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Products and Services

Products to Make Your Star Shine Bright

By Chuck Blitzer, ISRA #113

Enthusiasts often say detailing vehicles is an art form. Clearly, some people have spent their careers perfecting and performing this art. But it doesn’t require the skill of an artisan to produce a vehicle—bike, or car—that is visually appealing. Armed with the right products, most anyone who is willing to invest a little time can produce a vehicle that will please all but the most discriminating eye.

Today, there are many, many detailing products from which to chose. These products—cleaners, polishes, waxes, etc.—are often marketed for use on a specific type of vehicle, but can be used safely on any vehicle with a like finish.

Here are some products to consider when cleaning and detailing your bike.

Washes and cleaners

Amongst motorcyclists, S100 (no web site) is clearly the product of choice, perhaps second only to soap and water. This German-made product is a spray on and rinse off cleaner. When used as directed--spray on a cool bike and rinse immediately with cool water--it does a commendable job of removing every day road grime from bikes. Other companies offer products similar to S100. Eagle One ( www.eagleone.com ) sells its Cycle Wash, MotoCare ( www.motocare.com ) offers MotoWash, Blue Coral ( www.bluecoral.com ) has Bike Brite, and there are a number of other alternatives. In addition, Honda repackages S100 and sells it as Hondabrite (no web site for Honda chemicals and lubricants).

If the cost of these products concerns you, try the old standby: soap and water. Much of the time this combination will do the job just fine. But never use a household detergent; pickup an inexpensive auto wash instead.

Polishes and Waxes

Over the last couple of years, smaller companies have begun producing detailing products hoping to successfully challenge some of the big-name makers in the business. Many of these newcomers are quite good, but polishes and waxes from companies such as Turtle Wax, Kit, Mothers and others work just fine and are often the least expensive choices. That said, why not dare to be different and try something new for just a little more money?

One product to consider is Showbike ( storefronts.fleet.com/showbike ) Final Polish. This is a final step product, and although named a polish, it’s considered a premium wax. (Usually, polishes and waxes are sold separately, as each serves a separate function. Polishes are designed for finishing and waxes for protection. Thus, polish is applied before wax.) Showbike was recently offering a free sample package for U.S. customers that included trial-sized bottles of its Final Polish and its quick detailer called Quick Wax.

Motorcycle manufacturers also have their owned branded products and Yamaha’s ( www.yamahausa.com ) offering, Ultra Gloss Cleaner/Wax, is a good one.

Also take a look at Classic ( www.pennzoil-quakerstate.com ) Quick Wax. This was one of the first spray waxes to come on the market and it provides a very nice final finish. It is fairly easy to apply, but make sure you apply it out of direct sun light or it will setup before you’ve had a chance to spread it on the surface.

Quick detailers

If you’re the type who would prefer to spend a couple of minutes rather than a couple of hours detailing your bike, Honda Polish & Cleaner can’t be beat. This product you spray on and wipe off—very little effort is required. Heck, you can even apply it to a dirty bike and it will clean it.

(Product alert! To my knowledge it has never been confirmed, but there are many stories circulating that claim this product is repackaged Pledge, the furniture cleaner/polish. I’ve made no attempt to confirm or discredit this rumor but, Pledge or not, this product works! Note: Honda Polish & Cleaner is not available in lemon or pine scents.)

Another one-step detailer is CycleCare’s


( www.cyclecare.com ) Formula 33. This is one of a number of motorcycle-specific products offered by the company.

S100 is building a complete finish care line and offers its Detailer & Wax as a one-step cleaner/polish. Most other companies mentioned previously offer quick detailing products.

A somewhat unique product, popular amongst automobile detailers, is a wash-free system called Kozak ( www.kozak.com ) Auto Drywash. This non-liquid product is a chemically treated cotton cloth. You wipe the dust or dirt off with the cloth and that’s it.

Plastic cleaners and polishes

Most of the polish, wax and quick detailing products mentioned above can also be used on the plastic components of your motorcycle. But when it comes to windshields it’s best to use a product specifically designed and tested for use on clear plastics.

No windshield product has garnered more praise from its users than Plexus ( www.plexusplasticcleaner.com ). This product is a cleaner and protectant in one, which was designed for aviation use. It can be used on all plastics, including Lexan plastic of which Yamaha windshields are constructed. Some windshield products will cloud Lexan windshields so always read the usage warnings on the product’s label, unless of course you don’t mind seeing as poorly as Mr. Magoo. RainX, a tempting product to use because of its sheeting effect, is a Lexan windshield killer.

Another product to consider is Novus ( www.novuspolish.com ) . It’s a plastic-specific cleaner/polish that leaves a nice static-free finish.

Slip Streamer ( www.slipstreamer.com ), a popular windshield manufacturer, also sells a spray cleaner and polish, but don’t confuse this product with the company’s scratch remover. Do not use the scratch remover on Lexan!

Wheel cleaners

The companies that produce wheel cleaners have some pretty enticing advertising pitches for these products: "Spray on and hose off. It’s that easy!" Well, it’s not that easy. Frankly, some of these products are pretty lousy and none of them perform as quickly or as easily as claimed.

I’ve tried three of these cleaners: Castrol’s Super Clean All Wheel Cleaner, Eagle One’s A2Z All Wheel Cleaner, and a third whose name I can’t recall and don’t care to. After using each of these products as directed, I still had to go over each wheel with a sponge and/or brush to get the wheel clean. Save your money and use your chosen wash/cleaner instead.

Chrome polishes

A good, economical choice is what I consider to be the old standby: Turtle Wax’s ( www.turtlewax.com ) Chrome Polish and Rust Remover. (Don’t let the rust remover description scare you.) This is a solid product that also offers a protective finish.

The highly regarded publication Motorcycle Consumer News has given top marks to Mothers ( www.mothers.com ) Mag & Aluminum Polish. MCN rated it higher than Mothers own chrome-specific polish.

You should always check the usage description on each container, as some of these products are not recommended for chrome that has been clear coated. Many chrome wheels today—Yamaha’s included—have a clear-coat finish.

Tire treatments

While a product designed to keep tires black is an item included on every auto detailer’s shopping list, it’s an item a motorcyclist can and probably should leave off her list. Because of the construction of motorcycle tires with the tread coming almost halfway up what would be the sidewall area on a car tire, the chances of getting this product on the tread area and creating a dangerous, slippery surface is great.

If you’re determined to have the jet black tire look—myself and many others will warn you against it--a product such as Meguiar’s ( www.meguiars.com ) new Endurance tire enhancer is probably your best choice. It’s a gel; thus it is easy to control its application. There’s no chance of over spraying as there is with liquid tire treatments. However, you should still apply it with a slow and steady hand taking great care to avoid the tire’s tread. The special applicator that comes packaged with Endurance will help.

Leather and vinyl

When it comes to caring for your leather and vinyl items, some very good products are available from the ‘ols: Lexol (www.lexol.com ) and Zymol ( www.zymol.com ).

Although targeted to the automotive market, each company produces leather and vinyl cleaning and conditioning products that work just fine on motorcycles.

Many other companies, such as Eagle One, Mothers, and Turtle Wax, offer leather and vinyl care products. Eagle One offers a leather cleaner and a leather conditioner specifically branded for motorcycle use.

Another alternative for leather is to use the products you may already be using for your leather jacket. Hein Gericke’s leather cleaner and conditioner immediately come to mind.

You should be aware that many of these products leave a slippery surface, especially when applied to vinyl, so use care if applying to safety-critical components such as seats, foot pegs or grips.

When selecting a detailing product, choices are often based on brand preference. S100 has its diehard fans, as do McGuiar’s products. Most all of the products on the market today will do the job for which they are intended if used correctly. (Wheel cleaners excluded.)

In a future article, I’ll look at some of the detailing "tools" being offered; from the popular California dusters to the "bag of rags" available at your local discount store.

Disclaimer: The author of this article has received no remuneration or free products from the companies mentioned above, with the exception of the sample package offered by Showbike, which was available free to consumers without conditions.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 December 2009 07:53
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