Here's a few tried and true techniques.
I'm with you, bro'. My '06 LT has never been polished. I've given her maybe three light, sloppy washings in almost 80,000 miles, and she's sexy as ever. Thunderstorms remove bugs. The windscreen and mirrors are all that get regular attention.
It's been said that one can not see the motorcycle one is riding. I'd like to add the caveat that one can not see that motorcycle if one is riding it hard.
Last edited by igofar; 03-08-2009 at 03:53 PM. Reason: duplicated signature
Some time back there was an article or thread somewhere that was very enlightening about bike cleaning. You should, according to it and I have found it works very well, always START by cleaning the lower portion of your bike first.
I have one bucket for the lower and another for the upper. Into the lower goes, and I just had to go to the garage to see what it is I use, goes anything from Simple Green, to Purple Power, to 407 - and sometimes its a mix of those. I use either Purple Power or BMW M/C Wheel Cleaner [~$20 at the dealer - very good stuff!] on the wheels - they work well at removing the build-up of dirt and grunge. Various brushes help do the work and a kitchen scruber with sponge on one side and soft plastic scratcher on the other can also help.
I use Purple Power or 407 on the engine and other dirty lower [unpainted] parts - rinsing all frequently. Again, different brushes and scrubber to aid in removal.
For the top/painted/windshield et al parts of the bike, a new bucket of hot sudsy water [any car wash cleaner from the local auto parts store]. Before wetting the top down I use hydrogen peroxide on the bugs - bubbles them off and doesn't harm the surface. Then I scrub the windshield first with a dedicated car mitt or sponge [last one came from wallyworld and has neat little danglies on it and is soft but cleans well.] Again rinse frequently. I use a long soft brush on the cables, lines, controls as the brush gets down in where bulker items can't.
Finally a compressor to blow off/out most of the water; towel dry with a microfiber towel and go for a ride to dry out the brakes and get the remaining water out from the hidden recesses - oh WTF - I just like to ride!
For leather I use Lexol products - also from auto parts stores or cage wash businesses.
'07 R1200 RT - LD ride w/ >145+K mi
'00 1150GS w/ >165+K miles and more to come...
Clean bugs off headlight lens & ride. Repeat.
Clean bird poop off seat if neccessary.
Anything above and beyond is for a rainy day.
Wax attracts small dust particles that don't wash out of / off the wax very well. So removing the wax once or twice a year doesn't bother me a bit. So using Dawn doesn't bother me a bit.
I'm positive that the more benign stuff sold for washing gargantuan car hoods, doors, fenders, trunks, and roofs is better for cars. Those surfaces also don't have nearby wheel bearings, engine gaskets, seals, and other sources of oily grime needing to be removed. I have exactly one small front fender, two small side panels, and one gas tank to re-wax on my bike. So I use Dawn. At least twice a year.
Dawn removes the old wax so if you use it, wax needs to be applied after the bike is dried. Blast all the old dirty off with a good stream of water so when you wash it with a sponge, you don't scratch the surface with the large pieces of dirt. For wax, Zaino which can be ordered on line is, in my opinion, the very best there is. Goes on easily and comes off easier. Your bike will look like it just came off the showroom floor. Again, Dawn removes not only dirt and grease, but also wax.
S-100 products are excellent. They make a concentrated spray-on cleaner for wheels and a separate spray-on cleaner for the rest of the bike. I use a soft nylon bristle brush on the wheels and simply hose it off with water.
S-100, then copious rinse. Dry with leaf blower. Go riding.
Here in the Big Bend it rained early last September. Not since. Bugs are rare.
I just cleaned my bike by blowing the dust off it with an air hose. It isn't polished, but it also isn't dusty anymore.