DIY detailing – Your guide to the right aftermarket detailing products
All of us love the open road. But we often forget that we always bring more of the road back with us, that we desire, especially on our motorcycles. From gravel, pollutants, to tree saps and bird droppings; the road is full of damaging elements, and the more adventures that we go on, the more we weather our bikes. That’s why, it is very important for any motorcycle owner to know the basics of detailing, especially to make sure that your next service does not cost you extra for things you could have taken care of over the weekend with a simple investment of your time and energy.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of some necessary DIY detailing tips, so you can maintain your bikes with ease, and in turn increase its efficiency, value and reduce unnecessary maintenance costs. Keep in mind that most of these are concentrated cleaning products. That is, you only add a cap-full or two to a bottle or bucket. They may not be cheap but surely do the trick.
The first thing that we want you to remember before we dive in is that never start cleaning your bike immediately after a ride. Let it cool off a bit, because it is not advisable to spray cold water on a hot engine. Also, avoid washing in the middle of the day or in direct sun as it can dry detergents on the bike’s surface before you can rinse them off, leaving streaks. Contaminants in water, such as mineral deposits, also become much more aggressive when warm and, if the water is sprayed on a hot bike, those water spots are more difficult to remove.
Preparing your Bike
Begin by decluttering your bike, that is remove the tank bags or saddlebags, accessories, etc. This helps in exposing all the surfaces and lets you clean those separately too. Once all the accessories have been removed. Give your bike a quick hose-down, to remove the immediate dust and debris. This helps keep from scratching caused by surface dust on your paint and allows for deeper cleaning. Before cleaning, have at least 3-4 pieces of clean microfibre cloth or sponge with you and all your buckets and supplies within arms reach, because having these ready means you won’t forget to use them or will not have to run to the shelf to grab some in the middle of your cleaning.
Getting the right cleaners
Don’t use a lot of water. Instead, use the right cleaning product for the job. If you are using purely household products, then do so very carefully, because abrasive cleaners or general-purpose household cleaning products can damage paint or chrome. Don’t use vinyl cleaners on the seat as it may look shiny but it will be slippery. If you are using any harsh compounds to tackle tough jobs you should probably think about wearing rubber gloves.
Most bikers use trusted brands for their cleaning. As professionals, we prefer Swissvax that offers cutting edge cleaning and polishing products. But in the end, we always tell our clients to use what fits their budget and mind.
Remember, detailing means working on each section of your bike separately, with patience and diligence, so just hosing it and then wiping it down does not do the job. You’ll have to work your way to get the finish you want.
Remove oily residue with a degreaser; use brake cleaner for really nasty build-up. This is where you’ll realise the power of cleaners over mundane household detergents. Clean gently, so you don’t scuff anything. Alcohol-based cleaners are very effective to get these stains off and expose the smooth metal surface of your bikes. Use a clean cloth to wipe the surfaces down to ensure that no residue remains. You’ll mostly be working in the lower areas of your bike for degreasing so make sure you have some kind of stool that you can sit on, to comfortably get to every corner.
Pro tip: Start from the top and work your way down. Why? Because if you start from the bottom, you’ll eventually have some or the other dirt, grease or contaminant spill on an already cleaned part and that’s just going to be extra work for you.
Working the wheels & the chain
Wheels and the bottom area of your bike bear the brunt of your rides the most. That’s why they need separate cleaning than other parts of the motorcycle. A product like Swissvax tyre cleaner and Swissvax wheel brush gets the job done to remove hard stains off your rims and give it that finish you are looking for. It is also safe for use on all types of wheels including aluminum, polished aluminum, magnesium, clear coat and painted wheels as well as sports wheels with intricate designs. Once your tires are clean and dry, polish and wax your rims. Use a fine chrome polish for your chrome, then apply wax, which again Swissvax offers, to help protect the shine.
Similarly, put your bike on the center stand or rear wheel stand and rotate the back wheel slowly, while spraying chain cleaner. Then take a chain brush and rotate the wheel again till the chain is clean. Try Motul chain cleaners to get the rust, grease, and other pestering elements off your chains.
Your front end dash has a lot of electrical components, pieces of chrome, plastics & and glass surfaces. That’s why, you need to take a lot of care by not exposing them to moisture, especially the electrical parts. Alcohol-based cleaners work great for switches and use a cleaner that provides UV protection for the plastic components to clean your dash and protect it. You can also use this on your plexiglass windshield.
Pro tip: The detergent also helps the plastic parts keep their colour or transparency. However, make sure that the water does not seep into any electrical parts.
Cleaning, polishing & waxing the chrome and metal parts
Grills, chrome, handlebars, exhaust, etc. need to be wiped down with a smooth, dry cloth, before applying wax or polishing agent. Any moisture and your efforts may go in vain. Polishes from Autoglym are excellent when it comes to getting that shine on your bikes and applying a coat of Swissvax wax extends the life of your polishing efforts
Pro tip: To get the best results, polish the chrome surfaces twice with a break in between while working on other parts of the bike.
Sounds cumbersome? Well, it is a little bit, but if you have a bike, then you need to know how to take care of it. Doing this routinely, helps you bike go the extra mile and saves you a lot on extra service costs. This way, you can go to a place like the Detail Hub, when you truly need our expertise in transforming your bike to the next level. And that’s how you will realize our true potential. We’re also here to answer any and all of your questions regarding your DIY detailing needs and even have the right products to get you started. So feel free to connect with us and have a conversation about keeping your bike, road-ready!