,I often talk to people that are surprised that we are able to ride year round here in Central Washington. It's true that it gets pretty cold and we even have a fair amount of snow. What many people don't realize is that Washington has some pretty unique climates if you don't mind doing a little driving. Here in the Kittitas Valley we can typically ride the hills through October, some years even into November. Keep in mind that some areas, like Table Mountain, close early. So, always be sure to understand where you are going first, and check with either the USFS or DNR before you go. Both agencies have maps available online that you can download and print as well as paper copies.
By December it's time to start heading east and south. Our winter "go-to" place is the Saddle Mountain ORV area just outside of Mattawa. Most years we can ride there all winter; unless it's one of those really snowy years. Even then, it's possible to ride through the snow, just now nearly as much fun.
If you don't mind sand there is the Beverly Dunes, Moses Lake Dunes as well as Juniper Dunes (north of Pasco, WA). I personally don't have any great love for sand, but in the winter it can be allot of fun. The sand is pretty firm and there is no dust. Having a paddle tire can change your experience in the sand, but when the sand is frozen it really is not required.
The cold can be a bummer, but if you dress accordingly (don't put on your winter parka or you will be sorry) and stay moving it makes for a fun experience and best of all keeps you on your bike!
Winter is just around the corner, before you put your equipment and toys away there are a few things you should do to prevent problems later on.
1) If you have been ignoring your oil all summer change it before you put it away. Clean oil is the key to engine health. As an added bonus, you don't have to worry about it in the spring.
2) Take care of your fuel. There are two schools of thought on this, some people argue that completely draining the fuel from the tank and the carburetor is the best bet for winter storage while others will tell you to fill your tank completely. Of course there is always the third option, ignore it and hope for the best.
We suggest this; if you are not already using ethanol free gasoline, drain your fuel tank and fill it completely with non-ethanol gas. Mix Sea Foam or some other fuel stabilizer with the gas. Run the engine long enough to get the old fuel out. Make sure the fuel tank is completely full to minimize the oxygen exposure.
3) Take care of your tires. Check the pressure in all of your tires; tires can lose as much as 2-3 pounds of air each month. Keep an eye on them over the winter or, even better put your vehicle on blocks of some sort. Sitting on a flat tire will ruin the tire over time. Particularly when the weather is cold and the rubber gets brittle.
4) Park your equipment under cover, don't let it sit out in the rain and snow. If you don't have a structure of some sort to park them under get a tarp. Water has a nasty way of finding it's way into your engine and fuel tank over time.
Taking a these few precautions will make your life much easier in the spring and can potentially save you money in repair bills.
When was the last time you had your oil changed? Oil is one of the most vital components in any engine. Routine oil changes are the key to your engine lasting a very long time. There is an old saying, "regular oil changes are cheap insurance". So the question is how often should it be done? The answer depends on what type of equipment you have and how you use it. But here are some rough guidelines. On most small engines, like lawn mowers, I suggest a minimum of once a year, even if you don't use it very often. However, if you are using your equipment for extended periods of time (for example if you have a large lawn or you are mowing a field of some sort), in hot and dusty conditions or on rough terrain it is important to do it more often. If your engine has an oil filter be sure to change it as well and follow manufacturer recommendations for oil viscosity.
Motorcycles and ATV's should be done more often depending on how you use them and how much. The more oil your engine holds the longer it can go between oil changes. Many Japanese dirt bikes hold somewhere around 1000 cc's of oil. If you are doing lots of hills in hot and dusty conditions you should change your oil more frequently. On my personal bike during the summer I change my oil every 100 to 150 miles of off-road use. I use a washable oil filter to keep the cost down. Which means an oil change is about $5.00 and takes 10-15 minutes, again, cheap insurance. During the winter months I change it less often since the heat and dust are less of an issue.
Also, it is a very good idea to check your oil level weekly and note the color of the oil on the dipstick. If you notice that the oil appears watery you may have a problem with fuel dumping into your crankcase which can lead to premature engine failure. If your oil is black, it's definitely time for a change. Clean oil is generally amber in color and gradually darkens as it collects carbon and bits of metal from the engine. Typically oil will start out amber and slowly darken in color.
Having your oil changed or doing it yourself can be a hassle and easy to put off, but having to shell out money for new equipment (not to mention going through the buying process) is much worse.