Cleaning your motorcycle
Posted by Howard Trott on Thursday, October 26, 2017 Under: Motorcycle Maintenance
Whether you own a custom cruiser or a sports bike, you'll want to keep your motorcycle away from commercial washing facilities and perform the cleaning ritual yourself. Those high-pressure hoses can damage bike parts, which are more vulnerable than mechanical parts in cars.
Be sure you find a shady spot to wash (and dry) your bike since the sun can create temperature differentials that harm paint and allow water to leave spots.
Assemble the following items as needed:
- A bucket for soapy water
- Soap or liquid detergent; automotive cleaners will work
- Insect and tar remover
- Degreaser and/or engine cleaner
- A toothbrush
- A brush for wheel cleaning
- Wheel cleaner
- At least two microfiber or 100% cotton sponges
- A variety of soft cotton towels and more abrasive rags
- A shammy cloth for drying
While some people swear by washing their bikes with plain water, others insist on using specific brands of soap. Whatever your preference, use warm water with the mix and fill up a bucket for convenience.
Keep the sponge nearby, and don't let it touch the ground (since it can pick up pebbles or abrasive particles that could damage your paint.)
Dead insects and grime are the banes of every motorcyclist, but using the right tools will get them off your paint easier than you think.
Insect and tar removers work surprisingly well, and some people also use WD40 for this duty. Don't scrub too hard into the paint when loosening insects, and be sure not to use the same sponge for other cleaning duties.
A motorcycle's hard parts require different treatment than more sensitive parts (like paint or chrome.)
Using a degreaser, scrub hard parts carefully and individually, making sure not to let the powerful solvents touch paint or chrome. No need to use microfiber materials here a rough rag will do.
Some people use oven cleaner to remove boot marks from chrome exhaust pipes, but extra care must be taken to keep strong cleaners away from the sensitive bits.
You might not need to get your motorcycle to showroom condition, but a toothbrush will go a long way towards making hard to reach parts look clean. Apply degreaser on the tip for non-chrome engine parts, and oil and grime will disappear. While specialised cleaning tools enable more detailed work, you should be able to scrub most visible parts with readily available accessories.
Wheels can be difficult to clean, and a long-armed brush is usually the best way scrub off brake dust and dirt. Apply a wheel cleaner first and let it settle before scrubbing it off. Chrome wheels will require specific cleaners, so be aware of your wheel's finish before purchasing a cleaner.
Don't use tire dressing products, as their glossy finishes can compromise grip.
Microfiber sponge gloves are great ways to clean a bike's painted parts and should be used with warm, soapy water from the bucket. Be sure to get the paint good and wet before scrubbing, so the soapy water can act as a lubricant and not scratch the paint. Only use 100% cotton or microfiber sponges, as other materials can cause damage.
Rinse the soapy residue off with a gentle stream of water from a hose, or by pouring water from the bucket.
With your bike still parked in the shade, use a shammy cloth to soak up the moisture from the paint. The shammy will keep the finish from getting scratched, and prevent streaks and spots from accumulating.
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