Winter is already here with us, and most parts of the country are already experiencing freezing temperatures. While some people may enjoy the cold weather outside, winter is always a big nightmare for dirt bike riders out there.
The snow, ice, and cold breeze will automatically send your dirt bike into hibernation, and there is little you can do about it. However, the good news is that after winter comes spring and you need to be ready to take on your bike with the slightest sign of warm weather.
But, this can only be possible if you give your dirt bike proper winterization before you store it during the cold season. There are a lot of things that you need to do to your scooter before you stuff it to the back of your storage unit or garage.
Winterizing your bike properly will ensure that it stays safe and doesn’t corrode or break down during the cold months.
Depending on the type of dirt bike that you own, the specifics for winterizing may vary slightly, but the general steps outlined in this guide will help you winterize your machine properly.
Although you may be tempted to take out your bike during winter and ride it, this isn’t a good idea at all. You may end up causing significant damage to your bike that could cost you a lot of money to repair.
Don’t think that you could fire up your dirt bike engine during winter like you would do in a 70-degree summer day and race through the trails. In this guide, we outline some of the general things that you need to do to keep your bike safe throughout winter.
We shall also guide you on how to winterize your two-stroke and four stroked-bike and how to store your fuel-injected dirt bike.
If you are going to store your machine for more than one season, make sure that you use fogging oil to avoid damaging the engine.
Carefully remove your oil filter and while the engine is still running, spray the fogging oil directly into the bike’s intake tract. This will ensure that the fogging oil coats all the internal components of the engine including the cylinder, piston, valves, and even the combustion chamber.
The primary purpose of the fogging oil is to create a protective layer and help prevent any corrosion and rust that may form inside the engine over time.
However, if you are 100% sure that you aren’t storing your dirt bike for multiple seasons, you can simply add oil to the cylinder.
To accomplish this, carefully remove the spark plug, measure a tablespoon of pure engine oil and put it directly into the spark plug space.
Put back the spark plug but keep its cap disconnected so that you crank the engine over several times to make sure that the oil distributes evenly to get an excellent protective layer. This simple procedure should keep your machine safe throughout winter.
Another critical aspect of your machine that you need to handle with care while winterizing is the fuel.
You need to keep in mind that most gas from pump stations contains a significant amount of ethanol. This component is usually added to gasoline as an additive to reduce harmful emissions.
However, the disadvantage of using ethanol as an additive is that it tends to attract water that isn’t good for your fuel pump, fuel injector, and carburetors. Apart from that downside, the gasoline itself can easily break down and vanish if it is left to sit for an extended period.
One of the effective ways of dealing with this issue is adding a fuel stabilizer to your gasoline. To effectively treat your dirt bike fuel and make sure that it doesn’t vanish during winter; make sure that you add a fuel stabilizer to it before putting away your machine.
Start your bike and leave it to run for approximately ten minutes. You may even consider going around for a short trip to make sure that the treated gasoline finds its way into all fuel components.
If your dirt bike is carbureted, it is good to turn its petcock off and drain its float bowl completely after you have run your engine with the stabilized gasoline.
It is also a good idea to clean your oil filters before you store your dirt bike. Cleaning your oil filters as part of your winterization process will help your bike in two ways.
First, when the dirt bike riding season is back, you can simply grab your machine and head out to enjoy the warm weather.
Secondly, cleaning the oil filters prevents the dirt particles from sinking into your filter. This means that the oil filter will be a little bit easier to clean the following season making your work easier.
Don’t commit a mistake of storing your dirt bike without cleaning the oil filter since you will complicate things come the following year.
If you have been sticking to your dirt bike’s recommended maintenance practice, you will probably be okay to proceed with storing it without worrying so much about the coolant and antifreeze.
However, you may have a lot of work to do if you have been skipping the recommended maintenance intervals.
Most manufacturers usually recommend changing the antifreeze after utmost two years but make sure you check your operating manual to figure out your manufacturer’s recommendation and stick to it.
If you are going to store your dirt bike for more than one season or if you haven’t been following the recommended maintenance schedule, make sure that you flush the cooling system completely and swap it with other antifreeze.
If you love running distilled water with various additives during the hot summer months, you should also replace it with fresh antifreeze before you store your machine.
Cables and the Drive Chain
As long as you stick to your manufacturer recommendation on bike maintenance, it will be fine to store your dirt bike without worrying so much about lubricating the cables.
However, if you intend to store your machine for more than one season, or if you haven’t been following the maintenance schedule, it is critical to lubricate your cables and ensure that they are in good condition before you store your bike.
You should also ensure that you clean off your drive chain thoroughly and spray it with a lubricant as part of your winterization period.
This simple action will help prolong the lifespan of your chain saving you a lot of money in the long run. Keeping your drive chain in great shape will also ensure that you are ready to go once the warm weather resumes.
The last thing you will want to deal with is misbehaving cables and chains when you are ready to hit the road and enjoy the warm weather.
It is always a good idea to change your engine oil before you put away your dirt bike regardless of how recent you might have done it.
Even the slightest used engine oil contains harmful contaminants and particles from the intensive combustion process and a lot of other particles from the conventional engine operation. These are some of the things that you don’t want them anywhere near your engine for extended periods.
If your dirt bike is a four-stroke, make sure that you change both the engine oil and the oil filters. However, if you are riding a two-stroke bike, make sure that you change its transmission fluid before storing it.
Suspension and Tires
It is a good idea to elevate your dirt bike when you store it. Get it off the ground onto a stable stand to keep the weight off the bike’s suspension which will go a long way in helping the springs stay strong for a longer period.
This is especially critical if your dirt bike has air forks. The other significant advantage of elevating your dirt bike is that you will avoid the flat spots on your tires which will prolong their lifespan.
If you don t have a stand, feel free to get creative and come up with something unique that will lift your tires slightly up. For instance, you use a triangle to air up your dirt bike’s tires maximum allowed pressure to prevent the dangerous tire spots.
Don’t forget about the battery as you winterize your bike. It is always a nice idea to get it off and place it on an external trickle charger. This simple process will keep your battery in an excellent state of battery charge hence lengthening its lifespan.
Depending on your dirt bike model, it may sometimes be hard to access the battery. If you can’t locate or remove the battery, install disconnected leads that will make it quite easy to connect the external charger to your bike’s battery.
This will also be helpful if there comes a time during the busy dirt bike riding season when you feel like you need to keep the battery on trickle charge.
How to Store a 2 Stroke Dirt Bike for winter
The first thing that you need to do while preparing to store your two-stroke dirt bike is to clean it. Storing your dirt bike with dirty is like requesting for a lot of problems when the warm weather arrives.
Experts recommend washing your bike with a pressure washer, but if you don’t have one, you can wash it the conventional way but make sure that you do a thorough job.
Use any dish soap to clean your dirt bike since it does the work quite well. You can also use toothbrushes or old rags to get the most of mad, dirt, and gunk off your dirt bike.
Once you are through with the cleaning, leave it to dry before you proceed with the other steps. Keep in mind that if you store it while it is wet, the metallic parts can rust and corrode over time.
Once your bike is clean and dry, take it for a ride for about ten minutes to warm the engine and get the fuel stabilizer through it. However, don’t go far away since you don’t want to get it dirty again.
Remove the gearbox oil and refill it to the full mark with any Type F automatic transmission fluid. Put the spark plug out and carefully pour motor oil into the plug oil before you reinstall the plug.
You should also spray all the metallic components of the bike with a light coat of WD 40 to help stop rusting. You should also make sure that you check the level of your coolant with a tester and be sure that the antifreeze is strong enough for the region you live in.
If you stay in an extremely cold region, you should consider adopting a 70/30 split of water and antifreeze. Inflate the tires slightly and put the bike up on it bike stand such that all the tires are in the air.
If you don’t have a bike cover, you can use an old bed sheet to cover it and forget about your two-stroke bike until spring.
Keep in mind that this advice is only applicable to two-stroke bikes. If you ride the heavier four-stroke bikes with battery and other components, you can refer to my general instructions above or proceed to read my recommendations below.
How to Store a 4 Stroke Dirt Bike for winter
Just like the 2-stroke bike, you will have to ensure that your dirt bike is clean before you store it away during winter.
Changing the engine oil and cleaning your oil filters should also be part of your winterization process. Even if you changed your engine oil recently, make sure that you do so before you store your four-stroke dirt bike.
Used engine oil and dirt filters leave a lot of dirt in the bowels of your bike engine which can lead to unexpected damage that could cost you a lot of money to repair.
Put fresh oil and new filters in your ride and run the engine briefly to ensure that there is even distribution of the oil before you put the bike away.
You should also drain gas and add a fuel stabilizer to your fuel. Remember the fact that gasoline that sits around for many months, especially in the cold can turn gummy.
This thick substance could damage your entire fuel system which can be a massive loss especially if you had filled your fuel tank.
Two schools of thought exist when it comes to draining your gas. First, you can decide to drain your gas tank by letting your engine idle until the fuel runs out or add a fuel stabilizer to a full fuel tank.
When the fuel is mixed with the stabilizer, it eliminates the possibility of gumming. Just make sure that you allow your engine to idle for a few minutes to let the whole mixture to penetrate through your fuel system before you store your bike.
However, if you are planning to store your dirt bike only for a few months such as from November to January, this process may not be necessary. Any storage intervals that are longer than three months require proper fuel treatment.
The good news is that you don’t have to worry so much about fuel tank rusting since modern dirt bike fuel tanks are made of titanium or aluminum.
You should also ensure that take care of your battery unless you want to invest in a new battery when the riding season resumes. And the best way to take care of your battery is to invest in any slow charger that is commonly referred to as “trickle charger.”
Whatever you want to call it, the idea is that you are investing in a device that monitors or controls your battery’s voltage so that it doesn’t dip into the dead state.
The primary role of such devices is to keep the health of your battery up so that you don’t encounter any problems once you decide to hit the road again.
Try not to go for the cheapest battery tender device available in the market since most of these cheap options also give inferior results. They lead to overcharging or fail to function at all forcing you to get a new battery when the cold months are over.
Do your research and only go for devices that will keep your battery in excellent condition for as long as possible.
How to Winterize a Fuel-Injected Dirt Bike
The first step to winterizing your fuel-injected dirt bike is performing a full service to ensure that everything is right.
Make sure that you change out the engine oil and all other fluids to get rid of any contaminants or break down chemicals that may cause severe harm to your engine.
Run your engine for a few minutes and while it is still warm, change the engine oil and the oil filters as well. If your dirt bike is shaft driven, make sure that you inspect your final gear oil and replace it if need be.
You should check your manufacturer’s manual for recommended oil levels if you are not sure of what to do. If your machine is liquid-cooled, your coolant or antifreeze should last for a couple of years but make sure you check it before you put your bike away during winter.
If you are unsure of their condition, it is safe to change them to avoid any potential damage to your bike. The other fluids that you need to change are the clutch fluids and brake fluids.
For fuel-injected dirt bikes, it is critical to take proper care of your fuel system since it is a crucial step in winterizing your bike.
Fill the fuel tank with fresh fuel since any extra room in the fuel tank increases the risk of water contamination which speeds up the process of fuel breakdown. Any extra room in the fuel tank is also subject to rust which is something that you will want to avoid at all costs.
Adding a fuel stabilizer to the fresh fuel is also a must to avoid gumming. Not filling up your tank may not be an option when it comes to winterizing your fuel-injected dirt bike.
Although it is possible, it will take a lot of time and dismantling to drain your fuel tank which isn’t worth the effort.
Since this guide is mainly for winterizing, we don’t expect you to leave your machine lying idle for more than six months. Fuel-injected bikesare relatively easy to winterize.
You should also make sure that you store your battery properly and be sure to use the bike stand to protect your tires. If you don’t have a bike stand, a few simple garage scrapes will save your day.
We can all agree that winter is never a good time for lovers of dirt bike riding. Nobody wants to stuff away from their favorite bike and forget about it for close to five months.
However, how you winterize your machine and store it during the cold months will determine whether you will be back on the road when spring arrives or not.
Proper winterization is critical to ensuring that your dirt bike remains in good condition and it will be ready to hit the road come the warm weather.
Regardless of where you are storing your machine, it is always a good idea to ensure that it is adequately winterized and ready to roar again as soon as possible.
Doing all or at least most of the steps outlined above will ensure that your dirt bike is ready during spring when you are itching to get out and enjoy the warm weather.
You won’t spend time replacing broken parts and fixing other issues that could have been prevented. If you are storing your machine for winter, a little prep will go a long way in ensuring that you enjoy your ride again in spring.
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