Washing your motorcycle not only helps get it looking good, but it will also provide you an opportunity to do a thorough inspection of parts and components.
There are many methods to washing a motorcycle, and it seems everyone has there own favorite. I know a person who washes his bike after every use, even while on the road. He uses liquid Cascade dishwasher rinse in a bucket of water and wrings out the rag, cleans with the wet rag, and polishes with the microfiber towel. His bike is spotless most of the time, and he doesn’t have any major scratches or dulling of the paint, so it must work. Getting the dirt and grime off the bike as soon as possible significantly decreases the possibility of corrosion.
Others swear by waterless solutions to clean their bikes. The manufacturers of these products claim that you can spray it directly on a rag or on the bike and wipe clean. They claim that the dust/dirt and grime left on the bike will not scratch as it is moved around the rag on the tank and other painted surfaces. They claim that the solution gently lifts the grime from the bike on to the microfiber towel. I love the waterless solutions and use them on my bike, but am not willing to rely on their claims, so first I rinse the bike thoroughly with clean water. Most painters that I’ve talked to also won’t use the waterless solutions without using rinsing the bike first with water. Still, the products are fine for cleaning and polishing after you have knocked the dirt off with the hose. I like to use them because they can be used on nearly every surface of the bike including the chrome, paint, seat, and windshield.
The method I use for cleaning my motorcycle (at least once a week and after any long ride) is:
Use medium spray pressure with hose or car wash wand to rinse dirt off paint and other surfaces. Note: if you’re at the car wash, take a trash bag to cover the seat with. You’ll be glad you did when you get to ride home on a dry seat. The car wash is only a few minutes from my home, so I usually rinse off the bike at the car wash, ride home, and pull it into the garage where I can work in the climate controlled area. This gives the water a chance to fly off the bike while I’m riding home, but it’s close enough to keep it from spotting.
After the bike is rinsed clear of most of the loose dirt and grime, I remove all the detachable accessories including the windshield and saddle bags. I then take a clean microfiber towel and spray small areas of the bike, methodically wiping it clean and polishing at the same time. I start at the top of the bike with the mirrors since water that got in the nooks and crannies will drip down. As I move down the bike, I inspect the parts, including the electrical wires and components, the frame and forks, the engine compartment, spokes, and brakes. Every part is inspected as I wipe it clean.
Finally, I clean the saddlebags and windshield and put them back on the bike.
Taking care of your motorcycle by washing it regularly will go a long way to increasing the life and looks of the motorcycle and it’s parts. Additionally, the opportunity to closely inspect your bike as you wash it will allow you to find and take care of any potential problems before they become a safety issue.