Winterizing Your Bike the Right Way

Now, we’ve certainly discussed winterizing your ride time and again, but as that magical time of year draws near (and already has for some of you) I wanted to add in a little final thought about the whole thing.

Now that we’re about to be suffocated with Christmas Carols and holiday cheer, make a different kind of list to check twice.

In fact, if you are stubbornly still riding and have winterizing on your “to-do” list in the next week or so, do yourself a quick favor on the last ride of the season.

Make a list.

All the deferred maintenance, any upgrades you’ve been thinking about, and any items that you’d really like to change out over the winter. In fact, when you take that last ride (and yes, it needs to be a “real” ride – up to operating temps, through the full range of speed, sharp turns, traffic, etc…) take note of any of the subtle handling cues that you might have overlooked in your haste to lay down some miles.

Is it pulling under hard braking? How are the tires wearing? What kind of fuel efficiency are you getting? Is there a stumble under hard throttle? All of it.

Because, you see, right now, you’re at the top of your riding game. You are “tuned in” to how the bike actually performs since you’ve been riding for months. When you haul it out of storage in the Spring, you are going to be rusty and focused less on the feel of the bike and more on the feel of how your butt hurts after an hour.

So you take that list and now, in the coming months, you can address it all over the winter and when it’s time to saddle up and ride next year, you’ll have all those little things addressed.

And you won’t forget them. How many times have we all noticed something on a ride, made that mental note to correct it when we got home, and promptly forgotten about it until the next tim? Think about the windshield wipers on your car (or the washer fluid in the reservoir!) … do you change them out or fill it up when the sun is out? Nope. There you are, changing out your wipers in the rain and the snow in the parking lot of the auto parts store. Cold, wet, and miserable – and probably dressed too nicely for maintenance.

So take some time this week and make your list – even if you aren’t going to be able to get out and ride to verify. It should at least be fresh in your mind and these are exactly the things that you need to work on this winter after the bike is put up.

Oh, and one more thing – if you have already put your bike up and did not take the time to have detail-cleaned it, then get your butt out in that garage and start shining. All that chrome isn’t going to polish itself and don’t even get me on the subject of bright aluminum. I have worked out that it takes two old t-shirts, a toothbrush, and two hours to get all the shiny stuff on my bike polished and protected. Your mileage may vary.

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