How to Wash a Motorcycle: The Dos and Absolutely Don’ts of Cleaning a Motorcycle
Whether you ride an electric motorcycle or a gas motorcycle, one thing remains the same: your bike is going to get dirty.
Furthermore, while you’ve likely got an idea of how to wash a motorcycle, we all need a reminder from time to time on how to get your bike gleaming again.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts for cleaning a motorcycle. Follow these and washing your motorcycle will be as enjoyable as riding it – almost.
Do Use Two Buckets of Water
The best way to clean a motorcycle is with two buckets of water.
While you’re cleaning, the grime collected on your bike tends to end up on your microfiber cloth. As a result, the dirt will mix with the water and back onto the cloth as you rinse and wring out the cloth. If you do this in one bucket, you’ll just be applying that same grime straight back onto your bike. Pointless.
Therefore, you should use two different buckets when washing a motorcycle:
- Bucket 1 is filled with water and motorcycle shampoo
- Bucket 2 is filled with pure water
When you need to get the dirt off your cloth, rinse it in the bucket of clean water before dipping it back into the bucket with the cleaning mixture.
PRO TIP: Microfiber cloths are the best thing to clean a motorcycle! Their softness reduces the chance of leaving scratches on the paintwork and they absorb water extremely effectively – making drying your motorcycle quicker and easier.
Do Wash Your Bike in the Shade
Washing your motorcycle in the sun gives you the chance to show off your two-wheeled wonder to a passerby. However, it’s not the best practice for cleaning.
Soap and sun do not mix. The sun will just dry the soap up too quickly. This leaves marks and streaks on your bike, which can be difficult to remove when you hose down your motorcycle.
As a result, it’s best to clean your motorcycle in the garage, under a tree, or under a camping canopy.
Do Take Your Time
Some of us enjoy washing motorcycles, but others would rather watch paint dry.
If you’re the latter, it’s tempting to wrap up cleaning as quickly as possible. However, although it’s not in a rider’s nature, it’s best to slow down.
Rushing could lead to several things:
- Damaging your bike’s paint job
- Doing a bad job – if you don’t clean off harmful road deposits like salt and grit, you’re just wasting your time
- Damaging your motorcycle’s components and fixtures
As you can know, cleaning a motorcycle is not just for superficial reasons, it’s an essential part of motorcycle maintenance! Therefore, we advise you to take your time.
Do Lube the Chain
When you wash your motorcycle, you obviously want to get rid of grease and grime. That being said, there’s one area of your bike you want grease to remain: your chain.
With that in mind, don’t forget to re-lube your entire chain after you’ve washed and dried off your two-wheeled friend.
Do Apply Wax to Your Motorcycle
Want to add some extra luster? We’d recommend applying a coat of wax.
While applying wax is essential for prepping your motorcycle for winter storage, it’s worthwhile doing it all year round.
Not only does it give you that new bike look, but it also adds further protection to your paint job.
Want the tl;dr version? Check out our handy infographic on how to wash a motorcycle, with the dos and don’ts of cleaning a motorcycle.
Don’t Use Car Shampoos or Detergent
Never use car shampoos, household detergent, or your own bodywash to wash your motorcycle.
While a bike like the Damon HyperFighter may look like a menace, the paint job and materials used are still delicate! Moreover, cleaning products not specifically designed to clean motorcycles may contain harsh chemicals that could damage your bike’s paint job and components.
Play it safe and stick to using a motorcycle shampoo.
Don’t Wash Your Gas Bike Straight After a Ride
If your bike is stupidly filthy after a ride, you might be tempted to clean it right away. While an admirable mindset, it’s not a good idea for ICE motorcycles.
You need to give gas engines enough time to cool down properly. The engine and other metal components, such as the carburetor, are subjected to a significant amount of heat on the road. You’re likely to burn yourself if you get cleaning right away. In addition, splashing a recently-heated gas motorcycle with cold water may lead to cracking due to the sudden change in temperature.
With electric motorcycles, it’s a little different.
There’s no need to let things cool down. This is because temperature levels are much lower than on an ICE bike. For example, all Damon motorcycles come with a liquid-cooled electric motor.
Therefore, you could theoretically ride through Death Valley, get home, and wash your motorcycle right away. Although, maybe you should hydrate and have a shower first.
Don’t Get Mad Cleaning off Bugs!
If you ride off the beaten track, you’ll be all too familiar with getting dead bugs squished onto your motorcycle. That’s expected. However, what’s not expected is how difficult they can be to clean off!
Approach cleaning bugs off with caution and calm. If you scrub too aggressively, you run the risk of damaging your bike’s paint job. The best thing to do is try to loosen bugs off first. We recommend using hot water or spraying on bug remover. Then, they should come off much easier.
Don’t let them bug you! *Tumbleweed
Don’t Use a Pressure Washer
There are corners of the internet that say you can use a pressure washer to clean your motorcycle. With that being said, we still think it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid it.
There are a couple of reasons for this:
- If you get too close, you can really damage the components of your bike
- It gets deep dirt off quickly, but you’ll do a more thorough job with a cloth
Therefore, when spraying down your bike, stick to the trusty garden hose. In particular, a hose which you can adjust the pressure on.
Bear in mind, if you’re washing a gas motorcycle, you need to plug up your exhaust pipe before doing so and take care of the intake and electrical system. If you own a Damon motorcycle, you won’t need to worry about this.
All critical systems and subsystems, such as the battery, power electronics, wiring, and controls in a Damon motorcycle are sealed. Furthermore, our bikes are designed and tested to have an IP67 rating. This means they are very resistant to water getting into the wrong places.
PRO TIP: Don’t take your motorcycle to a car wash! It could have the same effect as a pressure washer – only worse.
Do Head Out for a Ride!
Followed all the dos and don’ts of motorcycle cleaning? Got yourself a glistening motorcycle?
It’s time to reward yourself and head out for a ride!
How often you wash your motorcycle is up to you. The rule of thumb is every two weeks. However, there are some that do it every week and some – even some who work at Damon –who rarely wash their motorcycle.
It depends on where you live and your preference. Although, if you’re not a huge fan of cleaning your motorcycle, DO switch to electric.
Electric motorcycles are more robust and easier to clean than ICE bikes, and have much less motorcycle maintenance. Allowing you to spend more time on our final do: riding.