Motorcycle Cleaning & Maintenance Tips

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Motorcycle Cleaning Tips
Crud/Plastic/Rubber on motorcycle hot parts (exhaust pipes, etc.)
Motorcycle Cleaning Tips PDF Document (for Download)
Motorcycle Cleaning Tips Word Document (for Download)

Clean Cycle Products Review

Crud/Plastic/Rubber on motorcycle hot parts (exhaust pipes, etc.)...

One of the most requested tips is how to remove crud: plastic, rubber, nylon, or other melted residue from parts of a motorcycle (typically, exhaust pipes). There is no simple instant solution. Removal of melted residue is a labor intensive and slow process. However, with patience and physical effort, the crud will come off. Please review this suggestion:

After the exhaust pipes (motorcycle) are cool to the touch, soak the crud with a petroleum based product over night or longer. (Use an old cotton sock or similar - non-dyed - rag). I have tried: SAE 20 weight oil, WD-40, carburator cleaner, gasoline, and fuel oil. A few other solvents and cleaners have limited success: acetone, paint thinner, mineral spirits, wood alcohol, chrome cleaner, and rubbing compound.

Plastic (non-abrasive scrubbers), old white cotton socks, and polishing cloth were used as applicators for the various listed products. As stated, crud removal is a slow, laborious process. Be patient. The crud will eventually loosen.

A Corvette owner from Texas claims that "clay bar" products work wonders for melted crud/plastic/rubber removal. I have not tried it on this, but have used a clay bar on other parts of my Fat Boy... it worked well. Clay bar products range from $15 to $26 for a kit (USD).

Ride safe!

Cleaning your motorcycle...

The arsenel of soaps, waxes, cleaning agents is practically endless. This is my personal motorcycle cleaning & maintenance tips list. Here are some helpful recommendations and tips:

Wax Mother's Carnuba (Cleaner) Wax
Using "wax" causes buildup on painted surfaces. Carnuba is a natural wax that wears off and is easily cleaned.
Chrome and Mag Cleaner Mother's
This is a very good product to polish (clean) chrome and aluminum. If your fingers aren't black, you aren't cleaning!
Metal Polish Mother's Metal Polish
This is a good product, but I don't use it as much as other Mother's offerings (noted above).
Metal Polish - Never Dull When the job is really tough, hard core cleaning addicts use Never Dull. The liquid in the pad turns everything black (an oxide). This product will restore tarnished aluminum and chrome (though it requires a lot of effort).
Brush Kiwi Brush
The shoe polish people make a number of excellent tools for cleaning motorcycles and cars. The Kiwi brush used for those hard to get places looks like a small "toilet bowl" brush (red handle with less than one inch bristles). I have used bottle sponges, baby bottle brushes... but, this one is a keeper! It workes extrememly well for those hard to get places around the engine and frame.
Wheel Brush (Wooden) Nothing special about this brush except that it is pig bristle with a wooden handle. It is easier to use than the Kiwi brush, but doesn't fit in tight places. Note: Bought a "plastic" handle wheel brush... it works well.
Sponge (Industry Quality) A friend who owed a "bar supply" store gave me a heavy duty sponge (about four to six bucks), but worth every penny. Soft and thick for holding water and soap... about 2.5 to 3 inches thick. Keep it away from wives and Mom's... oh... what the heck... buy them one so they don't take yours.
Soap Mild detergent
S100 is what a friend uses on his 1999 Custom FXR. Doug never waxes his bike because S100 does such a good job. My choice is to use a mild car wash, but I pre-soak the bike with glass cleaner (car type) mixed with Rainex cleaner (for vehicle windshield washer solution). The pre-soak loosens road grit and grim. The pre-soak makes the motorcycle easier to clean.
Drying Leaf Blower
Doug, who uses S100, told me about drying his bike with a leaf blower. I needed an excuse to buy one... so... I bought one where Tim Allen shops... 24cc... 200 mph wind. It works great! Some beads of water are still on the bike after a quick blow off, but a chamois (or clean towel) finishes the job. The leaf blower is an excellent and efficient way to dry your ride... but, it does not work as well on a bigger vehicle (car or truck).
Bug Cleaner Splat!
This cleaner was purchased at Miejers (about $4.00). It is safe for my removeable Fat Boy windshield and does a great job on bugs. Note: You need to get those bugs cleaned off as quickly as you can... some bug residue contain chemicals that will etch your paint and damage your windshield. Besides, bugs are harder to clean when dry. Be careful about what you use on the windshield because some are not intended for the (Lexon) plastic windshields.
Leather Conditioner Eagle One Carnuba Leather Cream
The best leather conditioners are those that you apply with your bare hand... no petroleum products added. I apply this about one a month to my leather seat, and a couple times a Summer for my leather riding gear. Also use it when putting the jacket, pants, chaps, gloves (four to five pair) and vest away at the end of riding season (a very sad day for me).
Leather Cleaner Mother's Leather Cleaner
This works really well for getting bugs off the leather jackets, pants, chaps, vests, gloves, etc. Just spray on (pump type) and rub the cleaner into the leather with an old soft cotton sock. When dry, use the above conditioner to bring the leather back to life.
Wet Leather Conditioner Lexol
This is used when you've been caught in a heavy rain. Wipe off excess water with a soft cloth, then apply lexol with a dry soft cloth (old white/gray cotton sock works well). Use enough to coat the leather, but do not saturate/soak the leather... several thin coats are better than one thick one. When the leather dries, you should apply another thin coat prior to using a leather conditioner.
Battery Terminals Cyclo Battery Protector
Plumbing is not my favorite task. However, an old copper pipe cleaning brush works super for cleaning battery terminals. After the terminals are clean, apply a coat of Cyclo Battery Protector.
Liquid Tape Electronics
Splicing wires is not difficult when using connectors available in the hardware/electrical department, but taping them to be waterproof is practically impossible. So... after you've tested the connection (by starting/driving the motorcycle), apply a coat of liquid tape. It is easy to apply, and keeps the wires dry with a uniform seal. Read directions for proper usage and application.
Belt Drive The drive belt is often ignored until there is a problem. Check the motorcycle belt for signs of wear and damage. Clean the belt with mild soap and water when washing your bike. Towel dry and inspect.
Clean Helmet Liner Note: Wearing a helmet is a matter of choice (in my humble opinion), though in Michigan still mandatory (law) as of October 2005.

There are several products advertised to "freshen" your helmet that work. However, a simpler and cheaper method is to use a little Ivory dish soap or Dr. Bonner's Peppermint Oil Soap with warm water. Apply with a soft bristle brush or sponge (cloth) to clean and refresh your helmet. Note: A damp cloth rubbed around the inside does wonders every week or so. Allow to dry before use.
Clean Cycle Products Clean Cycle Products
These products are super! My Fat Boy is a 2000, yet people constantly compliment me about how good it looks. I believe Clean Cycle Products are the reason. Read my evaluations about these great products, I am honest... and highly recommend them: Clean Cycle Products Evaluation web page
Original Bike Spirits Motorcycle Products Original Bike Spirits Motorcycle Products
The spray "polish" is something you will want to have in your bag to keep your ride shiny. This polish is what Harley and Honda originally sold (in the late 90s) with their own label. Sorry to say, both Harley and Honda current spray polishes do not even come close to this. Do yourself a favor and try some of the exceptional other motorcycle products made by Original Bike Spirits Motorcycle Products. You will not be disappointed!

Only those who never ride... can keep their motorcycle immaculate all the time. ;o)

Blue Bar

Gary D. Moore
5161 Howard Road
Smiths Creek, MI 48074-2023

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Update: June 6, 2012