Adventure biking is a whole load of fun, but after a busy day of chasing the off-road trails, exploring twisty roads or enjoying ride-outs with your mates, you can often find that your two-wheeled friend is dirtier than… Well, I’ll leave that to your own imagination.
We all know too well that it’s tempting to just chuck a bit of soapy water over your bike and go. But, if you invest a little bit more time on your cleaning routine, you’ll find it can actually help reduce the wear and tear to the bike, and, it’s a very rewarding feeling when your bike looks like it’s just rolled itself out of the showroom wearing a big shiny grin.
So, with that in mind, we’ve teamed up with German motorcycle care brand, SDoc100, to put together some handy tips you can use when washing your bike to help keep it in tip-top condition.
Get into the habit of wiping all the dead bugs off your motorbike at the end of a day’s riding. If they get left on for too long, the acids in their blood and guts can cause scarring to the paint due to the chemical reaction between them. The easiest way to get the little buggers off is to soak an old tea towel or cloth in warm water for a few minutes and give it a good old fashioned rub down.
When to wash it
Photo: Pierce Martin
It all depends on how often you ride and where you ride and it calls for a bit of good judgement. If you’ve been off-roading all day and your bike is smothered in mud, then you’ll naturally want to give it a thorough wash straight away. If you’re riding roads in the summer, then you can probably get away with washing the bike every couple of weeks. During the winter time, you’ll want to wash your bike around once a week to get rid of all the salt from road gritting, as salt is corrosive and can cause wear and tear to the chain and bodywork.
Finding a good product to clean your bike with is an important factor in keeping your paintwork in good condition. You’ll want to stay clear of household cleaning products, as these won’t be kind to the surface of your bike. When searching for the best cleaning product, you’ll want to make sure that the PH balance is not too acidic or too alkaline as again, if it tips the scale on either one it can damage your paint. Luckily, there are quite a few well respected bike cleaning products out there these days, but it’s always best to check the label thoroughly to make sure the one you have chosen is suitable for the type of paint on your bike.
Photo: Bogdan Marcu
Never wash your bike straight after a ride when it’s still hot, the temperature change of cold water on hot metal will speed up the cooling down process which can cause damage to the metal components of the bike. Park it in the shade, go and make yourself a brew and wait until you can touch the engine without it feeling hot.
Never put your bike away when it’s still wet. If you do so, you’ll end up trapping excess moisture into the parts that you really don’t want it in and this will inevitably cause damage and potentially lead to rusting. So, make sure you wipe it down thoroughly with some dry rags and give it a little breathing space or take it for a quick blast around the block before you tuck your baby back up. Alternatively, you can use a motorcycle dryer to force the moisture out of the nooks and crannies which are not possible to get to, for example, inside the control switches or between the engine compartments.
It’s also advisable not to wash your bike in direct sunlight, as soapy water will dry much faster causing unwanted water spots to ruin all of your hard work. Also, the contaminants in water become more aggressive when hot which will make the water spots much harder to remove.
It’s essential that you keep your chain regularly lubricated otherwise it can dramatically increase the wear and tear to your sprockets and affect the overall performance of your bike. Not only do you want to keep it lubed up and ready for action, but you also need to regularly clean and adjust it too. It all comes down to your riding style but on average it’s advisable to lubricate your chain approximately every 300-700 miles.
Spraying your chain can be messy work, and you can often end up soiling your tyres, swingarm and rim and if you’re like me, pretty much everything (including myself) when doing so. SDoc100 has a nifty little chain spray splash guard, which you can bag for under a fiver, that attaches to the spray bottle and catches any mess as you go. To read more about this product click here.
Waxing is an important part of looking after your bike because it creates a protective shield against the sun’s UV rays and dirt. It can also prevent your paintwork from ageing and keep it looking vibrant. Before waxing your bike, you’ll want to remove the old wax first, because often different waxes don’t work very well together. To do this, you’ll want to use a bit of paint cleaner with an old cloth or alternatively you could use detailing clay, which also helps to remove any unwanted debris from the paint. Once the new wax is applied, give it some time to dry and then give it a good rub down with a micro fibre cloth until it sparkles.
SDoc100 are Germany’s no.1 brand in motorcycle care, to browse their full range of products online, click here.
Header photo: Marius Hofmann