After the Ride

May 03, 2014 View Comments by

After the RideI’ve got a friend who takes great pride in the fact that the only water to ever touch his bike is rain. He rides a 1200cc adventure bike, and I suspect that he wants to cultivate that “Indiana Jones” world traveler persona despite the fact that his bike is rarely off the tarmac. Then again, I may be way off base and perhaps he simply abhors washing a bike or doesn’t have the time.

I, on the other hand, was once one of those bike owners who wanted their toy to remain in pristine condition for as long as possible, often spending hours detailing small, insignificant parts of my bikes. On motorcycles frequently subjected to the dust and mud of rural dirt roads, this task was extremely time consuming and the results short-lived.

I’ve settled comfortably in the middle ground between the two extremes over the years, and usually give the bike a reasonable wash job at least every other ride. An application of all-surface bike wash solution and a little scrubbing with a soft brush or wash mitt followed by a good rinse and leaf blower/towel drying are all that is required. Application of chain lube and lubrication of pivot points like the side stand and rear brake lever after the bike is dry round out the procedure.

As well as protecting my investment, I’ve found another important reason to clean the bike often; there have been several occasions when I’ve noted potentially serious problems while washing or drying a bike. Loose or missing fasteners, small oil and coolant leaks, worn out sprockets, loose spokes, and bad wheel bearings are some of the problems I’ve spotted.

I recently noticed one of the two main luggage rack mounting bolts missing on my KLR 650. While the vibration transmitted to the rider on the KLR is very tolerable, the bike apparently shakes like a coin-fed bed in a Poconos honeymoon suite considering the number of fastener issues I’ve encountered. A missing luggage rack bolt may not be a major issue on an afternoon ride around home, but it could certainly have unpleasant consequences if discovered while on a backcountry tour of the Rockies. That alone is reason enough for me to continue the wash jobs.

In addition to forcing yourself to closely inspect most of the bike, keeping a bike clean also improves resale value. A coating of dirt on the bike can attract water and rapidly deteriorate a motorcycle’s finish, and a clean bike is generally viewed as a better maintained bike as well. Is a regular wash part of your bike care regimen or do you favor the Indiana Jones look? Have you ever found anything significant while scrubbing off the grime?


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