Mikes Top Bike Valeting Tips

Any General info on Mechanics based on 'all' bikes...

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Mike Daytona600
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Joined: Aug 6th, '06, 17:26
Location: Axminster

Mikes Top Bike Valeting Tips

Post by Mike Daytona600 » Jan 21st, '08, 21:39

As some of you may know I valet bikes for a living. I get them in showroom condition and take a lot of pride in what I do. So I've decided that I will post my top tips. If you have already read them on the other topic it may be worth you reading this because I have changed and addded a few things.

There is a lot more to valeting a bike than people think. I can do cars as well and a lot of the time bikes are much harder than cars.

As the title says these are my top tips because to tell everything would take ages, however if you do have any questions please don’t hesitate to PM me.

Advantages of keeping your bike clean are that it will stay in better condition for longer, it’s easier to clean the next time, the bike looks better, no matter how old, and you will be looking very closely at your bike so may spot any mechanical problems with it.

Disclaimer: I will not be advising anything that I don't do myself, however I accept no responsibility should anything go wrong due to you following my tips. If you follow my tips you do so at your own risk.

Tip 1

Before damping your bike down cover it in WD40 or Duck Oil or even better bitumen tar remover. Avoid getting on discs and tyres. You don't have to cover paintwork e.g. tank and fairing. Leave to soak for a few mins (try not to allow to dry) and agitate with a brush. I use Wilcox Bitumen Tar & Glue Remover. This eats into the grease and loosens tar. Works very well on the chain.

Tip 2

Flies are little buggers, how dare they splatter their bodies on our bikes

I've heard a few ways of getting flies off like using a damp chamois or cloth draped on them to soak they but the one I use is this...Multi purpose polish (furniture polish) The stuff I use I know is ok on paintwork so if you're in doubt test it on a small area that is out of view, but it should be fine (I'm just covering my arse).

Spray it all over the little buggers, screen, front fairing, mudguard, light, mirrors, and don't forget the indicators and forks. Sometimes you might find the odd one on the tank. Do this before damping the bike down while it's dry. Just let it soak for a few mins or so and then when you wash off you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Water just rolls off but polish stays in place better, so soaks it for longer.

Any that remain after washing just T cut off when waxing later.

Works well on cars as well, bonnet, headlights, bumper, number plate, you get the idea

Tip 3

Always use a good T.F.R. (traffic film remover). Don't use washing-up liquid because it eventually dulls paint. I use Motorex Motoclean 900. I have tried a lot of others and Motoclean, in my opinion, is the best.

However DON'T USE IT ON TRIUMPHS. This is because it makes the black coating on the frame, swinging arm, side cases etc go whiteish for some reason. A guy at work recons it does the same on his K7 1000. It's not just Motoclean that does it but most other T.F.R.s as well. The only one I have found that doesn't is our own T.F.R., Taylor’s Superbike Wash CB25.

Damp the bike down first. This removes dust and the water helps the coverage of the T.F.R. Spray the T.F.R. all over. Don't forget the inside of the s/arm, the first place I look when someone says they've cleaned their bike. Agitate with a brush where needed. Wash off, if pos with a pressure washer but watch those seals. I tend not to use a sponge but my washer at work is a hot one so you may find you need to. If you do try and get as much of the dirt of with a hose/ pressure washer as you can first when damping down to help prevent scratching. Chamois off so you don’t get water marks, they’re pain to polish off.

Tip 4 [/size]

After you've chamoised the bike off spray the black plastics like indicators, mirrors, unpainted black panels, chain guard, and also rubber hosing with cockpit shine, the stuff you can use on car dashes to make them shiny.

Always do this before polishing the paint work because then it doesn't matter if you get the cockpit shine on the paint cos it will get polished off later. In fact polishing the paint work is one of the last things I do.

I don't bother wiping the cockpit shine with a rag until I've finished paint polishing. This is so I can use the polish off rag.

Tip 5

If you are not just doing a basic clean but are giving it a right tart up this is the point to do any paint work. If it does need doing and you don't do it once your bike is polished you'll notice all the rusty bits more.

By paint work I mean things like brackets, stands, the horn, etc. I do a lot more than that when needed but I'll just keep this bit basic.

Get the rust off first. Take the part off if you need to, can, and if are you are able. You can use emery cloth, wire brush or even a dremel with a wire brush bit in the end for those fiddly areas. I normal use a die grinder with a wire brush bit in it (I have lots of different ones). You can do the same by using a drill, but there're not so easy to handle.

Then get the grease off. You can use thinners but I prefer brake cleaner for this sort of thing cos you can spray it places you can't get to with a cloth.

Then primer it. Then paint with the colour, black or silver. With bigger brackets etc I also lacquer to give it protection. For some bit you can use a brush, especially if small and still on the bike. I usually spray some paint in a lid and let it dry off a bit to make it thicker before brushing on. You can use a heat gun to speed it up.

Tip 6

The next thing is to make things like wheels, engine, swinging arm all shinny. Spray or wipe using a cloth soaked with WD40, Duck Oil, or even better ACF-50 (preserves and shines). This is also a good opportunity to remove any remaining grease or dirt left after washing. Sometimes it is easier to remove grease in this way than when washing e.g. chain lube on the rear wheel. Here's a quick list of things to use these on.

Swinging arm, engine, forks, wheels, disc carriers, brake callipers, radiator, frame, footrest hangers, rear sprocket and carrier, rear shock spring(s). You get the idea.


I always do this bit before waxing because if you wax first you are bound to get overspray from the above on your nice polished paint, and when you try to wipe it off it just smears

Tip 7

Use some tyre cleaner/gel/rubber restorer on your tyre walls to make them look newer. Don't get any on the tread though but if you do wipe it off with a bit of brake cleaner.

Tip 8

Waxing and polishing. I use a long life wax with Carnauba in it which is a natural wax that comes from a palm tree called Copernica Cerifera, which is also referred to as the "Tree of Life”. It is supposed to lengthen the time of protection.

Use a clean lint free cloth and put some wax on it. After each time you put wax on the cloth fold the cloth in and back to spread the wax into it and then start on an area where there are no stickers, bolts or spaces between panels. This is to prevent the wax lodging in these areas and then once the cloth has been wiped around a bit the wax will become more thinly spread on it and you can go over the above without gurt splodges of wax getting stuck in areas. I always tend to start with the top of the bike and work down.

Try not to get it on your non painted plastics or your seat(s). If you can it’s better to take the seats off.

Buff off with another lint free cloth and go around any stickers with your fingernail inside the cloth. If you find you have got some between two panels put the off cloth around something thin like a feeler gauge and very carefully use that to get it out.

You can also use wax on clocks and mirrors. I use a very small amount of T cut on the screen. Have tried window cleaner but found that it's the cloth that leaves the swirls. If you use T cut this seems to get rid of them. You can also get a plastic polish that is even better and will get minor scratches out of screens, called Xerapol
Use Autosolve on unlacquer alloy and unless rusty I recommend T cut for chrome as it is less harsh than Autosolve which can leave swirls in the chrome.

Use the polish off cloth to get the cockpit shine silicone spray off your unpainted plastics and I use a small amount of vinyl cleaner to clean the seat which doesn't leave them slippery believe it or not. Must be silicone free, I'll check.

If you have polished your bike in the garage take it outside, providing it's not raining, and have a good look over it to make sure you haven't missed any wax etc.


WD40, Duck Oil, or Bitumen Tar Remover
Furniture Polish
T.F.R. (Traffic Film Remover) http://www.motorex.com/index.cfm/fuseac ... -1438-1439
ACF-50 http://www.acf-50.co.uk/acf50.htm
Cockpit shine
Rubber Restorer/Tyre Cleaner
Vinyl Cleaner (what you would use inside a car but not the aerosol sort)
Wax (preferably containing Carnauba Wax)
Paints, Emery, Wire brushes

Lint free cloths
Hard bristle brush (like a parts washer brush)

And that's it I hope you have enjoyed reading my top tips and that they have been some use to you.

Thanks for reading,
Mike :D

Cars~MPVs~4x4s~Vans~Pick-ups~Campers~Motorcycle Specialist

Tel: 07751883056
Web: http://www.parkersvaletingservice.co.uk/