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Dec 29, 2009

Winter Dirt Bike Maintenance

This is the time of year that most dirt bikers look out the window longing for warmer days with less snow and more DIRT.., they don't call it a dirt bike for nothing, but whether we chose to ride or not, there are some things that can make a big difference to how our machine performs when needed. For those who chose not to ride, winter storage becomes the issue. Chose a warm, dry place if possible such as a garage to store the bike. Even unheated garages will keep a bike better than sticking them out in the weather. During storage, the main issue for me seems to be the fuel left in the tank and system. I usually try to use as much fuel as possible on my last ride of the season so I can simply drain the fuel. That way I can make sure my fuel is fresh when I take it out in the Spring. If you are left with a lot of fuel, a fuel stabilizer is handy and will keep everything in good shape. Fuel left in the carb for a long time will leave deposits, sludge, and/or varnish when the fuel evaporates. Also, if you have a 2-stroke, mixed gas has an even shorter shelf life so it becomes more important to pay attention to the condition of the fuel. If I have a bunch left, I usually try to store it in a separate container, then use it up in my less expensive weed wacker instead of my bike. Some guys like to change the oil in the crankcase to help avoid condensation. I've never done this, but it could be a good idea. The old oil will contain more contaminants that will sit in there all winter, may as well change it now rather than later. If your bike has a battery, remove it. This will help keep it charged. A charged battery will not freeze, but if it goes dead it will, so either keep it warm or keep it charged...better to keep it charged periodically, or keep it hooked up to a battery tender. This will increase the life of the battery. If it freezes, more than likely the battery will be toast.

If you chose TO RIDE during the winter, it becomes cumbersome to drain the fuel etc. just for the month or so that you might leave it in the garage. Most of the time, my bike doesn't sit for more than about a month, so I usually run the gas low as possible and drain the carb, then turn the fuel off so the carb etc. won't just fill back up(if it's only a month, I won't even do this much). Spraying a little wd-40 where condensation might take place will help displace the water. The biggest PITA about riding in the winter is trying to keep your bike clean. Don't be tempted to simply come home and put your ride away wet, you'll need a new chain by the time you get it out again. Take the bike into a garage where it will be above freezing and spray the chain etc. with compressed air, then lube it. If it's muddy, your best bet is to wash it with a hose. If it's only slightly below freezing, I still can use a hose to spray the mud etc. off the bike, then take it in and let it dry in the garage and/or blow it off with compressed air.
Studded tires are a pretty much a minimum on a bike if you want to ride in the snow and ice. Ice screws can make a good homemade studded tire and are cheap to buy. If you're like me, you'll go through about a tire every year, so if you really plan to ride in the winter, stud your old tire and get a new one in the spring. Until recently, we have tried to ride most every month of the year, including the winter months. Now, I usually ride in November and put it away till February. If you get lucky, dry spots can be found to ride in Utah year round, but it's hit and miss. This picture was out at little Moab in February. The day before was perfect, then we woke up to this! It was still fun, but where money and time are scarce, you may want to pick more carefully. Then again, it's moments like this that you sometimes remember the most! Depending on how your bike is Jetted, JETTING could become an issue. Colder, drier air will cause a leaner condition and may require richer jetting. Make sure to pay attention to any differences in how the bike is running. Going richer on the jetting could save some expensive engine damage.

7 comments:

  1. Cool! You are going to take apart your bike anyways, right? I took my car down and they said all it needed was the heet to get through. They also did some tests on it because of the engine light. The light is not on anymore but if it goes on again, I need to take it to a Subaru dealer. They said I need to keep the gas tank 3/4 full or all the way full to keep the water in the gas from freezing. See what happens tomorrow morning, it was only 22 degrees this morning but we'll see if it starts when it's 0 degrees tomorrow. That's the only thing sucks about winter, it's too damn cold!!!!

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  2. Yea, I'm going to take the top end apart pretty soon anyways. That's another good thing about storing it in the garage..it lets me catch up on some maintenance during the winter, then it's ready to go when the good riding hits again. Yea, the cold sucks..getting to work in rush hour on the freeway in the snow is no party either. When the weather is like it has been at times this week, my commute goes from a half hour to an hour each way:(..if I'm lucky.

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  3. Winter is the hardest time of the year for everybody. Why not just stay home all winter and live on snowmobiles and food storage? Don't have to worry about roads. If Owen gets hurt sleigh riding, then the doctor can come on his snowmobile. Then just play video games and fix motorcycles all winter, not work.

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  4. any vehicle maintenance comes to stake if not in use... if any typo machinery remains in use then its maintenance cost gives u benefit but if we stop using this its performance goes to risk once reused. i dont know why bikers stop using this in winter however i think i enjoy more in winter on bike than in summer. beleive me by looking at ur first picture my reflex is to stop my work and jump to this bike and have a wonderful ride... Anyways, nice post for bikers....

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  5. Good work on this post. We don't get that sort of weather down here in New Zealand. But yes some good advice to bikers.

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  6. I agree that winter is the hardest time on all seasons, same on maintaining your dirt bike. Because 100% you will have difficulties on your bike.

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  7. Thank goodness for mild south african winters! I've been able to happily ride all year round and the only time I've seen snow was out in the mountains on an organic farm I worked at a few years ago. I had an old Honda XR200R that I used to get around with on the farm. I was really great fun and I miss the mountains, dirt roads and river crossings so much.

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