Most track or race bikes are put into hibernation from Oct to March. Some bikes might be lucky enough to get a bit of winter sun in Spain for a long weekend but for most it will be under cover in a cold dark corner of the garage. This guide will give you some handy tips on how to prep your bike and to make sure your pride and joy doesn’t come out from under the covers the following season looking ten years older!.
First thing to do is a proper clean, dry and polish. When I say proper clean I’m talking "detailed". The more time you are able to spend on this bit the better. Start with a hot wash with bike cleaner. Take the fairings off and nick the missus toothbrush to get into the awkward bits. If you want to get all "contours" then strip, clean and rebuild anything you are confident you wont mess up! The important thing is to make sure everything is completely dry when you are done washing, cleaning and polishing. Pay special attention to the brake discs plus nuts, bolts and brackets to make sure water isn’t sitting in the ends.
Clean and lube the chain and sprockets. Don't just slap some more lube on. Dry rub the chain and sprockets to get all the gunk off – use a little petrol on a rag if needed. Then lube and dab off any excess. You wont want the chain snapping half way down the straights at Snetterton.
Freeze and crack. Your worst winter nightmare is the water in the system freezing. When it freezes it expands more than you think. The expansion will have enough pressure to crack the expensive bits. Not good when you get all the way to Oulton Park and find a belly pan full of fluid. Drain the water out and mostly re-fill with a mild water/coolant mix. Leave the radiator cap loose. If you leave the system empty all those exposed aluminium components inside are going to look like one of those really furry caterpillars you see on tv.
Your tyres and suspension wont like you if its left stood on its wheels. The tyres will get flat spots and you are more likely to have a fork seal leak on your first day out. This is very annoying when you arrive at Brands Hatch scrutineering to get a fail. Front yoke stands are good or centre ‘frame lift’ stands are perfect but just normal front and rear stands are better than nothing.
Take off the brake callipers and zip tie up. If you don’t those high friction pads you fitted will corrode to the discs from the condensation alone. While you are down there dip the calliper bolts into a little copper slip and check your pads are healthy.
Pop your battery on a conditioner if you have one or at least disconnect the battery leads and pop a bit of tape over the lead ends.
If you are able to – drain out the fuel – from the top. Old fuel is ‘slow’ fuel.
Finally, get a clean rag and wipe a fine film of oil or lube on any bits that corrode easy. Again pay special attention to bolts, screws, nuts, light weight brackets and clips etc. I go a bit over board with this and do just about everything except the tyres and discs! Many people use WD40 as a cleaner.
Pop a cosy breathable cover over the bike that reaches all the way to the ground and occasionally pop back to give those discs a dry rub and say nice things to it.