Cleaning your motorbike the right way

bmf dirty motorcycle chain

Published on 17 May 2016 by Mike Waters

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Filed under Category: Tips and advice

The changeable weather can wreak havoc on our bikes, making them less than perfect to ride. Our 11 cleaning tips will help make your ride just that little bit more satisfying.


1. Clean your pipes Clean motorcycle exhaust pipes - BMF

To prevent unsightly cracking and lengthen the life of your rubber hoses and pipes, use a product to stop the rubber tubing from hardening after cleaning off the dirt. Colour refreshers will allow you to seal in any open pores and prevent diffusing, keeping the rubber nice and flexible for when you hit the road.

2. Wax on, wax off

Before you reach for the polish, make sure you have a tub of wax to hand for afterwards. Polish contains abrasive ingredients while wax acts as a protective barrier against water and the effects of oxidisation, while also preserving the lacquer underneath it. Repeat after me: wash, polish and wax…

Road tar can make your bike dirty - BMF3. Give your chain some lovin'

The effect of dirt and grit in your bike chain can be potentially catastrophic. By regularly cleaning out dirt and using a good lubricant after, you will reduce friction, prevent long-term corrosion and increase the lifetime of your chain, saving you some extra cash for upgrades.

4. Ditch the tar

When driving on newly laid roads, tar will often flick up and attach itself to your beloved bike. It’s important to remove this as soon as possible to prevent more permanent damage from this sticky oil-based substance. Start off by using a basic cleaning product for cleaning (if it’s stuck on fast, leave on a spot of chain cleaner) then top it off with some polish and wax.

5. Easy on the protective spray

Winter is the time for all things excessive, including the use of protection spray. However, in the summer, products such as anti-corrosion sprays can cause your machine to burn in the heat. Spray should be kept to one layer of protective oil, which will prevent any rusting. Exhausts and headers should be avoided, but screw heads, fasteners and rust-prone parts will need the most attention.

6. Get to know the ins and outs of your brake discs 

clean motorcycle brake disc - bmf

Every time you brake, any build-up of rust will be completely removed, leaving you with a safe blank iron. However, when the pads engage the disc during braking, this can cause tiny metal particles to chip off and attach themselves to other parts of your bike, causing flash rust once oxidised. It’s important to keep an eye out for these before they get the chance to do any damage.

7. Reaching the middle ground

When cleaning up your bike, it’s difficult to find a product mild enough to use on any material and yet strong enough to remove any contaminations. If the product is too strong, you are at risk of dulling paintwork, corroding metal and inducing stress cracks. Make sure each product that you use is removed thoroughly after the specified time and avoid household cleaners on any sensitive materials.

Motorcycle waxed clean - BMF8. Solvent safety

When using solvents, it’s essential to use the product with the utmost attention. Solvent-based cleaners have been known to attack screens and, if left on for longer than the suggested time, can cause cracks around sensitive points such as drilled and bolted sections.

When cleaning screens, use a gentle microfibre cloth and a gel-based cleaning agent to dissolve and soften driedon insects and avoid using an insect sponge if you want to prevent scratching.

9. Look after your metal

Cleaning your metal regularly will eliminate opportunities for corrosion. Make sure any dried insects are removed to prevent surface scarring from the mixture of enzymes and amino acids. It is also essential to make sure that all parts are dry after cleaning. Dirt loves to stay moist and moisture is the primary source of corrosion.

10. Dry, dry, dry again

If you’ve been busy splashing through puddles and torrential rain, avoid putting your bike straight into the garage. Taking the time to thoroughly dry and lubricate your bike after a wet ride will once again help to prevent the effects of corrosion. By placing a wet and warm motorbike into a closed environment, steam will be released causing excessive moisture – a corrosion paradise. The steam can also cause water spotting on hidden areas, such as fuse boxes and electrical connections.

11. Keep that kit clean

Finally, with all this talk of bike maintenance, it’s easy to neglect your protection gear. If you own a helmet with a removable interior lining, chuck it into the washing machine on a delicate cycle and get on with cleaning the outside. Much like the screen, using a microfibre cloth and mild cleaning detergent will get rid of any grime and dirt. Give it a quick polish and you'll be left with a shining clean shell to be proud of.

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