I love riding motorcycles, but kind of hate the care and maintenance that they require — especially when it’s my own bike. Luckily, I live in a place where things are dry and dusty rather than wet and muddy, so I can get by most of the time. But when it’s time to buckle down and wash the bike, there are a few motorcycle cleaning products I always turn to.
In addition to keeping your bike clean, it’s important to clean and lubricate your chain (if you have one) and make sure your helmet is free of crud and dried bugs. I’ve listed some of the best motorcycle cleaner products here. They’ve been good to me over the years for both purposes and hopefully you’ll appreciate them too.
I’m one of those people who like a clean motorcycle, but hate actually cleaning their motorcycle. That used to mean that I’d just live with a dirty motorcycle most of the time, but not since I found S100 spray cleaner.
This cleaning product is awesome and it’s easy to use. Spray it on, let it sit for a few minutes and hose it off. It does a great job of removing dirt, road grime, grease, dried-on bugs and whatever else I’ve accumulated on my adventures. It’s also safe on plastics like your motorcycle windshield and metals, so no worries about it harming any exposed components on your motorcycle.
The Muc-Off Nano Tech bike cleaner spray is awesome. It smells better than the S100 and it’s biodegradable. Muc-Off also sells it in concentrate form, which I love, so you don’t have to constantly buy new plastic bottles.
Like the S100, it’s a spray on and rinse off affair and it does a great job of removing caked on road grime nastiness from all parts of your motorcycle without sending a bunch of harsh chemicals down the drain.
Sometimes you just need to touch up your bike before heading out on an all-day ride with your buds. I mean, you don’t want to show up and have the least shiny two-wheeled machine, now do you?
This S100 Detail and Wax spray is great because it’s specifically geared towards motorcycles and does a good job of shining paint and powder-coat. It’s easy to use, too. Just spray on the detailer and wipe it off with a good microfiber towel.
What do you do if you have a dirty motorcycle and you don’t have access to a hose? Either take it to a coin-op car wash to use the pressure washer (which kind of sucks) or grab the awesome High-Performance Waterless Wash spray from Muc-Off.
Like basically every Muc-Off product, this bike cleaner is easy on the environment while still being tough on stubborn dirt and grime. All you have to do is spray it on, let it soak for a minute and wipe it off. After you wiped the dirt off, get a new clean microfiber cloth and buff your bike until it shines. It’s super easy and packs into a backpack or side case for easy motorcycle cleaning on the go.
Keeping your motorcycle’s chain clean and lubed is a miserable task, but it’s critical if you want to keep your chain and sprocket in tip-top condition. There are as many different products and techniques and old-timey sage wisdom for cleaning and lubing motorcycle chains as there are stars in the sky, but I’m going to recommend what works for me.
The Maxima products — Clean Up chain cleaner and Chain Wax — are the perfect one-two punch for chain maintenance. Clean Up does an excellent job of removing dirt, debris and and acting as a degreaser for old gross lube while at the same time being gentle on the delicate O-rings inside your chain. Chain wax is a spray-on chain lube that goes on wet and then dries into a waxy coating that resists coming off and doesn’t encourage dirt to stick to it. The best part is that Maxima offers it in a combo pack with a decent penetrating lubricant as a bonus.
As we’ve already established, cleaning motorcycle chains sucks. It’s greasy, grimy work and depending on how nasty you’ve let your chain get, it can be hard work, too. Having a good chain-cleaning brush in your cleaning kit is a huge help and my personal favorite brush is the Grunge Brush.
The Grunge Brush has stiff bristles that clean your chain on three sides at once, plus longer bristles at the other end for getting into your sprocket teeth and so on. It’s cheap and effective and it even has replaceable brushes, so you’re not constantly buying new ones. When paired with a good chain cleaning solvent like Maxima’s Clean Up, this makes the work of chain maintenance a whole lot easier.
There are a zillion different wheel cleaners on the market and they all do something a little different, but one of the things I like best about the S100 motorcycle wheel cleaner is that it is a thicker, more gel-like formula which sticks to your wheels better. It does a great job of getting brake dust, dirt and other grime off as well.
The other nice thing about the S100 Motorcycle Wheel Cleaner is that it’s gentle, which means it’s safe on all kinds of wheels — be they painted, powder-coated, aluminum, magnesium or stainless steel. If your bike’s wheels are too dirty for normal bike wash to take care of, grab a spray bottle of this.
Unlike most cars these days, it’s easy to buy a brand new motorcycle with a bunch of chrome. And chrome looks great until it starts to dull or pit, but then it looks like crap. Thankfully the solution to that dull chrome problem is easy: Just polish it!
If you’re going to undertake that task, you’re going to need a good chrome polish compound and one of my personal favorites comes straight outta Germany. It’s called Simichrome and it works really, really well. All you need to do is apply the elbow grease with a microfiber towel using this metal polish and get ready to be blinded by the shine.
If you’re detecting a theme with the S100 products here, you’re not mistaken. The fact is that S100 offers some of the best motorcycle-specific cleaning and detailing products around and at reasonable prices. Still, what if you don’t necessarily want to buy each product by itself? Thankfully there’s a motorcycle cleaning kit.
The S100 detailing kit comes with everything you’ll need to detail your motorcycle short of a hose and water — including a drying towel. Even better, it comes in a tidy little carrying case, so you can keep all your motorcycle cleaning supplies together and not let things get lost in the back of some dank, daddy longlegs-infested garage cabinet over the winter.
Everybody knows that riding with a motorcycle helmet is a good idea — hell, it’s even the law in most places. What people might not know is that while keeping your helmet clean is a good thing, using chemicals is a huge no-no — even on the outside. Luckily, there are a few great helmet cleaning products on the market and my favorite comes from Motul.
The Motul helmet spray not only does an epic job of loosening dried on bugs and dirt from the shell of your helmet, it also offers up a nice shine that is more resistant to getting bugs stuck on it in the future. Spray it on, let it soak and wipe it off.
For the inside of your helmet, never try and clean the pads and liner when they’re still inside the shell. Always remove them and wash them gently according to your helmet manufacturer’s guidelines.
Comparison of the best motorcycle cleaners for 2021
|Best general motorcycle cleaner overall||S100||Total Motorcycle Cleaner||$15|
|Best general motorcycle cleaner overall runner-up||Muc-Off||Nano-Tech Motorcycle Cleaner||$16|
|Best motorcycle quick detailer||S100||Detail & Wax Spray||$15|
|Best waterless motorcycle wash||Muc-Off||High-Performance Waterless Wash||$18|
|Best motorcycle chain cleaner and lube||Maxima||Clean Up & Chain Wax||$28|
|Best motorcycle chain cleaning brush||Finish Line||The Grunge Brush||$14|
|Best motorcycle wheel cleaner||S100||Motorcycle Wheel Cleaner||$21|
|Best motorcycle chrome cleaner and polish||Simichrome||Simichrome||$14|
|Best complete motorcycle cleaning kit||S100||Detailing Kit||$50|
|Best motorcycle helmet cleaner||Motul||Helmet Clean Spray||$8|
Motorcycle cleaner notes
The visual benefits of keeping a clean bike are pretty obvious, I mean, more shiny is more better, right? But there are some performance and safety benefits, too. For example, if your bike is filthy, it can be hard to see if you’ve suddenly sprung a leak of some vital fluid (usually oil).
Some road crud can be corrosive over time to the exposed steel and aluminum parts of your motorcycle, not to mention the fasteners that hold things onto your bike. You thought changing out that clutch was going to be easy, didn’t you? It would have been if you hadn’t left a bunch of road salt all over the bike for months. Now it’s broken-bolt city, population: you.
The performance benefits are more subtle but no less real. This is especially true when it comes to chain maintenance. Just think, if your motorcycle has to fight the friction of a dry, dirty or corroded chain, then that’s power lost. If you’re on a, that’s not a big deal, but if you’re on a 20-horsepower motorcycle like the I recently reviewed, you might just notice.
Keep your bike clean with a well-stocked motorcycle care kit, and make your life easy.