Get the Whole Gang Together
To get started washing your motorcycle, bring together everything you'll need in the place you'll need it. There are tons of different cleaners to choose from; just make sure they're suitable for use on your bike. You'll also want sponges for removing stuck-on grime, brushes for spoked wheels, cloth and flannels for drying, chamois for even more drying, and a microfiber cloth or brush for finishing touches.
It's also important to get your workspace in order. Make sure you have enough room for your bike, supplies, and yourself. It won't do to be cramped and not free to move around your bike to get the best position for cleaning. The bike itself has to be ready too, meaning it should be cool and not hot from running. Cold water on a hot bike could spell disaster. Avoid working in direct sunlight. While it makes water dry faster, it also makes soap dry faster and will thus make it difficult to get out streaks and water spots.
Give it the Spritz
It's almost time for the suds, but before you get to it take the time to plug up the exhaust with a rubber plug, rag, or glove - anything you can find to keep the water out. This step is most commonly seen with dirt bike riders, but is something to consider for all motorcycles that feature exhausts that are angled in a way that would allow substantial amounts of water to pool in them during the washing process.
Now: the spritz! The general rule here is that the less friction, the better. The more you scrub, the more likely you'll pull some bit of dirt across the bike's finish. Spray down the entire motorcycle with a combo of motorcycle cleaning and water. This can help loosen some of the stuck-on bits before you get down to business. Motorcycle spray cleaners should be applied to a dry bike before rinsing. They work to take a first pass at loosening up dried muck, bugs, and other unsavory remnants of the road. When rinsing, don't go for a high-power wash and instead keep things nice and soft with a standard-pressure hose.
And Then the Suds
Now the meat and potatoes of a wash: the suds. Careful with the amount of force you apply. Start at the top and work your way down so you don't have to go over bits you've already done, and always make sure you're using the right mixture of chemicals for the surface you're applying them to. Clean and rinse your sponge regularly to get rid of any dirt or grit that may get picked up, and change out your wash bucket if things get too dirty in there. Avoid getting water and soap on your bike's chain and brakes, though this is likely a futile task. Just don't scrub any of those parts and make sure to give them attention next.
Rinse and Dry
After you lather up your bike, don't let it sit before rinsing it off. Those streaks are caused by dry soap, so keep going and work thoroughly. You want to get any residue out of there, so really just get in there. The same goes for drying - get going quickly and dry thoroughly. Water can cause corrosion if left in those tiny crevices. It can pay to use an air blower, whether it's a leaf blower or a can of compressed air like you use for office equipment. Here, your microfiber towel or chamois can really come in handy.
The savvy rider will think taking their bike out for a spin will save time and effort in the drying process, but they'd be absolutely wrong! Especially if your bike has fairings, the wind will be deflected and leave wet areas. It just isn't an effective way to get things dry and may end up wrecking the painstaking job you've already done.
Once your bike is nice and dry, it's time to finish things off with a bit of lubricant. Give the motorcycle chain a good re-lubing. The soap and water has likely washed some of it away, so it's imperative you re-lube it.
While your bike is certainly clean at this point, it could probably do with some spit shine. Polish and waxing deserve their own rundowns. It's important to note that a good waxing can help protect your bike's finish while also making it look great. Polishing is a bit more intense and best left to those who truly know their bikes.
With a few of these tips and tricks, you'll be well on your way to having your motorcycle looking like new for a summer full of riding. Of course keeping your bike in good condition doesn't stop at the end of a water wand. For more maintenance tips, parts, and service, head into Brian's Valley Forge Harley-Davidson®. We have the best new and used Harley® motorcycles around, so stop by if you're in Lansdale, Pottstown, Phoenixville, King of Prussia, or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Our team of knowledgeable and courteous professionals are ready to answer your questions and help you find the motorcycle of your dreams. Come in today and learn the true meaning of customer satisfaction.