Bike Cleaning: Does it do more harm than good?

By: Dave MotorCycle Direct Posted: February 29th, 2016

There's no greater feeling than waking up to beautiful weather with the great anticipation of finally being able to take your beloved motorbike out for a run. After getting the gear ready, you're just about to get on your bike, when you realise it's not looking as great as you hoped and could really do with a clean. So the question is, should you be cleaning it after every ride or not? Here we take a look at some of the pros and cons of cleaning your bike on a regular basis.

The Pro's


  • The obvious one: regular cleaning will keep the bodywork bright and prevent the bike from dulling and losing its colour.
  • Prevention: Cleaning your bike all over regularly can enable you to notice any premature signs of damage or wearing which may worsen over time. Noticing these problems early can maintain the roadworthiness of your bike which may also increase your bikes chances of passing MOTs.
  • Cleaning your bike before it goes away in storage, for example over the winter months, will help reduce chances of any problems arising in this time.
  • D.I.Y: Cleaning the bike yourself enables you to know exactly what product is being used on it as opposed to taking the bike to be cleaned by a valeting service where they may rush, not use the correct cleaning agents on your bike which may cause damage and also they may use dirty tools which can scratch etc.
  • The Main Point: Cleaning your bike most importantly will help to maintain its value.

The Con's


  • Use the Correct Agent: Some cleaning agents can have high levels of chemicals in them which can damage materials on your bike which in some cases can be irreversible. It's important you check what materials are on your bike before buying a cleaning agent for this reason.
  • Not Household: Quite a few people make the mistake of using household cleaning products on their bikes when these products have not been tested for use on sensitive materials. Using these products on your bike can cause damage either instantly or over time if used consistently.
  • Be Sensible with Solvents: When using solvents it's important to be particularly careful. Some solvents can cause things such as your screen to crack. Be careful applying them to areas where the screen is attached to the bike and be wary of cracks appearing around screws and bolts.
  • Bugs Galore: When out riding you will often end up with bugs splattered across the front of your bike, so it's important you clean them off carefully, as when dried up they can scratch your bike.
  • Many people make the mistake of cleaning their bike at the wrong time. Most will return from a ride and will want to get their bike cleaned ready for the next outing. Cleaning the bike when it's warm after a ride is a bad idea, cold water on warm materials and the addition of chemicals is not the best combination.
  • Too often is not always best: Washing your bike too regularly can actually cause more damage than you realise. You are prone to washing off grease on joints and lubrication on cables and chains.
  • High Pressure Damage: Although you may think you are doing your bike good by using a high pressure spray to give it a clean, you may actually be causing more damage than good. The high pressure sprays can get into electrical components and crevices potentially causing corrosion or washing away grease and lubricants. So unless your bike needs that high pressure power consider leaving it in the garage this time.

Keeping your bike clean and in a good condition is important to help maintain the value of the bike should you go on to sell it in the future. It is essential that you use the correct agents to match the material on your bike and that you clean it at the right time in the right way. This will lead to a long lasting, well-maintained bike for you to continue to enjoy.