WINTER IS COMING
Ensure your bike is ready
Cold kills dodgy batteries 1
Make sure you have the right battery, and get the best you can afford. Test it with a multimeter, too – with the ignition off and the bike not connected to a charger for at least an hour the battery should give at least 12.6v. You should get a reading between 13.5v and 14.5v when the bike is running and charging the battery. Check the fluid in refillable lead-acid batteries – they’re clear with upper/lower level lines.
Back off the suspension 2
If your year-round ride has firm, sporty suspension and a selection of adjusters, don’t just leave it set for a grippy road in the height of summer. Maintaining weight transfer and not overloading the tyres is the aim. Experiment with backing everything off a touch – a little less preload front and rear with softer damping so the suspension moves and responds. Note your base setting so you can reset if needed.
Protect the vulnerable 3
A decent rear hugger and maybe a front mudguard extension are a great start to contain the dirt flung up by your bike’s tyres. Electrical connectors should be protected with Vaseline, and you should fit protective grilles to radiators and coolers to prevent grit damage. Any protective covers or water seals on electrical parts should be intact and in place.
Steel yourself 4
Steel downpipes have been the scourge of all-weather riders for years. Consider spraying them with protective high-temperature paint to prevent any future damage. If you can remove the exhaust, take it off and clean away dirt and loose paint. Prepare, spray and cure as per the instructions, then refit, not forgetting new gaskets and copper grease on the fasteners.
Plug protection 5
Protect low-voltage connectors with Vaseline. Seals on plug caps that prevent water entering the plug tunnel should also be tight and fully seated – regular treatment with a water dispersal spray is a wise move, especially on V-twins. Some plug tunnels have a water drain channel – make sure this doesn’t clog and allow moisture to build up.
Say no to corrosion 6
The toughest form of protection is thick grease – some use normal grease, but dedicated corrosion-blocking formulas are available. These are ideal for nooks and crannies that are hard to keep clean – just apply once then clean off at the end of winter. Look for one that isn’t water-soluble for easy cleaning – rain and spray will rinse it away.
Paint preservation 7
On a basic level, careful cleaning followed by wax polish will add a protective layer. A tank pad is an easy addition, but you can also get clear vinyl or pre-shaped fairing protection panels in all sorts of designs to protect the vulnerable areas. Want to get really serious? A full vinyl wrap completely covers the original finish. A fully faired bike can be covered for around £300.
Brake care 8
Remove and clean all fasteners and fittings, adding a very small amount of copper grease to the threads, and rubber-friendly grease under rubbers on sliding calipers. Remove and clean the pistons and seals, plus the grooves the seals fit in. Rub red-rubber or silicone grease all over the seals – not only will this keep them moving, it will also help prevent corrosion.
Service, please 9
An engine wears more when it’s cold, so don’t neglect servicing. Clean oil will protect better as the motor takes longer to warm. New plugs will provide a strong spark. Synchronised/cleaned throttle bodies (or carbs) will offer more predictable response on damp roads. Coolant/anti-freeze replaced at the correct intervals will safeguard against freeze damage.
Bikes hate winter so get everything ready for the worst of the weather