Best Way to Clean a Dirt Bike: How To Do It Like an Expert
As you ride any motorcycle the bike will accumulate dirt and debris from the road or track, and that can not only affect the looks of your bike, but can also have an impact on performance as well. To prevent these things, it is important to include keeping your bike clean as a part of its regular maintenance.
Cleaning a dirt bike effectively is a simple process, but one that still has several important steps for properly washing a motorcycle and a few things to keep in mind. In this guide we’ll walk you through everything that goes into washing your dirt bike like a pro so that you can keep your favorite bike both looking and running great.
Why You Should Clean Your Dirt Bike
There are several reasons that you should keep your dirt bike clean:
- Enhance the bike’s lifespan: From the wheels, to the chain, and all the parts in between, every component of your bike works more effectively when they are clean. Without proper and regular cleaning the various parts on a dirt bike wear out more quickly, and are more likely to have issues with rust and corrosion.
- Improve fuel efficiency: As a dirt bike’s components accumulate dirt and debris they will operate less efficiently, and that can have a major impact on fuel economy as well as the bike’s wear.
- Stay safe: Keeping your dirt bike clean makes it a lot easier to spot issues before they become a serious liability to your safety. This is especially true of parts that can come loose during a ride or that you may need to interact with directly while the bike is in motion.
- Prevent expensive repairs: the dirt and debris that builds up over time can damage many parts of your bike, and repairing some of these components can be very expensive. Keeping your dirt bike clean prevents this from happening and extends the lifespan of your bike’s most critical components.
- Making it look good: The simplest reason to keep your bike clean is to keep it looking good! Keeping your dirt bike clean and well-maintained is good for the paint and graphics on any dirt bike, and helps it to stand out on any trail or dirt track.
A Step-by-Step Guide on the Best Way to Clean Dirt Bike
To beginners you must wonder ‘how to clean a dirt bike’, the process for cleaning a dirt bike can seem overwhelming. However, once you are familiar with each step, keeping your bike clean is a straightforward and simple bit of maintenance. Here are the steps for cleaning your dirt bike like an expert:
Step 1 – Remove Sensitive Components
Begin by letting the engine cool down. Washing the dirt bike when it is hot can sometimes cause damage to the components, and can also result in painful burns as well. Also Bike stand is essential for cleaning dirt bikes as it provides stability and easy access to hard-to-reach areas. So first, put your dirt bike on the bike stand.
It is a good idea to let the dirt bike sit for an hour or two after riding so that the engine and the exhaust components are no longer hot.
Remove the seat next. Most dirt bike seats are made from foam, which can absorb moisture, and that causes premature wear to the seat. It is also a good idea to remove or cover the air filter as well to avoid allowing moisture to accumulate in and around the air filter.
Remember to plug the intake if you choose to remove the air filter entirely. At the same time, plugging the inside of the exhaust muffler will keep moisture from getting inside where it will be difficult to dry. Moisture in the exhaust can contribute to rust or corrosion of this component.
Step 2 – Spray Water with a Hose
Once all of the sensitive parts of the dirt bikes are removed or covered, it is time to rinse off the bike with a hose. This helps to break down the dirt and debris, making them easier to wash away in later steps.
Using a pressure washers is not recommended at this step, as the high pressure stream can damage paint or decals, and even direct water into more sensitive parts of the dirt bikes, causing irreversible damage to those components.
Should you choose to use a pressure washer, it is a good idea to maintain extra distance and use lower pressure. Avoiding sensitive areas of the dirt bike and areas around soft and critical components is also a good precaution to take. When using a pressure washer on a motorcycle there is also a small chance that the pressure from the stream can even knock the bike over, so keep that in mind as you proceed.
A 40-degree nozzle is ideal if you are using a pressure washers (bike spray) as it produces a milder stream that is less likely to damage the dirt bike or its components. 0-degree nozzles, however, are not recommended as the extreme pressure that they generate is much more likely do damage the motorcycle.
Step 3 – Scrub Mud and Debris
Now that the dirt bike has been rinsed and the dirt and debris has softened, it is time to scrub down the components to remove the grime that has built up. At this stage you will be directly scrubbing the dirt bikes components to remove dirt and debris that has caked on over time.
Using the right tools at this stage can make things much easier. A hard-bristle brush is a particularly useful tool for dealing with heavy dirt build up and thick mud. Focus on breaking up these buildups in areas such as sprockets, wheels, wheel bearings, and chains, where they will be the heaviest.
After scrubbing down the bike follow up with another quick rinse with the hose. This will wash away the dirt and debris that you have broken loose and prepare the dirt bike for the next step.
Step 4 – Use a Dirt Bike Cleaner
Simply scrubbing and rinsing a dirt bike isn’t enough to keep it clean. For the best results, use a dirt bike cleaning product.
These powerful cleaning products come in many different varieties, from ready-to-use cleaners that come in convenient spray bottles, to concentrates that must be mixed with water before use.
Always remember to read and follow the instructions on your chosen cleaning product. While the purpose of the various available options is the same, different cleaners may have different application methods or factors that influence the way they are used.
Step 5 – Rinse and Dry
After the cleaner has been applied to the bike, it is time to rinse the bike off. This will wash away any lingering dirt or debris, and remove any excess cleaning solution that is left on the surface of the bike.
Be sure that you are thorough in this step, as some cleaning solutions may leave behind a film or residue if they are not completely removed from the bike.
Once rinsed, dry off the bike with a microfiber towel. Drying off the bike in this way serves to remove any trace amounts of dirt or cleaning solution that may have been missed during rinsing, and prevents water spots from forming.
Step 6 – Apply Protective Coating
Once your dirt bike is dry, it is time to apply a protective coating. These coatings come in a variety of different forms, but the most common is wax. Using a wax coating gives a motorcycle a sleek, elegant shine that brings out the best of the paint and graphics, and can make the bike look almost new.
A good protective coating also forms a barrier that can help prevent dirt and debris from sticking to the surface of the dirt bike in the future.
There are also certain coatings available to protect specific parts of the motorcycle, such as a bearing coating to help improve functionality of each component and keep dirt and debris from interfering in their operation.
Step 7 – Lubricate the Chain
During the course of washing your dirt bike, there is a good chance that any protectant on the chain will have been removed. Keeping the chain well lubricated and protected is critical to ensuring the ongoing operation of your motorcycle, as it is one of the most important moving parts on the bike.
Using the right chain cleaner and lubricant for your dirt bike is an important step, and some manufacturers will even offer specific cleaners and lubricants for the make and model you ride. Both cleaners and lubricants for the chain will usually come in an aerosol can that allows you to apply the product directly to the chain.
Begin with a chain cleaner to dissolve dirt and debris from in between the chain’s links. After it has dried, usually after about thirty minutes to an hour, apply your choice of chain lubricant to the chain.
Check out our article on “Chain Wax Vs. Chain Lube”.
Step 8 – Clean the Seat
Your dirt bikes seat is one of the most heavily used parts of the bike. In most cases, your dirt bikes seat will have a water resistant leather cover to prevent moisture or water from soaking into the foam of the seat.
However, wear and tear can occur in this covering that will allow moisture into the seat and cause it to deteriorate. Cleaning the seat properly is an effective way to keep this from happening.
There are several special cleaners formulated to work on motorcycle seats, particularly those with a leather covering. Start by wiping down the seat with a clean cloth to remove any built up dirt or debris that may have accumulated over time and then apply the seat cleaner.
Let the seat sit for a while to allow the cleaner to penetrate the material before wiping the seat down with a microfiber towel to remove any excess cleaner or moisture. After this is done, you may also apply leather protectant to help prevent dirt and debris buildup in the future.
Step 9 – Clean the Exhaust Pipe
Cleaning the exhaust pipe of your bike is an essential part of maintenance that can help keep it running smoothly and efficiently. Over time, buildup in the exhaust pipe can lead to reduced dirt bike’s performance, fuel efficiency, and even lead to issues that require costly repairs. Cleaning the exhaust pipe regularly helps to prevent these things from becoming a problem down the line.
The specific type of cleaner that you should use on an exhaust pipe depends on the material of the pipe itself. In the case of a stainless steel exhaust, the most effective cleaners will be mild acids which can break down buildup in the pipe and reduce discoloration.
Chrome pipes, however, will require more delicate cleaners, such as water, soap, and glass cleaners. You may also be able to locate cleaners that are specifically formulated to clean and protect chrome elements of your motorcycle. These help to specifically clean the pipes and protect them from further buildup.
Step 10 – Reassemble the Components
Once all of your bike’s components are clean and dry, it is ready to be put back together. At this point you should reattach any components that you removed before cleaning the dirt bikes and do a quick inspection to make sure that any fasteners are securely in place, and that all of the parts are attached securely.
When reinstalling components like the seat you should also check for any damage or left over residue from the cleaner.
The Different Types of Dirt Bike Cleaners You Can Use
When you are preparing to clean your dirt bike, making sure that you have all of the correct supplies is an important step. This includes different cleaning solutions and tools that ensure your dirt bike is as clean as possible. These supplies can include the following:
- All-Surface Cleaners: As their name implies, these cleaners are formulated to work on all surfaces. These versatile cleaning solutions work on fiberglass, chrome, leather, plastic, and many other materials.
- Surface-Specific Cleaners: These cleaning solutions are specially formulated to work on surfaces that may require a special touch, such as chrome or leather. It is a good idea to use surface-specific cleaners on sensitive parts of your dirt bike in order to avoid any kind of premature wear or damage that could come from harsh chemicals found in other cleaners.
- Waterless Cleaners: These eco-friendly options do not require water to work, spraying onto surfaces and self-activating to provide a high quality clean without the need for water.
- Seat Cleaner: Cleaners specifically designated as seat cleaners are usually meant to work on leather or similar surfaces, and provide a great clean that also helps to maintain the material over time.
- Brake Cleaner: brake pads cleaner is meant to break down debris and buildup on the brakes without having a negative effect on their stopping power. It penetrates deep into the surface and leaves no residue behind to ensure that your brakes retain safe and effective stopping power.
- Chain Cleaner: Chain cleaner is meant to penetrate deep into the links of a dirt bikes chain to break down accumulated dirt and buildup that becomes attached to the chain during a ride. However, you will want to reapply chain lubricant after cleaning the chain, as chain cleaner can also break down certain types of chain lube as well.
- Protectant: Protectants form an invisible layer that protects from dirt and debris in the future and help keep your bike’s paint job looking factory new. Typically this is the last product you will apply to your dirt bike when cleaning it.
- Microfiber Cloth: This special cloth is used to dry the bike after washing and rinsing. The material of a microfiber cloth is soft and will not damage the surfaces that it is used on. Microfiber cloth is also an effective material to use when drying a dirt bike to avoid water spots.
- Bug and Tar Remover: Bug and tar remover is specially formulated to dissolve bugs and tar that is accumulated from the road which can otherwise be very difficult to deal with. Some surface specific and all-surface cleaners will also work as bug and tar removers as well, so remember to check the information.
- Degreaser: Degreaser works on engines that have accumulated a layer of engine oil and grease that can have a negative effect on the cooling of the engine over time. Keeping the engine clean is a simple piece of maintenance that can help extend the lifespan of your engine when done in combination with other routine maintenance tasks.
Things to Remember When Cleaning a Dirt Bike
Aside from the specific steps that we have already listed, here are a few things to keep in mind when you are cleaning your dirt bike.
Do Not Wash Immediately After Use
While it can be tempting to wash a dirt bike immediately after a ride to clean all the dirt, it is far better to wait for a while. The engine will be hot after a ride, and washing your dirt bike immediately can result in damage to the engine, as well as painful burns when touching the hot components of the bike.
It is a good idea to wait until the engine has fully cooled down before washing the bike. The amount of time this takes will vary, but a good rule is that you can wash the bike when the engine is no longer radiating heat.
Know When to Wash
Washing your bike after every ride is not necessary, and can even cause the paint to fade if done in excess. A general rule is to wash a dirt bike in every two weeks, or once a week if you ride through muddy or dusty conditions on a very regular basis.
Avoid Using a Pressure Washer
When possible, you should avoid using a pressure washer and stick to a regular water hose for washing your bike (instead of warm water). While a pressure washer is a powerful tool that may seem to make things easier, the high pressure jet can also damage sensitive materials and strip decals and graphics if you aren’t careful.
However, this risk of damage can be lessened if you choose to use a pressure washer that can be adjusted to use less force when washing your motorcycle.
Do No Use Abrasives and Caustic Cleaners
When you are cleaning your bike, you should avoid using caustic cleaners and abrasives to avoid damaging the surfaces they are used on.
Caustic cleaners leave behind a residue which can damage the surface of your bike, and abrasives scuff and scratch the bike’s finish. This is particularly noticeable on polished metal or plastic surfaces.
Pick the Right Product
Many cleaners may use harsh chemicals or volatile organic compounds that can be harmful, not just to your bike, but to your health and the environment as well. In some cases there are certain cleaners that can have a damaging effect on certain materials. When choosing the cleaners to use, always check the ingredients and follow any warnings or instructions listed to avoid damaging your motorcycle, your health, or the environment.
Keeping your dirt bike clean from all the dirt is an important part of routine maintenance, and one that you will be doing very often. In this guide, we have gone over the process to make sure you can keep your bike thoroughly clean, enhancing the dirt bike’s performance, longevity, and visual appeal.
While these steps are a great guide, do not forget to read any instructions or warnings included with cleaning products that you use, as they may involve extra steps for maximum effectiveness. By following the steps listed, and sticking to the instructions on the products you use, you will be sure to keep your bike clean and well maintained for many rides to come.