It's a sad reality that in the northeast United States, winter causes most of us to put away our motorbikes for the cold weather season. We do our best to "winterize" our bikes, but there's always a little maintenance to be done when Spring rolls around. One of those tasks includes polishing up the chrome (for those of us with cruiser type bikes).
Aside from making your bike look pretty, polishing is a necessary step in maintaining the integrity of the metal on your bike (as you'll see I've failed to do in the past).
Step 1: Supplies
- Polish Cream (You can find chrome polish at any auto repair store)
- A Shop Towel (Preferably Lint Free)
A Rotary Tool with a Polishing bit
Step 2: Take Inventory and Give a Good Wipedown
When you take the cover off your bike you'll see the damage that needs to be dealt with. My bike has a bit more than normal as I've neglected to polish it for quite a while. Before you apply a polishing cream you should take a very lightly damp cloth (water on metal = bad) and wipe the metal down to remove any light dirt
Step 3: Applying Polish
Rather than applying polish to your tool and going at it, it's much easier to rub it on your work surface first. Then you can start working it in. If you are using a towel I recommend the shoe polish method. Wrap two fingers with the shop rag and rub in small circles. If you are using a rotary tool you can just go crazy with it. The tool does the work for you.
You've polished enough when the polish turns black and streaky.
Step 4: Buffing
Buffing might be the most tedious part of the process. You need to make sure you get into every little nook or you'll have a streaky looking finish.
After you're done polishing, take a clean part of your towel and wipe the remaining polish off. I like to start with a slow detailed rubbing followed by a lite finishing wipe.
Step 5: Getting the Hard Stuff
The joint where the exhaust meets the engine is commonly susceptible to rust and heat corrosion. This can be a real pain to clean up. Unfortunately, the solution to getting this part done is taking your time. It can be difficult to got a rotary tool in this small area so I stroked my beard and got my hands in there.
When your fingers have cramped and you don't think you can go on, just give it another minute or two.
Step 6: Cleaning the Stubborn Parts That Didn't Clean Up the First Time
I mentioned earlier that I had neglected to polish my bike for quite a while. The bend on this pipe is partially damaged so I knew it wouldn't clean up perfectly but I knew I could get it better with a second try.
If something didn't clean up to your liking the first time, put some polish on the trouble spot and let it sit for a few minutes. I took this opportunity to buff the rest of the bike.
As you can see, I couldn't get it perfect but there was an obvious improvement.
Step 7: Feel Impressed With Your Shiny Bike
The process can take as long as you want, pending your level of OCD. I spent about 45 minutes working on it but I still have another side, the headlight and the handlebars. You should be able to do a full, thorough job in about 2 - 3 hours. (Music and suds can help)
A shiny finished product and the knowledge that you're protecting your ride is the justified reward for your efforts. I hope this was helpful!