December 27 2011 by Jason Fogelson
Even though I live in Southern California, I find myself contemplating how to keep my motorcycling jones fulfilled during the winter. I can only imagine the depths of despair that my motorcycling friends in the Upper Midwest are enduring right now. So I decided to collect a few random thoughts about your motorcycle in winter to help keep hope alive.
As long as the roads are dry and the skies are clear, you can conquer the cold and keep on riding.
Warm Up Your Bike. There's a whole world of accessories to help you stay warm. Consider adding a windshield to your unfaired bike, or add heated handgrips to your ride. If you have a touring bike, look into wind deflectors and leg protectors to keep your lower extremities warmer. If you've got the voltage and amperage available, you might even want to install a heated seat.
Dress for Cold Weather Success. There's a wide range of heated clothing available, from vests to jackets to pants to socks and gloves. Keeping the core warm is very important for safety, but keeping the extremities warm is the key to comfort in the cold. I've got a pair of Harley-Davidson Battery Operated Heated Gloves that come out whenever the temperature gets below 50 degrees. I'm thinking of adding a pair of Cabela's Battery Heated Wader Socks to my arsenal for this winter. The advantage of battery-operated accessories is that they don't put a strain on your bike's electrical system, and they don't require you to be tethered to your ride with wires, which is cumbersome and inconvenient. Snowmobilers, hunters and skiers have cold weather comfort and safety dialed in way better than motorcyclists -- so I tend to shop in their catalogs for products and ideas.
Prepare for Projects. The best time to undertake a big motorcycle project is over the winter. If you work on your own bike, you can take your time without losing riding time. If you work with a mechanic, they are much less harried during the winter, because customers are more relaxed about the pace of work. Get your project together on paper, order up all the parts and tools that you'll need, and settle in for a fun winter of wrenching.
Attend to the Details (and the Detailing). My Sportster has wire wheels, and I love when they sparkle in the sun. Unfortunately, I never have the time during the summer to polish and care for my spokes, and as a result, they're tarnished and dull. This winter, I'm using my new motorcycle lift to get the wheels up to a comfortable height, and I'm going to polish and seal my spokes so that they shine like new again. It's the kind of project that is perfect for the winter. I'll bet your bike has some nooks and crannies that have not been attended to for a few seasons -- give them a good cleaning, and you won't regret it.
Stabilize Your Fuel. If your bike is going to be sitting around for the winter, do yourself (and your bike) a big favor: Add some fuel stabilizer to your tank and then fill the tank to the brim before letting it sit. A full tank of stabilized gas will help keep your gas tank from rusting on the inside from evaporation and condensation, and you'll wind up with less gunk in your fuel lines when it comes time to start up again.
Rent Some Storage. Not everybody has a garage, or space in their garage for a bike to live over the winter. Seasonal motorcycle storage is available to rent in most areas. Many self-storage centers like Cube Smart have vehicle-specific lockers or spaces, and welcome motorcycles for the winter. Or you can go the cheap way, like I used to: Check with friends, family and neighbors to see if anyone has a little extra space in their garage where your bike can spend the season, and offer to clean up the garage in exchange for storage.
Fly and Ride. Don't let winter keep you from riding altogether. Check out Harley-Davidson Authorized Rentals for a warm weather location, then use BestWestern.com to find hotel deals nearby. Fly to the warm place, rent a bike, stay at the BEST WESTERN and ride your pants off. That's what I do, every winter.