Motorcycles require frequent cleaning regiments, since they constantly are exposed to the environment. Harsh UV light, moisture, road salt, mud, dust, tar, oils, oxidation, acid rain and other contaminants contribute to the deterioration of metals, plastics and rubber. Motorcycle tires endure the most punishment, since they have direct contact with water and caustic chemicals. Regular tire washing helps keep the rubber clean and chemical free. For those owners who wish to dress and blacken their motorcycle tires, a few techniques and precautions should be followed.
Things You'll Need
- Plastic (optional)
- Duct tape (optional)
- High-pressure water hose
- Mild dish-washing soap
- Detail wheel brush
- Tire cleaning gel
- Air compressor (if applicable)
- Microfiber towels
- Tire dressing (gloss)
Stabilize the motorcycle on its utility kickstand, if it has one. Ensure the ground surface has a proper drainage angle and you have a water source with a high-pressure hose. To keep calipers, pads and drum lining dry, mask them off with plastic and duct tape -- if this is a thorough wash -- or be prepared to use compressed air to remove all moisture from brake parts and bearings areas.
Spray both motorcycle wheels with a high-pressure hose and nozzle. Remove the largest accumulations of mud, dirt and dust. Rotate the tires by pushing the motorcycle a few feet, then repeat the process. Mix approximately 1 to 2 ounces of mild dish-washing soap in a 1-gallon bucket of water.
Wet a soft-bristle wheel detailing brush in the soap bucket and clean the rim and tire from the axle outward. If you have deep tar accumulations, heavy oxidation or brake dust contamination, use a spray-on tire cleaner or brush-on gel. Let the cleaner or gel sit for at least three minutes. Wash both sides of the rim and tire; move the wheel to gain access to hard-to-reach areas such as tires and rim sections covered by fender skirts.
Rinse the rims and tires with high-pressure water, until they are free of all soap or cleaner residue. Blow the rims and tires dry with compressed air and a nozzle. You must remove all water from crevices and deep pockets, paying extra attention to the axle seals, calipers, pads, or brake drums and lining. Move the wheel as needed to reach all parts that would serve as water traps. Finish drying the rims and tires with a microfiber towel.
Apply tire dressing (gloss finish) from a spray can or in liquid form onto an applicator sponge; dampen the sponge -- do not soak it. Wipe the tire dressing onto the tire's surface with smooth, even strokes. Do not apply tire dressing to the bottom edge of the tire tread. Stop at the bottom part of the sidewall, where it does not make contact with the ground, even allowing for a tire angled in a turn. Apply a light coat to the rubber, re-saturating the sponge as needed. Move the wheels after finishing one section.
Apply a small amount of tire dressing to the exposed rubber part of the valve stem, if desired. After wash and dressing application, roll the motorcycle and test the brakes. When riding the motorcycle after a wash and dressing, make shallow turns with no abrupt accelerations. These precautions ensure you have 100 percent dry rubber contact on the road surface.
Tips & Warnings
- Support your motorcycle on a reinforced crate to allow the wheels to spin easily for cleaning and dressing. Place the transmission in neutral, for the rear wheel.
- If you apply tire dressing to your tires, do so at your own risk and know the consequences. Many dealerships and professional motorcycle detail shops do not recommend the application of any type of tire dressing or tire black. Tire dressing gloss and similar products make the rubber very slippery, and even small dribbles or runs can cause an immediate loss of traction and result in an accident.
- Never spray tire dressing on tires and near the brake system. Apply it carefully and leniently by hand over non-contact outside tire edges.
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