Bucket, sponge and water to wash a motorcycle

How to Wash a Motorcycle

Most motorcycle owners think that keeping their machine clean is all about a good old scrub down with water and soap. This is absolutely false! Washing your bike is a delicate process that requires attention to detail. Without regular cleaning you risk damaging the parts and ruining the aesthetics.

Contrary to common misconception, you don’t need complicated supplies or cleaning equipment. All you really need is a good detergent, some water, a sponge work, and a few other supplies that you can affordably buy from the local auto shop. Once you have the supplies, you can get started by using the following step-by-step directions.

Gather all the cleaning equipment.

Bucket, sponge and water to wash a motorcycleTo ensure a swift cleaning process, it is advisable to first and foremost gather everything you will need. Grab all the supplies you need beforehand from the local motorcycle or auto shop. The essential supplies include:

  • At least 2 sponges
  • A sizeable bucket
  • 1 old toothbrush for cleaning the hard-to-reach parts
  • Motorcycle wax
  • WD-40 or a good degreaser
  • Clean cotton cloth, preferable one made from microfiber material
  • Reliable tar remover
  • Chrome cleaner

Allow the motorcycle to cool.

If you have been using the bike, it is advisable to let it cool down completely. Suddenly cooling certain metals, such as those used to make motorcycle engine parts, has adverse effects including:

  • Metal hardening which can lead to cracks in the engine blocks
  • Damage to the engine which is quite costly to repair

Clean the chain thoroughly.

Motorcycle chain while washing a motorcycleIf your have the type of bike with a chain, the first step is to get the dirt and grease off. It is advisable to begin by cleaning the chain to avoid the grime stuck on it from splashing to other bike parts as you are cleaning them. A reliable chain degreaser will get the job done perfectly. Spray the degreaser generously over the chain; this helps to loosen the debris making it extremely easy to wipe off. Alternatively you can use WD-40 to loosen the debris. When you are finally done with the cleaning processes always apply a good lubricant on the chain.

Wash the engine parts.

Use water and a detergent to thoroughly wash all the parts that are not chrome. Start by paying keen attention to the hard to reach nook and crannies that surround the engine. Dip an old toothbrush in clean water then gently scrub all the debris and dirt away. If you bike still needs extra help to remove the gunk, use WD-40. Be careful not to spray any water on the bearings and break lines to avoid causing corrosion.

Start cleaning the body of the motorcycle by gently rinsing the bike with cool water to loosen any accumulated dirt. It is advisable to use a hose instead of high pressure sprays which damage the paint and finish. Gently rub the body of the bike with a soft cloth or sponge dipped in a solution of soap and water.

TIP: In case you are washing your motorcycle to get rid of salt (for instance after riding on a winter road). Avoid using detergent as this might actually make the slat problem worse.

The final rinse.

Use a hose to gently rinse the whole bike, be careful not to spray any water to the bearings and break lines to avoid causing corrosion. Inspect every part of the bike and gently wash off any remaining traces of duds.

Wipe off any excess water.

Excess water while washing a motorcycleUsing a microfiber cloth gently wipe away any water that remains anywhere on the surface of your motorcycle. This ensures that there are no spots of water left anywhere on the motorcycle after it air-dries in the sun. Water spots will remain on the surface when the bike is dried in direct sunlight. Make sure to dry it as completely and quickly as possible before the sun beats you to it.

TIP: In warm climates, try to wash and dry your motorcycle in the shade, or get started early or late in the day when the sun is less intense. This will give you more time to thoroughly dry your motorcycle before waters spots develop.

Buff the seat of your bike.

The material used to make a motorcycle seat varies from one motorcycle brand to another. You need to use an approved protectant for your seat’s material. The most common materials used are leather and vinyl. Leather seats are extremely delicate; it is therefore advisable to use care cream to buff them. Be sure to keep in mind that detergent on leather is an absolute no-no. On the other hand, vinyl although quite tough tends to fade and crack overtime; buffing with a vinyl protectant will prevents these problems.

Clean the wheels.

Motorcycle wheel while washing a motorcycleMost modern motorcycle models are mad using lightweight aluminum which are best cleaned using a soft cloth dipped in soapy water. Avoid abrasive detergents that are likely to damage the finishing on the wheels. If the bike you own has wheels made from chrome, use good chrome cleaner.

Wax your motorcycle.

This is a crucial step that is often ignored. A quality wax comes in handy in keeping the grime and dirt away. Simply follow the directions of the wax manufacturer; different brands come with varying guidelines. Finish up by generously spraying protectant on the bearings.

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