The vast majority of a motorcycle can be cleaned using the same processes and methods that would be used when cleaning a car, though there are a number of important steps that should be taken to protect it before and during cleaning. The most important thing to consider when cleaning a motorcycle is that any parts that should not come into contact with water and cleaning products are sufficiently covered & protected. Parts like these would include the seat/saddle area, the speedometer & gauge cluster area, any air intakes or vents, any switches and exposed electrical components and upward facing exhaust pipes which should be covered at the tips to prevent any water from entering.
The exposed or sensitive parts should be covered with a suitable material. A ‘cling film’ or shrink wrap type product should be used as this can easily be worked around intricate or awkward areas and will provide good protection. Plastic bags can be used to cover slightly larger parts but ensure that where the bag is connected, it is securely fitted with either an elastic band or some tape to make it water tight. Once all sensitive areas have been covered the motorcycle can be washed in the same manner that a car is cleaned. Lower areas including wheels & tyres should be pre-sprayed with a diluted all purpose cleaner, a designated degreaser, or traffic film remover product, left to dwell, then thoroughly rinsed off.
Wheels and brake calipers should then be cleaned with either a diluted all purpose cleaner or a designated non-acidic wheel cleaner depending on how dirty they are, working in the product with a selection of soft and stiff bristled brushes and then thoroughly rinsing the area off. A diluted all purpose cleaner or a designated degreasing product should be used in conjunction with a soft bristled detailing brush to lift dirt from and clean parts like the swing arm, suspension areas and mud guards.
Once the wheels, tyres, brakes and lower areas have been sufficiently pre-cleaned and degreased the motorcycle can be washed with a normal vehicle shampoo product using a soft wash mitt, washing from top to bottom covering all areas and ensuring no cleaning solution is allowed to dry.
Once washed, the motorcycle should be thoroughly rinsed off and dried with a micro fibre towel ensuring all water is removed from any fairing and trim details, wheels and anywhere else where water may have accumulated. Once the motorcycle has been properly dried the protective coverings can be removed. It should be noted that when washing, rinsing & drying particular care should be taken around stickers & vinyls ensuring they do not begin to lift around the edges.
Suitable parts of a motorcycle like the fairing and mud guards can be polished just like the paintwork of a car. A good quality all in one polish product would be very suitable and should be applied via a micro fibre or sponge applicator pad, again taking particular care around the edges of stickers & vinyls. Product residue should be buffed off with a clean soft micro fibre towel.
Once polished these areas can be protected with a synthetic sealant or designated wax product applied via a sponge applicator pad and again buffed off after curing with a micro fibre towel. Wheels and calipers (if painted) can also be polished and protected if required after these areas.
Plastics & trim can be dressed with a designated dressing/protectant product to help prevent them from fading over time and to protect them from the weather. You should however, ensure that no product is applied to, or close to control areas of the motorcycle like brake levers, grips and foot controls for instance. Tyre walls also should not under any circumstance be dressed as this would be extremely dangerous for the rider.
Metal parts of a motorcycle such as exhausts, chrome trim and exposed metal wheels should be polished to excentuate them. For chrome details a suitable product should be used that will not scratch or mark them. A standard metal polish product can be used on non chrome parts, using a micro fibre applicator pad to work it in, and buffing it off with a micro fibre towel. Fine wire wool can be used to help remove any stubborn marks or oxidation. Once polished, metals could be sealed with a suitable metal sealant to protect the parts and prolong the polished finish. Screens and dial covers can be cleaned with a glass cleaner and a soft micro fibre towel and sealed to allow any rainwater to run off easily.
Any leather on a motorcycle can be appropriately cleaned with a designated leather cleaning product, working it in with a micro fibre applicator pad and a stiff bristled detailing or nail brush for ingrained dirt if necessary. It is important that any leather parts are sufficiently conditioned/hydrated after cleaning to help prevent them from drying out especially if they are exposed to the elements.