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Cleaning Your Motorcycle - A Beginners Guide


Phil J · August 04, 2021

There are two types of motorcyclists in this world, those who love to clean their pride and joy and those who hate to. Cleaning your bike has many advantages, not only will it preserve its life and help keep maintenance bills down, it’s also a great opportunity for you to closely inspect your motorcycle and make sure your bike is safe to ride.

Before we start, here are a few of my tips:

Buy The Best Cleaning Products You Can Afford

Motorcycles aren’t cheap to buy, purchasing the right cleaning products for the job and using a bit of elbow grease, will make your bike look as good as new and help protect it from the elements!

I’m using a selection of products that are included in my Muc-Off Ultimate Motorcycle Care Kit but I'll add a full list of everything I’ve used at the end. Visit the RideTo Store Cleaning Collection to find the latest products on offer for keeping your pride and joy sparkling.

Don’t Wash Your Bike in Direct Sunlight

This will leave watermarks on the paint. If possible, find a shaded area so the water doesn’t dry too quickly, especially in the summer months.

Make sure your bike is cool. Yes, we all know you own a cool motorcycle but I mean allow your bike to cool down if you’ve been riding it. Spraying cold water directly onto a hot engine could cause damage and will leave unsightly watermarks too.

Get All Your Cleaning Gear Together

I like to make sure I’ve got all the products to hand before I start washing my bike. There’s nothing more annoying than getting so far into the job then realising you’re missing something!

Step One - Pre Wash

Hose the bike down, spray cold water over the entire bike which will rinse off the majority of the dirt. Be careful not to get too much water down your exhaust pipe (you can buy exhaust bungs or use an old cloth to help with this).

If you have really stubborn bug and grime marks then you may need to use a more powerful pre-wash product such as Muc-Off Nano Tech Cleaner, which will loosen really tough unwanted dirt.

Make sure you get into all the difficult to reach places, underneath the bike and around the suspension. Many new riders aren’t sure if they should get the brakes wet, don’t panic, getting water on the brakes will not cause the bike any problems.

I’m extra careful when rinsing where the bike’s electrics are located, which is usually under the seat, but don’t worry too much about this as bikes are made to be ridden in the wet!

TOP TIP - Let the water soak into the dirt - notice I haven't yet used a wash mitt or sponge? - Wiping over and trying to remove dry dirt will scratch the paint!

Step Two - Shampoo and Wax

There are so many different brands of Shampoos on the market, I really like Meguiar's Ultimate Wash and Wax Shampoo to protect and clean my bike.

Squirt a small amount of shampoo (about a cap full) in a bucket, and fill up with lukewarm water.

I also have a second bucket of water to rinse my wash mitt and sponge. Why do you need a second bucket you ask? When wiping a wash mitt over a dirty bike, it can easily pick up tiny particles of dirt, by rinsing the mitt in a second bucket of water, you will remove the dirt from the mitt, ensuring you do not damage or scratch the bike’s paint.

At this stage, I use a couple of Soft Washing Brushes to remove dirt from the engine, frame, suspension and wheels. I personally never use a brush on the bike’s petrol tank, mudguards or fairings.

TOP TIP - I always start at the top of my bike and work my way down, this ensures you do not pick up and dirt or grit which can be rubbed into the paintwork.

Step Three - Rinse

With your hosepipe, gently rinse off the soap suds and dirt you have dislodged, and don’t forget all the hard to reach areas. If you don’t have a hosepipe or an outside tap, you could use a pump-action pressure spray bottle which also works really well.

Step Four - Drying the bike

One of the best under-rated products you can buy is a drying towel. Simply lay this on the wet parts to absorb the water and gently wipe over the frame and engine too. Again, be very careful that you don’t pick up dirt on the towel and rub it into the paint.

Step Five - Polish

Once the bike is clean and thoroughly dry, I like to spray a coating of Muc-Off Speed Polish to the paint. It’s a Wax and polish in one and will not only protect your paint, but it will also give the paint a deep shine too, and it smells awesome as it contains Carnauba and Beeswax!

Simply spray a light coat of Speed Polish over your paint, allow it to dry for a few minutes until it hazes over, then with a luxury microfibre cloth, wipe over the paint to remove the residue. I like to use small circular motions with the cloth. When all the residue is removed your paint will have an incredibly shiny finish

That’s it, you can now step back and admire all your hard work.

As promised, here’s a list of the essential products I would recommend any new rider should have to clean their motorcycle:

This information is given to you as a guide to support you in your choice of licence and RideTo has made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information provided about motorcycle licence and training requirements. However, RideTo cannot guarantee the information is up to date, correct and complete and is therefore provided on an "as is" basis only. RideTo accepts no liability whatsoever for any loss or damage howsoever arising. We recommend that you verify the current licence and training requirements by checking the DVSA website.