Some might assume that cleaning a motorcycle isn’t really that different from cleaning a car. In some respects that’s true. There are certainly principles of motorcycle washing that carry over well from car washing, but there are other important things to take into consideration that are special for motorcycle owners.
Tip 1: Invest in Good Products
As with any good vehicle cleaning and detailing experience, it all begins with having the right kinds of products. You should start by taking time to look for motorcycle cleaning products online, paying special attention to get those that are marked specifically for use on motorcycles. Similar to when washing your car, you should not be using any household cleaners to get the job done. They often contain harsh chemicals that were never intended to be used on any surface of a vehicle.
Tip 2: Plug Up Exhausts
When you’re using a hose or power washer to rinse the bike off, be sure to plug up the exhausts first. You might wonder about this, right? Because you’ve never plugged up your car exhaust before when rinsing. Well, the big difference is that motorcycle exhausts are often angled more awkwardly and it’s easier for water to pool in there and create problems for the engine. Therefore, plugging up the exhaust to prevent water from going in is the best course of action.
Tip 3: Wash in a Shaded Spot
This next tip carries over from car washing, but you should never wash your bike in direct sunlight. First of all, too much UV radiation is always bad for your bike (or car) and can contribute to fading the paint. More practically, however, washing in the sun means that the water you use will dry faster than you can get to it. That increases the chances of you getting water spots and other unpleasant after-effects.
Tip 4: Use Clean Microfiber Towels for Drying
When you’re drying the bike, be sure to always use clean and fresh microfiber towels as opposed to old rags or old t-shirts. Microfiber towels not only absorb the water best, but they’re softer and more gentle on the painted surface. Using old t-shirts and rags invites possible dust and grit to create swirl marks and micro-scratches on your bike.
Tip 5: Ensure Engine is Cool Before Washing
You never want to wash your bike immediately after a long ride when the engine will still be hot. Give the engine a chance to cool down before you start your work. If you’ve gotten the bike filthy after a long ride in the country, it might be hard to leave it in that condition where others might see it for any length of time, but believe us when we say you’ll want to wait for the engine to cool. Not only is there a burn risk to you, but suddenly rinsing a very hot bike in cool high-pressure water might cause cracking to occur.
Tip 6: Don’t Scrub Dead Bugs too Hard
Another unsightly thing to have on your bike are the remnants of dead bugs that you accumulate from your many rides and adventures. If you’re cleaning off the bugs, be sure not to scrub too hard, no matter how hard they seem to remove. Always first use warm water to try and dislodge them, or allow some cleaning products to do their work before you “gently” scrub to remove the remnants. You wouldn’t want swirl marks in the paint!
Tip 7: Lubricate the Chain
Finally, it’s always a good idea to lubricate the chain as part of your normal bike cleaning routine. Keeping the chain well lubricated and maintained is key to long-lasting motorcycle health. So, at least check the lubrication whenever you do a bike wash, and apply more lubricant as and when needed. Your bike will thank you for it.