‘Tis the Season

Steve Lita, American Iron Magazine Editor

Steve Lita, American Iron Magazine Editor

RIDE TO WORK, By Steve Lita, Editor

“…thinking about what will be here before we know it: winter’s icy grip”

A few weekends ago was the first weekend I didn’t have to keep the air conditioning on in the house. But, unfortunately, the pendulum seems to have swung pretty fast, as it was only 45 degrees when I left this morning to come to work. The temps are dropping and leaves are turning. Seems like we went from sticky, hot summer to brisk, cool autumn, and we skipped the whole sleep-with-the-windows-open season here in New England this year. Maybe it’s that. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been entertaining myself lately with online social media jabs at a friend of mine who’s moving from Southern California to nearby Rhode Island. I’d say he’s in for a surprise when he tries to take an early morning ride on his motorcycle over the next few weeks.

I also bought a used motorcycle this past weekend, sight-unseen (I know, not very smart, but I had to have it). When I arrived to pick it up, I noticed a short 110-volt electrical cord sticking out from under the frame. My first thought? It reminded me of the old fashioned block heater cords I used to see on diesel trucks. Once I got the new project home I dug a little deeper into the mysterious power cord and found a Sears trickle charger hardwired to the battery. The unit was small enough to be tucked into a storage area adjacent to the battery, and I thought, what a great idea. It will eliminate workbench clutter when the bike is in storage for the offseason, and it only adds a pound or two to the bike, which isn’t a big deal. And all this gets me thinking about what will be here before we know it: winter’s icy grip.

While some readers might never feel our New England winter’s deep freeze, I’m sure plenty of you still feel the stinging pain on early morning rides even in the Midwest or southern states. So, instead of running a separate tech story about prepping your bike for winter storage or winter riding tips, I’ve decided to share a few of my favorite pointers here.

For those putting away a bike for the winter, you’ve already heard my first tip, tend to your battery. If your garage is somewhat insulated, you can probably get away with trickle charging your bike’s battery while it’s still mounted on the bike. Otherwise, remove the battery and store it indoors with a maintenance charger on it.

I like to fill my bike’s fuel tank with quality premium grade gas and mix in some stabilizer to keep the fuel from turning sour. Run your bike on this mixture for a last ride, and if the bike is carbureted, turn the petcock off and run the engine until the carb is dry.

Park the bike with the tires on small squares of carpeting to help prevent flat spotting, or, if you have the room, raise the bike off the ground and keep the tires off the ground completely.
Another winter prep I perform is not done on the bike, but rather to the garage. Set some mouse traps to keep the little critters from making a feast of your bike’s wiring harness. I don’t know how they can find copper wiring insulation appetizing, but I’ve seen several bikes ruined by common field mice. Also, plug the exhaust outlet(s) with a squishy rubber ball to keep moisture and the aforementioned mice out.

If you’re fortunate enough to keep riding year round, you’ll probably need some extra layers to keep out the cold. Some of my favorites are silk glove liners, often found in the skiing department of sporting goods stores. Silk is a wonderful insulator, and the liners are super soft and thin. Flannel-lined jeans are wonderful, and it feels like you’re wearing pajamas all day. If my neck gets cold when I’m riding, my day is done. So I’m a big fan of neck gaiters and quilted/lined bandanas. Most motorcycle shops can get these for you, or try FierceFaceProtection.net. Finally, stuff a few hunter hand warmer packets in your pants pocket. If you have any suggestions of your own, share them with us by writing to [email protected] I know what to get my relocating riding buddy for Christmas: a snow shovel. He’s probably never seen one before. AIM

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