The sun is out and you can’t wait to get outside and gleam up your mean machine. But should you be thinking of jet-washing your bike, or will it cause more damage than good?
Bikes get dirty, fact! We ride them hard and they look good for it. But nothing instils a sense of pride like riding out on a bike that looks as good as new. Spending a few hours cleaning up your bike is a cathartic experience for every rider. Make sure you are cleaning it the right way though, to prevent damage to your pride and joy.
The thing to consider with jet-washing is that high powered water, sprayed directly at your bike, can cause damage. A jet-washer can drive the grease out of bearings, ruin motorcycle chains, destroy fork seals. You get the picture.
If your bike is really dirty, a jet wash from a decent distance can help to remove the worst of the dirt. But the more delicate and intricate parts of your bike will need to be cleaned with a damp cloth, a good brush and plenty of elbow grease. Using a combination of cleaning methods will guarantee the best results and can prevent damage.
As those of us who have tried to jetwash a panel-van know; jet washers are actually rubbish at cleaning flat surfaces. It’s far better to wipe down your tank, fairings and plastics with a microfibre cloth than just stand there 4-feet away with your Mega Power 3000 jetwasher, firing enough water at it to put-out the Grenfell tower.
If you want to use your home jet washer, use it lightly over the body and wheels of the motorbike, keeping it a considerable distance from the bike itself. This will help to prevent damage to the decals and ensure that the more sensitive parts of the bike are not swamped with water. Avoid using the jet washer over the wheel spindles, the swing arm, headstock and the chain of the bike. If by chance the chain of the bike is hit, simply re-lube it when dry.
Once the bike is wet and you’ve got the surface dirt off. You can spray on a quality degreaser and leave it to work its magic for a few minutes. Before you break out the shampoo, work on the muddiest parts of your bike using a good motorcycle-proof brush and a clean, soft cloth. A radiator brush also works well on the forks, chain, wheels and swing arm of the motorbike.
If you are using a special degreasing agent after jet washing, don’t leave it on for too long or its harsh chemicals could cut into the surfaces on the bike and create staining.
Choose a shampoo that has a low acidity level and mix it with warm water. Using a soft cloth, clean all over the bike, including the screen. Use two buckets: one with warm soapy water and the other with cold fresh water. Wash your sponge or cloth off in the cold water to rinse out most of the dirt. That way, your warm soapy water stays as clean as possible and this method ensures you’re not wiping really dirty water back over your bike.
Remember to wash off the shampoo whilst it is still wet, otherwise it may leave an unsightly residue.
To get that fresh out of the showroom gleam, use a high-gloss wax on the body and rims. You can also use tyre or glue remover for the exhaust if it has any remains of rubber heated on it.
Some elements of your bike are delicate, and blasting them with a ton of cold water can cause damage. It can be particularly painful for bearings and other minute components. Paintwork can also suffer from heavy-handed jet-washing. Be gentle with your bike, and on no account should you shove the nozzle of the jet washer right up close to any of its parts.
If you accidentally take too much grease off of the chain, you can reapply once the bike is dry.
You can, of course, opt to not do the hard work yourself and take your bike to your local hand car wash centre. Be warned though, as hard-working as those Eastern European types are, these places are notorious for using dirty cloths, which could be riddled with ingrained dirt, making very easy for them to scratch your beloved bike.
Spend an hour on the driveway instead, gently washing your bike using a combination of warm water, clean cloths and the occasional blast from the jet wash, to make it look as good as new once again.
Of course, if you don’t have access to an outside tap then washing your own bike can be a bit of a pain. So if you do have to use a local hand car wash, try a few as you’ll find some know how to wash bikes and others will clean your wheels and then use the same rag to wipe down your tank…