As winter approaches and your fall riding has dwindled down it is time to think about winterizing your motorcycle, ATV or powersport vehicle. Winterizing a powersport vehicle isn’t an intensive procedure like winterizing an RV and can generally be accomplished within 30 mins of spare time. When it comes to winterizing your motorcycle or ATV there are two thing that typically need your attention. They are the battery and fuel that is currently in your tank.
First, when it comes to the battery there are a few misconceptions that people are told and they will do more harm than good. We will try to clear up a couple in this post. In general, the battery needs to be maintained by a smart charger meant for motorcycle or ATV batteries.
The first misconception we would like to clear up is that disconnecting the battery will ensure it is ready to go the next season. A simple fact is that the majority of powersport applications have sealed lead acid batteries in them and these types of batteries have a natural discharge rate of about 5%. Discharge rates are exponential and differ drastically depending on the temperature they are stored. While this might work the first time, it will most likely affect the life expectancy of the battery and chances are it won’t work the second time.
The second misconception is that you can start your motorcycle and let it idle while the charging system tops off the battery. I hate to break it to you, but unless you willing to grab your winter riding gear and take it for a ride you are doing more harm than good. The simple fact is that most powersport charging systems are stator based, so at idle they only work as a power supply to keep the vehicle going. Charging typically happens at cruise RPM’s, so the only way your going to charge the battery is by taking it for a ride for 15 to 30 mins. Otherwise, all you are doing is discharging the battery every time you start the vehicle, which is exactly the opposite of what you are wanting to do.
We recommend that you use a quality charger / maintainers such as Battery Tender by Deltran, PulseTech, BatteryMINDer or a similar product found by reputable battery charger dealers like BatteryStuff.com. A quality battery tender has built in safety features that were made to alleviate a lot of customer concerns. One major concern is that everybody knows a battery will fail at one point, so they worry that the charger will keep trying to charge a bad battery. A quality charger that is sold by companies like BatteryStuff.com includes safety features that prevent this from occurring. This cannot be said of the $20 battery charger hanging in big box store like Walmart.
If you store your Motorcycle or ATV in location that doesn’t have AC power, then you are open to couple of options. You can uninstall the battery and put it on a smart charger in your garage or basement, or you can solar charge the battery. Solar charging works if your location is exposed to good sunlight conditions most of the day. A simple low watt solar charging kit in the 3- to 7-watt range is all you would need to keep the battery topped off. These smaller solar charging kits will output approximately 1 to 2.7 amps a day. This should counteract any parasitic draw of most powersport vehicles and keep you ahead of the natural discharge rate.
The only other item to think about regarding the battery is if you are one of the few with a flooded motorcycle battery. These types of batteries will typically need a little distilled water added to them before putting it on a charger for extended amounts of time. Ideally, you should check the water level on these types of batteries at least three times a year. We typically recommend topping the battery off at the beginning of the season, checking the battery mid-riding-season and finally topping off the battery when you put the bike away during the fall or winter months.
Last, and probably one of the easiest topics to discuss, is the fuel. Most people know that you either need to drain the vehicle of fuel, or even more simply add a fuel stabilizer. Since we know that everybody has a favorite fuel stabilizer, we won’t cover brands other than what we like: PRI-G. It is a concentrated fuel treatment that both stabilizes the fuel and has detergents to clean the fuel lines and injectors. Once you add the fuel stabilizer to your fuel tank, be sure to run it for a little while to ensure that it get into the fuel lines.
Doing these few steps can save you a lot of headaches come spring! A well-maintained battery will last 3 to 5 years, and even longer with a good desulfating charger. A fuel stabilizer added in the fall will save you a trip to the mechanic in the spring. Forgetting either of these could cost you a lot of money and time or even worst…the first good riding day of Spring!