Driving tests

How to clean your bike like a pro

There is no point in owning a high-quality and expensive bike if you’re not prepared to make the effort to clean your bike like a pro.

The bike can get quite dirty, especially in winter when everything can be best described as soggy and roads can become muddy or grimy. The temperature is low and your bike can feel heavier because your tyre pressures drop (remember to check them frequently).

Your bike won't get as muddy on the road as it will if you do motocross, but you'll still have grime and dirt building up on your components, frame and farings

Your bike won’t get as muddy on the road as it will if you do motocross, but you’ll still have grime and dirt building up on your components, frame and farings

It may sound boring and tedious, but keeping your bike clean can genuinely make a difference and not just with a quick blast from a power washer. A proper cleaning job will make your bike feel as good as new and additionally extend the lifespan of its components which also means you get better than average motorcycle valuation.

Cleaning tips

Use a good cleaner

Proper bike cleaners which can be sprayed may be dismissed by some people as unimportant but they actually make a difference. Dirt which cannot be removed by other methods will come off easily. However, many cleaners are chemical cleaners and should be thoroughly washed off your bike. Otherwise, the surface can get damaged over a period of time.

Clean the drivetrain

The drivetrain is one of the most vulnerable parts of your bike and is covered with dirt and mud every time you use your bike. Making sure that it is clean is an important part of the cleaning process and an old toothbrush is the ideal solution.

Clean your suspension

Even if you are not particularly mechanically minded, it is not difficult to keep your suspension operating smoothly. After the fork and shock have been cleaned and dried, apply some fork oil and run the suspension a few times before wiping clean.

Washing your bike

Take off the wheels and use a dummy axle or a chain keeper to maintain and keep the drivetrain taut. This helps to prevent the chain from folding or falling off the bike.

If the chain is still dirty, put some drops of dish soap on it, hold it with the rough side of your response and turn the cranks for some rotations. Let it settle for 5 minutes and then rinse off the soap.

Scrubbing the components

Use a stiff brush such as a bottle brush or an old toothbrush to get into cracks in the teeth and pulleys. Use a stream of water to rinse and repeat the process If you can still see some dirt.

Clean the brake calipers, the bottom bracket and the bottom of your fork. The brake pads should be cleaned with the abrasive surface of your sponge.

Clean your wheels

Start at the valve and scrub all around the wheel and then reverse the wheel to clean the opposite side. Soft and big brushes should be used to clean the tires and rims. Scrub with a wet brush and dish soap and then rinse off the soap. Repeat the process if you should find it necessary.

Final steps

Wipe down everything on the bike using a dry cloth or leave it in the sun to dry. Apply lubricant to your chain.

driver training

Darren is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the NZ Motoring Writers' Guild

Posted in Advice
When was the last time you checked your Road Code knowledge?

Try some tests for free!

Road Code car quiz

Road Code motorbike quiz

Road Code heavy vehicle quiz