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winter riding

Fasttrack's Jim in Winter GearThat’s right folks, the less enjoyable end of the year for motorcycling is just over the horizon, if not here already.

Whether you are someone that rides your motorbike all year round – be it raining, snowing or gale force winds – or someone that only rides during the dry(er) summer months, then there are various things you can do to help keep your motorcycle clean and functioning.

Storing Your Motorcycle

We will start our guide with the dry weather motorcycles. Undoubtedly the most popular time of year for motorcyclists, summer brings out the shiny chrome customs, sports bikes in all the colours of the rainbow and lovingly restored classics. Even if you don’t ride in poor weather, there are still a number of things you can do to help keep your pride and joy away from the elements and avoid unnecessary expenses when the summer season comes back around.

1. Battery care.

Batteries can be quite expensive to replace so looking after the battery during the colder months is very important. The cold weather slows down the chemical reaction going on inside the battery so if left unattended for long periods of time the battery will discharge more easily and will be less likely to recover when it is needed again. Simply disconnecting it may not be enough, a low amp trickle charger/maintainer will save money in the long run as this keeps the battery topped up, preventing it from discharging. At roughly £30-£70 for a good charger/maintainer (depending on make), compared to £30-£60 for a new battery then the charger only needs to save a battery over 1 maybe 2 winters to be saving you money and hassle.

2. Fuel care.

Another common problem relating to cold weather storage is the fuel going stale. This is due to the chemicals used in petrol separating/evaporating and in more extreme cases it has been known to degrade into a varnish-like substance that damages and blocks delicate brass fuel system parts. This is more of a problem in motorcycles fitted with carburretors but can also prove problematic in electronic fuel injection motorcycles too. The solution? Well there are  various things you can do to avoid that expensive repair bill. First and foremost having as little petrol as possible residing in the fuel tank is a good start, that way when you come to use it next year a full tank of fresh fuel will mix well enough to avoid having to completely drain and clean. On carburettored motorcycles there will be a way of draining the carbs of fuel, this help protects those delicate little brass parts that stale fuel will potentially block. Petrol is highly flamable and dangerous so it is recommended you get a professional to do this for you. Alternatively running the bike for 10-15 minutes a week will  keep the fuel flowing  (along with the addition of some fresh fuel) enough to help keep everything tip top. This also can be harmful when done inside as exhaust fumes do not agree very much with the human body!

3.Corrosion protection

Exposure to the elements, especially winter elements, can cause chrome to go spotty and rusty, aluminum to go furry and flakey and steel to rust. Aside from the obvious aesthetic issues reducing the value of your motorcycle, this can lead to early failure of mechanical parts such as wheel bearings, steering bearings etc. A basic motorcycle cover is a good start when inside storage isn’t available. Grease is not just a mechanic’s best friend, it’s also great for holding back corrosion and preventing moving parts from seizing! As for cosmetic corrosion there are various products available to coat exposed metallic parts: ACF-50,  Scottoiler FS 365 and basic silicon spray to name a few. All of which are available from us in store of course.

4.Engine care

Care for the cosmetics isn’t the only thing to worry about when winter hits; the engine will also require some tlc and protection. There are some areas which are better left untouched until after the winter period if you plan on storing your motorcycle. Oil and filter is one area as oil degrades over time – regardless of mileage, so is best left for when it comes out of storage. The drive chain is also important to keep lubricated as a dry and rusty chain will develop tight spots, stretch and wear a lot quicker!  Another area is brake fluids. Brake fluid is what is termed as “hygroscopic”, this basically means it attracts and absorbs water, which in brake fluid is not very good at all.

 Riding Your Motorcycle

OK so that’s storage covered, now a few pointers for those of us dedicated enough to ride all year, all weathers! The biggest problem at this time of year is salt on the roads, although it is beneficial to motorists by melting the ice on the roads and helping keep us on 2 wheels, it is very corrosive and damaging to steel and aluminium. Not just cosmetic parts but mechanical parts too.

1.Corrosion protection

As well as the above measures, there are other things to do to help protect against corrosion when using your motorcycle in poor weather. The fluids already mentioned  will need more regular use as they will wash off with use. This being the case, giving your bike a good clean with cold water on a regular basis will help. Try to avoid using a jet-wash as this can wash the grease out of bearings and strip paint from wheels if they already have some corrosion. An accessory know as a “fender extender” is available for most if not all bikes that basically extends the front mudguard helping prevent road dirt from splashing over the engine.

Another form of corrosion protection for water cooled motorcycles is the type of coolant used, NEVER put just plain water in the cooling system. Proper coolant has various beneficial properties, firstly it helps lower the freezing point of the liquid inside the system; plain water in the winter will freeze, causing damage to the cooling system and therefore the engine as well. Another property of coolant is that it is anti-corrosive. There are various mechanical components inside the engine that can easily rust, meaning expensive internal damage if plain water is used.

2. Servicing and maintenance

Servicing and maintaining your motorcycle is important regardless of how and when you use it, it is however ESPECIALLY important to do this before the cold weather sets in if you plan on using it during this time. A change of oil and a new filter are best sorted beforehand as the oil works best at operating temperature, so during the cold months it takes a while before it begins working properly, even longer if it is old and dirty. A sensible choice of tyres is advisable too, sticky sports tyres are great when they have heat in them, not so great for winter however. To combat this a lot of manufacturers make a dual-compound tyre – a harder wearing compound in the middle with plenty of tread pattern to disperse the rain well, and a softer compound round the edge for the grip on the most important part of the tyre.

So that’s it! My quick guide to surviving the winter with your motorcycle intact at the end. Hope you enjoyed reading it and that you found it useful. And don’t forget you can win a BikeTEK battery charger / maintainer, a lock and a heavy duty cover on our free to enter skill-based!

I’m sitting here all wrapped up like Boris Karloff in an Egyptian tomb trying desperately to stay warm and yet sunlight is streaming through the window from a picture-postcard blue sky and I hear the sound of bikes roaring past my window. Lots of bikes. It’s all a bit disconcerting to be honest. My body’s telling me it’s freezing and yet my eyes and ears tell me it’s a lovely sunny day…

It’s the sound of motorbikes which confuses me the most. Though it really shouldn’t. I’ve never been one to leave my bike in the garage just because it’s a bit chilly, heck I’ve ridden to work in the snow only to stop and find I couldn’t walk across the car park it was so icy and another time I caught hypothermia and almost died trying to visit my Mum in the middle of winter. In Yorkshire. So why does it surprise me to hear bikers riding past my window?

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Because the majority of us think of winter as the domain of the car. We wrap our pride and joy up in the garage, plug in the Optimate and dream of the summer. And why do we do this? Because winter means cold. Winter buy discount cialis means snow. And Winter means salty, wet roads. The bikes which do venture out are often cheap winter hacks. Old ‘crossers, ratty 400’s or hard core mopeds, and it changes the sound of the traffic.

In the last few weeks however I’ve been hearing the return of the four cylinder roar and the bark of the throaty twins. Take a look around you if you’re stuck on a bus in the morning or caught up in traffic in your warm little tin box. There’s more and more of us taking to the roads and it bodes well for the Summer. It seems some of us feel that the Winter has already past and well, what can I say? Here comes the Spring!