Washed bike example

Do people really need to be instructed on how to wash their motorcycles?  While I’m not going to bother giving a step by step breakdown of how to wash your street bike, I do want to provide some tips I’ve picked up and read about.


What not to do:

Don’t wash your bike right after a ride, or while it is still hot.  (Some parts of the bike can stay very hot, and can be damaged by the sudden temperature shift of cold water hitting them)

Don’t wash your bike in direct sunlight if possible. (washing in the shade helps prevent spotting)

Don’t Armor All your seat to make it shine.  (I don’t need to explain this one do I?)

Don’t use a pressure washer on your bike.  (A pressure washer is too powerful and can force water into electronics, or past o-rings and cause damage.  The spray nozzle for a normal garden hose is just fine, and you don’t have to worry about your bike getting wet, as long as you’re not blasting directly into sensitive areas like up under the seat, behind fairings, or down the air intakes)

Don’t use normal wax on any of the unpainted black plastic areas of your bike.  (Many of these surfaces are raw black plastic, and will just hold the dried wax and look horrible.  Some of the clear liquid waxes with silicone can help restore a deeper black to these plastic parts if they’ve become faded, but do test an area first)

Don’t use a car wash stall.  (Both because the power washer is too powerful as mentioned above, and because those brushes have all kinds of grime in them that will scratch your paint)

Don’t ever use “tire black” on your tires to make them look good.  (I don’t care if you’re “only going to use it on the sidewalls”, it has no business being anywhere near motorcycle tires.  Seriously, this has been done before! +10 Darwin points)

Don’t use a sponge that has dropped on the ground.  Similarly, after several washes, replace the sponge you use.  Even better may be to consider a washable/reusable mitt.  (Seriously, don’t be a cheap ass, and refuse to get a new .70 cent sponge… the debris a sponge picks up from the ground, and after several washes will scratch up your paint)

Don’t use dish washing liquid to wash your bike.  (Dish washing soap is too harsh, and will easily pull off wax, and eventually damage your clear coat.  pH balance isn’t just for fish tanks and skin products).

Don’t get caught up in all of the excitement of washing your bike and use it as leverage while you flip your hair sexily for the neighbors… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vt9HVFlZiDE


What to do:

Do consider using products all from the same manufacturer, and know that car products are just fine for motorcycles.  (I really like Meguiar’s products.  These are a couple of their products I find most worthwhile):

Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo and Conditioner, 64oz  (This is a quality soap that is much better than their base car wash product, and doesn’t have any silicone or waxing components)

Meguiar’s Ultimate Quick Detailer  (This stuff is pretty amazing actually.  If the bike is mildly dirty, but I don’t have time to do a full wash I can wipe the bike down with this detailer and it looks great!  Like it’s just been washed and waxed!)

Meguiar’s Black Wax or Mequiar’s White Wax  (These are top of the line paste waxes, formulated to enhance either darker or lighter colors.  *Don’t use these on raw plastic areas, only painted surfaces*)

Meguiar’s Ultimate Quik Wax (This is the stuff to use on the black plastic areas of your bike, and will really revitalize the look of old faded black plastics.  The paste waxes above are much better for your painted surfaces)

 Meguiar’s G15606 Metal Finishing Polish – 5 oz   (This works way better than the motorcycle polish they have)

The one non-Meguiar’s item I would suggest here, would be Novus Polish which is the most amazing plastic cleaner and polish I’ve used to date.  (Awesome on your clear/tinted/mirrored face shields, as well as plexi windshields and light housings)

You also want to use a “grit guard” in your wash bucket, to avoid transferring dirt and debris from the bucket back onto your bike.  Here’s a bucket that includes a grit guard for a decent price.


Do pre-soak your motorcycle before you start washing it with a sponge or mitt.  (Especially the front facing components that get dried bugs and debris.  Really, the 3 most important washing tips I can offer are:  Using a quality washing liquid meant for painted/clear-coated/waxed surfaces, using clean sponges or mitts, and pre-soaking to avoid scrubbing surface contaminants into your paint or clear-coat)

 Simply dip some paper towels into your bucket of hot/warm wash water, and place them on the front-facing areas of your bike to soak any surface contaminants (like dried bugs).  Leave these for 10-15 minutes while you wash the other areas of your bike, then toss them and spray down the bike with your hose.  The softened bugs and debris will just spray right off, allowing you to then finish your hand wash and do a final rinse.


Do wash back to front, and top to bottom.  (The idea is to wash the cleanest areas first moving to the dirtiest areas…again to avoid transferring debris into your sponge or mitt and across more painted surfaces).


Do consider using a chamois or micro-fiber towel to dry off the motorcycle.  This is a good one:  Meguiar’s Water Magnet Drying Towel.  (Actively drying the bike will help avoid water spots)


Do be careful if you’ve decided to wax the bike after your wash.  (Surfaces like the tank, where you might normally squeeze with your knees and thighs will obviously be very slick for the first couple of rides).


Do consult a professional detailer if your bike needs help due to scratches.  (While you can’t do too much damage with just a clay bar and waxing, you also really won’t be able to remove scratch marks or swirls.  If you try to go deeper and actually do some polishing with rubbing compounds, you can quickly damage the surface and “burn” the paint.  Leave it to the guys and gals that do detailing for a living)


Do lubricate your chain after your wash and rinse.

lubricate chain picture


Do take a picture of your shiny clean bike, so you can remember what it looks like when it’s not hidden under hundreds of miles worth of road grime.

Clean FJR photo