Clean and maintain your motorcycle

Clean and maintain

Beyond the simple aesthetic aspect, cleaning is part of maintenance (hence the title of this article).

Corrosion can ruin a motorcycle in no time (a few weeks), significantly reduce its market value, make it difficult and unpleasant to maintain and, in extreme cases, make it a dangerous machine to ride. The basis of any serious and regular maintenance will therefore be regular cleaning.

Cleaning does not mean spreading a bucket or two of soapy water every fortnight on the motorcycle. Some motorcycle cleaning hacks are needed in order to visit all the nooks. A cleaning must be complete, you have to visit all the nooks and crannies to eliminate the dirt picked up on the road.

Thoroughly cleaning brings another benefit to simply having a nice looking bike. It allows you to have an eye everywhere and to detect otherwise not very obvious faults: damaged cables, insulators worn by friction, small oil or gasoline leaks, potentially dangerous rust attacks, to name but a few examples.

A motorcycle that rides every day inevitably receives its dose of various projections that settle everywhere in a corrosive mixture for painted or metal surfaces. The grime layer forms a film that captures and stores moisture, accelerating corrosion. At the level of the cylinder fins or the oil cooler, too much dirt can compromise engine cooling.

Careful cleaning also makes it possible to identify leaks and defective parts before failure, an additional guarantee against premature wear. Done well, it benefits the longevity of the motorcycle. But operated carelessly, it can accelerate the wear of certain elements or cause breakdowns.

This article deals only with the “cosmetic” maintenance of your motorcycle.

For advice on mechanical and electrical maintenance, read the article “  Keeping your motorcycle in good shape ”.

General tips

If you want to do a proper and complete job, remove the seat, tank and fairings, side panels, etc. which can be cleaned separately, in order to have access to the parts of the frame they hide.

Thoroughly wash the entire motorcycle, taking care that the water does not spread too much on the electrical parts or inside the air filter. If necessary, cover them with a plastic sheet.

Especially clean the parts of the exhaust that you cannot see well. An accumulation of dirt would accelerate the deterioration of a system already sensitive to corrosion in normal times.

Cleaning the fins of cylinder heads and cylinders is a tedious exercise, but there are special brushes for this kind of work. Sludge or oil is hard to reach in places like the cylinder fins. A pressurized water jet can be used if the deposits have previously been diluted with a specific degreaser applied with a brush.

The next step is to rinse the machine with cold water. This operation is easier if you have a water jet. To make the paint shine, let it drip off, then pass a chamois leather.

Some preliminary advice

The motorbike should be washed in the shade as much as possible .

The sun heats the paint and makes the products dry faster, which leaves traces (of soap or other components) that must then be removed by rubbing, with the risk of wearing or scratching the varnish.

Ideally, put packing boxes under the motorcycle that will retain dirty water and filter grease and grease.

Try to install yourself near a water drain to collect the runoff without letting it go into nature, which has done nothing to you. Even if all the products are biodegradable to at least 90% (according to the European standard), their elimination must be done by the domestic pipes which lead to a treatment plant or an “all water” pit.

To reduce the doses of products used, use very effective microfibre cloths and cloths, machine washable at 90°C, to be found in the household cleaning accessories section.

Prerequisite: grease or oil the Neiman contactor to prevent water from entering it.

First pass a jet of water or a sponge with plenty of water, preferably hot, to dust and dissolve light greasy deposits.

The less dust there is, the less risk there is of scratching either the varnish or the paint directly, by rubbing.

However, avoid spraying water towards the electrical components: switches, wiring harness, alternator and ignition casings, lighting.

To wash the motorcycle as a whole, and more particularly the parts of the fairing and painted metal, avoid so-called “no-scrub” products : to be effective, they must be aggressive, and therefore harmful in the long term (as much both for your motorcycle and for the environment).

Always read the instructions for use and do not heavily dose. Better to try two or three times than to risk damaging an element.

Use two sponges or cloths , one for the top of the motorcycle (the cleanest parts) and the other for the very dirty areas (rims, engine shoe, lower fairing, swingarm). Rinse them frequently and thoroughly so that they do not become loaded with abrasive particles.

Above all, no scraper sponge, “grattounette”, or other aggressive and/or scratchy material .

Wash from top to bottom to avoid making micro-scratches by particles coming from the bottom of the motorcycle and that drippings of dirty water come to dirty the parts already washed.

Go from the least dirty to the dirtiest.

Rinse with a jet, not too powerful (the ideal is “medium pressure”), then with a sponge to thoroughly remove traces of soap.

Why not recommend high pressure washing?

Certainly, it is fast, effective and not tiring. But the hot, high-pressure jet of water peels off flimsy stickers and throws dirt where it shouldn’t, where it wouldn’t have gone without being pushed there. A high-pressure jet applied too close (less than 50 cm) lifts the seals which protect the delicate parts of the motorcycle (wheel bearings or others, chain links, etc.) and are supposed to keep the grease inside and the dirt outside. The water flushes out the grease and replaces it with a mixture of dust and sand which will ruin the mechanisms. Not to mention that the water from high-pressure car washes is generally mixed with soap, the detergent components of which will oxidize the electrical connections.

The high-pressure jet may be suitable for rinsing, provided you stay more than a meter away and do not insist on places where water could infiltrate.

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