How to clean and maintain your bike
Modified On Dec 14, 2019 By Naveen Soni
For a true rider, a motorcycle is that precious gem close to his heart, which he would always treat like a princess and will try to keep it in the same shape as he saw it first. He will maintain the bike in his best possible ways. The washing and cleaning of the motorcycle is the first step considered in motorcycle maintenance and is as important as cleaning the carburetor and maintaining the right pressure in the tires. You see, nobody likes a dust bathed motorcycle. To get that lustre which it possessed while standing at the showroom, the motorcycle should be given a proper bath and polishing. And this is not a rocket science, let me tell you. Cleaning your motorcycle is one of the easiest tasks which you can do by yourselves. But there are some special techniques and products, which when applied to the theorem of washing your motorcycle, may give you the best possible results of everlasting shine. Here are some quick tips which will help you to retain the shine of your ride as comparable to be in a brand new showroom condition (well, almost!):-
1. Getting ready:-
Whatever the motorcycle may be, if it’s a muscular street-naked or a low slung cruiser, the techniques and procedures of washing a motorcycle is totally different than those carried while washing a four-wheeler. Though many may not agree to it, but that’s a fact. As compared to a car or an SUV, there are certain components in a motorcycle which should be treated with caution and care due to their ‘open-to-environment’ nature.
The use, quality and layout of various plastic fiber, metal, rubber, chrome and paint altogether differs from that in a car. Also, there are various things in a motorcycle which are not that open to rider and is hard for him to clean and dry those ‘hard to reach’ components. The first thing that should be kept in mind that the engine should not be hot and must be cooled down before spraying it off, as it may severely damage and crack the engine components from outwards. Also, be prepared by yourself before using the water hose pipe and solvents, by removing the watch, bracelet, rings and any other jewelery from your hand, so that they may not undergo any chemical reaction or get damaged. And if they remain in your hands, they can scratch the paint on the body of the motorcycle by those frequent movements of hands on the motorcycle.
2. Washing kit:-
After becoming aware of all those precautions required, the next step is that you should possess all those stuffs required for washing your motorcycle, which may include:-
Clean and soft dry cloth pieces for wiping, drying and polishing the motorcycle parts.
The wheel cleaner solvent, to prevent any possibilities of corrosion.
Leather solvent for seat fabric or any component where leather or fabric is employed.
Clean, dry and good sized sponge pieces.
Motorcycle cleaning solvent, which could be soap or detergent solution
Gloves, to prevent your hand from becoming dirty.
Grease and oil cleaner.
A brush for complete cleaning of wheels.
A bucket for mixing up of solutions.
3. Using two buckets:-
Though this is not a very essential requirement to be covered up, but implementing two buckets will make your process easier. Let me give you the explanation. In the first bucket, you can prepare the solution for the solvent used for cleaning purposes, and in the second one, you can fill up some fresh water only.
Before dipping the fiber cloth used for wiping into the bucket filled with solution, you must dip it in the bucket filled with water. By doing this, the dirt and dust present in the fiber cloth may get washed off, and you may not end up using a dirty cloth with the solution. If you use a dirty cloth with the solution, the mud formed along with the solution will get clogged in the cloth, and may deteriorate the shine of the bike. Thus, it’s better to remove the dirt from the cloth and use a clean and wet one with the solution.
4. The cleaning process:-
> Pre-wash rinse off – Before cleaning your motorcycle with shampoo or cleaning agent/solvent, it’s better to wipe it out with the help of some fresh water, to remove the dirt and dust in a preliminary manner. For washing the motorcycle, you can use a pipe hose and implement the conventional ‘thumb over the end’ method to develop pressure for the outcoming water. The pressurized water will easily wash out the mud clogged even in the interior areas where your hand can’t reach. The muck is normally accumulated the most in the mud flaps, below the engine and both the front and rear mudguard. So, it’s better to start the washing procedure by wiping these areas off first.
> Bottoms up – You should follow a bottom-to-top approach for washing your motorcycle, by cleaning out the bottom parts like engine and tyres first, and then moving up towards the fuel tank, front visor and other parts above.
> Wheels – Cleaning up the wheels of a motorcycle is a bit tedious task, as compared to others. For this, first take out the wheel cleaner solution, press the nozzle of the spray so that the solution comes outwards in a spread manner and then apply a coat of this solution over the wheels already washed up with water. Take a two-minute break, and then start rubbing the solution on the wheels with the help of the brush. The use of brush may facilitate you in cleaning out the dirt in hard to reach areas, such as the spokes or areas behind disc brakes. When the complete wheel is rubbed up with the solvent and brush, rinse it off using the pressurized water from the pipe hose. The use of solvents will help in washing the severely caked up mud and is also suitable for all kinds of metal spoke and painted alloy wheels.
> Exhaust – Exhaust is one of the most volatile areas, while washing up your motorcycle. Use of the motorcycle cleaning solvents is the best way to bring back the original shine on exhausts. Rinse off the exhaust with the help of pressurized water from pipe hose, and then apply the cleaning solvent over the exhaust pipe and then rinse the solvent again with the water from the pipe. Wipe the complete exhaust with the help of a dry cloth once you are done with the complete bodywork washing.
> Chain – The chain is most likely to get accumulated with the mud, as it is already bathed up in oil/grease which picks up the dirt very quickly. If this dirt bathed chain is left unwashed for a long time, the dirt clogged may increase the friction, which may breakage of chain or its noising. The use of cleaning solvent should be cautiously carried out while implementing it on the chain. First, clean the chain with the help of pressurized water. Cleaning it with water will increase the effectiveness of lubricant cleaning the chain. Then, apply the cleaning solvent over the chain by holding the lubricant spray at 7 o’clock position below the chain, facing the spray towards the rear sprocket. Keep continuing the chain moving in forward motion, so that the solution is evenly applied throughout the chain. After layering the chain uniformly with the solution, immediately rinse it with water.
> Removing flies and tar – Cleaning out the flies off the front fairing and tar attached to the body parts such as mudguards and chain is not an easy task and could not be removed with using only a shampoo solution. These impurities need rigorous cleaning and rubbing with the solution and wiping cloth, so that they completely get removed. The cleaning solution must be carefully applied to the bare black plastic bits and parts like the instrument console or the chain cover, as it may leave behind white stains or lead to fading up of such plastics.
> Shampooing – Proper amount of cleaning is to be required on the body panels of the motorcycle, as they are the most highlighted bits of a bike. The dirt should be completely removed from the surface so that the shine gets bright when sunlight falls upon it and we get the deepest clean possible. As mentioned above, be prepared up with those two buckets, with the first one filled only half with the washing solution. Dunk the wiping cloth first in the bucket of water, remove the dirt from it (if any) and then, dip it in the bucket of washing solution. While rinsing the bike with water, we followed a bottom-to-top approach, but while carrying this shampooing procedure, start in just the opposite manner, i.e., from top to bottom. Keep dipping the mitt (cloth which has acquired dirt) into the bucket of water frequently to remove the accumulated mud in that cloth. When you have completed washing the bike with the solution, rinse it off with water and carry the same procedure again. By doing this, you will really notice the shine and smoothness on the surface of the body panels. One more thing you will notice while doing is that, while carrying this procedure for the second time, the water will evaporate from the body panels quickly, which is a good signal that your bike’s body panels have undergone well cleaning. After cleaning up your body work, carry the same washing procedure on the exhaust separately, with the help of another clean and dry cloth with the washing solution.
Now you have finished washing the bike with all those liquid media. It’s the time you dry up the motorcycle, otherwise the watermarks left behind may not give you the desired shine which you want. For this, you should use a clean and dry cloth, and not wet one, to wipe out the remaining water spread on the surface of the body parts and other components.
After completing one round of wiping the motorcycle, carry the same cycle again, so that any other beads or layer of water left behind gets completely wiped off, leaving behind a clean and dry surface.
For many people around you, polishing and waxing of the motorcycle is the same thing, but that’s a false story. The polish applied on the motorcycle does the same job which a moisturizing cream does on your skin, i.e., adding a rich feel and dry but scratch resistant finish on the surface of the motorcycle. Applying of the polish completely eradicates the possibilities of improper washing left behind, by lending a glossy finish uniformly spread all over the motorcycle.
By applying polish, any other removing small bits of paint or solvent is spread in a uniform manner, which results in a scratch free surface. If you are completely known to the technique of polishing your motorcycle, you can do it by hands, provided they should be clean. But it is still recommended you that you take a separate cloth, apply polish on it and then move forward. Apart from using only a dedicated polish, you can increase the shine and time for which the shine persists, by applying a layer of polish first and then applying a layer of wax, which can give the finish of shine a three-dimensional touch of a thin layer, which protects the body panels much more in an enhanced way. Always be sure to apply the wax in a circular motion through your fingers, creating a thin layer of wax throughout the surface of the motorcycle’s body panels. When you are ensured that the layer is beginning to dry, move forward and apply the layer in the same way to the rest of the parts. After applying the wax completely, take another dry cloth and wipe the overall surface gently. Apply very light pressure on the parts to be polished, by the cloth, so that it the wax may not get accumulated at a particular point.
7. Getting the black back:-
> Plastics – The plastic parts finished in mild matt paint are the one which fades quicker than the rest metallic parts and are responsible to shove away the age of the bike the most. But they can be given the same nice new shiny touch which you normally see on a brand new bike. These plastic bits, such as mudguard panels, switchgear, instrument consoles, etc. can be given a layer of plastic protectant wax with the help of a dry cloth. Apply the wax with the cloth in such a uniform manner, such that the surface appears to be wet and glossy. Don’t apply it on the seat fabric, as it has the tendency of making the surfaces slippery, and what you will get is a saddle on which it’s a tough task to find a spot-on riding posture.
> Refreshing metal – The metal parts finished in chrome or paint such as the suspension forks, frame members, etc. tend to oxidize very soon, developing flakes of rust on their surface with the passage of time. In an answer to this problem, take a very small amount of cleaning solvent pastes such as Autosol, and spread it across such metal components, forming a very thin layer of it. For the best results, rather than applying the paste in a circular motion, apply it in a to and fro way. When the cloth with which you are applying it goes filthy or blackened, it’s a sign that there is no need of applying the paste more over that part and you can skip on to the next component. Don’t spend too much time on applying it.
8. Future care:-
After finishing this whole procedure of washing, wiping and polishing, the next task of yours is to maintain the shine developed for the longest duration possible. The better is the quality of polish and wax you use, the longer the shine will persist on the motorcycle.
Just be sure to wipe away your bike daily with the help of a clean and dry cloth, so that you keep on removing the minutely acquired dirt and dust on the motorcycle, and if you not do so, these minute acquirements will lead to a full cover of dirt which will lead to more time and hard work to be spent.
9. Things to avoid:-
> Pressure washers – Using the pressurized water from the pipe hose is a good thing to be implemented, but only if the bike is heavily clogged with the dirt and mud, as the overdose of pressurized water may lead to removal of the shine of the paint and in addition to it, it’s not a good thing to waste the water. It’s better to use it only in extreme conditions, and in the others, a cloth can perform the job quite perfectly.
> Sunlight – Yes, the bright sunlight may ease up your washing process by drying off the water and polish quite quicker, but more exposure of the motorcycle to sunlight is also harmful, as it may lead to fading up of paint. So, it’s better that you park up your motorcycle is shade of space, once you are done with all the procedures of washing and polishing.
> Dish wash liquid – Sure, they can wash the stains of your leftover food on the plates completely, but that’s what they are meant for. Using dish wash liquid in place of specialized cleaning solvents will deteriorate the metallic properties of the body panels, leading to their corrosion.