There’s no getting around it: winter is tough on your motorbike, but it shouldn’t stop you from getting out for a ride. With the right maintenance and upkeep, you and your bike can handle anything winter throws your way – without the cold weather affecting safety and performance.
Here, we offer 12 essential motorbike maintenance tips to help look after your bike in winter. To make things easier, we’ve split the tips into categories, including maintenance, cleaning and personal safety. Use the links below to look around:
- Motorbike Maintenance Jobs for Winter
- Keeping a Bike Clean in Winter
- Winter Storage and Safety Tips for Motorcyclists
Motorbike Maintenance Jobs for Winter
Keep your motorbike in good working order with our need-to-know winter maintenance tips:
1. Check the Health of the Battery
Cold starts, thick engine oil and the use of more electrics (lights, bar warmers etc.) put a lot of strain on the battery in winter time, so we’d recommend regular battery health checks. Start by checking the voltage – a healthy bike battery should be above 12. 6v. Then, grease the terminals and make sure everything’s tight and free from dirt. If the battery’s down on power, charge it thoroughly before your next ride and keep tabs on its voltage. If it’s draining quickly, consider replacing it.
2. Check the Tyres
It goes without saying, but you should get in the habit of checking the tyres before and after every ride, both for damage/wear and pressure. In the winter months, the pressure can drop by as much as 2psi for every 10°C drop in temperature, so you need to check this before heading out.
Also, you might want to consider swapping your bike’s tyres for winter-ready rubber, as this will offer better grip and handling in wet and icy conditions.
Tip: Carry a can of Holts Tyreweld with you for winter riding. This emergency puncture repair will get you back on the road after a puncture, so you won’t have to wait by the roadside in the freezing cold.
3. Use Quality Coolant/Antifreeze
If your bike has a standard cooling system, be sure to top it up with high-quality, winter-ready coolant/antifreeze. You need to use antifreeze with a low freezing point (preferably down to -30°C) so that it can’t freeze in the system when left parked outside. Never use water in place of coolant/antifreeze, and make sure to check it regularly throughout winter so it’s always topped up.
4. Keep the Chain Lubricated
Salt from wet roads will make the chain rusty in no time, without regular cleaning and lubrication. Start cleaning and lubricating the chain after every ride in the winter to remove salt and dirt and protect it from moisture and freezing.
Tip: To make chain maintenance easier, install a Scottoiler device, which will lubricate the chain automatically as you ride.
5. Lubricate Other Moving Parts
Dirt, moisture, oil, salt and ice can really mess with your bike’s controls in the winter, so apply lube regularly to all moving parts to keep them working smoothly. This includes the brakes, pedals and throttle control.
6. Change the Oil and Filter Before Winter
Starting your bike on a cold morning puts a lot of strain on the engine, so you need good quality engine oil to lubricate and protect moving parts. We’d recommend changing the oil and filter before winter kicks in to ensure complete protection for the engine.
Tip: To make cold starts easier on your bike’s engine, try Bradex Easy Start. This product makes the fuel/air mixture in the engine more combustible, for quick and painless ignition. Just spray it into the engine’s air intake valve for a few seconds, and you’re good to go.
Keeping a Bike Clean in Winter
Cleaning your bike after a chilly winter’s ride might seem like a lot of effort, but it’s the key to keeping your bike rust-free and at its best. Here are our tips on keeping your motorbike clean in winter.
7. Hose the Bike Off After Every Ride
Salt can corrode parts of your bike in no time, so one of the best things you can do to maintain your bike in the winter is hosing it down after every ride. Clean the undercarriage, wheels and any gaps or crevices where salt and moisture might have got in. You don’t have to wash it completely – just hose it down after every ride, and then give it a thorough clean every one or two weeks.
8. Clean the Lights Regularly
Visibility is key in winter, so make sure the lights on your bike are kept clean and free from dirt.
9. Apply Anti-Rust Spray to Vulnerable Surfaces
After cleaning your bike, apply anti-rust and corrosion spray to vulnerable surfaces, like the brake discs, undercarriage and gear pedal sprocket. This creates a watertight barrier and stops corrosion. You’ll need to apply it regularly for complete protection -after cleaning’s best.
Winter Storage and Safety Tips for Motorcyclists
Here are some basics storage and safety tips that will keep you and your bike safe throughout the colder months.
10. Store Your Bike Inside Where Possible
Keeping your bike inside will reduce the impact the cold weather can have on the battery and cooling system, and it’ll also stop moving parts from seizing. If you don’t have a garage, a secure shed is the next best option. If it’s not possible to store your bike inside, try to get a high-quality motorbike cover to protect your machine from the worst of the weather.
11. Install Hand-Warmer Grips
Winter riding can be extremely tough on your hands, even if you have high-performance gloves. One solution is to install after-market hand-warmer grips. These handy inserts can be fitted to standard grips, and they warm your hands with power from the battery. Keep them switched off until the engine is idling on a cold morning, otherwise, it’ll put a lot of strain on the battery.
12. Treat the Visor to Prevent Misting
Like car windscreens, your helmet visor is more likely to mist-up in winter, causing problems with visibility. The best thing to do to avoid this is to install an anti-fog insert like this one, or treat it with a special anti-mist spray. If you choose the spray, be aware that you will need to reapply it regularly to stop fog while riding.
At Holts, our DIY maintenance products are perfect for keeping your motorbike in tip-top shape this winter. For more information and to browse our full product range, visit the homepage today.