Every motorcycle owner would rather be riding their bike than washing it. Washing your bike is as important as regular maintenance checks. If you plan on doing maintenance to your motorcycle’s engine yourself, you properly research the job before starting work. Bike owners need to take similar precautions when cleaning their bikes. You can unknowingly do significant damage to your machine in the cleaning process.
How to Clean Your Motorcycle without Damaging Your Bike
Know when your motorcycle needs to be washed. Washing your bike is an opportunity to give it a quick maintenance check. Taking the time to look over your motorcycle will alert you to any developing problems such as oil, fluid leaks, and loose or damaged parts. Leaving bugs on your paintwork makes them difficult to remove later and can chip your paint job. An abundance of crushed bugs on your radiator can cause overheating problems.
If you wash your bike too often you will displace lubricants from cables and exposed grease points on older engines. If your bike is caked in mud, wash it immediately. If you’ve just taken your bike out for your favorite scenic ride, wipe it with windscreen or bodywork spray and soft cloth.
2. Where and When
Where and when you wash your motorcycle is just as important as the cleaning products you use. Stay away from commercial washing facilities. They use high-pressure water sprays and air for drying that could damage parts of your bike. Also never wash your bike after a long ride. Give the bike time to cool down because you don’t want to spray cold water on a hot exhaust system. Don’t wash in the middle of the day. Direct sunlight can dry detergents on the bikes surface before rinsing, leaving streaks.
3. The Right Products
There is no “multipurpose cleaner” for motorcycles. Each product has a specific use. Don’t use abrasive cleaners or household cleaning products as they will damage the paint and chrome. Detergents should have a pH balance between six and eight, neither too acidic or too alkaline. Use soft sponges and microfiber cloths to avoid scratching surfaces. Soak hard-to-scrub areas, such as caked-on bugs, before wiping away.
4. Cleaning Plastic Parts
Clean plastic parts using a cloth or sponge and a mixture of mild detergent and water. While washing, rinse frequently with small amounts of water. Keep brake fluid and chemical solvents away from plastic and painted surfaces. The inside of your headlight may appear cloudy after washing. Turn on the headlight and you’ll see the condensation disappear.
5. Parts That Are Sensitive To Water
Don’t squirt water on the bearings. This will cause humidity and lead to corrosion. During the winter months, spray non-painted aluminum parts (engine and transmission housing) with a transparent protective spray. Bare metal parts can be cleaned and protected with chromium polish.
Dry your motorcycle by hand using a well-rinsed microfiber cloth or chamois. Do not use a cloth that has touched the ground as small pieces of grit can scratch your bike. Start the engine, and let it run for several minutes. Test the brakes before riding. You will need to pump them several times to restore braking performance after a wash. Pumping the brakes squeezes out excess water. Go for a ride around the block to blow water out of deep nooks and crannies. If the water sits it could cause corrosion.
Lubricate the chain drive immediately after you finish washing and drying the motorcycle. WD40 is great for getting rid of excess water as well as removing built-up grease. Don’t spray it where there is essential grease, such as around the wheel axles. WD40 should not replace standard lubricants. Use silicone or oil and to spray the cables, hinges and levers that may have lost lubrication in the wash.