Bears have famously earned a reputation for hibernation. Following a summer of chowing down on berries (or hikers, campers, ...whatever), theirs is a simple matter of ambling into a den and dozing right off. After a summer of big mile adventures, prepping our bikes for their own winter hibernation is just a bit more complicated. Here are a handful of tips if you are going to put your scooter away for the foul winter months. An aside: if the weather will allow it, and you have the right winter gear, then simply riding year-round is the very best solution. But I digress...
Then there is the issue of batteries. Discharged and/or frozen batteries are definitely bad news. If the battery is allowed to discharge too far, sulfation of the plates can occur and this is the beginning of the end for your battery. The very best solution is to remove your battery to a warm location (basement?) and leave it connected to a battery maintainer like a Battery Tender, Optimate, or Battery Minder for the duration. These microprocessor-controlled devices actually do a great job keeping the battery fully charged, but not overcharged as can happen with a simple trickle charger. Some even have a conditioning mode that can further reduce the disabling accumulation of sulfur on the plates. If you don’t want to remove the battery from the bike, so that you can more easily go riding on that freakishly warm 70 degree day in January, then connect your tender/charger directly to the bike; be careful with some modern bikes that have CAN bus controls integrated with the charging system (can you spell B-M-W?). Some of these bikes may require special charging hardware or routines. Check your owner’s manual.
You’ll find that other operations, like a coolant change, are often recommended but let’s just call it good here. Spring will come soon enough, and if you just take care of these few items, you’ll be ready to go when the time comes. Unless, of course, you neatly avoid all the nuisance by becoming a year-round rider. Join us. It’s fun!
Jack Broomall is a lifelong motorcyclist. His motorcycle adventures have taken him across the North American continent several times, to Alaska, the Alps, the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man. He is a member of the Iron Butt Association and also owns several motorcycle Land Speed Records set at the Bonneville Salt Flats where he is a member of the Bonneville 200 MPH Club. He has been known to do occasional restorations of his favorite bikes from the 1970s and enjoys track days as well.