Harley Davidson Winter Service Tips
- Change the engine oil (trans/primary fluids optional on HD) at the onset of your winter maintenance. Again, primarily for the purpose of removing from the system, older oil that is trapping contaminants, which can eat away at rubber seals! Help Save The Seals!!!!
- Apply fuel stabilizer to the fuel system; add LHP first THEN fill the tank. Proceed to run the mixture through the system, or approx. 10 minutes for both carbureted and fuel injected cycles. We concluded that the same process would be most convenient for carbed cycles, as opposed to draining float bowls and running the fuel delivery components DRY.
- Have your brake system fluid FLUSHED and bled at the two-year or 20,000 mile marker, as per most models’ service schedule directives. Remember – your brake & clutch fluid (if applicable) is HYDROSCOPIC, or IT ABSORBS/ATTRACTS MOISTURE, and moisture is the enemy! This process can act as both a maintenance AND storage task; we need to ensure this system is water-free!
- On to our battery. Employ a battery maintaining device, such as a Battery Tender. Most of the modern batteries are sealed, maintenance-free units, meaning they do not require topping off the electrolyte acid; if you have a manual fill-cell battery, you’ll need top off at the manufacturers recommended level prior to charging. Additionally, make sure the terminals/posts are free of corrosion (or the green & fuzzy ice cream looking stuff).
- Wash & wax your motorcycle with the appropriate light-duty soaps, and metal polishes. Allow to dry fully, especially if you’re going to use a cover.
- Roll the bike up on a couple sheets of stacked cardboard, or a sheet of plywood to get those tires off of the colder cement in a non-climate controlled garage, or outdoors. Make sure those tires are inflated to their recommend cold running pressures – consult your manual. Remember: the pressure molded into the tires are “MAXIMUM” pressures which allow for expansion under use – always follow the information in your manual, as opposed to the figure stamped on the sidewall of the tire!
- Store away from direct or indirect sunlight coming through a window, and away from (as much as possible) things like heaters, furnaces, operating generators, to reduce the prospects of both UV (ultraviolet) and ozone damage – primarily to the plastic & molded parts….
- Coat the chambers of the exhaust system exits with WD-40; go in approx. 1”-2”, and on slash-cut systems, don’t forget to get a coating on that upper hangover portion…
- Please try to avoid the temptation to start your bike periodically during the “down time” – I know it’s hard (especially on one of those rogue, nice days that tends to pop up here and there), but we need to keep that moisture from forming due to the temperature inversion created due to the collision of engine temperatures. If you absolutely cannot resist, I recommend to get that engine temp good and hot (MINIMUM 20 miles or so), so that any built up of moisture should evaporate away on cool-down
- Remember – with the application of all these various chemicals for fuel preservation, cleaning, WD40, etc.. be prepared for some smoking and burn-off of chemicals from time to time. Don’t forget to re-apply the respective chemicals following any extended riding.
RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO RUN FUEL TANK LEVELS TOO LOW
- Given the imperfect, erratic nature of fuel gauges, doing so will risk very sudden, unplanned loss of power, which could pose a potentially serious safety concern on a busy roadway, and….Risk starving the fuel system, which may damage more modern, electrically driven fuel system pumps and sending unit modules
- Also, fuel pumps are cooled with the fuel they “pump”—WOW!
Tips for Healthy Teeth
Back in 1903, when the founders wheeled the first motorcycle out of the famous shed, it had a Harley Belt drive. But modern Harley belt drives have come a long way since that crude (by today’s standards) leather strap. Today’s belts are stronger than ever, while offering greater efficiency and less maintenance than chain roller or shaft drive systems. That’s not to say they’re bulletproof. But with the occasional TLC your belt drive will serve you well for many thousands of miles.
Previously in this space (HOG 006), we addressed the importance of periodically checking your belt’s tension. It’s also important to clean and inspect your belt regularly. The more often the better – like every time you clean your bike. The procedure is simple – in fact, the trickiest part may be getting your rear wheel off the ground so it spins freely. But any simple commercially available rear-wheel lift will do.
Harley Belt Drive
Once your rear wheel is airborne, examine each tooth of the drive belt as you clean it with a clean cloth and mild cleaning agent, such as Harley-Davidson Sunwash. Look for cracks, missing teeth, chipping, frayed edges, “hook wear”, and small stones that can become embedded in the belt. If you find small internal (hairline) cracks, minor chipping, slight fraying, or “bevel wear” (wear on the outer edge of the belt), it’s okay to keep using the belt but keep an ongoing eye on it’s condition.
Minor stone damage is not critical, but if the damage is at the edge, the belt should be replaced. Larger cracks or missing teeth also indicate a new belt is called for. In the case of hook wear (wear on the teeth in the shape of a hook), both the belt and sprocket should be replaced. As always, when in doubt, ask the experts at Mt. Baker Harley-Davidson and get an expert opinion on the condition of your Harley Belt drive system. And consult your owner’s manual and /or service manual before doing any work yourself. Re-printed for HOG Magazine 009, Spring 2011
Make sure when the temps are low, that you’re practicing proper v-twin warm up procedures, i.e. getting those rear cylinder rocker box covers slightly warm to the touch (best accessibility is on the right side) before beginning your ride. This will ensure the oil has sufficiently circulated to the fullest extent of the system, thus helping to prevent accelerated wear on the critical moving parts!
PROPER V-TWIN ENGINE WARM-UP PROCEDURE
- ESPECIALLY during the winter months, proper V-TWIN ENGINE WARM-UP practices will aid in promoting longer engine life and smoother engine operation. My recommendation here is to pause for a moment, and give your V-Twin time to catch up with your busy schedule.
- Despite the presence of modern-day fuel injection, it remains necessary to get that engine up to a bit of temperature before lift-off. On your Harley, a slight, warm-to-the-touch feel on the right-side, rear cylinder polished rocker cover signifies a properly warmed engine. The easiest way I find to accomplish this is to fire off the bike first – stay with the bike until that rocker cover develops the slight warmth, THEN finish gearing up – this way, you won’t be touching a HOT rocker cover after several minutes of warming up!
- Also, you need to allow the engine to come up to FULL operating temperature for a period of 5 to 10 minutes to allow the condensation to evaporate from the internal working of you engine and transmission.
- Rule-of-thumb, by the time you get your helmet and other riding gear on you are ready. Also, riding at normal speed for the first 1 to 3 miles helps too, proper V-TWIN ENGINE WARM-UP practices will aid in promoting longer engine life and smoother engine operation.