A 9-Step Guide to Motorcycle Detailing Like the Pros

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Motorcycle owners find great joy in seeing their prized bike shiny and looking new after getting detailed. Not only does detailing your motorcycle keep it looking great, but it’s also an important element of motorcycle maintenance, maximizing performance and keeping the motorcycle’s resale value high.

The downside? Professional washing and detailing can set you back hundreds of dollars or more. With the right materials and guidance, you can restore your motorcycle to how it looked when you first purchased it. 

What you’ll need

Before diving in, you’ll want to stock up on some important items. You can find motorcycle detail kits in some stores, but you may already have a lot of the things listed below.


  • Air compressor
  • Boar-bristle brush (soft bristle brush)
  • Bucket
  • Extension cord
  • Garden hose (with spray nozzle)
  • Microfiber towel 
  • Power blower
  • Power washer
  • Rags


  • Aluminum-safe cleaner
  • Gentle car wash soap
  • Leather cleaner
  • Microfiber wash mitt
  • Plastic polish
  • Polishing compound
  • Spray cleaner
  • Spray degreaser
  • Wax or paint sealant

Precautions for detailing a motorcycle

Even with the right materials, there are common errors to avoid when detailing your motorcycle. 

  • Don’t use household degreaser products as they can stain or strip paint off the bike
  • Don’t use coarse brushes or scrub pads 
  • Don’t work in a sunny or damp area 

Are you thinking about buying a used motorcycle? Check out our blog on Tips for Buying a Used Motorcycle in 2024 for some helpful advice, and stay up to date with the latest motorcycle trends

How-tos for detailing your motorcycle

Follow these motorcycle detailing tips. 

1. Pre-wash the exterior

Before applying any soap or cleaner to your vehicle, rinse it with a garden hose starting at the top and working your way down to remove large pieces of debris and stubborn dirt. Then, use a wash mitt and soap to gently wash the hard surfaces of your motorcycle and rinse again.

2. Wash wheels and spokes

Since wheels and tires are made of different materials than other parts of your motorcycle, they should be washed separately. With soapy water and a mild wheel cleaner, wash the wheels to remove oils and other road grime. You’ll want to avoid oily cleaners on your tires as they can make the rubber slick, resulting in safety issues.

3. Clean controls and dashboard

Because there are electrical components within the dash, you’ll want to avoid getting it wet. Use a gentle cleaner (this can also be used to clean a plexiglass windshield).

4. Clean the engine

The key to keeping your bike performing at its best is making sure the engine is clean inside and out. Depending on how dirty your engine is (consider where you’ve driven your motorcycle and the last time the engine was cleaned), you may only need a once-over with soap and a soft brush.

5. Rinse thoroughly

Use soft, clean water to rinse off any remaining soap from the surface of your bike. If the product is left for an extended period, it can damage the paint over time. 

6. Dry the bike

This is a critical step in the process, as improper drying will leave behind water spots and ruin all your hard work. This is where your power blower or air compressor would be helpful (and if you don’t have either, you can use a regular hand-held dryer or microfiber cloth). Make sure to get any excess water between all the cracks and openings.

7. Polish chrome

When polishing the chrome on your motorcycle, use a microfiber cloth. It’s recommended that you polish chrome twice—with a break in between—for the best results. Apply a coat of wax after to extend the effects of the polish.

8. Treat the leather

Your bike may have one of several materials on the seats, saddlebags and other parts, like: 

  • Coated leather
  • Natural aniline leather
  • Vinyl that looks and feels like leather

Each requires a different method of care and cleaning. Generally, clean with a non-slick protectant to clean and safeguard leather elements, but check what’s recommended for your specific vehicle. 

9. Apply sealant

Finally, treat the paint with a clay bar and coat of wax or paint sealant. If your paint has been neglected for some time, you might need a polishing compound to smooth its surface.

By following these simple tips, you can get your motorcycle looking its best in no time. Remember, regular cleaning and maintenance can help extend the life of your motorcycle and keep it looking great for years to come.

Looking for inspiration on where to ride this summer? Don’t miss our top 10 motorcycle rides in North America and the Biggest Motorcycle Rallies to Attend in 2024.

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Take care of your motorcycle wherever you go

Another way to keep your bike in top shape? Leave it in the hands of professionals if you need it shipped. If you’re moving or adding to your bike collection, you can trust Montway Auto Transport to get your motorcycle to its destination safely. 

We ship motorcycles across all 50 states conveniently and affordably. Get a custom quote at 888-989-8526.

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