Have you ever wondered how the pros get their bikes so clean and show worthy? Each week the best riders in the world thrash these marvels of modern technology on the roughest courses imaginable. Despite this each week the mechanics and teams roll these bikes out of the haulers looking like jewelry. It's simply amazing how brand new and fresh these bikes are week after week. Like many of you, after each ride our bikes used to barely come out looking like bikes again. Most of the time they are covered in dirt, scratches, and marks that seem impossible to come off and get out. We wanted to find out exactly what the pros do to get these bikes looking so sick at the races. Who wouldn't want a super sick factory looking bike at each race right? Of course! It must be a pretty awesome feeling knowing that you have the cleanest and most professional looking ride out there. We went straight to the source and asked some of the best mechanics in the business at the Ironman MX National how to get our bikes looking like factory rides....
Step 1- The prep
With anything that you do proper preparation is critical to a successful outcome. Dirt bikes are no different. You want to make sure everything is all set before you dig in and get to work on the bike. Virtually all mechanics start by plugging the exhaust with something that will prevent any water or debris from entering. Wash plugs work best, but so does a rag or even duct tape. Next, most team mechanics take off the seat and air filter and put in an air box cover to enable them to wash the air box thoroughly without water entering the intake. If you do decide to keep the seat on to try and keep the filter clean for another ride then taping off the gap between the plastics and seat and also the plate grab holes is very helpful. However, we recommend changing the filter everytime the bike is washed, and so do the pros!
Step 2- Soaking the bike.
Once you have prepped the bike it's time to get the dirt and mud off. Tackling the bike from the top down works best and helps you to keep track of what needs to be rinsed next. Most people rush to use a power washer, which is ideal, but make sure that you go easy on the steering stem and wheels. These areas house bearings which can be compromised by water that is pushed through by the high pressure. A garden hose with a high pressure nozzle does the job just fine as well. Make sure that all thick debris is removed and that the bike is completely wet. This is the stage where you get the bike as spotless as possible before the real magic is applied. It is a very helpful trick to lay the bike over with the handle bars resting on the top of a stand to be able to get to the hard to reach places. You will see almost every mechanic in the pits doing this. Performing this soaking stage also allows you to see if there is any noticeable damage on the bike and if there is anything that needs to be worked on.
Step 3- Cleaners and elbow grease...
This is the stage where you make the bike clean to the touch. Get your favorite cleaner/degreaser in a spray bottle and apply to the bike in sections. Be sure to keep the bike out of direct sunlight if possible. We recommend some biodegradable products like Purple Power or Simple Green and cut it 50/50 with water. These don't leave behind any kind of ugly residue. Make sure that you have some scrub brushes and Scotch Brite pads handy. Start with the top of the bike and spray generously. Use the scrub brush to agitate any left over debris and leave a spot free shine. The scrub brush is useful on the seat, control, rims, plastics, and engine. Pipe/bottle cleaners and tooth brushes also work very well for tight spots around the engine as well as around the spokes and hubs. Use the Scotch Brite pad on the frame and plastics to remove the dark scratches and smudges left over from boots and gear. Majority of mechanics also like to use it on the swingarm and engines to really get them clean. Brushes and pads do an incredible job of breaking loose any and all dirt and debris.
Step 4-Rinse and dry.
Once the bike is covered in cleaner and all of the grease and grime has been scrubbed away its time to rinse. This step is straight forward and, as you guessed, ensures that all of the grime is washed off of the bike. Again, be mindful of the high pressure hoses and washer around sensitive areas. Once the bike is all soaked and all of the cleaner and suds is removed, use some compressed air or towels to get the bike nice and dry. Work from top to bottom again to make the job easier.
Step 5- Shine, shine, shine.
The last step is to shine that freshly washed bike! Nothing screams factory more than a shiny bike. There are many polishes and shiners out there. We've had amazing luck with automotive tire shine products surprisingly and the price is very affordable. Most teams stick with dirt bike or motorcycle specific sprays however. You want to make sure the plastics are covered along with the rims, forks, and swingarm. Silicone spray brings out a nice shine on the hoses and engine, which helps the bike really stand out. Be mindful that these products are quite slippery and you may want to apply sparingly to the areas where your legs contact the bike as well as the seat. Put a small amount of spray shine on a rag and wipe down the cables, bar pad, brake lines, guards, and inside of the radiators; this puts a nice coating on them and prevents that faded look. Afterwards, make sure that you spray some chain lube on the chain and on the footpeg pivots to make sure that there is a coating to prevent rust from any left over standing water. WD-40 has worked for many as well.
Step 6- Step back and marvel at your new looking ride!
This is when you take out your phone and take some sick Insta-bangers to brag about how factory your ride looks. Keeping your bike as clean as possible makes working on it a lot easier and also makes any issues that you maybe having a little easier to see such as broken parts, leaks, or anything that has fallen off. Factory team clean bikes also show those guys at the local track that you aren't messing around and since your bike is as clean as a factory race bike, you may just be as a fast as a factory racer....maybe.