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.