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maintenance

Winter in Canada normally means to motorcycling season.

Winter is lurking around the corner and it's time to start thinking about storing your motorcycle. Here's what you should do to keep it safe and sound:

Change your oil(s) and warm the bike up. By installing fresh oil, most contaminants are removed and if the oil is hot, it will drain more thoroughly. Filling the oil up to the filler hole is a good idea because it'll cover transmission components, eliminating the possibility of rust formation.

Find storage. If you don't have a basement or a weather-tight garage, rent space at a mini-storage facility or store it with your local dealer. "Do not park the vehicle near any caustic materials – i.e. swimming pool supplies or working electric motors," says John White, manager of service and warranty administration for Deeley Harley-Davidson of Canada.

Fill the gas tank and add fuel stabilizer. Simon Bird, general manager at Carter Honda Motorsports in Vancouver, says this will "prevent any moisture from forming" and preserve the fuel's quality. Run the bike briefly to get the stabilizer distributed throughout the system. This is especially crucial for bikes with carburetors. Be sure to use a recommended fuel stabilizer as indicated in the owner's manual, says White.

Put the bike on a low-output trickle charger. Failing that, remove the battery and "store it in a warm dry place" says Bird. If the battery is more than five years old, discard it and buy a new one in the spring. If you don't have a trickle charger, recharge the battery every two weeks.

For liquid-cooled bikes, drain the coolant and refill it with fresh stuff. To dispose of it, take it to an approved drop-off facility.

"If you have a centre stand, great," says Bird. "Get the tires off the ground to prevent flat spots." If you don't have a stand, you can buy a motorcycle lift for about $150. Otherwise, jack it up and put some blocks under the frame. Ensure your tires are at the correct pressure.

Give the bike a wash and wax to rid it of road grime accumulated during the summer. "Ensure the motorcycle is clean and any bare metal surfaces are protected with the appropriate surface care products," says White. Spray WD-40 on nuts and bolts.

Protect your bike with a good quality, breathable cover.

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