Bikes get dirty and, if you take them off road, they get very dirty very quickly. This is all well and good for photographs immediately afterwards to channel your inner Ewan and Charley on the Long Way to somewhere. But failure to clean them properly could spell disaster for your pride and joy.
Corrosion, blockages and knackered paintwork are just some of the ailments that can crop up if you don’t take care of your motorcycle, particularly if you’ve been hitting the trails. The best way to think of it is like showering after a run, you wouldn’t like stewing in your own filth for hours afterwards. Well, neither does your bike.
Not taking proper care of your bike will leave it looking like hell on wheels; rusted, ugly and likely to leave you with a hefty bill to get it professionally cleaned and detailed. Aside from the aesthetic reasons to keep on top of motorcycle cleanliness it is an essential part of keeping your ride safe.
Leaving chains, forks and brakes uncleaned makes doing pre-ride checks more difficult, for the simple reason you can’t really see what you are looking at. Over time can cause them not to work properly they get clogged up with dirt and grime. Worst of all, it can lead to rust which can cause chains to lock up or break, and the seals on your forks to leak.
Do yourself and your wallet a favour and remember to get the hose out once in a while, especially during the winter when the roads are covered in salt.
A key area to pay attention to, particularly after you’ve taken your ride on dirt or on a salty road in the winter, is the drivetrain. When tackling trails and green lanes this area quickly builds up with dirt and grime. Left uncleaned and unlubricated, chains end up rusting. This is bad.
At the lower end of the reasons why you shouldn’t this happen is that it is unsightly and gives off a slovenly impression to other riders. At the serious end of the spectrum, a rusty chain is liable to break. This is a huge problem, both if you are tanking it down the motorway or if you are out on the trails because you will instantly lose all drive. Worse still the chain could fly off when it snaps damaging your bike, you or other road uses. In short, it’s best not to let this happen.
To prevent this undesirable state of affairs, it is important to regularly clean and lubricate your chain. British family firm Motoverde (formerly ProGreen MX) make a specific drivetrain cleaner that I’ve found very easy to use. Motocross enthusiasts will already be well aware of this brand but their products work just as well on all types of bike. Just spray it directly over the chain, use a fine brush between the links for a thorough clean, leave it for 5-10 minutes then rinse off. Afterwards I whack on a liberal amount of chain lube to keep it protected and Bob’s your uncle.
All Motoverde products are salt-free, meaning they contain 0% alkaline salts. Without getting too technical, this means they have no corrosive components within their formulas that can harm to your bike. As well as no alkaline salts, they also contain no acids, which should also give you peace of mind as they too can affect your ride.
Cleaners that do contain salts can, in fact, accelerate corrosion, particularly on aluminium, which is a problem as oxidation on aluminium cannot be undone. Salts can also cause paints to fade, plastics to become dull and make rubber seals brittle. All in all it is best to steer clear of them and, since I started using Motoverde, I’ve really noticed the difference.
For fork’s sake
Another area to be particularly careful about is your front forks. This is another place that dirt, grime, and even insects have terrible tendency to build up. Overtime, this can damage the seals on your forks causing them to leak oil onto the brake callipers. This bad news if you are planning on using said callipers to stop your bike.
Leaky forks also lead to poor shock absorption and an unbalanced ride, which is both uncomfortable and unsafe.
As many forks are aluminium, you need to make sure you check the label of the cleaning product you are planning to use on them carefully, as many do not jive well with that metal. Fortunately, Motoverde’s bike wash is specially formulated to not react with aluminium, so you can use it on your forks, as well as the rest of your bike.
Stop the rust
Rust is a problem because it eats away at your bike and is one of the clearest signs of neglect there is. If you ever come to sell it, any rusted components can strip pounds off the resale value. Aside from cosmetic and financial reasons, it often causes the parts affected chains, swing arms, frame brackets, etc, to not work properly. In an activity as inherently dangerous as motorcycling faulty components and equipment are an absolute no-no.
Unfortunately, despite vigilance and the best of intentions, most bikers will, at some point, find rust on their ride. This most often happens in winter after riding on cold, wet days over roads littered with grit and salt when we get in and choose a hot cup of tea for ourselves over a cold hose for our bike.
Mercifully, if this happens, it can be dealt with. Motoverde have a specialised rust remover which can be applied directly to the corroded surface with a little brush. After 10 minutes simply wash it off with a damp cloth and dry. If it’s not completely gone, repeat the process. And for smaller items like nuts and bolts pour the gel into a beaker or cup and submerge them for 5-15 minutes.
Give it the once over
Because I’m essentially a 31-year-old child, I still really enjoy larking about with a jet wash like it’s the super-soaker mummy never let me have. If you have one, Motoverde’s Snow Foam is great way to clean your bike. Just fill up your pressure washer and unleash a blizzard of bubbles over you bike.
Once your bike resembles a well iced wedding cake, leave it for five minutes then rinse off and your motorcycle should be close to spotless. The foam contains powerful cleaning agents, which are safe on your paintwork and sensitive metals, that rapidly remove all forms of dirt and grime.
It’s a nice, quick way of cleaning your bike without having to spend ages going over it with a sponge.
Check out the full range of Motoverde products HERE.