Cleaning you bike without spending lots of Dosh or doing too much work.

I am a lazy git. I hate cleaning my bike. I don't like having a dirty bike so it's something I have to bear. In the past I have tried all sorts of exotic potions that claim to make cleaning simpler. Some work, others don't. You can bet that they all cost though. I have compiled a quick guide of the stuff I use to clean my bike that I have found to be cheap and effective. If you have any magic tricks, let me know and I will (eventually) post them here. Most of these tips are great for getting dirt off, once off it's still a good idea to use a wax to protect it for next time.

Wheels and Alloy parts.

We have all seen the adverts for products like Wonder Wheels that claim to be able to shift all the crap off your wheels that has been building up since the beginning of time. I have used Wonder Wheels in the past and had varying success. On my old bike (XJ650 used for commuting) it brings the wheels up like new, on my blade I can't seem to get rid of the residue. 

I have found something that works just as well and is far cheaper. This magic potion is WD40. After a quick wash with the usual car shampoo to get rid of most of the crap, spray a rag with WD40 and then wipe the wheel with it. It is amazing how easily all the crud just lifts off.

A recent addition to my cleaning arsenal (since i found out how well they deal with baby crap anyway) is baby wipes. They seem to remove grease and brake dust as if they were made for the job, perhaps baby crap is a mixture of brake dust and chain grease :o)

Fairing Panels:

Wash the bike with the usual car shampoo then once it's dry use Mr Sheen or some other furniture polish. Mr Sheen is an amazing degreaser. I normally use it on the underside of the rear seat panels that get splatted with chain lube and the fairing piece behind the side stand.

Getting rid of dead bugs:

I originally heard this tip for use on crash helmets but I can see no reason why it shouldn't work on a bike. Simply take a piece of kitchen roll or tissue paper and wet it. Place the paper on the part that has bugs on it (usually the front but you never know) and leave for a couple of hours. Hopefully the bugs will get wet again and when you come back to the bike they should just wipe off.

Lifting the front wheel without a front paddock stand:

Most of us will have a rear paddock stand. Most of us won't have a front one. It is nice though to be able to lift the front wheel for cleaning rather than walking back and forth with the bike to rotate the wheel. The easy solution to this problem is to get the bike up on the rear stand and then use a car jack and a piece of wood underneath the exhaust system. The weight of the bike needs to be spread across all four pipes for stability. Once the front wheel leaves the ground you can do as you wish. I tend to not leave the bike up for too long because I am paranoid about the exhaust giving way. I haven't heard of a case like this but beware that it is a possibility if the exhaust is on it's way out.

Cleaning your chain

Cleaning your chain can be one of the easiest ways to make the bike look like it's been looked after way better than it has. All you need is a rag or two, a paddock stand if you have one (see one man lubing if you don't) and some parafin. Put the bike on it's stand and soak the rag in parafin. Wipe the chain until it looks clean. If you have a really cruddy chain then you can use a toothbrush to get into all the nooks and crannies. The whole job usually takes about 5 minutes and it looks great. When you have finished either spray some more sticky lube onto the chain or brush ordinary engine oil lightly onto the chain. Just remember that if you use engine oil you should not put too much on and you will have to reapply more frequently because it tends to fly off. I usually coat the chain in oil and then wipe off the excess with a clean rag. You can also use the parafin to get the sticky stuff of your swingarm and surrounding areas.

Whatever you do DO NOT USE WD40 TO CLEAN YOUR CHAIN. WD40 does do a fantastic jobs of cleaning your chain but it has been known to rot rubber. Your chain has got rubber O rings or X rings that keep a small amount of oil on the inside of the chain. If these breakdown then the chain wears very much faster due to no oil.