What is it?
ACF stands for Anti Corrosion Formula. ACF-50 was originally developed for the aviation industry to protect aircraft parts from corrosion.
ACF-50 has been approved to MIL-SPEC 81309 standard for ferrous and non-ferrous application, including electrical systems and electronic components. It is used by armed forces around the world to prevent corrosion in harsh environments.
When applied to a metallic surface, ACF-50 reaches the corrosion deposits at the base of the cell where it emulsifies and encapsulates the electrolyte, lifting it away from the surface.
What is it used for?
ACF-50 has many applications but the most common one is to reduce the amount that metal corrodes due to oxidisation.
ACF-50 creeps into the areas that water can and actively disperses water.
How often should you apply ACF-50?
The manufacturer suggests that you should apply ACF-50 once every 12 months and that it stays in place for up to a year. Obviously this depends on how much you use your motorcycle and in what conditions you ride in.
Taking 12-months as the guide, it’s safe to say that if you’re a all-weather biker, clocking up more than 5,000 miles a year, you should re-apply or at least top-up the most exposed zones twice a year.
Why use ACF-50 on your motorcycle?
Te short answer is: to keep it looking good. ACF-50 kills corrosion and inhibits the spread of corrosion due to water ingress and oxidisation.
There are parts on every motorcycle that take a lot of abuse from the elements and once they’ve corroded, they’re hard to recover. A few common problem areas are: brake caliper bolts, disc brake bolts, engine casings (especially areas that are directly in the line of road spray) and radiator guards to name a few.
ACF-50 forms a thin film over these surfaces, pushing any water out and forming a barrier against salt, water and oxidisation.
It can stay on your bike all-year-round but some bikers who ride through winter will coat their bike in ACF-50 and top it up.
When you wash the bike it will remove a small amount of ACF-50 so it’s best to re-apply in areas that are likely to face the most abuse.
In the summer it can be washed off with a strong cleaning solution.
What’s the best way to apply it?
The trick with ACF-50 is to atomise it as best you can. You can buy ACF-50 in different cans and bottles but the best is this ‘handpump’ version. The aerosol version isn’t that good at atomising the contents and it comes out quite thick and quite quick.
You’re best off buying the handpump which comes in a kit with a larger bottle. You decant the solution into the spray bottle and mist ACF-50 anywhere you choose.
Areas to avoid
It’s worth mentioning again that this stuff is hard to remove, it’s slippery and it’s quite messy.
So you REALLY don’t want to get it on:
- Brake discs
- Brake pads
- Handlebar grips
- Garage floor
- The dog
And you really don’t want to apply it outside if you can, as any wind will blow ACF-50 everywhere and anywhere, including in your eyes. Speaking from experience, you don’t want a powerful water-dispersal fluid on your eyeballs.
The old adage of ‘measure twice, cut once’ applies. Cover any areas you don’t want to get ACF-50 on with an old towel or rag. If you don’t, you’ll spend more time cleaning it off than putting it on.
ACF-50 Professional Application
If this all sounds a bit complicated, you can pay someone else to do it for you. Not only will you not end up with ACF-50 where you don’t want it but you’ll probably get a better job, done by someone who’s done 100s of times before.
Most professional ACF-50 applications start with a full valet clean of the bike and then the ACF-50 is applied. If you haven’t seen the results before, you’ll be amazed. Your 3-year old bike will look like it’s just left the showroom.
You can Google for local firms but allyearbiker.co.uk have good feedback and UK coverage.
ACF-50 vs WD-40
There are lots of sprays on the market that offer rust-prevention or water dispersal. The most common comparison is ACF-50 vs. WD-40.
The two address a similar issue but they have very different properties. Both ACF-50 and WD-40 will disperse water. Both will prevent oxidisation (corrosion) while they are on the surface you’re protecting.
However the main difference is that ACF-50 will chemically react and form a long-lasting film on a metallic surface, whereas WD-40 will coat the surface.
WD-40 is easier to remove and hence it’s not as good a long-term solution as day-to-day riding will remove the WD-40 before long.
The image above shows 3 bolts that were left outside for a month. The left-hand one was untreated, the centre one was coated in WD-40 and the right-hand one was coated in ACF-50. As they say; a picture paints a thousand words. If you want to prevent corrosion on your motorcycle, especially over the winter months, there’s no contest.
Where can you buy ACF-50?
We recommend buying the kit rather than the aerosol can.
The price of ACF-50 is pretty much the same anywhere you buy it.
You can buy it online from SportsBikeShop or indeed Amazon or eBay.
Your local motorcycle dealer might have it in stock (call them up and if they don’t have it I’m sure they can get it in for you). We couldn’t find it at Halfords (either online or our local store).
What’s the biggest size you can buy?
It comes in the following sizes:
A 964ml bottle with spray mister (our recommended option for bikers)
ACF-50 Common Questions
Is it safe on paint?
Yes, although we don’t recommend you use it on anything in The National Gallery, they won’t appreciate it.
How long does it take to dry?
This all depends on how much ACF-50 you spray on but if you lightly mist your surfaces, the ACF-50 should dry within 24 hours. It’s best to leave it to ‘cure’ so that it can evenly spread and work its magic. If you apply it and then head out for a ride you might end up losing some ACF-50 to the atmosphere.
Does it wash off?
Yes it does, even water will remove it to a small extent. If you wash your motorcycle with a cleaning product it will remove some of the ACF-50. If you pressure-wash your motorcycle you’ll drive the ACF-50 from the surface.
You can wash your bike when you have ACF-50 on it but you won’t need to strip it right back like you would if you didn’t have any anti-corrosion spray on it. A light wash to remove salt and road crud should be followed by a decent drying session and a light misting of ACF-50.
Does ACF-50 remove rust?
Yes it can. If there is light corrosion on the surface, ACF-50 can help lift this corrosion by working its way into the material, dispresing the water and allowing the rust to flake off. However, if you have a heavily-rusted part, it won’t bring it back to as-new condition.
Does ACF50 have a shelf life?
No. There are some untruths on internet forums that get perpetuated to the point that they (almost) become fact. The fact is, ACF-50 doesn’t ‘go off’, but if you apply it to your bike, it will have lost the majority of its protective qualities after a period of around 24-months.
Can you treat your wheels?
Yes, wheels are fine and it’s especially good on spoked wheels. Just make sure you’re careful to not get any on your tyres or brakes.
Can you use it on cars?
Yes, you can use it on anything from cars, to lawnmowers to aircraft carriers. If you’re working on your aircraft carrier, make sure you’ve got enough left over for your lawnmower.
Are all rust inhibitors the same?
There are other products available that do a similar job. The closest rival is XCP Professional. Other penetrating sprays will disperse water and prevent corrosion to an extent but ACF-50 chemically bonds to the surface, preventing oxidisation. It takes a lot more abuse / elbow grease / road grime to remove it, so it’ll do its job better as it stays on for longer.
Can I wash my bike if it has ACF-50 on it?
Yes but any washing will remove some (or all) of the ACF-50. A trick some bikers use is to rinse their bike with cold water and no soap which will remove the top layer of crud and get the bike looking better.
Remember, your will can still weather even with ACF-50 on it, so if it’s covered in salt, it makes sense to wash it off.
You can always reapply a misting of ACF-50 following any wash.
Can you use ACF-50 on your motorcycle chain?
It won’t damage your chain but it won’t be as good as a chain lube. If you need to lube your chain and you’re really, REALLY stuck, then ACF-50 will do the job.
If you want to prevent your outer links from rusting up, then a dab of ACF-50 on a cloth, then wiped on those links is a good solution. Click here for guide to the best motorbike chain lube.
Is ACF-50 safe to use on rubber?
Yes, it won’t perish rubber or plastic items. In fact, it’s very good at bringing plastic bodywork, especially black plastic, back to life. Spray a little bit on a rag and buff it on the surface you want to restore.