They say the state and appearance of your belongings is a strong indicator of who you are underneath. Your set of wheels, after your clothes and those shoes, are a natural extension of your personality. Clearly then, just like personal hygiene, keeping your machine grime free is the basic step towards ensuring its longevity and the easiest way to amplify that feel good factor. Unlike a car though, which has a lot of surface area that can be cleaned easily, cleaning a motorcycle with its minimal bodywork and several nooks and crannies is a task. If you are up for it, here’s the right way to go about it.
Before you begin, always ensure that your motorcycle has been at a standstill for a while and its components are cool. Be ready with all the cleaning gear that you will need during the process. The human body, yarn and metal are different things. Do not use regular detergent, hair shampoo or any petroleum products like diesel, as it will harm the paint on your motorcycle. Likewise, using rags, towels or any such abrasive wiping material will easily cause scratches on painted surfaces, making them lose their shiny coat. Below is the list of things you should preferably have at hand before you begin.
- A bucket and ample amounts of water
- Auto detergent
- A clean sponge or two
- A couple of clean, dry pair of chamois or microfiber cloth
- WD-40 or similar de-greasing solution
- An old toothbrush to help clean tight places
- Chain Lube
- Wax and other detailing products
Getting into the act
The smart thing to do before everything else is getting the dirt and grease off the chain. To do this, make your motorcycle rest on its paddock or centre stand and slip the lever in neutral. Roll the wheel slowly as you apply the de-greasing spray throughout. Once the debris has loosened, wipe it off with a cloth. This will ensure that the grime on the chain does not splash on the rest of your motorcycle while you’re cleaning it.
If your motorcycle hasn’t been cleaned in a while or you did go out riding in the rain, turn your attention towards the nooks and crannies around the engine area. Use plain water and an old toothbrush to gently scrub away the dirt. Ensure it has enough bristles and do not apply too much pressure on the handle, as the coarse plastic underneath the bristles can cause scratches. For loosening any stubborn rubbish, use the de-greasing spray. Once the engine area is clean, turn your attention towards other hard to reach places and the wheels.
Washing the body
Rinse the motorcycle with cool water. Allow dirt to loosen and rinse away naturally to make the cleaning process easy. If using a hose, make sure the pressure is gentle and the spray isn’t sharp and concentrated. Use any manufacturer approved shampoo and make a bubbly solution in the bucket you’re carrying. Dip the sponge or cloth in it and use it to wipe painted surfaces. Use a separate cloth for non-painted sections as any mud or other such rubbish stuck on the cloth will harm the paint and displace itself from one place to the other. Be gentle while cleaning the instrument console, switches and areas near the fuse box.
Do not allow the detergent to sit for a long time and rinse it away as soon as you are done. Once it has been washed away, use a clean and dry chamois or microfiber cloth to wipe away the remaining water and avoid stains as it air dries. Do this while you’re away from direct sunlight, as that will cause water spots too. If possible, use an air blower to get rid of any remaining droplets which have accumulated in hard to reach areas.
Post wash care
Now that your motorcycle is grime and dust free, the first thing to do is lubricate that chain you cleaned. Post that, follow usage instructions religiously before you use detailing products like body wax or protectant sprays. Avoid application of these products on the hand or foot controls, the seat, and tyres, as it will make those surfaces slippery.
If you live in an apartment block, avoid getting your motorcycle washed by the guy who uses the same cloth and water to wash 10 other vehicles at a time. That cleaning only dulls down the looks of your motorcycle. Also, do not become obsessed and overdo the cleaning as too much of anything isn’t a good thing. If your motorcycle has only attracted a little dust, simply wipe it away with a soft cloth.
Be sure to check out our blog on five modern features to look out for in a commuter bike.