The leaves have begun to turn and the autumn season is now upon us. For motorcycle riders, it's almost time to prepare your bike for a long winter. To keep your bike in top condition, it's important to follow a seasonal maintenance program before you store it for the winter. Similarly, your insurance policies may need some adjustment for best results as well.
Let's have a look at what the new season means for your bike and your insurance.
Autumn and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
1. Fluid check.
Most fluids can change consistency if left in your motorcycle for long periods of time. You should change your oil at the end of the riding season; winter grade oil such as 5W30 will help with the start-up in the spring.
Fill the tank with fresh fuel, (don't fill it quite full, leave a bit of room for the fuel to expand once the warmer weather hits) and add winterizing fuel conditioner. Drain the carburetors and fuel lines if you're planning to idle the bike for 4 months or longer.
2. Remove the battery.
You must remove the battery while the bike is in storage. Charge the battery at least once every two weeks using a charger that has an output of 10% of the battery's ampere hour rating. If your battery has an AH rating of 12, then the charge rate shouldn't be higher than 1.2 amps. A higher charge rate will cause the battery to overheat. Make sure you charge the battery away from open flames or sparks as these could cause an explosion.
3. Check your tires.
Make sure your tires are inflated to the correct gauge for winter storage. The air in the tires will contract with the cold weather, and if your tires are underinflated to begin with, this can cause problems.
4. Exhaust and mufflers.
Your exhaust and mufflers are prone to rust when they're not in use. Spray a light oil such as WD40 into the ends of the muffler and drain holes. Cover the ends of the exhaust pipes so that moisture can't get in and make sure the outside of the mufflers are covered as well.
5. Keep it covered.
Make sure your bike is covered and protected from sunlight, moisture and excessive cold. Keep your bike in a locked garage to reduce the chance of theft or vandalism.
In most parts of Canada, it's impossible to ride your bike in the winter. Most insurance companies take this into account and bill your premiums accordingly. This is known as a pay-as-you-ride policy. While your policy remains in effect 12 months of the year, you are only charged during the usual motorcycling months of March to October. You can also choose to simply pay your annual premium up front on your renewal date.
As a result, there's no advantage to cancelling your policy during the winter months, in fact, if you maintain a good driving record, you're better off to leave your policy in place year round. There's no additional cost and you get the continuity of maintaining the same policy, not to mention coverage in case of theft.
Don't Forget your Auto Insurance
Finally, less time on your bike generally means more time spent in your car. As a result, you should review your auto insurance policy to make sure you're adequately covered during the winter months.
Your auto insurance premium is calculated in part based on the number of kilometres you drive. If you ride your bike rather than your car throughout most of the summer, you may qualify for a cheaper car insurance rate. However, once the snow flies and you're relegated to your car for the winter months, you should let your insurance company know to ensure that you have adequate coverage for the increased amount of driving.
Like your motorcycle, your insurance works best when you give it the maintenance and attention it needs based on current circumstances. It’s a good idea to check your rate annually to ensure that you are paying the lowest rate possible.