Ready for Spring: cleaning the bike

by on March 7, 2010
in Care and Feeding

A couple of years ago I posted a piece on how to prep the bike for the first ride of the season, with tips courtesy of our local dealership. This year, I noted a round-up of bike cleaning tips in the latest issue of the Harley Owners Group magazine, HOG, and thought they were worth sharing.

Two caveats: of course, the article itself was full of references to and recommendations for Harley-branded cleaning products. I don’t personally invest in all of those, but I do admit I really like their “Sunwash” product.

And, there are likely tips and techniques you’ve gathered over the years that work best for you – maybe you don’t feel the need to baby the bike so much and just want to occasionally get the bugs off. That’s cool (because that’s honestly how I do it)… but the only hard and fast rule of bike cleaning should be this: “First, do no harm.”  Meaning: sometimes it’s good to just recalibrate your brain and make sure your bike-cleaning short-cuts aren’t causing damage.

So for what they’re worth, here are some bike-cleaning don’ts offered up by The MoCo.:

  • Don’t use a pressure washer – the garden hose works just fine. (I guess this means I should stop takin’ it to the car wash.)
  • Don’t get dirt in your cleaning products – I think this means if you drop the polishing rag on the ground, get a different one.
  • Don’t use rags that contain nylon – because it’s abrasive. They recommend micro-fiber, which for the record, I hate.
  • Don’t use common household detergents – again, because they’re abrasive and have chemicals that can react with your bike’s surfaces.
  • Don’t wash your windshield with gas station fluid, which is formulated for glass.
  • Don’t blow dry your bike with a leaf blower – because they blow dirty air. That’s assuming you use the same leaf blower you use in the yard. Maybe if you had a leaf blower just for the bike?
  • Don’t use car products on your bike – or at least, read labels carefully.
  • Don’t use nylon scrubbing tools on your bike.

Now it’s your turn: Add your bike-cleaning Do’s and Don’ts in the comments!

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7 Responses to “Ready for Spring: cleaning the bike”
  1. Torch says:

    Thanks for the tips. I have broken several of those rules. Be careful, a couple of weekends ago I finally washed mine after several months of winter riding/commuting, and it rained that Monday. ;)

    Ride on,

  2. LOL always works that way, doesn’t it? Thanks for reading, Torch! Nice to see you here!
    ~ Corn Dog

  3. Sue says:

    i’ve been using Pledge on my chrome, works great, and is far cheaper than many other chrome cleaning products (chrome should only be cleaned, never polished!).
    and today i went for a nice ride, got caught in a little rainstorm, and the second i stepped back in the house, a huge thunderclap happened outside! whewww, good timing!!!

  4. Sue – what is the reasoning (or science) behind the no-polishing rule for chrome? Is it because of possible scratching? I’ve never heard of using Pledge to clean, but just might give that a try! Thanks for reading and contributing here!

  5. Wendy says:

    I’d be lost with out using our leaf blower!

  6. Sue says:

    about the polishing chrome – that’s directly from the harley pages. most polishing agents have a very mild abraisve in them, actually eats away a little bit of the surface to produce a shine.
    read the ingredients/directions on polish and see if that is the case for that particular stuff.
    it works very well on aluminum, which will really shine up with a good abrasive polish.
    also, if your chrome is scratched, an abrasive polish will help remove or lessen the scratches.
    but for chrome in good condition, i just use a wet rag to get the dirt off, then pledge on a microfiber cloth. works for me!

  7. Kathie says:

    I use a glass cleaner on my chrome and bike called Glance N/A I can get it from an industrial supply store and it shines my bike and chrome beautifully, no harmful chemicals no abrasives and eco safe, great stuff.

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