Motorcycle Detailing Tips


Along with riding a motorcycle, cleaning and detailing it is probably one of the most rewarding aspects of ownership. Not only does a clean, detailed motorcycle look great parked at the curb in front of the local motorcyclist hangout, it also ensures that your bike maintains its value over the years.

Tools and Supplies

  • In order to give your bike the detailing it needs you’ll need a minimum of tools and supplies. A hose with an adjustable nozzle will make the job far easier. In order to avoid scratching the delicate finishes (plastic, chrome, billet aluminum, aluminum) of your motorcycle, make sure you have a good selection of soft, terrycloth towels, wheel cleaning brushes, soft paint brushes and Q-tips. In order to clean the bike, use a mild cleaner specifically designed for motorcycles. Also, stock up on metal polish, wax, leather cleaner (if your bike has saddle bags or something similar) and Armor All for cleaning and protecting the plastic parts.

Rinse and Wash It

  • Park the bike in a shady spot on a warm day if possible. If your bike is a cruiser, remove the saddle bags and the windshield, if possible. Use the hose on a medium setting to rinse the entire bike down and dislodge any dirt and debris. A high-pressure washer is not recommended, since the stream of water can be strong enough to get past rubber seals on the bike and potentially cause mechanical issues down the road. Use a terrycloth towel to clean the bike. Spray the cleaner of your choice onto the bike's surfaces or mix it up in a container and gently scrub the bike. Use the wheel brush and or the paint brush to scrub hard-to-reach areas. Rinse the bike thoroughly with the hose again and then dry it with a clean, dry terrycloth towel.


  • Once you've the bike scrubbed down, dive into the detailing part. For chrome and aluminum parts use a polish made for the finishes you are polishing. Apply the polish and buff it off. To remove persistent stains or minor rust on chrome parts, use WD-40 and a soft-bristle brush. Re-polish it after you are done. Use the Q-tips to clean up crevices and area between the frame and the gas tank. For plastic parts use a vinyl protectant like Armor All. Just don’t make the mistake I made and Armor All your seat, which will cause you to slide around excessively while riding. Also, do not Armor All the surface of the tires that touches the road or any of the hand and foot controls. If you have a sport bike with plastic bodywork, use a good quality automotive wax to protect the finish and restore the shine. Be careful not to damage any stickers that are on the bodywork when you wax it. For gauges and the windscreen use Windex or a similar cleaner and a clean, dry rag or paper towels.

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