Best Way to Clean a Dirt Bike: How To Do It Like an Expert
Over time, your dirt bike attracts dirt and grime, which will not only make it unsightly but can also compromise performance. To prevent the latter, proper maintenance is crucial, which should involve regular cleaning.
If you are clueless about the best way to clean dirt bike, we got you covered!
Read on as we look at some of the most important steps for properly washing a motorcycle. You do not need to pay a pro to do the job for you. With little time and effort to spare, it is easy to keep your motorcycle looking good.
Why You Should Clean Your Dirt Bike
Here are some of the most compelling reasons why you should clean your dirt bike:
- Make It Look Good: One of the best reasons to clean your dirt bike is to restore its aesthetic. Mud and grime can thicken over time, making your motorcycle unsightly. Spending a few minutes cleaning will make it look better.
- Prolong the Lifespan: From the wheels to the chain, the different parts of the bike will last longer when you clean them regularly. Rust, corrosion, and wear are some of the things that you can prevent with proper cleaning.
- Improve Efficiency: When the different components are dirty, your dirt bike will end up inefficient. It will consume more gas, which can also be costly in the long run. Make it more efficient by keeping it free of dirt and grime.
- Stay Safe: By cleaning your dirt bike, you are doing something to keep it in its peak condition. You can easily spot problems and repair them when necessary, which will have a positive impact on your safety.
- Prevent Costly Repairs: The failure to clean your dirt bike can result in too much strain on its different components, such as the engine. Hence, it can speed up the wear and will result in expensive repairs.
A Step-by-Step Guide on the Best Way to Clean Dirt Bike
It might seem intimidating to the uninitiated, but if you know how to do it, cleaning a dirt bike is straightforward. Below are some of the things that you need to do.
Step 1 - Remove Sensitive Components
Start by making sure that the engine has cooled down. Washing the dirt bike when it is still hot can result in premature damage. Once it is no longer hot, cover or remove the sensitive parts. This is important to prevent water penetration that can harm the internal components.
One of the first things that you have to take off is the seat. Most are made of foam, so water and moisture are some of its mortal enemies. It is like a sponge, so it can absorb water and will deteriorate over time if it is often wet.
The air filter is another component to take out. Getting water inside can be catastrophic, resulting in expensive repairs. Even if you remove the air filter, see to it as well that you cover the airbox.
Meanwhile, you do not have to remove the muffler. It is enough that you cover it to prevent water from getting in. Use wash plugs or cover the hole with a sandwich bag with rubber or duct tape.
Step 2 - Spray Water with a Hose
With the sensitive parts out or covered, it is time to bring out the hose and spray the dirt bike with water. This will serve as the initial rinse. The goal is to make mud and dirt soft before you scrub them. This way, they are easier to remove.
Some might resort to using a pressure washer to make the job easier. It makes sense since the high pressure is supposed to help you get rid of the grime on the surface. However, we advise against it because it can be too strong. It can damage decals and prints. Additionally, it can also direct water into some of the dirt bike’s internal components, resulting in irreversible damage.
You can use a pressure washer, but you need to be extra cautious. Maintain the right distance and keep the pressure low. Otherwise, you might end up knocking down the motorcycle. Also, avoid using the pressure washer on sensitive parts, including those that are easily prone to dents.
If you are using a pressure washer, it is best to go with a 40-degree nozzle. It generates a larger and milder swath compared to other nozzles. It will be gentle on your bike. Never use a 0-degree nozzle, which will have a powerful blast.
Step 3 - Scrub Mud and Debris
With the dirt bike now wet, the dirt must have already softened for easy removal. It is time to get your hands dirty.
Use the right tools to make the task more comfortable. One of the must-haves is a hard-bristle brush, especially when there is thick mud. Focus on the areas with dirt build-ups, such as sprockets, wheels, and chains.
Once you are done scrubbing, follow up by rinsing the dirt. By doing so, you are washing off what you have already cleaned, which is in preparation for the next step. You can also use a sponge for a cleaner surface.
Step 4 - Use a Dirt Bike Cleaner
Using water and sponge alone isn’t enough in most instances. For more powerful dirt bike cleaning, use the right product.
You will find a variety of products in the market. For instance, some are in the form of a concentrate that you have to mix with water. Meanwhile, others are pre-mixed and available in a spray bottle for convenient application.
Read the instructions and follow them religiously when using a dirt bike cleaner. In some products, you will need to leave them on the surface for a few minutes. As it settles, it breaks down dirt, making them easier to remove later.
Step 5 - Rinse and Dry
After applying the cleaner, rinse the dirt bike. Pay attention to specific areas with thick dirt or those where you applied more of the cleaner. Some products might leave a hazy film or visible residue if you do not wash them off properly, especially if the cleaner has a strong formula.
After rinsing, let the dirt bike dry. Rather than leaving it for a few minutes to dry by itself, we recommend using a microfiber cloth instead. This will not only speed up drying, but it can also remove any trace of dirt or cleaner on the surface while also preventing water spots.
Step 6 - Apply Protective Coating
Once the dirt bike is dry, proceed to the application of protective coating. It is available in different forms.
Choose one that is most compatible with the material. One of the most common is wax. It can give your motorcycle a sleek and elegant appearance, with a shine that looks as good as new. Not to mention, it also forms an invisible barrier to minimize the likelihood of dirt sticking.
You can also use a protective coating on the specific components of the bike. For instance, you might need a bearing protectant. It coats the bearings to prevent excessive moisture and retain peak functionality regardless of the environmental conditions.
Step 7 - Lubricate the Chain
The chain is one of the most important parts of your dirt bike, which is what makes movements possible. Hence, cleaning your ride isn’t complete without paying attention to the chain. Even with today’s advanced technologies, chains still attract dirt. Cleaning is important to keep it clean and efficient.
First, determine the type of chain in your dirt bike. Some will have metal-on-metal links without a seal in between. Sealed chains, on the other hand, have a rubber that seals the outer and inner links.
Many manufacturers offer chain-specific cleaners for dirt bikes. They often come in a spray or aerosol bottle. You will need to apply it directly on the chain and the cleaner will penetrate deep to dissolve dirt. Once you are done cleaning, apply your choice of lubricant to minimize friction, wear, and noise.
If you have not cleaned the chain in a long time, you might want to soak it in a solvent. After a few minutes, take it off the liquid solution and brush to remove the dirt on the link. Let it dry before applying a lubricant.
Step 8 - Clean the Seat
The seat is one of the most overused parts of the bike. Most of the seats will have a waterproof leather cover, so you can wash them safely. Nonetheless, it might have tears over time, so water can get inside. If the material is foam, then it might deteriorate. With this, you need to figure out the best way to clean the seat.
Some cleaners that are specially formulated for motorcycle seats, especially leather. Start by wiping the seat with a clean cloth then apply the seat cleaner. Let it settle for a while and wipe it off with a microfiber towel. Once done, you can apply a protectant or similar material to shield the surface against dirt.
Step 9 - Clean the Exhaust Pipe
When dirt and debris accumulate on the exhaust pipe of your dirt bike, it can lose power. The presence of carbon and soot is a huge concern for many riders. More than compromising performance, your dirt bike will also end up being inefficient. A good way to prevent this is by keeping the exhaust pipe clean, which should be a part of general maintenance.
The specific cleaner to use depends on the material of the exhaust pipe. If it is made of stainless steel, use mild acids, which can eliminate the discoloration. A good option is a toilet cleaner that contains hydrochloric acid.
Meanwhile, chrome pipes are more sensitive, so you have to be extra cautious. It is malleable and thin, which also means that it scratches easily. Do not scratch or polish since you might end up taking off the protective barrier. Water, soap, and glass cleaners are basic but effective materials for cleaning chrome exhaust pipes.
Step 10 - Reassemble the Components
Your dirt bike is almost ready at this point. Once everything is clean and dry, put the pieces you have disassembled back together. Make sure that they are in a snug position.
Do a quick inspection, seeing to it that the components are clean and that there are no visible damages.
The Different Types of Dirt Bike Cleaners You Can Use
When cleaning your dirt bike, it is a great thing to have the right supplies. From the tires to the seat, prepare everything that you will need, which include the following:
- All-Surface Cleaners: As the name implies, it works on all surfaces. This is the most versatile cleaner. It works on paint, chrome, fiberglass, plastic, and leather, among other materials.
- Surface-Specific Cleaners: For the sensitive parts of your dirt bike, surface-specific cleaners are the best option. It is formulated to work only on pre-determined materials, such as leather or metal.
- Waterless Cleaners: If you are looking for an eco-friendly way to clean your bike, go waterless. These cleaners often come in the form of a spray with a powerful formula that does not need water to deliver the best look.
- Seat Cleaner: Cleaning your dirt bike isn’t complete without taking care of the seat. Use cleaners that are designed for leather or any other material. It will restore shine while also protecting against future damages.
- Brake Cleaner: Keep your dirt bike safe and sound by using the right brake cleaner. It can penetrate deep into the nooks and crannies to ensure the responsiveness of your brakes.
- Chain Cleaner: Like the brakes, the chains attract dirt and grime, especially if you are often on muddy tracks. The right cleaner will penetrate between the chains and provide the necessary lubrication for a smoother performance.
- Protectant: It forms an invisible layer to protect against dirt in the future. This way, you can minimize the effort necessary to clean the bike. Most of the time, this is the last product to apply on a dirt bike once you are done cleaning.
- Microfiber Cloth: This is what you will use for wiping the bike and drying it off after cleaning. It is made of a soft material that won’t scratch or damage different surfaces. Plus, microfiber cloths can also be effective in the prevention of water spots.
- Bug and Tar Remover: Bugs and road grime can be a nightmare to remove. Dissolve them easily with the best bug and tar remover. The latter has advanced dissolving action, eliminating the need for scrubbing.
- Degreaser: Grease and grime accumulate on the engine over time, which can compromise its overall performance. Keep the engine working at its peak by using a good degreaser. It will remove gunk and prevent overheating, among other benefits.
Things to Remember When Cleaning a Dirt Bike
Aside from the steps mentioned above, below are some of the most important things that will help in cleaning your dirt bike like a pro.
Do Not Wash Immediately After Use
It is tempting to immediately wash your dirt bike after a ride. You might think that mud or dirt is still fresh on the surface, and hence, it is easy to remove. While the latter can be true, an immediate wash is not recommended because the engine is still hot. Wait for a few minutes for it to cool down before you proceed.
Know When to Wash
You do not have to wash the dirt bike right after every ride, especially if it isn’t dirty. As a rule of thumb, you can limit washing to once every two weeks. If you use it regularly on muddy or dusty terrains, then consider cleaning it at least once a week.
Avoid Using a Pressure Washer
If possible, stick to a hose or a bucket of water. Using a pressure washer might seem to make your life easier, but it increases the chances of damage. The pressure can be too strong and water can penetrate some of the fragile components.
Do No Use Abrasives and Caustic Cleaners
From the cleaners to the scrubs, stay away from abrasives. You should also avoid using caustic cleaners since they can result in an anodized aluminum residue, which can damage the surface of your bike. Abrasives, meanwhile, can leave unsightly scuff marks, especially on plastic and metal surfaces.
Pick the Right Product
Some cleaners can have harsh chemicals or volatile organic compounds. They are harmful not just to humans but also to the environment. Some of them might also be too strong for specific materials. Look at the list of the ingredients, making sure that there are no hazardous components.
The best way to clean your dirt bike is to start by removing or covering the sensitive parts then rinse using a hose. This will soften mud and grime. Scrub and use a top-notch dirt bike cleaner. Rinse, dry, and polish. Do not forget to clean the individual parts thoroughly, including the chain, seat, and exhaust pipe.