Washing your motorcycle might be a lot less fun than riding it, but it's a necessary evil that all motorcycle owners have to face up to sooner or later. Cleaning your bike won't just keep it from turning into the biggest eyesore on the road, it'll help protect it from accumulating the kind of grit and grime that could eventually scratch and damage the bike's surfaces. Fortunately, the cleaning process isn't complicated. Providing you have a few basic supplies like detergent, a few clothes, and a bucket of water (along with a few extras for buffing and polishing the seat and chrome parts), you'll soon have your motorcycle looking as good as new. There is, however, a right way to clean a bike and a wrong way. If you want to get things right from the start, check out these top tips on how to wash a motorcycle.
Gather Your Supplies
As motorcyclelarry.com recommends, before you do anything else, gather your supplies. This includes...
• A bucket
• A few sponges
• Several clean cloths
• Engine cleaner
• Bug and tar remover
• Motorcycle wax
• Chrome cleaner
Next, choose the ideal spot to clean your motorcycle. As motorbikewriter.com writes, it's best to avoid the street or a unit driveway as this can be dangerous. Equally, avoid washing it anywhere that receives direct sun as this may cause the detergent suds to dry on the bike before they can be rinsed, resulting in streaks. Once you've picked the right place, remove any luggage, tank bags, and accessories that you don't want to get wet. If you've recently ridden the bike, give it time to cool down - if it's still warm when you wash it, the water may result in difficult-to-remove water spots. Even worse, spraying cold water onto a hot engine can crack the engine block.
As a final piece of prep, do as RevZilla recommends and plug up the exhaust with a product such as Bike Master Muffler Rubber Plug. If you prefer, you can simply stuff the exhaust hole with a rag or cover it with a rubber glove.
Once your bike is cool and you've found the right spot, you can start cleaning. If the bike has a chain, start there - if it's greasy, there's a risk the grime will splash over your bike as you clean and undo all your hard work. As Wikihow recommends, spray a chain degreaser or WD-40 over the chain to loosen the grease and dirt before wiping it away with a cloth. Next, give the non-chrome parts of the bike a clean with water and solvent. Use a small brush (a toothbrush will do) to scrub away any dirt around the hard-to-clean engine area. If you're having trouble lifting the grime, a quick blast of degreaser or WD-40 should do the trick. Before you start washing the body, rinse the bike with cool water to loosen as much grime as possible. While it's tempting to get straight to scrubbing, the less friction you apply to the bike by scrubbing and rubbing, the less chance you'll have of causing permanent damage by grinding particles of grime into the surfaces. Spraying down the bike with a mixture of water and motorcycle cleaner will loosen up any grime and wash a good chunk of it away before it can do any damage.
Next, douse the bike with cleaner, allow it to sit as per the instructions, then use a standard pressure hose to spray the entire bike with water, paying particular care to any nooks and crannies. The next part is where the elbow grease comes in. Dip a soft sponge or cloth in a bucket of clean, cool water, then start rubbing the whole body from top to bottom. Clean the sponge periodically to avoid smearing the bike with grease. Be careful to avoid applying too much pressure - rubbing too vigorously can simply cause damage to the bike by grinding the particles of dirt deep into its surfaces.
Give it a Rinse
Once you've finished cleaning the bike of grime, use a hose set to a gentle spray to rinse it from top to bottom. This will help remove any last traces of suds, along with the last vestiges of dirt. If you don't have a hose to hand, you can simply use a clean sponge dipped in cool water. Be sure to pay attention to any nooks and crannies.
Let it Dry
If water settles in a crease, corrosion can quickly set in. To minimize the risk, use an air blower to quickly dry the bike once you've finished rinsing. If you don't have an air blower available, use a chamois instead.
Lube the Chain
Regardless of how hard you tried to avoid any water getting on the chains, there's a good chance some of the rinsing water will have reached it. Use a dry cloth to gently rub away any water spots. Finish off by applying a specialist chain lube.
Buff the Seat
Now the bike is clean and grime-free, you can get stuck into the fun part - making it shine. Use an approved protectant to buff the seat. Be sure to match the protectant to the seat material - i.e., a vinyl protectant to a vinyl seat; a leather care cream to a leather seat. If the seat is leather, avoid using a detergent on it, regardless of whether it's dirty or not - buffing it with a protectant will clean it sufficiently, and not cause any damage in the process.
Get Rid of Bugs
If your bike is covered in bug goo, apply a generous application of bug and tar remover. Leave it on for the time instructed on the guidelines to allow the dirt to loosen. Use a soft cloth to buff it away. If any residue is still lingering, give it another wipe with a damp sponge.
Clean the Wheels
Next up, the wheels. If your bike has traditional chrome wheels, apply a chrome cleaner to get rid of any grime. Rinse with clean water and remove any remaining residue with a dry cloth. If the bike has aluminum wheels, skip the chrome cleaner and stick to soapy water.
Shine and Polish
By now, your bike should be looking grime-free. To get it gleaming and protect it from dirt in the future, apply a motorcycle wax to the entire body, being careful to follow the instructions on the package. Finally, use a protective spray to coat the bearings.
Written by Benjamin Smith
Read more posts by Benjamin Smith