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December 2, 2009

Keeping your beauty fresh

Tips on Motorcycle Winter Storage
By John Bayliss

Depending upon where you live in this great country, Mother Nature has been very kind to the motorcycling faithful this fall. Especially in Southern Ontario. Just when we thought the riding season was over, the sun came out and temperatures during the day were high enough to extend our riding season. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but winter is coming and it is time to prepare your bike for its winter hibernation.


“Danger” – that’s Johnny’s middle name! Johnny has experience on all forms of motorcycles, and if you keep reading, some wonderful insight on properly storing your bike.

I have owned plenty of bikes over the years, and each fall, I take the time to store them properly so they are ready to go when spring arrives. I’d like to share some advice and tips for winterizing your bike this year. I am not a mechanic, but I am a backyard enthusiast who loves to tinker. I have yet to experience one of my bikes failing to fire-up in the spring … so I must be doing something right. Here is my list of winter motorcycle storage tips:

1. Fill your gas tank with fresh premium fuel that contains no ethanol (Shell premium contains no ethanol … or so says the sign on the pump). I recommend premium because most regular grade fuels contain ethanol and there are a bunch of folks saying it is not the best for power sports applications … especially if you are not using them everyday. More importantly, add the recommended amount of fuel stabilizer. Make sure the tank is completely full for final storage … it will prevent condensation during winter temperature fluctuations.

2. Either take your bike for a short 5 to 10 minute ride or warm your bike up in the driveway and change your oil and filter (this will also insure that the fuel stabilizer has worked its way through the entire fuel system). Refer to your owner’s manual for oil change info.  Unless you have recently changed your oil (1,000 kms or less), it is a good idea to store your bike with fresh oil … it will also save you from having to do it next spring when you are itching to go riding. A bike should not be stored with old, well used oil … its acidity levels will be elevated and could harm your engine internals. Start your bike after the oil change for a minute or so to get the fresh oil circulating.      

3. Once your bike has completely cooled down, if the float bowl drain screws (on non- fuel-injected bikes) can be accessed, drain the float bowls (it is a bit of extra “insurance”). There is no draining required on fuel injected motorcycles, since it is sealed from the outside air.

4. Wash your motorcycle before storing. A coat of wax on the painted parts is a good idea. Always inspect your bike as you wash it. This is a great time to look for damaged, loose or missing parts. If your bike is being stored in a damp environment, consider using some light oil on the chrome bits … just make sure you remove it prior to starting the bike in the spring.

snow road

Sigh …. opportunities to ride your two wheeler are few and far between now. Unless, of course, you have some studs! (And no, I don’t mean in the Chip ‘n’ Dale sense ….)

5. Lube your chain (if applicable) after you have washed and dried your bike. Once again, it is not a bad idea to adjust your chain at the same time … it will save from you having to do it next spring. Please note, chains are not tightened, they are adjusted to a specific tension spec which will be outlined in your owner’s manual.

6. Find a safe, secure spot to store your bike. If your bike has a centre stand, it is best to put it on this stand in order to get as much weight off the wheels and suspension as possible. If you own a sport bike, there are various types of stands available that can raise the wheels off the ground. If not, the side stand will have to do. Remember to store your bike in a well ventilated area away from open flames, sparks, electric motors, etc. (as high ozone levels will degrade the rubber in tires). While talking of tires, the very soft compounds used for high performance sport bikes become easily damaged when the ambient temperatures get really cold. Even a gentle bump down a curb can crack the surface of the tire.

7. Remove the battery, and if applicable, check the electrolyte level and top it up to the correct level with distilled water. Put the battery on charge and fully charge it. The battery should then be stored in a warm, dry place. Never store your battery directly on a concrete floor … this could damage or permantely kill the battery. You can use a 2×4 to keep it up off the concrete. The battery should be charged every 4 to 6 weeks while in storage. [Note: Some MF (maintenance free) batteries require a special charger. There are some very good chargers that can be left connected to the battery for the whole storage period. Perfect if you want to connect and forget it until spring.]

8. Since you have warmed the bike up to change the oil, double check to see if the gas tank needs to be topped up again. If so, make sure you use stabilized premium fuel … this will help prevent condensation and corrosion in the tank. If your bike has a fuel petcock, make sure it is in the off position during storage.

9. Cover your bike with a breathable cover to help protect it and keep it clean. Careful of using a non-breathable cover (plastic tarp etc.) which could cause condensation and corrosion.

10. Depending on where your bike is being stored, if vermin are a concern, take the time to tape up the intake opening and exhaust outlet and put some moth balls under the cover … this will help keep the critters away. (I have also been told that dryer sheets do the same thing … keep vermin away … but have never tried them.) Make sure you remove them before starting in the spring.

11. Some folks go the extra step and remove spark plugs, put a small amount of oil (about a teaspoon) into each cylinder and then rotate the engine a few times to prevent rusting. I have never done this, but some folks feel it is very important. If you are storing your bike for more than just the winter this could be a good idea. [Note: Be careful … removing spark plugs can be a tough job on the newer high-tech bikes, and do not put too much oil into the cylinders.]

12. If you are storing a race bike that has water or water wetter in the cooling system, (read: road race bikes) make sure you drain the water from the cooling system and replace it with proper coolant to prevent freezing and a very costly engine repair.

Finally, remember that thieves don’t go away in the winter. Keep your bike locked up at all times and out of view if possible.

[Note: Lots of riders get an itch to go for a ride on that beautiful mid winter day … if you do this, remember to go through most of the storage procedure again. Also, be aware that if you ride through a puddle or wet area you may have just sprayed your bike with salty water … do not put it away without thoroughly washing it again. Otherwise you will be in for a surprise when you pull the cover off it in the spring … the salt will not only corrode your chrome but may also pit any aluminum parts too.]

Thanks for reading! If you have some tips of your own, feel free to share!

Johnny B

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February 7, 2008

Welcome from Andre Harris

Hi, my name is Andre Harris (you can call me Dre’); I’m the Events and Show Coordinator in the marketing department of Yamaha Motor Canada.

I’ll be one of the folks blogging here; often I’ll blog about sport bikes, though I’ll cover anything motorcycle-related (especially if you ask me to! 😉

Now, a bit about my background…

I’ve worked at Yamaha Motor Canada for going on five years. I like my job – the company is full of enthusiasts, and I get to travel and meet like-minded individuals. And I get to sample the latest and greatest of a wide selection equipment – from dirt bikes and sport bikes to large-displacement cruisers, even beginner bikes.

And quite often, I’m testing one-of-a-kind equipment, before it even goes into mass production! Cool, eh?

I’ve been riding since 1974 (I’m NOT telling you my age! I was out of diapers, but not old enough to get a mature rider insurance discount 😉
My first bike, way back when, was virtually unheard of in Canada, but it was all I could afford – brand new for $600! It was a Jawa CZ 175 [JaWa the first two letters of the developer’s name- Janecek – and first two from a competitor’s model Wanderer; the CZ for Czechoslovakia.)

I’ve been training novice riders as part of the Humber College Rider Training program for more than 20 years, and instructing in advanced cruiser/touring at the FAST Road Racing School for more than seven years.

I was asked recently if I have a favourite bike; I don’t think so – really, any bike with an attitude (but not too obnoxious!) The MT-01 torque sport bike, Vmax, and Roadliner all come to mind.

My hobbies? If it’s got a motor and handle bars… I want to ride it!

Why am I blogging? ‘Cause I want to share my passion (obsession?), relay my stories and experience – and generally be part of the never-ending quest for what it is about motorcycling that we true enthusiasts like so much!


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January 29, 2008

Good times at the Yamaha Fukuroi Test Track

Riding the same course the Yamaha MotoGP team rode the day before!

By Dave Shepherd, motorsports technical specialist, Yamaha Motor Canada

I was lucky enough to find myself recently at the Yamaha Fukuroi road track test course to test some new motorcycles.


The town of Fukuroi is one train stop down the line from Iwata, Japan, home of Yamaha Motor Company. Nestled in the hillside of Fukuroi sits this famous Yamaha test track.

Built in 1969, the Yamaha Fukuroi track (known as “FookU” to us inside the company) follows some of the older designs for its 5.8 km layout. Yamaha Fukuroi is shaped in a figure-8, similar to Suzuka Circuit (the centre of Japanese motorsports and that country’s first full-fledged racing course when it opened in 1962).

The Yamaha Fukuori test track has many trees and rails in close proximity, and not much run-off room (sand traps were unheard of in those days).

The day started out with heavy rain, and I worried that the test session might be cancelled. (Apparently, being located among the hills causes problems such as rivers forming and running over the track surface.) But by lunchtime, the sun was fierce and steam was rising from the black surface.

Engaging racetrack functions… all systems go!

The first few laps on the drying tarmac were slow. That gave me an opportunity to switch on those circuits in my brain that let my body perform racetrack functions. Those include:

  • bending in a full armour racesuit
  • getting the mind up to speed to handle the blitz of bike control information
  • learning the curves and ripples of the track at the same time

In a couple of slower turns, the exit line was seriously marked with a wide stripe of rubber. Not my doing, that’s for sure!

There is something special about riding high-performance motorcycles on the track. Without the distraction of normal road traffic or the constant vigil for our police friends, it is much easier to concentrate on the task of improving one’s riding skill set. (In my case, I need all the improvement I can get!)

It’s a great moment when you suddenly slip into the “zone” and the rest of the world is a million miles away.

Inside my Suomy helmet, I hear myself think, “that’s right, I’m being paid to be here and wring out this bike.” A bug-eating grin spreads across my face, and even the fact that I just missed my brake marker doesn’t really matter. I know that some much better riders than me have been on this very same track, and may even have missed a marker or two themselves!

I finally return to the hot pit where a large Japanese contingent is waiting patiently. (see the photo here). I ask about those wide stripes of heavy wrist action; they tell me that the Yamaha MotoGP team were here the day before, testing some new engines and control systems. With the rubber laid that wide, there had to be some very sideways riding; I’m awestruck by the talent of those unknown pilots!

We spend a very full day riding seven new models, gaining an understanding of the reasons for changes and sampling new technologies in the pipeline.

I realize just how lucky I am to experience these things – it’s almost as great as watching delight on the faces of bike enthusiasts at shows back home when they first see these models for themselves.

What bikes did I ride in Japan? That’s a blog post for another day…!

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November 22, 2007

Tire Inflation

Pumpin’ up my BeeWee

By Aaron Dowden, Marketing, Yamaha Motor Canada

I hadn’t checked the tire pressure on my BW50 for roughly 3 months. What a mistake. I was at the gas station the otherBWs 2008 day and thought that I should have a look. To my surprise the pressure on my front tire was 13 PSI and the rear wasn’t much better. I filled up both tires to 25 PSI and what a difference! Even though you’re able to fill them up to 29 PSI I like to keep them a bit below for those extra bumps. My scooter is faster, handles better and truly performs much better then before. Something so simple can make a big difference.

Now that the weather has begun to get a little bit colder, checking my tire pressure is imperative. I find that it decreases much quicker during the colder months. Just to be safe I always carry a tire gauge under my seat. That way no matter where fill up I can be sure that I’m always getting the correct pressure.

Another great benefit of always checking your tire pressure is the money that you can save on gas. With the increase of fuel costs I always try to find different ways to save money at the pump. Hey, you may not save hundred of dollars but every little bit helps.

BeeWee Man

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November 13, 2007

Welcome from Dave Shepherd

Dave ShepherdHi, I’m Dave Shepherd; I’ve worked at Yamaha Canada for 11 years as a Motorsports Technical Specialist. Basically, I am the “go to” guy for anything to do with motorcycles, of a technical nature. I talk with the Yamaha factory service engineers for various reasons; such as to prepare new model training materials, or take care of any problems in the Canadian market.

I’ve been a professional bike mechanic for more than 30 years (including back home in the U.K. before I immigrated to Canada). I really like working for Yamaha because of their high-quality approach to its product.

In my position, I need to really “know” our whole spectrum of models. So I ride something different every chance I get, from the sportiest to the fastest to the coolest to the most fuel efficient. From the smallest scooter to the heavyweight 1900cc cruisers – if it has two wheels, I’m there!

My first bike was a Yamaha YG1, my first new bike was a Yamaha FS1E (aka “The Fizzy”). I personally don’t believe that a true motorcyclist has a favorite bike – every bike has something that stirs the passion, just in different ways.

When I’m not on a bike, I like to practice judo, go hunting, boating, and hang out with my family.

I’m blogging here so I can stay closer to the market (that means you folks!) and although I will be often blogging about mechanical and maintenance matters, I’ll dip into other subjects relating to bikes too … I don’t want any boundaries!

😉 Dave

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November 8, 2007

All-time Top 10 Motorcycle Tools

Tool chest ‘must haves’ for wrenching

By Dave Shepherd, motorsports technical specialist, Yamaha Motor Canada

While tidying up my tool chest the other day, I noticed that certain tools were definitely more worn out than the rest… that led to me picking my Top 10 motorcycle tools:tool kit

1. Crosspoint screwdrivers (especially in #1 and #2 sizes). Commonly referred to as Phillips screwdrivers they are not the same; true cross-points (JIS) are designed to “cam-in” and grip tighter for use in metal applications. If you commonly slip when using a cross point, make sure you have the right size and type and that it isn’t worn out. (I have a really cool “bevel drive” screwdriver, which is great for getting under a carburetor and adjusting the mixture screw without burning your fingers on a hot crankcase.)

2. Sharp-edged pry bars. Don’t use a flat screwdriver for prying; you’ll end up with a damaged tool!

3. A good-quality ratchet in the size that fits your sockets. For motorcycles, almost every bolt torque is low enough that either a 1/4″ drive or a 3/8″ will do. Go for the best quality, because anyone who has had a racket slip on the pawl will remember that knuckle pain for a long time!

4. Sockets, in short, deep and impact (for use on your air wrenches). Metric motorcycles will eat eight and 10mm sockets, and 12, 14 and 17mm sockets are commonly used everywhere. For these small sizes, always buy six-sided sockets if you don’t want to round the bolt heads.

5. The opposite to socket is the Allen wrench. Most common size for usage for metric bikes are the 5mm and 6mm.

6. A good set of combination wrenches (from 8mm through to 19mm). A good wrench has slim lines, a smooth, high-quality chrome finish, and a fairly flat angle to the closed end. The 8, 10 and 12mm wrenches tend to snuggle down amongst the other shiny bits on the bike and hide.

7. A full punch” set. Punches can be worth their weight in gold if used properly. A sharp chisel can remove a rounded screw (because you used the wrong driver – see #1). A smart rap on the center of a tight and rusted bolt with a straight punch can help shake it free and get it out. And tapered punches an help align holes and prevent crossthreading.

8. Hammers. Note the plural here; there’s a right size and type of hammer for every job.

9. There are more different kinds of pliers than you can shake a stick at, especially when you group cutters, wire strippers and any other grip tool in with them. Two things: pliers should be comfortable in your grip, and should have a good, sharp tooth pattern. Indispensable in this drawer is a diagonal cutter and a “long nose” plier to get into those tiny motorcycle places.

10. And last, but not least, a grabber tool. No matter how careful you are, sometimes you drop a screw or clip and it lodges in a narrow space; a “grabber” is a long, skinny device with 2 or 4 fingers that retract and hold whatever you are trying to reach; it’s also available in magnetic types. Caution: don’t use this on your finger; it’s much stronger than you think! (Don’t ask how I know this 😉

All manufacturers will have the dreaded “special tool” designed for a particular purpose, but for the most part, they are only required for more complex operations. (The big exception to this rule is the oil filter wrench, used on cartridge-type filters.)

Do you agree with my Top 10 Motorcycle Tools? If not, what are your picks / favorite tools?

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November 1, 2007

Welcome to the Yamaha Canada Bike Blog

cr-0207.jpgHi, my name is Chris Reid and I am the Senior Product and Research Manager here at Yamaha Motor Canada. If you are also a ‘sled head’, you might know me as CR over on our sister blog, Sled Talk.

We have assembled a group of Yamaha Motor Canada employees who all love to ride and have some stories to tell. We hope you’ll check in often, and read what we have to say.

(As far as I know, Yamaha is the only motorsports company in Canada to host a blog where we interact with our friends and customers.)

If you have any questions or feedback for us, you’re welcome to add a comment and we’ll try to respond to as many as we can. There are some areas that we won’t be discussing (please see our Terms of Use) but for the most part, be nice and anything motorcycle-related goes!

If you like what you see, you can subscribe (enter email address on the right) and we’ll email you whenever we add a new post, or you can add Bike Blog to your list of RSS feeds. We’ll be populating the blog with a wide selection of content over the next few weeks and we’d love to hear what you have to say about it all.

I sincerely hope you enjoy Bike Blog and if you do, please let your friends know about us.

Cheers cr

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