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Wed, 12 Sep 2018

Dirty business: A pro's guide to cleaning your motorcycle

We all love riding our bikes, but one of the fundamentals to a trouble-free ownership is proper care and maintenance of your pride and joy. Thankfully there are some fantastic products from cleaning brand extraordinaire; Muc-Off that means that your pride and joy can receive the pampering and care it deserves so that it’ll give you many more trouble-free miles.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you can neglect servicing and replacing consumables, but it can vastly prolong their life, saving you money and keeping your bike performing the way it should.

Scott is one of the valeting team here at Bridge Motorcycles, so knows a thing or two about keeping a bike in pristine condition. We asked him what his secrets are to making a used bike look like it’s just rolled off the production line…

Clean your motorcycle like a pro with Muc-Off

Step one: Clean

Cleaning the bike can sometimes be a real chore. However, Muc-Off have developed their incredible Nano Tech Bike Cleaner, which works on a microscopic level to tackle dirt and make cleaning a doddle.

Clean your motorcycle like a pro with Muc-Off

It’s dead simple to use too, you simply spray onto a pre-wetted bike, wait five minutes or so and just rinse off again. And, it’s completely biodegradable too.

Scott says;

“It’s a no hassle cleaner that gets the job done in no time at all. Cleaning loads of bikes each day, it’s great to have a product like this that’ll clean quickly and effectively and gets the job done! If you have a pretty tough area to clean, tackle it with a soft-bristled brush or a sponge to really help lift the dirt off.

“Before and after cleaning, use a hose where possible, it’s far less aggressive than using a pressure washer – which can dispel grease from bearings and work water into electrical components, which isn’t good news at all. We use a pressure washer here, but we’re extremely careful to avoid any sensitive areas and use them only on panels and wheels.”

Clean your motorcycle like a pro with Muc-Off

There are some areas such as the engine and chain, which often get covered in grime and grease which can be extremely difficult to get off; these will need something with a bit more oomph to clean properly, and this is where dedicated cleaners come in.

Biodegradable Degreaser

Grime and grease can be a real nightmare to get off the bike, especially when it’s caked up in hard-to-access areas such as the engine. This cleaner is more aggressive than the standard Nano Tech Cleaner and will make it much easier to remove the dirt from these areas.

It’s dead simple to use too, spray it onto the area affected, wait 5 minutes or so for the cleaner to break down the grease, agitating it with a brush if required, and then just rinse it off with water. It’ll keep your engine looking spanking too!

Scott says;

“This stuff’s great, it really helps to get the engine looking great and can make an older bike look years younger. People often don’t think about cleaning the engine area properly when washing the bike, but it’s really important to get behind the fairings every now and again. Not only will it keep the bike looking better for longer, but it can also help you to spot any potential problems early so you can get them sorted before they develop into something much worse!”

Clean your motorcycle like a pro with Muc-Off

The chain has one of the hardest jobs on your bike; it has to transfer the power from your engine to the rear wheel, propelling the bike forward. It’s a lot to ask and the forces acting upon the links are colossal. This is where proper chain maintenance is king.

An improperly maintained and lubricated chain could at the very best reduce its lifespan, but in some cases can become extremely dangerous. The last thing you want to find is that your chain snaps and gets itself tangled up in your rear wheel at 70 miles per hour…

Chain Cleaner

Thankfully, cleaning your chain is a piece of cake. Muc-Off’s Chain Cleaner is simple to use and gets tough on built up chain lube and the crud that can often stick to it. It’s super-easy to get on with too, you just spray on and either wipe or wash it off with water. For really stubborn grime, use it in conjunction with a dedicated chain cleaning brush to leave your chain looking pristine.

Scott says;

“A poorly maintained chain is the first sign of a poorly maintained bike. The chain is such an important part of the bike to keep in ship-shape for both prolonging the life of the chain, and also from a safety point of view too. Regular maintenance is also a great way to recognise any tight spots or stiff links the chain may have too.

“Dust and debris from the road can stick to chain and can form a grinding paste that will rapidly decrease the life of the chain. Always be sure to clean the chain with a proper chain cleaner too – other alternatives can sometimes cause damage to the delicate rubber X or O rings of the chain and this isn’t what you want at all!”

Clean your motorcycle like a pro with Muc-Off

Clean your motorcycle like a pro with Muc-Off

Products to use when cleaning:

Nano Tech cleaner
Biodegradabe Motorcycle Degreaser
Biodegradable Chain Cleaner
Premium Brush Kit
Expanding Microcell Sponge
Chain Cleaning Brush
Drivetrain Detailer Brush

Step two: Protect

So you’ve got a bike that’s crud-free, the next thing you’ll want to do is protect it to ensure that you get the very best results from your efforts. There are a number of different areas to think about here; the paintwork, plastics, the exposed metal areas and your electronics, each can require its own specific cleaning product to ensure your pride and joy stays in the best condition it can be.

Scott says;

“First you’ll want to do is dry the bike after hosing it down, an old towel will do a reasonable job here, but for a really good result, use one of the Muc-Off microfibre cloths – the looser fibre side of the cloth does a brilliant job of absorbing water and leaves a great streak-free finish on the bike. It’s pretty ideal really. We’re lucky here too because we’ve got compressed air as well, which we use to blow water out of all those nooks and awkward-to-reach places.”

Clean your motorcycle like a pro with Muc-Off

PTFE Motorcycle Protectant

If there was one spray to rule them all, this would surely be it. The Motorcycle Protectant is a PTFE-based spray that can be used on nearly any part of the bike – except the brakes and tyres! The spray works well as a water displacer, meaning it’s great to use on areas that might be susceptible to water ingress, such as the dash, or other areas where there are electronic components. It also forms a protective barrier that can help protect your bike from the elements – protecting any exposed metal surfaces from rusting.

Scott says;

“This spray is amazing, if I could only have one product to help maintain my bike then this would be it. It does it all really – cleans, protects and lubricates. If you’ve got a seized nut or bolt then it can help loosen it, it’ll protect your metal surfaces and, it helps get water out of sensitive areas.

“While some lubricating and multipurpose sprays can be damaging to rubber and plastics, the PTFE means that the spray can be used in these areas without causing any damage at all. If you spray it sparingly around the engine it’ll help protect it from the elements too – just keep in mind that the bike will smoke a little as it burns off the excess product the first time you start the bike after application. Also, if you’re on a budget, then consider a can of MO-94 in its place, it has many similar features to the Motorcycle Protectant, and is PTFE-bsed too so can still be used on electrical and rubber parts!”

Speed polish

To keep your bike looking the best it can, you’ll need to protect the paint used on your panels and tank, and that’s where the Speed polish comes into play. It’s easy to use – you spray it on, leave it to haze for a minute or two, then buff out using a microfibre cloth. It leaves a brilliant finish and will help protect the paint on your machine thanks to the carnauba and beeswax.

Clean your motorcycle like a pro with Muc-Off

Scott says;

“This stuff is brilliant on paintwork. If I’m pushed for time then this is the product I’ll turn to. It gets the job done brilliantly. One thing I always make sure of when applying products is that I always use a specific microfibre cloths for each spray or wax – sometimes even two depending on the application. This reduces cross contamination and will ensure that the bike is left without streaks. Oh, and it smells absolutely amazing too!”

Clean your motorcycle like a pro with Muc-Off

Miracle Shine

For the ultimate finish, Miracle Shine will be the product you’ll want. It leaves a brilliant finish with a deep gloss shine and will also help protect your paint and keep your bike looking better for longer. The Carnauba Wax that features in the product help leave the bike with a luxurious shine and also helps water to bead off the bike, keeping it cleaner for longer.

Apply it with a cloth, waiting a couple of minutes for it to haze, then buff off to leave a stunning finish.

Scott says;

“If you want the bike to look a million dollars, then this is the stuff you’ll need. Ideally, you’ll need two cloths to use it – one to apply it and another to buff it off. It goes back to what I was saying about having lots of cloths. You can apply it with a rag if need be, but make sure you use a microfibre cloth to get the best finish when you buff it off. Just don’t use it on areas with a matt finish, you’ll need another product for that…”

Clean your motorcycle like a pro with Muc-Off

Clean your motorcycle like a pro with Muc-Off

Matt Finish Detailer

The Matt Finish Detailer has been specifically developed for satin paint schemes and will get rid of those annoying fingerprints or greasy marks that can otherwise upset the finish and be really difficult to otherwise remove. It couldn’t be easier to apply either, simply spray on and wipe off to leave a great finish!

Scott says;

“Without this, cleaning a bike with a matt finish is otherwise a nightmare. Other cleaners can often leave a streaky finish and don’t generally look that good on the bike, or leave awkward shiny patches. This stuff is great for leaving the look of the bike intact, while also giving a good layer of protection to the paint that helps to repel dirt too. If your bike has any raw carbon fibre parts or casings, then this spray will work well for those too!”

Silcon Shine

Plastics can often dull over time and start to look tired. One way to stop that from happening and to also restore a deep finish to the bike is by using this Silicon Shine. Like most of the other products here, it’s a simple spray-on, wipe-off application. It leaves a really nice finish when wiped off and also helps to reduce dirt build up when the bike’s used, making future cleaning even easier.

Scott says;

“Silcon Shine is brilliant on unpainted plastics. It works really well for areas like the dash, number plate hangers and mirrors too, which can often be a little tricky to get properly clean otherwise.”

Clean your motorcycle like a pro with Muc-Off

Products to protect your bike:

Motorcycle Protectant
Mo-94
Speed Polish
Miracle Shine
Matt Finish Detailer
Silicon Shine
Luxury Microfibre Polishing Cloth

Step three: Lube

Once your pride and joy is gleaming again, it’s time to make sure that chain is properly lubricated to ensure that it performs the way it should, and also to prolong its life too!

There are a number of different products available depending on how you use your bike and the conditions you ride in. Muc-Off have three; Dry, All Weather and Wet lubes, with each providing differing levels of protection from the elements and longevity on the chian.

Dry Chain Lube

The Dry Chain Lube is perfect for the summer months, it’s a thinner lube that performs well, doesn’t fling easily and is easy to clean off with little residue.

It’s easiest to apply with the bike on its centre-stand, or alternatively a paddock stand, applying chain lube to the inside links while spinning the back wheel – do not turn the bike on and put the it into gear to spin the wheel, you’ll be asking for all kinds of trouble otherwise. Instead turn it by hand with the bike in neutral.

Scott says;

“It’s all too easy to forget this part and just go ride the bike, but a chain should be lubed every 400-600 miles, and definitely after it’s been cleaned! Apply the lube when the chain’s dry and wipe off any excess if needed. While you’re at it, check the chain tightness and look for any tight links which could mean the chain needs replacing.

“You can also use chain lube to lightly grease some of your motorcycle’s joints. The levers for example, the pillion footrest joints or even the joints on the gear linkage assembly can all benefit from a bit of lube every now and again.”

Clean your motorcycle like a pro with Muc-Off

Products to lube your chain:

All-Weather Chain Lube
Dry Chain Lube
Wet Chain Lube