Winter Storage

Prepping your cruiser for hybernation.

Pokie Parmidge February, 2003

Ok, it's time to face that dilemma, "To store or not to store, that is the question." Are you really going to ride this winter, or do you need to tuck your Cruiser in for a winter's hybernation? I guess it all comes down to where you live or how hardy a rider you are. I live in Colorado, so, for the most part I'm usually going to store my Cruiser for about four months.

I've put together a list of items you may want to consider before tucking your Cruiser away. The one thing you need to keep in mind is that your dealer will be begging for work during the late fall/winter. In the spring he will be turning people away in droves. So, don't wait for spring to get your bike ready to ride for the next season. Do it now!

That said, here are my suggestions:

First thing, check your service records. If your bike is close to being due for any service work, do it now! Check with your dealer, some dealers will offer you a lower rate to bring your bike in during the winter months just to keep the hired help working instead of laying them off. If you've been thinking about any big jobs or recalls, nows the time to get 'em done.

Things you can do:

Fuel Fill your fuel tank. Filling the tank lessens the chance of condensation forming. If you are going to store your Cruiser for six months or longer add stabilizer to the gas. Stabilizer can be found at any auto store--just ask.
Clean Wash, wax, polish and protect before you store your Cruiser. Old road filth and splattered bugs eat away at the finish and paint. Don't forget to use a protectant on all the rubber, plastic and leather bits.
Warm it up After washing and waxing, start up your cruiser and allow the engine to warm. Take it for a ride around the block if the weather allows. This will boil out any little pools of water left from washing.
Change the oil When the engine is warm, it's a good time to change the oil and filter. If you have less than a thousand miles on your oil, just leave it in, any more than that, change it. Consider changing your transmission and rear drive oils as well, in case of contamination.
Change the fluids Do you remember the last time the clutch, front brake and rear brake fluids were changed? Check your service records. These fluids should be changed every ten thousand miles or once a year. To allow contaminated fluid sit in there for the next several months is just asking for trouble.
Tires How does the tread look? This is the time of year your dealer may be willing to cut you a deal on a new set of tires, so consider it. If you feel your tires are just fine, at least make sure the pressure is up to par.
Battery Everybody's got an opinion on this one! My opinion is check it before storage and check it again when your bringing your bike out in the spring. Why? Well you don't know what the level is before storage, so you have to check it. If you keep the battery active during storage with one of those little trickle chargers, you'll need to check the level to be sure nothing has gone wrong during storage. If you have room in your garage, take the battery all the way out. Clean it, top it off and put the trickle charger on it on the shelf where you can check up on it from time to time. If you opt to ignore your battery during storage, expect to replace it in the spring.
Take the weight off If it's possible, set your Cruiser on a service stand or the like for storage. What this does is lessen the chances of causing flat spots on your tires tread and reduce dry rot. If you have no other option than to store your Cruiser over the winter on a dirt pad, every few weeks push it forward or back (but not both) about six inches every few weeks. Again to reduce flat spots and dry rot.
Plug your intake horn Using a bit of screen or just a bit of rag, plug your intake horn. It's amazing how attractive this spot is for mice to get into your airbox and make a home. Chewed up air filter element makes great bedding.
Lube it Take a little oil pump can and put a drop of oil an anything that moves. From handlebar switches to your folding foot pegs to your ignition and back, your bike will love you for it.
Inside If your Cruiser will be stored inside, just cover it with an old bed sheet. This will keep the dust off but allow the air to circulate around your bike. Don't allow the sheet to touch the floor as it will invite mice as well as wick water if there is any minor flooding.
Outside Try to protect your bike from the weather as well as prying eyes. A tarp or canvas sheet held in place with ropes or ties will work fine to keep the weather out and the neighbor's kids from poking around underneith. I don't suggest using bungi cords as they degrade in the sunlight.


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Copyright 2009 Pokie Parmidge