Motorcycle Maintenance and Prep for Winter – Avoid an Accident
10 tips to avoid a motorcycle accident this winter
The cold and wet weather this time of year brings can play havoc with your motorbike. With salty and slippery roads, it is more important than ever to maintain your bike to avoid accidents or having your bike rust away. Here are your 10 steps to prepare your machine for winter.
Use the right rubber
Different tyres are made for different conditions, you need to be sure that you have the right tyres on to avoid a motorcycle accident. All tyres should come with a guide for their best use i.e. winter tyres. If you already have the correct type of tyres then please ensure that you check their condition to make sure you are as safe as possible, tread depth is particularly important in this case.
Keep up the pressure
It is recommended that you check your tyre pressure once a week, especially with the changing conditions of the great British weather. Air expands by roughly 2psi for every 10°C increase in ambient temperature and contracts by the same value when temperatures fall. So, if you last set your pressure in June at 30°C heat you will find that they’ve dropped by 5.4psi on a frosty 3°C January morning.
Check up on your battery
Your battery is put under more pressure in winter due to low temperatures causing oil to thicken and an engine’s internal components to drag, so your battery must work harder in order to crank over the motor from cold.
You should check your battery health while the engine is off and see what the resting voltage is. A battery in good condition should indicate a reading of at least 12.6v. Lightly grease the battery’s terminals and check that they’re free of rust and ensure all of the connections are tight as well.
Make sure your bike doesn’t freeze
People can often be tempted to fill up their radiator with water rather than the adequate coolant that has anti-freeze properties, you should never do this as in winter temperatures the water can freeze and do some serious damage to your motorbike.
If you do use an anti-freeze coolant, check how long the coolant has been in the system because its freeze-beating properties degrade over time and if your coolant freezes it will wreck your engine. Owners of air-cooled bikes needn’t worry about this step, of course.
Make sure your lights are working and not covered in crud. Adjust headlights for both dip and main beam for optimal performance. If you’re thinking of adding lighting accessories such as front fog lights or LED indicators make sure you choose quality items.
Additionally, with less daylight in the winter months, now would be a great time to double check and adjust your headlight angle to ensure you can both see and be seen without dazzling other road users.
Keep your hands warm
There is no pain like having cold hands on long winter rides, it can also be very dangerous if your hands seize up. There is an easy solution to aid them warm winter rides and that is heated grips. The grips have heating elements imbedded in them, often with multi-levels of heat control, and are powered via the bike’s 12-volt electrical system.
Lube it or lose it
Winter salt will destroy your chain in half the time so stay on top of cleaning and lubing. Alternatively, you can fit an auto lube system. These devices automatically measure a precise amount of oil to the chain, and they work so well that they can substantially extend the life of your chain and sprockets. So be safe and save yourself money.
Treat the visor to prevent misting
Cold and wet conditions mean visors are prone to misting. The best solution is to fit an anti-fog insert into your visor. A Pinlock insert costs around £25 and will be a revelation if you’ve never used one before.
Alternatively, there are liquid treatments for the inside of your visor, but these will need regular re-applications for decent performance and can lead to “streaky vision” which is especially unhelpful at night.
Keep it smooth
When your hands are cold and the conditions challenging, you need your bike’s controls to be as smooth as possible. Remove the front brake lever and give the pivot bolt a thorough clean using wet and dry or a wire brush to remove any corrosion. Then re-install it with a thin smear of grease. The same can be done for the clutch lever, and rear brake levers.
Stop the rust
Using anti-corrosion products like ACF50 or XCP Rust Blocker will protect your bike from salt-accelerated corrosion. These products coat the vulnerable parts with a fine film which acts as a barrier to prevent oxidisation taking place. You should use anti-corrosion products alongside an established cleaning routine for optimum performance. Ideally you would want to wash your bike after every ride to keep it in peak condition.