicker than you put it on...
Don’t Forget About Your Battery
Motorcycle batteries really take the hit over the cold winter months - the lower temperatures slow the chemical reaction right down and they can soon depreciate.
Also, if you’re not out on it as much (if at all) it’s difficult for it to stay charged. If you’re not regularly running yours and your garage has a power supply, try using a trickle charger to keep the battery in good condition.
Top Tip: It may also be worth tightening up the connectors on the terminals, in addition to covering them in grease - keeping moisture out from the winter’s wet weather is always a good idea when it comes to your bike’s battery.
Modern, liquid-cooled machines depend on water in their radiators to keep cool. This is perfect for hot summer tours on dry open tarmac, but not so perfect when parked up on a cold winter’s night.
Unfortunately, when the temperature drops, it’s in danger of freezing...
This can be avoided by adding anti-freeze, however the complete system will need to be flushed through. Get in touch with us if you’d like further information on this, or even a helping hand.
Grease Any Joints
Grease is one of the best ways of lubricating and protecting your motorcycle’s major joints and moving parts. It also helps protect exposed bolt threads.
Make sure you keep the grease handy – it’s a good idea to pop a liberal coating on through late autumn, to then regularly check and reapply throughout the following winter months.
Regularly Wash Your Bike
Some people enjoy it, while others hardly get round to it as they consider it a big chore... Whether you like it or not, it’s vital you wash – or at least rinse –your bike after every ride through winter.
Washing your bike regularly stops the winter roads from wrecking it and makes sure there’s nothing stuck where it shouldn’t be.
Particularly pay attention to the exposed underside, which takes the biggest hit from grit and debris on the road.
Top Tip: Wash your bike thoroughly with cold water. Don’t use hot water, as this dissolves the salt crystals your bike’s picked up and allows it to penetrate into the bodywork even further.
Don’t Let Your Tyres Get Tired
Ideally, your bike’s tyres need a good once over before winter even starts.
The road gets increasingly challenging and it might be a good time to change them if the tread depth has reduced significantly during the summer.
You will need a good tread depth to cope with the overly wet or slushy roads. Colder temperatures also reduce pressures, so make sure you check these before each journey.
Top Tip: Don’t believe the myth is that under-inflated tyres give you better grip in winter – they don’t and riding on them could be incredibly dangerous.
Adjust Your Bike’s Suspension
It’s definitely worth considering softening off your suspension settings for winter riding, if possible.
Firm suspension settings reduce grip in slippery conditions. With the roads compromised by wet and cold weather, as well as having more mess sat in your way, your bike has to put up with a lot underfoot.
Having a slightly softer suspension setting will allow you to feel the road better – overall, you should be able to establish your grip levels more accurately.
Take Care Of Your Brakes
Lastly, it’s incredibly important to regularly check your brakes during winter – your bike’s brakes are particularly vulnerable from November through to March.
Exposed calipers are unfortunately in road salt’s reach and can corrode easily.
As well as washing them often, give your brakes a full check as frequently as possible too.
If you want to leave it up to the professionals, you can book in a Motorcycle Health Check anytime you like. Book in online and let one of our bike experts sort your motorcycle out: