The season's final ride is just around the corner ...

The arrival of winter, as all Canadian motorcyclists are painfully aware, is inevitable. Back in the day, when British bikes were popular but not too reliable, the old gag ran: six months of riding, six months of rebuilding.

So, we know it's coming. This makes the tricky bit the judgment call on what the absolute last rideable day of the year is and deciding whether to devote it to one last ride or putting in a couple of hours of effort to ensure it emerges ready to rock after its winter hibernation.

Actually to properly prepare your bike for winter storage you'll have to do a bit of both anyway and a nice dry day is best. What's suggested here is aimed at those looking to store their bikes for five to six months.

Step one is a detailed cleaning. Check the owner's manual for any cautions, but basically a low-pressure rinse with water and a going-over with a bucket of suds (generated by an automotive paint-friendly soap) and a soft brush is what's needed. Follow this with a little more attention to the nooks and crannies where road grime accumulates, possibly using a degreaser.

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Ride your bike after drying it down to remove moisture

Dry it thoroughly then fire it up and take it for a ride that's long enough to air-blast and heat-dry any moisture out of those nooks and crannies, such as the sparkplug seats and the wiring. Near the end of your ride top up the gas tank and add a fuel stabilizer, which will work its way through the system on the drive home.

The next step, with everything still hot, is to change the oil and filter, and clean and lubricate the drive chain if your bike is so equipped. You're changing the oil because chemicals caused by combustion that are suspended in old oil can damage bearings and seals.

Again follow your manual (checking it for any specific storage requirements) for oil change instructions. And while you're waiting for the oil to drain, clean your chain (a company called Tirox makes a very effective spiral brush that works a treat), and then give it a light coating of chain lube to protect it. Adjusting it now will mean all you have to do in the spring is apply a little more lubricant.

Back to the oil change. Some suggest filling your crankcase with the cheapest oil you can buy. The idea being you'll drain it off when you do another oil change in the spring and save some money. If you want to fill your expensive engine with cheap oil go right ahead, but ... sticking with your normal high quality oil would seem to make more sense. It's questionable whether you need to do another oil change in the spring anyway, as modern oil shouldn't degrade in what's essentially a sealed container. And you'll likely be changing it (at the specified mileage between changes) long before next summer anyway. Some car manufacturers now call for only an annual change, if other driving criteria have been met.