Clean & Detail

Detailing Your Motorcycle

Don’t you hate when your motorcycle is not looking its best? Learn about each step for cleaning and detailing your motorcycle.

Cleaning & Detailing Your Motorcycle

Road grime, oil, grease and dirt can get caked onto your wheels, tank, windshield and everywhere else. The great thing about living in the times we do is that motorcycle cleaning and detailing tools have come a long way. 

Companies have new non-toxic and biodegradable cleaning products that really take the hard work out of cleaning a motorcycle, but sometimes a little elbow grease still has to be used. Power tools make that elbow last a little longer than back in the day.

Let’s break down some steps on how to get that motorcycle looking as good as new.

1. Washing Your Motorcycle

What you need:

  • Water/Hose
  • Soap 
  • Bucket/Foaming Sprayer
  • Towel (Microfiber or similar)


  • Spray on de-greaser
  • Brush

Motorcycles are designed to get wet, but it is important to make sure anything that can get damaged by water is covered or removed beforehand. Never use a pressure washer on components near wheel bearings, gas tank caps, oil tank caps or anything water can damage if it is forced into a small space. Use a good quality soap and lather it on. A degreaser may need to be used in really dirty spaces to break up the grime. Always rinse the soap off and dry it well with a microfiber or another good quality towel. Chrome has a tendency to show water spots, so pay extra attention to all of the chrome components. Brush the wheels or other spots where dirt may have collected. 

2. Paint Prep

What you need:

  • Clay bar
  • Liquid polish (Medium and fine scratched)
  • Buffer/Variable speed sander
  • Buffing pad
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Wax


  • Wet sandpaper (1000-2000 grit)
  • Sanding block
  • Spray bottle
  • Ceramic wax
  • Paint protection film

The next part may never have been done. Sometimes dirt can get embedded in paint or the paint has swirl marks or oxidation. No matter how many times you wash and clean a motorcycle these will never come out. First try using a clay bar to pull the dirt out of the embedded paint. If this doesn’t work, a light polishing with polish compound might do the trick. A machine polisher may do the job a little faster. Polishing any paint takes patience and caution. Liquid polishers are abrasives and can burn through layers of paint if the user does not take proper care. There are multiple levels of abrasiveness depending on how deep a scratch or how much the paint is damaged. Depending on the degree, liquid polish may not work and the paint may need to be wet sanded and buffed back to a sheen. Wet sanding involves using very fine sandpaper up to 2000 grit to light sand the imperfections out of the paint. The sandpaper is attached to a block and lubricated with water via a spray bottle. This has to be done very carefully as you can sand right through the paint to bare metal. Once the imperfections are gone, they will need to be buffed with liquid polish back to a beautiful sheen. Wax can be applied to seal in the shine and repel water. Ceramic coatings and new modern paint protection film is a great way to protect your paint once it is cleaned and polished. These can also be applied to chrome and other finishes. 

3. Chrome and Accessories

What you need: 

  • Chrome Polish
  • Liquid Polish
  • Wax
  • Window Cleaner


  • Ceramic coating
  • Steel wool
  • Rust solvents
  • Tire shine

Chrome on wheels and exhaust can all be cleaned with chrome polish if they are lightly oxidized. Steel wool and other abrasive materials work on removing heavier rust, but they will scratch it. There are also chemical solvents that can clean rust on chrome without damaging the chrome. Sealing chrome in wax will protect it from water and rusting. Plastics, like windscreens can also be scratched by dirt and rocks. Just like paint, the scratches can be buffed out with polish. Rubber can be cleaned and sealed with ceramic coatings for protection. Some people like to use tire shine on tires, but beware some brands actually flake off and cover other parts of the motorcycle.  

What makes a great detailing job is to get all the nooks and crannies. Take off whatever can be removed to clean under your seat, saddle bags, sissy bar, windshield, snap on covers, etc. Polishing the spokes of a wheel, cleaning the top of a battery, applying rubber dressing to the drive belt will just really put a nice final touch on a great cleaning.  Depending on how often you plan on detailing your bike, It is also a great time to change the oil and/or other fluids.  Keep a cover on the motorcycle to keep the dirt and dust off it when not riding. Keep your motorcycle looking as good as you – if not better!

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