News from Oakland Harley-Davidson

Video Tutorials: Washing Your Motorcycle

Posted by Oakland H-D Contributor on May 25, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Washing your motorcycle can have amazing benefits. Not only does it look great, washing your motorcycle gives you a chance to check your bike over for any maintenance issues. It can even give you some time to reflect on your rides and think about what customizations you might like to do next. 

The key to washing a motorcycle is to get the right stuff to do the job and protect your bike from excess wear and tear. 


What happens to a motorcycle that doesn't receive proper care of its surfaces?

  • Wear: Everyday dirt, nicks – rubbing, normal stuff will eventually “wear out” the finishes and coatings.
  • Environmental: Acidic rain, UV rays, smog, heat, cold, road salt and other chemical influences will eat into and degrade finishes and metals.
  • Corrosion/Oxidation: The result of unprotected or untreated metal surfaces.
  • Damage: Human errors in using incorrect products that can leave surfaces unprotected, accelerate degradation or cause direct
    damage! And it gets worse! Some products’ negative impact doesn’t begin to appear until long after the damage has been done!

Unprotected Wheel

1 Year Old V-Rod Wheel that was never protected.

Protected Wheel

V-Rod wheel ridden for a season, cleaned and protected once using the method outlined in the V-Rod owners manual.

So, what is it about H-D Surface Care products that make them special? Actually, a number of things, all of them important:

  • Extensive testing and certification: Tested extensively in the lab and in the field, and certified by Harley-Davidson engineers.
  • Compatibility with other H-D Surface Care Products: H-D Surface Care Products are formulated to complement each other and not react adversely.
  • Compatibility with specific Harley-Davidson surfaces: H-D Surface Care Products are formulated to be compatible with Harley-Davidson’s specific surfaces – paint, metal finishes, wheels, clear coat formulation, etc.
  • Overall product performance: The product has to work, and it has to work well.

Do Not Use Products

Damage can occur by using incorrect products … let’s look at these products in greater detail …

  • Abrasive Pads: Abrasive pads and steel wool for chrome. The intended purpose is to polish or cut into raw metal or for sanding. Bonus: If you use these, you’ll have a head start on your next paint job!
  • Oven Cleaner: Some have tried to clean engines with this product. Oven cleaner dissolves plastics, that means it dissolves clear coat and Wrinkle-Black finishes, too! Bonus: It also burns your skin.
  • Silicone-Based “Protectants”: Are products owners apply to inner fairings, seats, and glove box lowers. These products strip poly bonding agents in plastics and rubber, and leech essential oils, resulting in premature drying and cracking. Bonus: The coating wears away quickly.
  • Household Cleaners: Such as glass cleaners with ammonia. These products are not for Lexan® windshields! Ammonia leeches in from laminated edges and turns windshields yellow! Bonus: It promotes hairline cracks, too.
  • Furniture/Automotive Waxes/Polishes: Many automotive waxes contain carnauba. Carnauba does not allow chrome finishes to “breathe,” and furniture polish is formulated to penetrate wood, or in the case of a motorcycle, clear coat. Bonus: You’ll be able to pick the clear coat off your Harley like scabs! This product ran national TV ads stating this is a “multi-use” product, they stated that it works great as a motorcycle polish … WRONG.
  • Paper/Cloth Towels: Paper towels are fortified with Nylon® for strength and durability. Same for cloth towels, too. Even cloth diapers have nylon. Nylon is actually harder than clear coat. Bonus: That means extra fine scratches!

So what products should you use?

Check out some of these resources:

Check out all of our Surface Care Videos on YouTube.


We're here to help you protect your motorcycle and keep it running right. Read up on how motorcycle tires differ from automobile tires or about regular brake service. Did you know H-D Batteries are specific to H-D motorcycles and why? What all goes in to a 1,000 mile maintenance and why is it so much different from an oil change? What's with the special H-D Oil? Is it worth it? For all of your questions, don't be afraid of reaching out to our Parts and Service experts. We're here to help you.

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Topics: Parts & Accessories, Service, Current Rider

News from Oakland H-D

Keeping the Bay Area motorcyclists up to date

Our team of experts at Oakland Harley-Davidson strives to keep you up-to-date on:

  • New motorcycles, parts and gear
  • Customization ideas and trends
  • What is going on locally in the industry
  • Event information
  • Ideas on where to go riding
We understand that the modern motorcyclist is doing the majority of their shopping and research online and we will strive to be your go-to place for information. 

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