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4Strokes.com Technical: Off-Road Motorcycle Storage Procedures by Robb Nelson
Page Jump Links: Wash | Storage | Oil Change | Lubricate | Fuel System | Tire Pressure | Battery | Brake Fluid
Some of us do not ride our dirt bikes or ATVs during the winter months. Below are items of a motorcycle that should be addressed before putting it up for winter or long term storage. By following these simple storage procedures, you can assure that your dirtbike, motorcycle or ATV is properly maintained allowing for a longer and happier life. By making this a routine procedure you can extend the life of your ride, as does all proper maintenance.
Wash Thoroughly - First off, give your dirt bike or quad a good wash. Now, I do not mean the regular wash after a ride. I mean get down and dirty and get all the dirt and grime off. Make that thing look as good as new! Oh and do not forget to dry it. If you have access to compressed air, use it generously! If you wish, you can wax your bike, or apply a thin coat of fogging oil or other light oil to the metal areas.
Suitable Storage - Pick a place for storage. Ideally you are looking for a warm dry place out of the elements like a heated garage or warehouse. If you do not have this type of facility available, you can always invest in a good quality motorcycle cover that will stop moisture from collecting under it. Look for one that repels moisture, breathes well and blocks UV rays. Try to avoid placing the bike in direct sunlight. This is not good for the paint, plastic or the battery.
Change Oil - There are many opinions on this. Some people like to change their oil before storage, some right after storage. If you have the luxury of changing it both before and after then do so. If you only choose one, the oil change before is more important. Remember to change the filter as well. You will not have to put in a new filter if you change the oil after the storage period though, that one can slide. The importance of changing your oil before the storage period is to eliminate byproducts of combustion such as acids in the oil which will harm the inner metal surfaces. As usual it is best to get the engine up to the operating temperature before draining, as this is a more complete and thorough draining process. The importance of changing your oil after the storage period is to eliminate all the moisture the oil has collected during the time in storage.
Lubricate - Lubricate all the pivot points of the dirt bike or ATV that are prone to rust with oil. Areas such as side stand, center stand, foot pegs, levers, rotors, etc. Donít forget to lube your chain.
Fuel System - For fuel injected motorcycles, simply fill your tank to the top. This eliminates the chance of water vapor condensation which will rust the tank. Even if you have a plastic gas tank, it is best to fill it to the top because the water vapor may not rust but it will not be good for the fuel or your fuel system. For carbureted motorcycles, you must drain the float bowl. Removing the float bowl and cleaning it is ideal, but not absolutely mandatory. Also, the myth of running your bike until it dies to drain the float bowl is false. Your bike will die before the float bowl is completely empty, thus leaving a small amount of fuel which is even more susceptible to gumming up. Using fuel stabilizer will help minimize clogging of fuel lines, carburetors and injectors caused by sediment in fuel. It will also help to preserve the freshness of the fuel because fuel breaks down over time.
Tire Pressure - Check your tire pressure and inflate to the recommended maximum pressure or slightly above. You are not riding your dirt bike or ATV so you do not have to worry about uneven tread wear. Over-inflating will also help reduce the chance of flat spots forming if you do not store your bike on a stand. If storing your dirt bike or ATV in a very humid place and on the ground, you can place your tires on wood boards to minimize cracking and rotting. If you have a center stand or a way of supporting your motorcycle so it is not sitting on its side-stand, use it. This eliminates the chances of flat spots forming in the tires. If stored with tires on the ground, you can simply move the bike around from time to time, but donít start it!
Battery Float Charger - Next is battery service for those of us with the magic button! If you have easy access to your battery, it is best to remove it and keep it in a warm dry place. If you do not have easy access and have to leave the battery on the bike, install terminal extensions so you can hook up a battery float type charger without having to remove anything from the bike. Now this is important. If you are going to connect anything to your battery, make sure it is a battery float type charger. Not a fast charger or trickle charger. The difference is that a battery float has an automatic shut-off feature so when the battery reaches its maximum voltage it shuts off. A battery float charger will also monitor the battery for a voltage drop and then start charging. Most battery chargers or trickle chargers will charge the battery but not stop. This will overheat and fry the battery making it inoperable.
Brake Fluid Change - I cannot stress enough the importance of changing your brake fluid at least once a year. Brake fluid sees a lot of stress due to the heat that is caused by friction between the rotor and pad. Brake fluid also naturally absorbs moisture which is bad for your brake system. Without proper maintenance, brake fluid will gum up and clog master cylinders causing unforeseen brake failure at critical moments. By flushing your brake fluid you eliminate the broken down and burned fluid that carries deposits and acids as well as moisture. A brake flush is not necessary going into storage, but should be done after storage prior to your first ride.
Credits: Article written and submitted by Robb Nelson. Edited by 4Strokes.com.
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