FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- Motorcycle enthusiasts are already out and about on post. Even though the official end of winter is still a couple of weeks away, riders are taking advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures, waking the roaring beasts from their hibernation.

Karl Cockrum, U.S. Marine Corps Motorcycle Club, said riders often treat their motorcycles with special care when winterizing them.

"I know some people that bring their bikes inside their living room for winter; they treat their bikes like children. That is their baby," Cockrum said.

Cockrum uses a detailed routine to get his motorcycle ready for winter storage.

"I fill up the fuel tank add fuel stabilizer, then run the bike for about five minutes to get the stabilizer through the fuel system. By topping off the tank, you will prevent rust from building up in your tank, by eliminating any air which might cause condensation to form at a later time," Cockrum said. "Pump your tires up to the maximum pressure they are rated for. This will keep your tires round and assist in preventing flat spots. Top off the oil to the recommended amount. Clean and lube your chain with a wax or grease product.
Connect a trickle charger or battery tender to your bike. Cover your bike with a breathable dust cover. For water cooled bikes, drain the coolant and the reservoir, then refill with 50 percent coolant plus 50 percent distilled water."

Cockrum said for those living in a country setting, you might want to put steel wool in the exhaust to keep rodents out, "But remember to take it out prior to starting your bike."

Everything that is done to winterize the motorcycle needs to be undone before the bike can be safely ridden.

"When spring rolls around, you have to run the opposite course in order to get your bike back on the road. Neglecting to perform these tips on a sleeping motorcycle may cost you down the road," said Tom Miller, U.S. Marine Corps Motorcycle Club. "Motorcycles like to be ridden, and when they sit for long periods of time, they require special treatment."

Col. Charles Williams, Fort Leonard Wood Garrison commander, said he keeps his motorcycle covered in his garage and uses the T-CLOCS checklist -- tires and wheels, controls, lights and electrical, oil and fluids, chassis and stand -- before riding his bike.

"Whether I ride it or not -- I at least start it every few weeks," Williams said. "Using the checklist ensures you check it all and don't miss anything."

Miller agreed that one of the most important things to remember is to conduct a T-CLOCS inspection.

"Not checking proper oil levels could cause the engine to heat up and seize. Ensure tire pressure is correct and check all fluid levels. Under pressurized tires can cause your bike to be unstable when up to speed, and extremely dangerous when taking corners. Over pressurized tires when up to speed will warm up and may cause them to fail," Miller said.

Cockrum said if the motorcycle owner isn't confident in their skills, the best thing to do is take the bike to a local shop to be serviced.

The overall goal of un-winterizing is to ensure safety of the rider, and to ensure a safe and pleasurable ride.

"Nobody wants to be left on the side of the road during a ride due to maintenance failure," Cockrum said.

For a T-CLOCS inspection list and more information about motorcycle safety, visit

The next motorcycle classes available on Fort Leonard Wood are the Basic Riding Course on March 14 to 15, Basic Rider Course 2 on March 7 and the Military Sportbike Rider Course on March 26. To sign up for a course or see courses offered in the future visit mil/airs.

Page last updated Wed February 29th, 2012 at 12:30