My Easy TBR7 Winterize Motorcycle Checklist & Reasoning.

Now that winter is really upon us, mostly the cold weather, I was thinking about what I should do to winterize my carbureted motorcycle. The TaoTao TBR7 being carbureted adds some complexity to winterizing, so I wanted to keep an easy list for short-term winter storage and a more detailed list for longer-term winter storage. This is my easy TBR7 winterize motorcycle checklist.

Since this is the first time I am ‘winterizing’ a motorcycle, here are the questions and concerns and the answers I found.

First, What Does Winterize mean?

Well talking to other motorcycle riders, motorcycles are designed to be ridden and enjoyed. So having a bike sit around not being used is terrible for both the motorcycle and us. Therefore we avoid long-term inactivity of our motorcycles. Work, family, and time can eat into our riding time as individuals, but an event that affects most of us is winter or cold weather.  

So preparing the motorcycle for long periods of non-use, especially during the winter, is called ‘winterizing.’

So truthfully, winterization is preparing the motorcycle for storage during colder months. It addresses the motorcycle’s condition with lack of use, possible cold temps, and exposure to the elements.

Are You Supposed To Winterize A Motorcycle?

Every motorcycle is treated differently by its owner, and winterization is specific to bike specifics, length of storage, and weather conditions. Winterization aims to keep your motorcycle in top running condition during long periods of not running. So the motorcycle is ready to start and ride the first chance your riding season begins again.

My TBR7 Motorcycle Winterization Concerns.

My TBR7 motorcycle is a carburetor motorcycle. So fuel is fed to the carburetor by gravity, fuel is drawn up into the engine’s air stream by airflow, and fuel sits not only in the gas tank but in the carburetor’s fuel bowl.

A carbureted motorcycle has a few more concerns than a fuel-injected motorcycle.

The driving force for the fuel into and thru the carburetor is low pressure compared to the fuel pump pressure of fuel injected carburetor. So fouling can more easily block fuel lines, filters, and jets.

This means the carbureted fuel system can be fouled up by improper storage easier than fuel injected system.

With a good fuel filter, you can help prevent fouling moving from the fuel tank into the carburetor, but this can still offer you problems.  

A prematurely clogged fuel filter could be a headache trying to figure out why your motorcycle isn’t starting or running correctly.

Also, the fuel filter doesn’t protect the carburetor from fouling that occurs in the carburetor. Remember, a small amount of fuel is stored in the carburetor’s fuel bowl.

If you have a carbureted motorcycle like my TBR7, we need to be extra diligent. 

How Do You Winterize A Carbureted Motorcycle Engine?

Simple answer, being proactive. Please don’t take for granted that the simple operation of the fuel system means it doesn’t need care.  

Concerns About Long-term Motorcycle Storage.

Couple of things we know about the effects of storage time on our motorcycles: 

  • Ethanol gasoline absorbs moisture.
  • Unprotected metal will rust.
  • Gasoline evaporates, leaving behind a thick varnish.
  • Temperature changes on metal will collect condensation.
  • A motorcycle engine casing is an open system(crankcase vent, intake manifold), so moisture and air will get inside.
  • All Oil will drain to the crankcase given enough time.

Winterizing will address these long-term storage concerns.

Can A Motorcycle Be Left Outside In The Winter?

Being left outside, the motorcycle is directly exposed to one of the significant concerns of long-term storage, moisture. Not only are the engine and other mechanical parts are under the threat of moisture-related damage, but so are the body of the motorcycle: the cosmetic parts and soft materials.  

Add-in, if left in the sunlight, the UV rays can prematurely age the paint and soft materials like the motorcycle tires and seat. The rapid changes in cold nights and warm sunlight could have temperature swings that promote condensation on the motorcycle.

So, can a motorcycle be left outside in the winter? Yes, physically. Should it, no. Even a good motorcycle cover that protects the bike from the UV rays and rain/snow would be an improvement over just being left outside.

So, if you have no place to store your motorcycle, I would invest in an excellent motorcycle cover for the winter months or any other storage time.

Can I Leave The Battery In The Motorcycle During Winter?

Now I still have the stock TaoTao battery that came with my TBR7 motorcycle. This battery is notorious for failing very early in the motorcycle’s life, and mine has not.

I plan to leave my battery in the motorcycle since I have taken steps to install a battery tender( What A Motorcycle Battery Tender For Means For Me. ). This battery tender has done wonders for extending the battery’s expected life, and I trust it will do well in the winter.

A real plus is that I have a quick disconnect, so I can disconnect and ride should the weather have a break for doing so in the cold months.

If I lived in a place where the temperatures got so cold that a battery’s electrolytes would freeze, I would remove the battery. Then move the battery to a warmer place, but still use a battery tender to prepare it for the riding season.

Should I Store My Motorcycle With A Full Tank Of Gas?

A full gasoline tank will limit the exposure of the fuel tank’s internal metals to air and moisture. This step will help protect the fuel system from rust and vanish.  

Also, having a full tank gets you out on the road faster if there is a break in the weather. I’ve seen people flock to gas stations waiting for their turn to fuel up bikes on lovely winter days.

Should I Use Fuel Stabilizer In My Motorcycle Fuel Tank?

I was told that fuel only needs to be stabilized if you store it for several months.  

However, carbureted motorcycles are more susceptible to fuel line fouling for the reasons listed above. Therefore, I would reduce this down to several weeks. If I don’t suspect I will be riding for a month, I might be using a fuel stabilizer.

More gasoline information:

Now, What Type Of Fuel Stabilizer?

For years, I’ve used regular fuel stabilizers. They have helped with my lawnmower and snow thrower for years. I usually don’t keep fuel in those machines over winter, but when I figure I have the last tankful before the end of their season, I use a fuel stabilizer, so if any gasoline is left, it’s safer for the engine.

Name brand fuel stabilizer for motorcycle engines.  Sta-bil brand fuel stabilizer.
Name brand fuel stabilizer for motorcycle engines.
Name brand fuel stabilizer for motorcycle engines.  - Super Tech Walmart Brand.
Generic brand fuel stabilizer for motorcycle engines.

However, with the addition of ethanol fuel additives in our gasoline supplies, I have had to make a change in the future.

Ethanol is an alcohol, and it attracts moisture. This fuel addition means it can freeze and, of course, accelerate the corrosion process. 

So now, I plan to use fuel stabilizers designed for marine engines. Marine engines have extra exposure to moisture, so they should be better suited for today’s gasoline additives.

Name brand marine fuel stabilizer for motorcycle engines.
Marine grade fuel stabilizer for motorcycle engines.

Remember, fuel stabilizers stabilize the fuel. Duh. They do not freshen the fuel, so use them before it goes ‘bad.’

Should I Drain The Carburetor For The Winter?

This question is a great question, and is that a small amount of fuel is stored in the carburetor fuel bowl and was unfiltered? I wanted answers.

Running stabilized fuel in your motorcycle tank, and allowing run time to let this fuel get into the carburetor, should protect the fuel in the carburetor from varnishing or harming the carburetor parts. 

Regardless of whether I am using a fuel stabilizer or not, when I get home from a ride, I shut off the fuel stop valve and run the motorcycle till the carburetor is ‘dry.’ No fuel in the fuel bowl means no fuel to varnish and clog jets.

With these questions out of the way, I have planned how to do short-term winterization, preparing the motorcycle for occasional riding days during the winter. This winterization plan is NOT my long-term storage plan for my TBR7 motorcycle.

What Do You Do With Your Motorcycle In The Winter?

1.- Limit exposure of the motorcycle to the elements.   

My second plan is to either store the motorcycle in the garage, my first plan, or get a good cover for the motorcycle to weather the sun, rain, and snow.

2.- Limit exposure of the motorcycle to extreme low temperatures.

The TBR7 is an air-cooled motorcycle, so worrying about the coolant system isn’t a concern, but there are the Oil, battery electrolyte, and brake lines.  

I plan to keep my motorcycle stored in my garage, pointing to the front door, ready to be rolled out for a quick ride when the weather breaks. It doesn’t get below freezing in my garage or for any prolonged period.

3.- Stabilize the fuel.  

When I believe I am getting into the final days of riding of the season, I will start adding fuel stabilizer with fill-ups or when I get home.  

Name brand fuel stabilizers have an easy feature to add the right amount to the volume of gasoline. Just check your owner’s manual for your tank’s capacity to estimate how much gasoline is in the tank and how many stabilizers you need.

4.- Keep my carburetor bowl empty.  

I will stop the fuel supply and run the motorcycle till the engine dies. This way, there is no fuel in the carburetor to varnish up. When ready to ride again, I will open the fuel petcock and be on the road in no time.

5.- Use a battery tender.

I can not say how much this cheap item has saved me money and headache with my motorcycle battery. So using the quick disconnect, each time I come home, I plan to plug in the battery tender and not worry about the battery anymore—real peace of mind.

This Was My Short-Term Winterization Plan.

I don’t have plans to do any whole winter storage. I am a new motorcyclist, and I ride when I get the chance to ride.

I have to prepare for the chance that some unplanned situations will limit my riding ability in the long term to develop a more extended winterization storage plan for the TBR7.

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