Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Hygiene

Bike cleaning. Some people hate it and some people love it. I personally love the end result and have made a living out of this for a few years with very happy customers. Here’s how I do it, there are of course more / alternative methods however this works for me as an overall approach:

Get the bike up on a bench so you can work comfortably. Maybe stick some tunes on and take your time. Take the fairing sides and belly pan off if you want to a proper job. Clean up the fasteners and put somewhere safe in a logical order.

Dirty stainless exhaust downpipes? Do that first as you’ll make a mess if you do it energetically enough… coat them in WD40 or similar and let them soak while you fuck about getting everything else ready. Green Scotchbrite pad with that following the grain if you want to maintain it or no worries if you are going to go all the way to polish them. Then red Scotchbrite with autosol or similar then grey Scotchbrite then cloth. For really bad ones alloy wheel cleaner (careful not to get on any other part of the bike) and rinse first and/or wet and dry used with the WD40.

Chain cleaner on the chain and clean it.

Get the bike outside and on a suitable stand or stands so you can clean the wheels properly. Remember, bike washing is best done in the shade, not direct sunshine if you want to avoid even more work from water spots etc.

Degreaser on the chain run fling area / other greasy bits. Allow to soak. Rub to see if broken the goo down enough. Break it down if needs be with more degreaser and suitable brush. Leave it to do it’s thing, don’t rinse it off just yet. Have you thought about taking off the front sprocket cover and chain guard?

Snow foam (I like the cherry smelling one) the whole bike. Set your lance to apply it thick. Use loads, it’s fun. Let it drip off. It congeals and takes dirt with it onto the floor. Marvel at how it’s taking horrible black crap off your bike, especially where you used the degreaser. Allow it to do it’s work for a few minutes.

Jet wash it off (don’t point it directly at sensitive areas e.g. radiators, electrics, unlacquered stickers, bearings etc, you know that right?). An adjustable lance that goes around corners is awesome for bikes and allows you to select the appropriate strength so you don’t go too mad. Check for any loose paint / crumbling finishes etc beforehand and adjust your approach accordingly if you find any as jet washing with likely damage those.

Have another look at the areas that were properly greasy. Either use more degreaser or spot clean with brake cleaner. Check under the bike, yes use your knees. Behind the number plate etc.

Use a decent wash and wax mixed warm in a bucket with a grit guard. You’ve already removed the vast majority of the dirt above, haven’t you? Check again. Now, wash the bike top down with a decent microfibre mitt thingy regularly rinsing it clean in a second bucket of clean water with a grit guard in it too. Use a soft brush last on the wheels etc and always check if the ‘tool’ you are using gets greasy/gritty etc after every use. Do the fairing panels you may have removed earlier.

Jet wash it off (as above).

Double check it’s clean. Repeat steps as necessary.

Use a proprietary warm air dryer from top to bottom doing nooks and crannies e.g. petrol cap flaps, seat straps etc first. Do the rad before the engine. Dry the fairing panels. If you don’t have a lovely warm air dryer use soft clean cloths or compressed air, ideally oil-free.

Get the bike back up on the bench.

Spot remove any remaining grease / chain shite with brake cleaner.

Dry any remaining water with a clean microfibre cloth.

Clean and lube the chain. I like to use WD40 ‘Chain Lube’ on shiny chains and WD40 ‘Chain Wax’ on rustier ones. Wipe off excess from wheels etc. You know to spray lube on the inside run of the chain not the outside, don’t you? I find a piece of cardboard folded up helps to prevent getting any elsewhere on the bike or your bench.

Final polish the exhaust with cloth and Autosol if you want it really shiny.

Apply something that works on black frames, engine cases, black plastics etc. I like Muc-Off ‘Bike Spray’ and a product called ‘Dash Dandy’ too. Leave it for a while then gently work it in with a clean microfibre cloth. After a while the cloth becomes impregnated and you can then do switchgear etc with it. I don’t need to tell you to avoid the seat, grips, tyres, brakes etc do I?

Put the fairing etc back on. Use copper grease on those cleaned up fastener threads.

Check the bodywork for any scratches that you want to polish out. Use a suitable product if you feel you want to go there and do that. I like something I source locally called ‘Used Car Polish’, it smells fantastic.

If there are any stone chips you want to address then touch them in and wait to dry then cut them in later using your polishing product above. I find a pen nib applicator to be more accurate than a brush.

Apply a fine detailing wax on the bodywork and screen then buff with a clean microfibre cloth. I fucking love microfibre cloths.

Walk round the whole bike and wipe anything you’ve not yet wiped over with a clean soft cloth. Using nothing but the cloth clean over things like calipers etc.

When you’re eventually done and happy, clean the brake discs with brake cleaner and fresh blue roll or similar.

Time to put the kettle on / get a beer out of the fridge / have a smoke and a pancake according to your personal preference and admire your handiwork.

 

Discuss this article here, maybe share your bike cleaning tips or even be one of those people that comments “I never clean my bikes” if you like.

An Old School event on some Belgian ring road

With me being from The Continent, I live a bit of a different life than most of our members, as about 90% of you, are from the UK. In the UK there’s a racetrack, an abandoned airfield or a drag strip usually not more than an hour away from wherever you are, at legal speeds even.

For us, it’s quite the opposite; from my house, the closest proper racetrack is 2 and half hours away. The fact that the track in question is the legendary Spa Francorchamps circuit does quite make up for it though. Zolder is closer, but that’s not really to my liking and Assen is another hour further the other way.

Yup, Spa is my home track, so to speak and every year since 2012 I’ve been making the trek to the Biker’s Classics held there yearly the first weekend of July. It’s a festival of everything Not New on 2 wheels; super-rare superbikes of days gone by, proper GP stuff from the 60’s and 70’s, etc.

Most of these bikes are not static, not by a long way. Championship races are held, track sessions for those that want to use his/her outdated bike for what it was actually meant and there’s the obligatory parade laps which usually end up in a few ex-World champions redoing some of their old battles, just for the hell of it.

Since we’ve been coming, we’ve also been shouting; “We need to have a go” Last year, I did and this year, we were out in force. As members of OSS, our little Dutch based“race team” (with lack of a better word) called #Team Banana; 3 bikes on track, 3 bikes as support vehicles, easily the biggest plot in the paddock and full catering and management; we clearly don’t do things by half.

Anyway, this is all beside the point; the 2017 Classics will mostly and sadly be remembered for appalling weather, which has quite the effect on the whole gathering. I myself have been out on track in pretty much every session available as most chose to keep their irreplaceable bikes in their respective pit boxes and tents, as to not write them off, which is very understandable. My bike was cheap (and not very fast) and I had full-wet tyres with me, as did Leblowski, so we were safe, doing many sessions with 5 or 6 bikes on track, instead of 50.


For the public and our supporting crew, it was quite different. It was cold, wet and miserable and that doesn’t make for a good day’s watching rare bikes, either static or racing which was sad as there is so much to be seen, it boggles the mind.

Next to our own little paddock with 2 Slingshots and 2 Slabbies, there were so many bikes from our school of thought, built solely for this yearly event; if there was nothing else to be seen, we’d all still have a field day. GSXR750RK with a bigbore 1100 motor with superbike running gear? Naturally. An as-new 1100ET? Sure thing. GSX1000S Katana on track? Totally normal. This bike was also blagged from the owner for the event, with the rider having pretty much his first ride on the bike and on a racetrack; very brave. These are just a few bikes run by like minded gentlemen doing the track sessions; no racing, just fast as you like down the racetrack. No ego’s, nothing to be won, just roundy-roundy riding for fun.

Then, in the proper pit lane and it’s adjoining paddocks is where the real bikes are. If you don’t know about the CSBK championship, I suggest you get yourself informed because the bikes used are awe inspiring, as is the riding. Some Dutch guys even do quite a good job on a bunch of Slabbies. Then there’s the French/Belgian Pro-classic series of which the grid is downright comical; from weedy early 90’s 600’s though to Y2K and later litre bikes, it all makes for interesting racing, the level is pretty high.

And then the Show piece of the event; the 4 hour Classic Endurance race. Some of you that were attending the earlier gathering at Donington may have had a feel of what this all is about, but at Spa, it all goes up a notch. For starters; the flag drops at 8pm and they ride into the night finishing at midnight. Thus, in the dark, on a blinding fast racetrack with utterly awful lights on most bikes. How some of these guys keep up the speeds that they do, I will never know. It doesn’t help that I’m night blind, so I best not ever enter myself.

The grid for this race is getting bigger and better every year. Some teams have budgets so high, it’s not really an amateur effort any more, with new bikes being built every year; Bakker/Harris/Moto Martin, it’s normal (almost), as are 170+ Bhp air-cooled motors.



Like Donington, at Spa, Suzuki themselves also entered, showing the factory interest for this type of motor sport, again with the blue Katana we’ve all seen been built at the NEC, this time the riders would be Pete Boast and non other than Guy Martin, with another (privately entered but twinned) Katana entered for good measure, finishing a respectable 7th and 22nd respectively. Our very own Sweatshop Phase One, of Mark Foggy fame ended up 3rd on the podium only seconds behind the Team Taurus GSX1100 and 1 lap behind a bike of a brand we shall not speak of. All of this after nearly 4 hours racing in the dark and wet out of a field of 47 starters; not half bad.

As a spectator, to witness this all, is a bit special. It’s not an everyday thing seeing and hearing these bikes of old tear through the night and the whole paddock itself is so open, you get the feeling you’re doing something naughty going your way around, only to be welcomed to have a look around everything and from very up close, just as long as you don’t get in the way. In this day of barriers and tight security, it is truly a breath of fresh air.

In the end, for me, it was another very good meeting; I was very reluctant at first to enter again next year due to the cost and the fact that communicating with the organisers is a nightmare; it all goes away the first time you plunge down from La Source into Raidillon with the throttle WFO for 75% of the time, all the way round. It’s quite something and I can’t wait to go again. The rain may have slowed the whole show down a bit, but if that didn’t bother you, there was so much to see, do and learn, there’s few thing like it.

I urge everyone with a remote interest in these bikes and racing (which, if you made it this far, should be the case) to make the pilgrimage to this event and see it all for yourself. I cannot make any promises about the weather, but I will promise that there will be plenty things to see/hear/smell to make it worth the trip from wherever you are. And, if that doesn’t convince you; we have stroopwafels.

/EFE

Photocredit;

-Jelle Boeijinga
-Marco vd Velde
-Darren Whyte
-Nolan Freebury
-Chris Whitey
-Team Classic Suzuki
-Bikers Classics
-European Classic Series

Bike of the Month July 2017


Some of you may know of my fascination with Eighties Movies; I absolutely love them. To be honest, I’m not totally sure why myself; could be the cars, the music, the girls, anything. One thing that returns in pretty much all these films is that perseverance and doing the right thing, will alway get you on top. In the 90ish minutes most of these films take, our lead character will fight his or her way though all matter of obstacles, an epic montage for good measure, with the end of the movie wrapping up with the championship/the girl/the car/ saving the planet (remember Wargames?)


This Slabbie that Leblowski has built, reminds me of those movies. The buildthread reads as a moviescript with some things hard to be believed, yet they all really happened.


Starting on the backfoot with a heavy operation and a bike most normal people would’ve called a scrapper, Leblowski took it upon himself to get the bike built to enter in the Bikers Classics Festival at Spa Francorchamps which he had attended as a spectator many times before.


Cutting it as close as you like with having the bike first run on the Dyno only days before the event and arriving at Spa with the paint only literally just dry from application, the bike proved to be absolutely perfect. Finished to a standard most of us can only dream of and the frame so heavily modified, it may be the most extreme Slabbie in existence. You’d have to look for it though, because you really can’t tell if you just casually walk past.


Now Spa is out of the way, this bike will be used for more track outings as part of the #TeamBanana “racingteam”.

I take my hat off for Leblowski, doing this project and taking it as far as he did, I know very few people so determined to make their vision a reality.

Leblowski, your Slabbie is this months BOTM
Read the whole script here