Whether you’re somewhere on a desert highway driving a Harley-Davidson or flying around the back roads on a Honda CBR model, a little bit of zen and some motorcycle maintenance can often mean the difference between making the curb or not. You only have to land on your back in the middle of a grassy field once to appreciate just how important this difference can actually be.
Obviously, your cleaning requirements will vary depending on how many miles you log and what the road conditions are like when you’re racking them up. Regardless, it’s not a good idea to get your motorcycle washed and cleaned at a commercial car wash. So, unless you’re independently wealthy and can afford to have your bike hand-washed by a bunch of bikini-clad supermodels, you’re going to end up doing it yourself (probably just as well… supermodels aren’t really known for their attention to detail). Here are some recommendations for keeping your bike in top condition.
Before beginning, always consult your owner’s manual. If you don’t have it or bought the bike used, try to track one down on the internet (most manufacturers will offer them as a free PDF download via their respective websites). A motorcycle owner’s manual will contain specific instructions for washing, including cleaning tips and products recommended by the manufacturer.
Always make sure the engine has cooled before washing. Wash your bike in a shaded area as the sun can dry the soap solution before you can rinse it, leaving soap marks on the surface (which more or less defeats the point of washing it in the first place). When you’re scrubbing off the road grime, give all the parts a thorough check. Be on the lookout for leaks and loose hardware, making sure everything is snug and secure.
After thoroughly rinsing, dry your bike with a soft white cotton cloth or towel that doesn’t have loose fibers. Cheap towels leave behind loose fibers that show up like cat hair on a business suit. Also, avoid using a paper towel as it might scratch the painted surfaces. Taking a cue from the commercial car washes, compressed air is a great option for drying and works especially well in hard to reach places, like around the motorcycle license plate frame. If you don’t have an air compressor, you can use a vacuum in a similar way by attaching the hose to the exhaust port, although a modest investment in a motorcycle dryer will pay off with just a few uses. Follow the cleaning process with a good coating of car wax to protect the finish and block dirt from taking hold as easily.
For those who have a collectible model or just don’t have the time to get on the roads as often as they’d like, there are a number of handy accessories – like a motorbike cover or motorcycle loading ramp – that protect your bike and prevent you from having to wash it as often.
Motorcycle covers provide a high-quality way to shield your bike from the elements and other airborne corrosives like dust. Don’t use a plastic tarp. They trap moisture and don’t breathe, allowing mold and corrosion to take hold. Motorbike covers also protect against UV rays, rain, dirt and pollutants while the built-in air vents let moisture evaporate.
Another handy accessory, Motorcycle ramps, features a strong weight capacity, wheel-guider sides, and sure-grip ramp surfaces, providing traction, stability and safety when transporting your bike from one location to another or onto a raised or lowered platform.
Storing your bike requires a little extra care. First, bring the tire pressure for both the front and rear up to the recommended PSI. Next, find an out-of-the-way spot to store it, and put the bike up on its center-stand. Then, block it up just enough to raise the front wheel off the ground and either remove the battery or hook it up to a trickle charger, maintaining the charge and health of the battery while not in active use.