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How to Clean your Motorcycle


>> Ashley Benson


With the extreme cultural movement that motorcycles have become, enthusiasts everywhere realize that motorcycles are no longer just a means of transportation or sport but that they are also a tribute to a person's character. Each person's bike says something about who they are and others will be looking to what your bike says about you. With that in mind, it's important to keep your bike looking sharp. You could have the most expensive motorcycle but if it's covered in an inch of dirt no one will be looking with envy.

This is why it is important to clean your motorcycle properly and often. Whether after some serious off-road riding or because you just cruised down the California coast, all bikes need to be given a good bath. You may find that you'll want to clean an off-road bike and a Harley-Davidson a little differently but there are some general basic guidelines to cleaning any bike. It's always a good idea to invest the extra time and effort to clean your own bike rather than taking it to a wash. While commercial auto washes that allow motorcycles may be more convenient, the high-pressured water hoses that they use can damage important parts on your motorcycle. And if you're as protective of your ride as most enthusiasts, having someone else handle your bike is as nerve racking as going to the DMV.

Getting Started

Start by finding the right place to wash your motorcycle. Washing your bike in the sun may help with your tan, but you'll find that your bike will also soak up the rays, make the paint hot and leave water spots. In order to avoid unnecessary damage to your paint job, wash your bike in the shade.

Everyone always seems to disagree on what kind of mixture is best to use when washing your bike. Some say that just plain water is best while others swear that you should only use certain brands of soap. It seems like the only thing anyone can agree on when it comes to what to wash your bike with is that the water you use should be warm. With that said, fill a bucket with warm water and add any soap that you may want to use. It's also never a bad idea to avoid any soap that isn't specific to motorcycles or automobiles as they may contain ingredients that can harm your paint.

Because water can harm your engine if it makes its way up your exhaust pipe, it's recommended to cover or block the opening of your exhaust pipe with something like a Moose Racing exhaust plug. They can save you a lot of trouble and money from water damage and are extremely inexpensive

Pesky Parts

Water and soap may not be enough for the truly nitty gritty areas of your ride. Oil and dirt build up can be pretty pesky around the wheels, engine and chain. Apply degreaser such as PJ1 Spray and Was Degreaser to any stubborn areas and loosen the dirt and grime with a rag. Try not to let any of the degreaser touch the paint or any chrome on your bike. Any chemical that is stronger than a mild soap can damage the finish on the more sensitive parts of your motorcycle and the first time you use a new product test it on a small, hidden area to make sure it is safe. You might find it helpful to use a toothbrush to reach the more illusive areas of your hard parts but we recommend using one that you don't also use for your teeth. We've never been a fan of the taste of degreaser in the morning. Once you've lifted most of the dirt and oil build up, rinse the degreaser off with warm water.

In order to clean the chain, it's extremely helpful to lift the bike up so that the rear tire is off the ground. You could try and convince a fairly muscular friend to lift and hold your bike while you clean the chain but we recommend putting it on a bike stand or cebter stand if the bike has one instead. We like Polisport's bike stand because it's easy to store and carry. Once your bike is securely suspended, apply soap to a rag or wire brush and scrub the chain to remove any build up while spinning the rear wheel to rotate the chain. This should help you to clean the entire chain. Unless you're not particularly fond of having all ten of your fingers, do not run the engine in order to rotate the chain.

When cleaning your tires, the best solution is just a mild soap and warm water. There may be a lot of tire cleaners on the market and some people believe that degreaser will give you the best effect but both may have chemicals that can harm your tire. If you choose to use a harsher chemical to clean your wheels, be careful not to get it on your tire. You'll also want to stay away from tire dressings such as Armor All. While they may put a shine on your tire and make them look better than new, the dressing can slip down onto your tread which will compromise the grip of you tires and make your wheels slippery.

You'll also find that while you were riding you picked up some hitchhikers on the front of your bike. Insects will always be adding themselves to the tar and dirt that finds its way onto your ride. The best way to remove them is with BikeMaster Bug Remover Spray and a clean rag made of microfiber or 100% cotton. Other materials may be abrasive and can scratch your paint job or leave swirls. Even with a microfiber or cotton rag, try not to scrub too hard as to not remove more than just the unwanted bugs. Some people find that they prefer to use WD40 rather than a bug or tar remover which can work surprisingly well. Once you've removed any uninvited guests, rinse any remaining cleaner from your bike.

The Body

Now that you've tackled any troubling spots on your motorcycle, wet down the body of your motorcycle with the warm water and soap mixture you made earlier and use either a Liquid Performance microfiber detailing cloth or a 100% cotton sponge or cloth to gently scrub down your bike. Never set your sponges or gloves on the ground as they can pick up dirt or other particles that can scratch into your paint. Gently lather up the body of your bike and then rinse it off with warm water from either a hose or the bucket. Don't let the soap or cleaner dry onto your motorcycle. For this reason, we recommend washing your bike one section at a time and rinse often.

Set your bike upright (if it wasn't already) and let your bike sit for a few minutes to let any excess water drain off of it before you dry it off with a chamois. Try not to dry your bike on it's side because nothing is more annoying than getting it dry and having water sneak out of knocks and crannies when you stand it up. Ordinary towels can leave behind streaks or even scratch your paint so use a chamois to soak up the residual moisture. It's not a good idea to run your engine to try to speed up the dry time as there may be some remaining soap on or around the engine that the heat from the engine will dry onto your bike and become difficult to remove.

Once your bike is dry, rub down painted areas with BikeMaster Polish and Sealant to remove any oxidization and make your paint look fresh. Some chrome finishes require a specific polish so know your finish before buying a polish. Of course the process or products you use will vary from bike to bike and you'll want to pay more attention to the details on a chopper than on an off-road bike. For more information on how to clean an off-road bike, check out this video:







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COMMENTS:
 

Sunday, January 22, 2012 3:18:00 AM
 
Carl Schowalter said:
 

For a street bike I recommend S100 on a cold bike. A little light sponge action is needed on the wheels, if it's chain drive, but overall, this stuff works great. After hosing it off, fire up the air compressor and clean out the nooks and crannies with the blow gun. Original Bike Spirits is a great polish to use when your done. I own 4 street bikes, so saving time is improtant. This is the quickest wash method I have found.

 


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