Upgrade Your Bike’s Look: Our How to Clean a Motorcycle Hacks

by Karen Neill

Motorcycle Maintenance

Maintaining your motorcycle’s cleanliness and ensuring its proper care is vital for its longevity and performance. A frequent question we are asked here at Zenith Motorcycles is ‘How to clean a motorcycle without damaging it’ so we have made a guide to help you navigate the best ways to keep your bike looking spic and span. We have tried to cover everything you need to know to keep your bike in top shape, from cleaning routines to essential maintenance tasks.

Cleaning Your Motorcycle

Materials Needed

How to Clean a Motorcycle: Harley Davidson 48 Engine Clean

Mild soap or motorcycle-specific cleaner. For a matte finish, we recommend using only specialised Matte shampoo;

Water hose with a gentle spray nozzle or a jet wash on a gentle setting;

Soft sponges and microfiber cloths;

Soft-bristled brushes;

Chain cleaner and lubricant;

Polishing wax.

Motorcycle Cleaning Steps

1. Preparation

Park your motorcycle in a shaded area to avoid soap and water drying quickly and leaving spots.

Watermarks can be quite hard to polish out once they dry and will really annoy you when you can see them under your shiny polished surface!

Ensure the engine is cool before you start cleaning.

2. Initial Rinse

Rinse the motorcycle with a gentle spray to remove loose dirt and debris.

3. Cleaning Solution

Mix a motorcycle-specific cleaner or mild soap with water.

Avoid harsh detergents that can damage the paint and finishes.

You can use washing-up liquid BUT never use it on a matte finish. We try not to use washing-up liquid and prefer to use a good vehicle shampoo.

Please stay away from acid-based cleaning products or products containing salt.

4. Washing

Use a soft sponge or microfiber cloth to clean your motorcycle, starting from the top and working your way down.

Pay special attention to areas with accumulated grime, such as the wheels and under the seat.

Use soft-bristled brushes for hard-to-reach spots and detailed areas.

5. Wheels

Wheel cleaning is an art and to master that art you must be aware of what metal your wheels are as to what products you use.

NEVER use acid-based or salt-based wheel cleaner whatever tyre of wheels your bike has as these ingredients can cause staining or oxidization.

If you are going to use a wheel cleaner, please research which one is right for your bike. In the workshop, we use various cleaners depending on what motorcycle we are working on.

A good general wheel cleaner is Pro Kleen Dragons Blood. The name is a bit dramatic and the smell is not great but it does do a good job.

Always use a brush, plenty of elbow grease and lots and lots of patience. For a ‘dry’ wheel cleaner we use Vulcanet cleaning wipes. They are not cheap but they cut through old chin lube grease and brake dust like magic.

Vulcanet Cleaning Wipes

6. Motorcycle Chain Cleaning

Clean the chain using a chain cleaner and a brush specifically designed for this purpose.

Follow with a chain lubricant to ensure smooth operation, keeping fingers away from sprockets. Safety first.

7. Rinsing

Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove all soap residue.

If using a jet wash never have the jet too strong or be very close to your motorcycle, keep a bit of a distance.

8. Drying

Use a microfiber cloth or chamois to dry your motorcycle.

Avoid air drying as it can leave water spots.

Make sure the drying cloths are clean and free of dust or grit.

9. Polishing

Apply a coat of motorcycle polish or wax to the painted surfaces. This not only enhances the shine but also adds a protective layer against the elements.

Naturally, avoid any brake parts with polish. We either use good old Turtle wax or a ceramic coating to protect the paintwork and make the paint colours pop.

Finally, if you are unsure of what to do or simply pressed for time, bring your bike to Zenith Motorcycles and we can turn your bike into concourse condition. Let our bike valet and detail service bring out your inner shine!

Harley Davidson 48 Polished Tank

How to Clean a Motorcycle FAQ

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Member of Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI)
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Member of National Motorcycle Dealers Association (NMDA)
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