How to clean a motorcycle



Cleaning a motorcycle takes a little bit of knowledge on what parts need cleaning, and how. Motorcycles are an expensive commodity and like most expensive commodities, they need taking care of. The amount of time invested in taking care of a motorcycle is likely to considerably impact how long it lasts, so it is really important that motorcycle owners know how to look after their vehicles. 


One of the best things motorcycle owners can do for their bikes is to clean them. In this article, NimbleFins, where you can compare dozens of motorcycle insurance quotes, discuss the best ways of doing that.

The main parts to clean on a motorcycle

Motorcycle owners should clean;


  • the main bodywork and frame of the motorcycle, 
  • the shocks, 
  • brake calipers, 
  • exhaust, 
  • pipes, 
  • chain, 
  • mudguard, 
  • number plates, 
  • and pivot. 

What you will need to clean your motorcycle

In order to clean a motorcycle, the main cleaning equipment needed includes: 


  • Some type of water source, such as a bucket or jet wash
  • a sponge,
  • motorcycle cleaner,
  • bike wash fluid,
  • a brush (either a dedicated motorcycle brush, a paintbrush, an old toothbrush, or a washing up brush),
  • degreaser,
  • lubricant for the chain,
  • a leather cloth,
  • paper towel or rag,
  • polish.

How to clean a motorcycle chain?

To clean a motorcycle chain, owners should use a brush, degreaser/chain cleaner, and lubricant. Prop up the bike so that the wheel can be moved freely and coat the whole thing in chain cleaner, scrub every part of it with the brush, then coat again and rub the last bits of grime away. Now is a good time to clean the rest of the bike, taking time to rinse the chain as part of the washing process. Take the bike for a short ride to get the train heated slightly for the lubing process. It should be clean, dry and slightly warm for lube. Start by spraying where the sprocket teeth mesh with the chain and complete one rotation, then do the same but spray the outer side plates, and then again and spray the inner side plates. A little goes a long way here.

General motorcycle cleaning tips

  • Bikes should be cleaned often to keep them in good shape and this will make the job much easier. 
  • Switch the sponge out regularly. Dirty sponges can cause scratches and damage.
  • Use sponges for large areas of the motorcycle and where scrubbing can occur without causing any damage. 
  • Buy proper products. Use dedicated motorcycle cleaner and proper lubricant and degreaser. 
  • Be gentle with hoses. Don’t aim them directly at vulnerable areas.
  • Avoid brushing seals. Brushing the seals can loosen them and eventually wear them away, so avoid those as much as possible, especially if a brush is being used. 

How to thoroughly clean the motorcycle?

To thoroughly clean a motorcycle, owners should:


  • Start by cleaning the chain as set out in the instructions above, but pause before preparing the bike for lubricant and apply it. Do this last. 
  • Apply a soapy solution made from a special motorcycle cleaner to the main bodywork and frame of the motorcycle. Dried on bugs and dirt might need a soak and some extra elbow grease. Work from back to front or from top to bottom to avoid drips and spillage.
  • Use a brush to clean brake calipers, the exhaust, pipes, and engine. Make sure the motorcycle is cool before this is attempted.
  • Rinse with clean water, making sure to rinse the newly cleaned chain.
  • Take the bike on a short ride to warm the chain. 
  • Apply lubricant.

How often should you clean your motorcycle?

The general consensus is that a motorcycle should be washed every two weeks. This will keep the motorcycle in good condition, which will help it retain its value and keep it in good operation. 


However, the motorcycle may need cleaning more often if it is used every day, or if it is taken to areas where it attracts a lot of dirt. Some motorcyclists find it is best to give their motorcycle a quick spot clean after every ride. This will only take a few minutes and means that owners do not have to spend hours every few weeks scrubbing old dirt from their motorcycle’s nooks and crannies. 


The more often a motorcycle is cleaned, the easier it will be to clean. This is because dirt bakes onto motorcycles over time with continued use, which makes that dirt harder to scrub away. 


It should go without saying that if a motorcycle is hardly ever used, it is going to need cleaning a lot less. In this case, owners should still wipe down their bike often with a soft cloth. A motorcycle cover is also a good idea, as they protect motorcycles from the elements. This is particularly important if riders live near the sea, as salt corrosion can seriously damage a bike. Bikes will need cleaning down more often if the rider lives in this climate, too, as salty air can corrode parts and ruin bikes, and this can happen surprisingly quickly.


Frequent, cleans can keep a bike in tip-top shape, looking great and performing its best.

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