Operation Bear: tips to hibernate your motorcycle when the cold arrives

Every year at this time we witness a kind of absurd fight about those who are braver, those who use the bike all year round or those who when the temperature starts to drop and the weather gets complicated decide to keep it. Absurd, because to ride a motorcycle in water, cold, fog, wind or snow you need to have much more than arrests and love for the two wheels. Check this tips from our partner yourmotobro.com. In fact, neither of those two things will get you out of an accident or a fall. Only your knowledge, experience, temperance and -basically!- your equipment will prepare you to face difficult weather situations well.

If any of these conditions fail you, if you’re a novice, if you don’t like riding in good weather, or if you know that your equipment is far from ideal for riding on the road beyond spring and summer, we assure you that the smartest decision you can make is to perform Operation Bear, or what is the same, to hibernate your bike.

However, this doesn’t stop at throwing an old sheet over your machine and waiting for the first rays of spring sunshine to appear. If you do this, you will surely ruin your bike and lose a lot of money. We show you how to keep your bike in good condition and find it perfect after several months of inactivity.

The place

Clean, dry and with a stable temperature, that is, the ideal is to keep your bike in a covered place. If you don’t have a garage, ask a charitable friend who has one and lend it to you for a while or rent one for as long as you don’t ride the bike. We assure you that it is money well invested because you will avoid the bike to rust outdoors or to be stolen. A motorcycle that is stopped for a long time on the street attracts the attention of thieves, apart from being exposed to all kinds of weather.

Does this mean that a garage will be 100% safe? Logically, there is no such thing as total security, but there are risks that it is better not to take. Even if your bike is going to hibernate in the garage, our advice is to use dissuasive measures. A wall anchor is a simple and cheap solution. It consists of a ring that can be firmly fixed to a wall and that will allow you to immobilize the bike with a ball-and-socket joint or a chain. Ground anchors are also available, if you prefer. The operation system is the same.

Another thing you should take into account is that if the garage has natural light through windows, it should not hit the bike directly because it can discolor and eat the paint. The best solution to be calm, in that sense, is to try to avoid direct light, but above all, cover the bike with a suitable cover. No blankets, no sheets or that cool cloth cover that you have made. Forget about it and invest in an earthquake cover. There are a lot of prices, but the most important thing is that you make sure that it is breathable so that no humidity condenses and can corrode the parts of your bike and that it is heat resistant.

Be careful to use a leg cover because you will be exposing part of the bike. It’s true that leg coverings have the extra function of protecting the bike from water and dirt, but they are not the best option when your bike is going to be stopped for several months. That said, the best thing is a special adjustable cover that covers ALL the bike.

Cleaning

You’re probably already slowly removing your summer clothes from the closet to make room for your midwinter clothes, so why not keep them dirty? The same thing happens with the motorcycle, and if you don’t, the consequences can be really serious. A thorough cleaning of the tires, brakes, mechanical systems, electrical contacts, plastics, metals, synthetic fibers, paints and varnishes is equal to a bike free of dust, dirt, insects and residues such as grease that, in that time of rest, can corrode your most precious asset.

Don’t let me tell you that this cleaning thing makes you quite lazy. We understand this perfectly, although you may not know that the industry manages better and better to convince procrastination experts like you when it comes to this type of work. The goal is to make cleaning fun, if not easy and fast. We suggest that you take a look at the Motul range and its 20 products to not only cover the ‘sanitation’ file, but to leave your bike protected.

On the other hand, keep in mind that September and October are transition months. We go from summer to autumn, but those crazy days that have already been baptized as “veroño” are becoming more and more common. Therefore, next month there may be days and weekends in which, despite having already done Operation Bear, you feel like taking your bike out. This is great as long as you clean it thoroughly before saying goodbye to it again.

The fuel

Industry experts such as Honda recommend that you either fill up or leave your fuel tank empty depending on the type of bike you have. For motorcycles equipped with a carburetor, it is best to empty the fuel that is concentrated between the tap and the carburetors so that no residue from the evaporation of the gasoline will accumulate and clog the carburetor pipes. To perform this operation successfully, close the fuel tap while the engine is running until it stops.

If your bike is also old, Honda believes it is best to empty all the gas out of the tank. This will prevent the tank itself from rusting. To maintain the fuel tank, once it has been emptied, you will have to slightly spray the inside with a soluble antioxidant fuel agent.

On the other hand, for motorcycles with an injection system, you should do the opposite, i.e. fill the tank completely with new fuel up to the bottom of the tank’s filler neck. After a month or month and a half, the brand recommends adding a fuel stabilizer to ensure that the fuel does not age and clog the pipes.

The battery

If you’re one of those who doesn’t ride the bike in autumn and winter you should remove the battery, although this doesn’t mean you have to forget about it. Depending on the type of battery you have, it will require more or less care, but the most important thing is that you keep it alive. To uninstall it, always disconnect the negative side first (-) and then the positive side (+). Once this is done, we give you some minimum guidelines to follow:

  • Always keep the battery clean. To avoid corrosion on the terminals, apply a layer of grease on the surface.
  • Check the battery level every 15 days and do not let it go below 50% of its capacity. Use a specific maintenance charger and follow the charger manufacturer’s instructions. Most motorcycles have batteries between 2.3 and 32 Ah. If you want to buy a charger check that it is suitable for the amperage of your battery.
  • Do not allow the battery to be completely discharged. It will lose recharging capacity and will discharge sooner.


The liquids and filters

Renew fluids and filters even if you don’t get the mileage. You’ll save yourself a lot of hassle if you change your oil and filter before your bike hibernates for a long season. If you don’t, the residue from the old oil could produce acids that could end up damaging key engine parts. It’s also a good idea to drain the cooling system if you’re not going to move the bike until next spring.

The wheels

Leaving the wheels in contact with the ground for a long time can be a big mistake if you haven’t worried about swelling them before you put them away either. If you do so, you may damage the tire rubber as it will stay flat and take shape. The solution is as simple as it is economical: place the bike on a central stand or on two stands, one for each wheel.

The chain

It would be strange to think that you are going to keep the bike without checking it, but, in case of flies, we remind you. A well-tensioned and well-lubricated chain is a chain that will work perfectly and therefore last you. Maybe checking the cooling system or changing the oil and filter is a bit complicated, but chain maintenance is so basic and recurrent that most bikers do it themselves. Ah! Don’t forget to clean before tensioning and lubricating. You don’t want the old dirt to stick, do you?