Get your motorbike ready for winter

Whether you’ll be storing your motorbike for the season or enjoy riding in wintry conditions, there are steps you can take to keep you and your bike safe.

Eve Powell
Eve Powell
Updated 8 November 2022  | 3 mins read

Key points

  • If you’re storing your bike for winter, preparing it correctly beforehand will keep it safe and in good condition
  • You can use a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) if you’ll be keeping your motorcycle off the road for a while
  • When you hit the road, use the T-CLOCS check method before you set off and wear the right clothing to stay warm and safe
  • Advanced motorbike training and breakdown cover could help your winter ride go smoothly

Get your motorbike ready for winter

As the cold weather draws closer, you should start thinking about preparing your motorbike for the winter.

Even if you’ll be storing it away, there are things you should do to make sure your bike stays in top condition until spring comes around.

On the other hand, if you enjoy the challenge of riding in cold and icy conditions, there are steps you should take to keep you and your motorcycle safe in the coming months.

Steps to store your bike

Many riders put their bikes away for winter, but if you’re going to be storing your bike it’s important to do this properly if you want it to stay in good condition.

  1. Clean your bike

    Before it goes into storage, give your motorbike a good clean to wash away any dirt and salt that can cause corrosion. Make sure any drain holes are clear of debris and that the bike is completely dry before you put it away

  2. Block up holes

    Prevent mice and other pests from making a home in your bike by blocking up holes like the exhaust pipe, airbox and intake ducts. Leave a note on the bike to remind you the holes are blocked before you try to restart it

  3. Look after the battery

    Batteries don’t like cold temperatures, so if you’re putting the motorcycle away for winter you can either remove the battery completely (this may be unnecessary on more modern motorbikes) or you could use a trickle charger to keep it in good health

  4. Protect against corrosion

    Certain parts of your motorbike are at risk of corroding when it’s not used for a while. So, before you put it away, spray the areas that need protecting with a preservation product

  5. Keep it off the ground

    Try not to leave the bike with all its weight resting on the tyres. Instead, use paddock stands or a piece of carpet between the tyre and floor. Slightly over-inflate the tyres to help them keep their shape and rotate them regularly

  6. Store it safely

    If possible, store your bike in a dry, well-ventilated and secure garage or shed, and cover it to avoid damage and scratches. If you’ll be keeping it outside, protect it from the elements by using a sheltered spot and a waterproof and breathable cover

  7. Do a regular warm-up

    To prevent condensation forming, start your motorbike every few weeks - removing anything you’ve used to block up holes first. Let it get up to temperature and then make sure it’s completely cool before you cover it up again

  8. Make sure you’re insured

    Your bike still needs to be insured if you want it covered for hazards like theft and fire while it’s in storage. If you only want to pay for the protection you’ll need while it’s off the road, you could consider laid-up bike insurance

Getting your motorcycle winter-ready

You don’t need to hang up your biking jacket and put your motorcycle into storage just because winter has set in.

If you want to continue to enjoy riding, there are a few checks and adaptations you can make to help you ride safely all year round.

Start by doing the T-CLOCS method before you go for a ride. This means checking your tyres, controls, lights, oil levels, chassis and stands.

To get your bike winter ready, you should also:

  • Consider which tyres you use - Cold conditions can affect how your tyres work and some, like sports tyres, aren’t well suited for winter conditions. Tyres with a bigger tread pattern warm up more quickly and provide better grip and handling in very icy conditions
  • Test your battery - Your battery has to work harder to run the motor in the cold, so check it’s in good condition before you set off. The battery’s resting voltage should show a reading of at least 12.6v if it’s to run effectively
  • Check your brakes - Look for wear and tear on your brake pads and replace them if the thickness is down to around 2mm. Keep your brake oil level topped up and if the fluid looks dirty get it replaced by a mechanic
  • Oil the chain - If your chain freezes it’ll slow your acceleration and could even mean the chain snaps. Frequently cleaning your chain and using a high-quality lubricant will reduce the chance of it icing up
  • Top up on anti-freeze - Check your coolant level and use fresh anti-freeze. Never top it up with water, as you run the risk of it freezing and causing costly damage to your radiator
  • Use a rust inhibitor - Salt on the road can cause significant corrosion and rust to your motorcycle. A light coating of an anti-corrosion spray after every wash can help prevent this and keep your bike in tip-top condition

What else to consider

As well as taking steps to prepare your bike for winter, you might also want to consider doing some advanced motorcycle training.

This can give you the skills and confidence you need to ride in all seasons, and it may even lower the cost of your insurance.

However, if you want to stay off the roads in winter, you will want to get a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).

There are no road tax or MOT costs to pay and insurance isn’t compulsory, but it’s still worth considering a laid-up policy.

Finally, breaking down is never pleasant, but waiting on the side of the road in winter can be particularly difficult. Taking out motorbike breakdown cover can help you get your bike back on the road as quickly as possible.

Tips for riding in winter conditions

Dress for success - Reflective clothing will make you more visible in adverse weather conditions, and warm clothing and gloves will protect you from extreme cold and help you ride for longer

Use a clear visor - A helmet with an anti-fog visor, or using an anti-misting spray, will give you a clearer view of the roads. Depending on your visor, you may be able to use a Pinlock insert which can also stop the visor fogging up

Keep your distance - You’ll need to increase your braking distance to give you time to react to hazards in wet or slippery conditions. Braking earlier and more gradually will help you avoid skids

Increase your visibility - Winter roads can be covered in wet leaves and debris which can pull our focus closer to the bike but scanning further ahead will help you spot dangers before you reach them

Think about your body position - Tight corners and roundabouts can be more dangerous in winter. In these situations, take them slowly and minimise the lean angle by leaning your body into the bend but keeping the bike upright

Know your limits - If the forecast is looking particularly ominous or weather conditions are poor, plan your trips around this and choose a different mode of transport if needs be