Those of us with motorcycles, whether high quality or otherwise, often avoid the complicated task of learning how to wash a bike like a pro. It’s much easier to splash some water soaked with detergent and assume that the job is well done. However, as bikes have the tendency to accumulate dirt, especially during the winter when everywhere becomes saturated with debris, getting your motorcycle cleaned is not just about having your sweet ride looking great, but also preventing damage to the bike parts.
Learning how to clean a motorcycle may be seen as tedious and boring, but in the long run, it will be proved effective for the lifespan of your bike; a meticulously clean up can make a whole lot of difference than just a quick blast from the usual power washer. Opting for a regular proper motorcycle wash will lengthen the lifespan of your bike’s components as well as give you a better than average motorcycle valuation.
Read on to acquaint yourself with the best steps to take before, during and after giving your bike a good wash. These vital points will also guide you on which parts of the bike to keep the water out of such as the exhaust and the air intake and you will also be provided with a good number of steps to observe while washing the bike, as well as some other aspects to take into consideration once the power washer is turned off.
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Choose the Right Cleaning Products
Start your bike cleaning adventure by getting hold of all the cleaning products. Always remember, that a good quality cleaner will work on cutting the grease, grime and oil especially from under the swingarm, as well as close to the countershaft sprocket. Many cleaning ingredients can be easily accessed through auto parts outlets as well as some home improvement stores such as Degreaser and WD-40.
Be Tool Ready
The best way to wash a motorcycle is only very simple and straightforward if you had the required tools – your cleaning gear does not end with the cleaner. If you really want to achieve the best results, you will need a few other tools like a scrub brush, a sponge and a 3M Scotch Brite which is really effective in cleaning the tough spots. But do go easy on the Scotch brite or else the plastic or aluminum will come away with some dull scratches.
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Other tools to get hold of include a bucket, some clean dry cloths (preferably microfiber or chamois), an old toothbrush to aid in scrubbing tight ends, an auto wax (which is not compulsory), a bug and tar remover and a chrome cleaner, if necessary. With the use of these tools along with a good polish and a clean rag for the brightening of your chrome and wheels, your bike soon will be as good as new.
Take Care of the Groundwork
Before powering up the pressure washer, there are a few things you need to take care of in order to avoid damages to your bike.
- Allow the hot bike a few minutes to cool down because allowing a hot engine to come into contact with cold water is a recipe for disaster: the engine block just might get cracked from the sudden temperature change. Even if your bike is caked in mud caused by dirty puddles on the road, still give it room to cool down before the waterworks.
- Some parts like the exhaust and the intake track need to be sealed to avoid water going in. The best action to take is to remove the air filter carefully while making sure that foreign particles are not allowed to gain access to the intake tract while the air filter is being removed.
- Once the air filter is safely out, cover the air track by stuffing a clean rag inside and with the aid of another; clean the sealing area where the air filter flange seals to the airbox and keep it free from any contaminant. Most importantly, remember to cover up the opening with an Air Box Cover.
- Once the air tract is safe, the next step is to secure the exhaust by keeping the water out and securing the packing. Some people like to use several silencer plugs to seal the opening at the end of the silencer but it has been confirmed that little water will still get in while washing. It is more effective to cover the exhaust with duct tapes before turning on the pressure washer. Sometimes, it is best to double up the tape because two layers of tape are more effective in keeping the wetness out; that way, water won’t get inside the silencer packing and ruin it.
Start With Cleaning the Chain
If your ride is the type that has a chain, it will be a good idea to remove the grease and dirt from it first. This will stop the dirt from spreading to the other parts of the bike when you put the water on. An approved chain degreaser can come in handy here which can easily be obtained from a local home appliance. When sprayed on, chain degreasers work by removing dirt from the chain, making it easy for you to wipe them out with a clean cloth. Grease and dirt can also be loosened by applying a solvent like WD-40. Once done with washing, remember to apply some lubricant to your chain to get them working effectively.
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Clean the Non-Chrome Engine Parts with Solvent and Water
Before you start cleaning the body of your vehicle, pay meticulous attention to some nooks and crannies close to the engine area. An old toothbrush will suffice here; just dip it into a small bucket of water and make a quick work of scrubbing out the debris and dirt. Once again, the job can be done more effectively with the help of a WD-40 spray applied on the gunk. During this step, it’s vital to avoid getting water into the bearings and the brake lines as this will result in corrosion.
Pour Cool Water on the Bike
Another effective tip is to pour water all over your motorbike which helps with loosening and rinsing dirt away. This makes the process of cleaning a whole lot easier. Using a hose with a gentle stream of water is better than a high-pressure spray which may cause damage to the paint finish as well as other materials.
Scrub the Bike’s Entire Body with a Soft Sponge or Cloth
This is more or less the most important part of a motorcycle wash; some extra grim will definitely come off with a little elbow grease. Start by wetting a soft cloth or a sponge with cool water from a bucket and give your bike a good gentle scrub. If your aim is to remove excess salt accumulation from the bike, you can simply make use of the water and skip the waxing because the salt problem just might get worse if detergents or any other cleaner is applied.
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Use Slightly Soapy Water to Clean Plastic Parts
If you have plastic parts on the body of your bike, make sure to use good quality auto-detergent and some cool water and wipe those parts with a sponge dipped into suds
Rinse the Whole Motorcycle Again
After all the grime and muck comes off, get hold of the hose again and rinse with a gentle spray to wash out the last traces of dirt. You can also achieve this by dipping a clean sponge or cloth in cool water to rinse the bike for the last time.
Remove Any Excess Water and Dry
We cannot conclude this article on how to wash a motorcycle without informing you of the drying procedures. The best way to dry a motorbike is to make use of a microfiber cloth or a chamois to give your bike a gentle rub down. This works to get the excess water out of the wet bike to avoid water spots accumulating as it dries. Be aware that allowing your bike to dry under direct sunlight will also give rise to water spots.
Buff Your Seat With an Approved Protectant
Motorcycle care does not just end with washing; if you want your ride to last longer and always look as good as new, you need to go the extra mile. This is where a protectant come to play.
It is common knowledge that the seat of a bike can be made from a variety of materials, the most common being leather and vinyl. Although bike seats made from vinyl can be pretty tough, they can also experience some cracking and fading over time. You can counter this envisaged problem by applying vinyl protectant especially the approved ones.
Leather seats, on the other hand, are seen as more delicate – so having a leather care cream at your disposal is the best way to counter this problem. Both leather and vinyl protectants are accessible from any bike supply store or auto store in your vicinity. And always remember the golden rule when cleaning leather – water and detergents are a no-no.