Bike wash 101

The motorcycle has become quite popular these days. From congested city streets to wide open highways, nothing screams freedom more than cruising on any two-wheeler; from a monstrous superbike to a stylish scooter.

Just like any vehicle, these bikes need a good washing or detailing from time to time. Despite the fact they're designed to take on the harsh environment of our roads, we also have to highly consider their proper care and maintenance for years of enjoyable, worry-free performance.

A good wash in my book would mean knowing the proper way of executing it; cleaning without causing harm. In other words, your knowledge of your motorcycle's components is crucial here.

Let's get down to business and prepare the essential tools for the task:

*Microfiber wash mitt or towel

*Good quality car shampoo (not laundry/dishwashing soap)


*Hose with an adjustable spray nozzle

*Spray bottle (capacity of 16 ounces or more)

*Dry microfiber towels or microfiber chamois for wiping/drying

Do the following in mind before you start:

*Empty your cargo space (often located under the seat) of water-sensitive contents unless you have them protected in a ziplock bag.

*Remove your key from the ignition as water may enter and cause a short, or corrode the electronic bits within.

*Give your chain a once-over with a good quality lubricant such as WD-40 White Lithium Grease to protect it from the possible corrosive effects of hard water. Our H20 from the tap isn't exactly free of mineral salts.

*Check all electrical connections are secured and in place.

Once you're all set, here's how:

Begin by hosing down your motorcycle's wheel areas. Make sure to adjust the nozzle in a way that it creates an effective and focused spray, yet gentle enough that it won't dislodge anything other than dirt (this also saves water). If you don't have a spray nozzle, a highly-skilled thumb should do. 

When spraying the rear wheel, avoid directly hitting your chain. Inspect top portions and the sides of your bike and only spray if absolutely necessary. The rule of thumb here is getting the job done where it matters while using the least of your resources (same thing applies with any other vehicle).

After unwanted dirt and debris have been hosed off, you can now soap down your hog to a squeaky clean with two methods:

The classic soap-in-bucket method:

Drop a few ounces of car shampoo into an empty, clean bucket followed by filling it up with water. Using the spray nozzle (or in some cases, your thumb) create a high pressure stream as you fill the bucket. This will create a sudsy mixture perfect for cleaning nasty grime away with your trusty wash mitt.

The soap-solution-in-a-spray-bottle method:

This technique is a preference of mine as it saves you water but gets the job equally done nonetheless.

Open the spray bottle and create a mixture of one part car shampoo to five parts water. Make sure to leave some room for air in the bottle before you close and give it a vigorous shake. Next, combine with your wash towel or mitt. The results from this method should satisfy you with a smile from ear to ear.

Next up is the rinse and dry. Once all the stubborn dirt from your motorbike have been completely loosened by the suds, it's time to rinse it away using the same approach as the initial hose-down.

Armed with your dry towels and/or chamois, situate your hog in a cool, well-ventilated area where you can begin wiping away, starting from the top working your way down to the wheels. If you happen to have an air compressor handy, feel free to use it as it helps blow water out of spaces that are too tight for your fingers to reach.

Finally! There she stands as gorgeously clean as the day you first took her home. After all your washing gear has been neatly tucked away, don't forget to do a start-up test on your bike to ensure it's in good operational order. In addition, spray some lube onto your chain again for added protection.

In this day and age, there's the added option of waterless cleaning (my favorite approach by far), which is just as good as washing but preserves your motorcycle bits better as it completely avoids the long-term side effects of tap water usage. Plus, Mother Nature herself will be glad you've resorted to this method. I've tested a few products in the local market, but go for those which are environment and human friendly, not to mention easy and economical to use. 

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