Keeping your motorcycle warm during the winter is a high priority for a lot of owners because of the harsh consequences that cold weather can have on our machines. I have lived in cold harsh climates for most of my life and below I have listed the best ways to keep your motorcycle warm in winter.
The best ways to keep your motorcycle warm in winter are:
- Motorcycle engine block heater
- Garage overhead heater
- Heavy electric blanket around the engine and carburetors
- An electric heated motorcycle cover
- A motorcycle cover air flow heater under the cover
- Electric heater blowing on the engine block before startup
There are many reasons why keeping your motorcycle warm in the winter is a good idea. It will prolong battery life, reduced chances of condensation causing rust, help tires last longer and not become brittle, will help motorcycle start up much faster, and will extend gasket life. Those reasons alone merit using one of the means below of heating your motorcycle in the winter.
Motorcycle Engine Block Heater
Engine block heaters are typically small black rectangles with a metal face that magnetize to metal components and heat them up. They are widely used throughout the motorcycle community to pre-heat certain components on a motorcycle before going out to ride. They are very effective and not very expensive.
I’ve seen them used on engine blocks, carburetors, oil pans, and fuel tanks. Their most common use is being stuck to the side of the engine in order to pre-heat the cylinders to help with combustion. A cold engine really struggles starting in the middle of winter, so having a small electric heater on it can make all the difference.
The second most common place to see an engine block heater is the bottom of the oil pan. If you ever go to a motorcycle race you’ll probably see this on every single motorcycle unless it’s on a really hot day. Pre-heating your oil will reduce cylinder friction and improve the overall quality of how well the motorbike will run.
It’s also not uncommon to see them stuck to the carburetors or side of the fuel tank. Heating up the fuel a few degrees can help the engine start a lot easier, especially on really cold days. These engine block heaters are a very easy way to keep your motorcycle warm in the winter.
Garage Overhead Heater
This is my preferred method of keeping my motorcycle warm in the winter. Overhead hanging heaters are not very expensive and provide a large amount of heat that is evenly distributed throughout the whole garage, not just one part on your motorcycle.
Overhead heaters make a huge difference in spending time in the garage. I have lived almost all of my life in Utah and Idaho, and winters there are very harsh and cold. Trying to work on my motorcycle when it’s 10°F outside is miserable, it freezes your hands and nothing seems to go right.
Having an overhead heater makes all the difference. I can spend hours out in the garage in just a t-shirt and jeans and be perfectly comfortable. On top of that, it keeping the entire motorcycle up to a more acceptable temperature where parts won’t get damaged.
Winter is the best time to get all those motorcycle projects done that you wanted to do all last summer but never had time. But if the garage is freezing cold you aren’t going to be motivated to do it, so buying a heater big enough for a two car garage (or whatever size shed or garage you have) is the perfect fix.
This is absolutely my preferred method because not only does it keep your motorcycle warm in winter, it keeps YOU warm in winter as well.
Heavy Electric Blanket
I have seen this used on occasion with motorcycle owners. Those who like to go out and ride their motorcycle occasionally during cold weather or at least like to start up their motorbike and let it run for a while will sometimes use this method.
Electric blankets are pretty cheap, and if it is wrapped around the engine and carburetors of your motorcycle right, it can help it start right up when you need it to. If any of you have tried starting a carbureted motorcycle when it’s below freezing outside you know that it’s nearly impossible unless you heat up the engine block somehow.
If you’re going to try this method, get the largest and heaviest blanket you can so that the blanket stores more heat and transfers as much of that heat as possible to the metal of the engine, which is what is going to get it to start.
Just as a disclaimer, don’t use your spouse’s electric blanket and promise them you’ll wash it off. It’s going to get really dirty, so if you’re going to use this method then get your own electric blanket!
Heated Motorcycle Cover
Until recently, there weren’t any motorcycle covers that were heated. There’s only one company in the UK that manufactures heated motorcycle covers so this is a spot in the market that could potentially make a lot of money for someone.
The cozybike heated motorcycle cover costs around $150 USD plus shipping. The cover has a temperature setting to keep the motorcycle just above ambient air temperature, which would ensure that condensation and moisture could not form inside the cover.
It’s a great idea but I have not been able to use one for myself yet. The company says they are currently out of stock, I’ll keep checking back occasionally.
This would be a good idea for someone who does not need to keep their entire garage warm in the winter, just the motorcycle itself.
Motorcycle Cover Airflow Heater
Another really cool gadget that I would like to try in the near future is a motorcycle cover airflow heater from Bike Barn. It’s a 60W heater that sits on the ground below your motorcycle and blows warm up up inside the motorcycle cover, keeping it warm in the winter.
Through my research I couldn’t find any other companies that were selling these small disc-looking heaters. Bike Barn sells them for $50 USD plus $15 shipping.
This would be a great means of heating the motorcycle if you already have a good motorcycle cover that completely covers the motorbike. If not, then the warm air going to go out and around the sides of the cover.
Small Electric Heater To Blow On Engine
The most budget-friendly approach to warming up your motorcycle in the winter is not one that should be used every day, but can work if you’re in a bind. I have done it many times myself when I’m in a pinch and need to get the motorcycle started on a really cold day.
Using a small electric heater, place it next to your motorcycle engine and let it blow hot air on the engine for at least 20 minutes. This will raise the metal temperature enough that a carbureted motorcycle should be able to start.
This is not a long-term method to keep your motorcycle warm all winter, just a trick that I’ve learned along the way.
Also a disclaimer, do not ever use one of the open flame heaters to blow hot air on your motorcycle. Your motorcycle is full of combustible fluids, and no open flame should ever be used around it. Only use small electric resistance heaters if you’re going to use this method.
Do motorcycle engine block heaters work on aluminum engines? Most engine block heaters for motorcycles only work on engine blocks that have iron in them, but a way to get around this is to find some iron component on the engine. For example the oil pan, cylinder head, or exhaust header. Putting it in these locations will help keep the engine warm.
How cold is too cold to ride a motorcycle? It is not recommended to ride a motorcycle when the temperature is below freezing (32°F or 0°C). Ice will form at these temperatures and motorcycles are more susceptible to ice since they are smaller vehicles. Click here for more info.