How to Clean Your Motorcycles and Bicycles - dummies

How to Clean Your Motorcycles and Bicycles

By Gill Chilton

It is easy to neglect the two-wheeled forms of transportation at times. Don’t forget that proper cleaning and maintenance of motorcycles and bicycles can also help keep you and your kids safe.

Maintain your motorcycle

A pressure washer will make light work of cleaning away the grease and everyday dirt from your motorcycle. Use the low-pressure setting and direct it first to the wheels, then move up the bodywork. For a precision clean, get busy with the buckets and sponge.

Maintain your bicycle

Bicycling enthusiasts know the usefulness of giving your bike a mini-clean after every ride. Washing off mud before it dries makes life a whole load easier and following up with a fast squirt of lubricant on the chains ensures smooth pedalling next time.

A good time table for a proper clean is once a week if you cycle four or more days out of seven and fortnightly if you ride less often.

For a swift clean, simply wet down your bike with a hose, wash both frame and wheels using a car-shampoo solution, and rinse.

To get gunk off the chain and gears, use a degreaser, rinse then towel dry before re-lubricating both with a specialist bike oil.

If you don’t want to buy a specialist oil – perhaps your child is the only one with a bike – using a household oil is okay. WD-40, for example, is technically a solvent so it shifts grease on the chain, but because it’s also good at displacing water, it provides some protection from rust, a key curse for kids’ bikes that get left lying around in wet gardens.

Never be tempted to speed up washing with a power jet or pressure hose. The force of the water could get inside delicate bearings in the pedals, brackets, and so on and ruin the mechanism.

To undertake a more thorough clean, use these tips:

  • Have two buckets of soapy solution and sponges, so you can clean the greasy bits – the wheels, chain, and pedals – separately from the frame, saddle, and handlebars.

  • Take off the wheels so that you can tilt up each rim to brush wash it with precision.

  • Use very fine steel wool to get out rust specks from the rims. Clean with a degreaser first, rinse and dry, then carefully rub with the steel pad.

  • Get just the right amount of lubricant onto the chain. Degrease to remove the old stuff, then squirt on the fresh. Back-pedal to work the lube into the nooks and crannies where it’s needed then wipe away the excess with a cloth.

    Cheat by wrapping a thin soapy cloth around the chain then back-pedalling with the cloth in place. As the chain spins round, every part of it comes into contact with the cloth, yet your hands stay clean. Repeat with a clean cloth for rinsing then finish with a third rag coated with bike oil.