How to Winterize Your Harley-Davidson® Motorcycle

How to Winterize Your Harley-Davidson® Motorcycle

by Cliff John November 01, 2018

Winter weather is upon us in most of the United States and it's time to start thinking about taking some time off your Harley-Davidson motorcycle. I know, it sucks to think about. I'm sure some of you, if the sun's out, tredge on through some of winter’s coldest days, but the fact is your bike is going to spend some time sitting around bored until early spring.

Most Harley-Davidson owners love to really push the limits of their bike during riding season, but some fail to properly prepare their bike for some winter resting or full-time storage during the frigid months.

So, to make it easy on you, we've compiled a list of 10 musts to prepare your Harley-Davidson motorcycle for winter: 

  1. Change Oil & Filter

    Don't let your bike sit with dirty oil all winter. Fuel and acids in filthy oil may accelerate engine corrosion during long-term storage. Plus, the last thing you want to do on the first nice spring day is take your bike in for service because you didn't change your oil before the winter months. 

  2. Add Fuel Stabilizer

    While at the gas station for your last fill-up before winter, put in some fuel stabilizer with ethanol treatment. This will improve the effectiveness of your engine starting after a long winter and helps remove and prevent gum, varnish and carbon deposits. Ethanol treatment will also prevent ethanol from breaking down inside of your gasoline. 

  3. Fill Up Your Gas Tank

    Now that you've added some ethanol treatment, it's time to fill up the tank. Why? Tanks have the possibility of rusting when not in use and the fuel stabilizer you've already added will prevent gas from turning gummy over the winter. Your full tank will also keep moisture from building on the tank walls and the added stabilizer will run through your fuel system on the ride home from the station. 

  4. Check Coolant/Anti-freeze

    Have a twin-cooled Harley-Davidson? Simply pop the access cover off your right lower fairing and check the coolant level to make sure it's sufficient - if it's not add Harley-Davidson coolant.   

  5. Wash Your Bike

    Don't let bug guts or water spots sit on your bike through the winter. Give your bike a thorough cleaning to avoid paint corrosion and make sure you dry it completely after the wash. 

  6. Use Battery Tender

    Hook up a simple battery tender when you store your bike to avoid self-discharge. Batteries have the tendency to lose charge when sitting over time, especially when hooked up to your Harley-Davidson. Using the battery tender will save you from having to disconnect your battery from the bike during storage. Prior to hooking up the tender, make sure the electrodes are clean and corrosion-free - if they're not give them a good cleaning and light coating of dielectric grease. 

  7. Plug Exhaust

    Your exhaust pipes can make a nice winter home for mice and other rodents unless you restrict access to them during storage. You can use a rubber exhaust plug or simply stuff them with some plastic bags - just make sure you remember to take them off before your first spring ride!

  8. Place Bike on Rubber Mat

    Believe it or not, moisture from cold concrete or asphalt can seep in to your tires which can lead to premature failure of your tires, including cracking of sidewalls. Prep for winter appropriately and place your bike on a rubber mat or a piece of carpet or plywood you have laying around the house to prevent tire damage. If you're feeling obsessed, you can even rotate your tires by rolling your motorcycle slightly every few weeks. 

  9. Cover Your Bike

    Whether you garage your bike or leave it outside during the winter months, a cover is a must. A proper motorcycle cover will keep dust off the bike and ensure moisture doesn't get trapped underneath it. If you keep your bike outside make sure to obtain a cover with tie downs to prevent it from blowing loose from the winter winds. 

  10. Theft Protection

If your store your bike outdoors then theft protection is a must. A bike cover is a good first step, but we recommend you add a dependable, heavy lock and chain to ensure your bike isn't an easy target for punks looking to steal a motorcycle. If you store your bike indoors then you're in pretty good shape. That being said, home garages are some of the easiest entryways to access on a residential property so you can never go wrong by heightening your security measures.


Do yourself a favor - take care of your bike and you'll be able to rip it for years to come. Just like it's important to follow your Harley-Davidson recommended maintenance schedule, it's super important to prep your bike for winter. We've given you 10 simple steps to take to make sure your bike sits well over the winter, but more importantly it's ready to ride at peak performance when the warmer weather returns.  

Have additional questions about how to properly prepare your bike for winter? Give us a call in the shop, 301.825.9007, or complete the contact form below and we'll happily answer any questions you have! 

Cliff John
Cliff John


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