Because crotch rockets need cleaning too!
I had grabbed a few bike-focused over the counter cleaning products to try and make the video somewhat relevant but in all honesty they aren’t essential and you can generally use most of the products you’d clean a car with.
Before even contemplating cleaning a bike you want to ensure it’s secure and accessible and the best way to do this is with the use of a decent paddock stand. A front and rear stand will allow you to fully rotate both wheels during the cleaning process but even just a rear stand will still help make life considerably easier when getting down and dirty with your crotch rocket.
Another preparatory step that should be taken prior to any cleaning is covering exposed electrical components with plastic. This isn’t absolutely critical as modern bikes are designed to be able to get wet but it still makes sense to spend a few minutes protecting any parts you’d prefer not to.
I liken motorcycle cleaning to engine bay cleaning in that although technically you can get them wet, covering exposed components with plastic first to prevent any unnecessary damage still makes sense, especially if you’re undertaking an in-depth, multi-stage clean.
While it’s okay to pressure wash a bike you still want to employ some common sense to prevent driving water into sensitive nooks and crannies. So if you have an adjustable washer then it makes sense to knock the pressure down a bit, if you don’t then just remain vigilant of how close you’re holding the lance to the bike and if you’re pressure washer poor, then feel free to hose down however you see fit.
It makes sense to tackle the dirtiest parts first so if you’re planning an in-depth detail then it’s probably best to degrease the chunky chain before tending to any of the surrounding components. I’d advise using a dedicated aerosol-based degreaser, along with a stiff bristled chain cleaning brush, however a water-based all purpose cleaner should also be capable of stripping back the cack too but whichever you go with just make sure you remember to re-lubricate later on.
After the oily chain the wheels tend to be the dirtiest parts of a bike so it makes sense to properly clean them before tending to the body, just as you would with a car. This will prevent cross contaminating freshly cleaned panels with wheel product overspray and brake dust splatter as you inevitably would if you cleaned them last so aim to get them out of the way as early as possible.
Depending on how dirty they are I like to use either an all purpose cleaner or dedicated wheel cleaner and thoroughly work over all areas of the wheels with a selection of soft bristled brushes to agitate the dirt, before rinsing off.
The all-encompassing qualities that a snow foam applied via a dedicated lance offers means it can quickly blanket all areas of a bike with thick suds which help to dislodge trapped and unseen dirt without even having to make physical contact. You can also leave it to sit for a fair few minutes while you fill wash buckets or polish your helmet, meaning that by the time you come to rinse if off the bike’s already had a pretty thorough soak.
Bikes (and of course their riders) are known for being somewhat greasy specimens so if you want to perform a deep clean then it’s worth de-greasing with an appropriate product and soft bristled brush prior to contact washing to ensure any heavier contamination shampoo alone can’t remove is eliminated. All parts can essentially be worked over like this if necessary and it’s really just down to you how deeply you degrease.
When it comes to contact washing a bike you should try and follow the same procedure as you would with a car, so a gentle two-bucket grit-guarded wash with a soft mitt to help prevent scratches and swirls is a must. The bodywork on this particular bike was finished in a satin black so swirls weren’t going to be an issue, however you should always try to follow the same safe wash protocol regardless of finish if you want to achieve the best quality, damage-free results.
A plush microfibre towel can be used to absorb water from the main areas of a motorbike following a final rinse but the rest of it should ideally be blow dried off with an appropriate machine. This will quickly displace or evaporate any unseen and trapped water from awkward areas (of which there are many on a bike), eliminating unsightly water streaks and staving off future corrosion.
Once sufficiently cleaned and dried the main body panels of a bike should ideally then be polished and enhanced using an appropriate product. Again with this being a satin finished bike I simply slapped on some satin-safe sealant by hand to help subtly enhance and protect the surface but if you’re dealing with a standard clear-coated finish then anything you’d use to polish a car’s painted panels with can be applied to a bike too, from working an all-in-one over the surface by hand, to meticulously machine correcting each panel.
With the paintwork tended to you the then want to dress any exposed plastics and trim as these can be subject to a lot of potentially damaging sunlight. Any durable exterior dressing or coating can be used on these parts to enhance and protect them and they can be applied with applicator pads, brushes or towels but for safety reasons it’s important to remember to keep these slippery dressings away from controls and tyres.
If your bike features any polished aluminium, steel or chrome parts then you might want to brighten them up as a final port of call. Any respectable metal polishing product will do and unless you’re tending to chrome, should be worked over the surface until the residue turns black.
Once fully cleaned it’s important to periodically maintain the bike to prevent it from regressing back. Depending on how dirty you let it get you can re-foam, soak, pre-clean then two bucket wash, or simply spritz over with a suitable detail spray as I was here to remove light dirt, dust, fingerprints and smears and if you keep on top of it you shouldn’t need to do any heavy degreasing or wheel cleaning for quite some time.
The last and probably most important part of the process is to stand back and admire your handiwork because there’s no use spending all that time painstakingly cleaning, polishing, enhancing and protecting all areas of your beloved crotch rocket if you’re not going to show it off down your local Hells Angels hangout!
While I appreciate this channel is about cleaning cars, there’s a lot of bikes out there at the moment so thought it was the perfect time to add a dedicated bike detailing video. Committed cagers needn’t fret though as I’ll be back cleaning something with four wheels soon enough but at least try and take something from this in the meantime as a lot of the products and techniques carry over from car to bike and vice versa.