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How to… Clean your bike, properly [Part 1]

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Is your cleaner killing your bike?

We all know that if you don’t clean your bike regularly and properlythe salt, flies, oil, grit and everything else the road chucks at it, will ruin the paint and metalwork, get into the wiring and stop things like chains and brakes working properly.. It’ll also make it look very second-hand, very quickly.

Cleaning can do just as much damage as it prevents though: did you know that even bike-specific cleaning products could actually be making your bike’s finish worse?

We asked Dr Mario Kraft, deputy head of research and development at Dr O.K. Wack Chemie GmbH – developers of the SDoc100 range of motorcycle care products – why:

‘Most metals, as we know, corrode or oxidise once they are exposed to our atmosphere, hence what you find on a motorcycle has a protective layer or element to them, for example stainless steel or anodized aluminium. That layer also protects against other substances that may come into contact with it, such as the chemicals in your chosen cleaner.
If – through either accidental damage or through abrasion from brushes or particles in cloths and sponges – this layer is damaged, it will leave the bare metal exposed to oxidisation, but apply an aggressive substance to this exposed area each time you wash it and that substance can also damage the metal.’

This problem isn’t restricted to metals though, certain chemicals – and combinations of them – can also have a devastating effect on your body panels and screen.
Dr Mario explained: ‘Commonly Plexiglas or Polycarbonates are used for the transparent plastics. The latter, in combination with Acrylic Nitril Styrene (ABS), for most of the other plastic parts.

Plexiglas and Polycarbonate are sensitive towards a number of different chemicals, especially solvents or surfactants commonly used in household products, which can cause Environmental Stress Cracking (ECS), normally at the parts which are under tension: where they’re mounted to the bike.

The tricky thing is that the parts prone to ECS are normally hidden. So you believe you rinsed off the bike well, but the chemical can still be present and able to cause damage over time.’

So what’s actually doing the damage? The key, according to Dr Mario, is the pH rating – how acidic the product is.

But it’s not as straightforward as high pH bad, low pH good:

‘A high pH-value does not necessarily mean bad compatibility with metals, because there are powerful corrosion inhibitors available strong enough to protect even sensitive aluminium, and a neutral cleaning agent might be still capable of attacking metal surfaces. Furthermore, often you are not able to find out which pH-value the product has, since they’re seldom stated on the label.’

Another factor to be aware of is age. Do you know how long that bottle of cleaner you just bought was in the shop/warehouse, and how they stored it? Where are you keeping it? And how long has it been there?

The chemical makeup of a cleaning solution can change over time and through exposure to extreme heat or cold; what’s in the bottle now might be subtly different to what was originally.

Dr Mario added: ‘We perform storage and stability tests with each formulation we want to introduce in the market. We store each formulation at different temperatures over a three month period and check that the physical parameters are still the same as they are freshly mixed.

Effectively, we simulate a time lapse so we can guarantee a shelf life of 5 years, and you’ll find a production date and lot number on the label of our products.’

So, what should you be looking for and which cleaning products should you be avoiding?

Washing up liquid is designed for washing pots and pans, not bikes, but the same can be said of car shampoo: how much care has been taken to make sure that doesn’t react badly with the surfaces and materials found on a modern bike?

Even some cleaning products that profess to be motorcycle-specific are very simple in composition, and although they often give the impression of a quick cleaning action, they can cause lasting damage.

The golden rules are:

– Go for something you know has been properly developed by people who understand motorcycles and the surfaces/materials that make them up. Read their promotional material, go on their website and even ring them to be sure you trust it

– If you can, get an all-in-one cleaner, that contains an active degreaser, anti-corrosion additives, is acid/alkali-free and you’re happy will protect all the machine’s surfaces, especially sensitive ones like aluminium and black chrome

– Try to find one that has a ‘spray-on-rinse-off’ formula, so you don’t need to start rubbing on sensitive areas

– If you’re not 100% sure, put a small amount onto the surface and check for any adverse effects

Shiny.

Phil's probably the shortest motorcycle journalist on the planet, standing just 5ft 4in, but has almost certainly got the longest beard in the industry (we've not measured it yet). Cruiser test then?

GEAR

Review: Pando Moto Boss jeans are the most comfortable we’ve ever ridden in

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Everyone makes abrasive-reinforced denim these days, but Pando Moto are quietly changing the game.

We’ve written about Pando Moto before here on MF. Back in January we were impressed by the quality of their offering – seen only through their catalogue – and their direction that seemed to be ‘making motorcycle clothing for real people’.

But is that promise kept all the way through to riding with them on the bike?

(Pando Moto wanted us to check out the quality of their new jeans, they sent us a new pair to wear – and keep.)

The first thing that grabbed us about the Pando Moto denim on the Boss Black jeans that we were sent, was the stretchy’ness of the denim. For those people who like to wear their slim-fit denim on the bike, but find the cut of most of them unable to keep up with the demands of fast riding, the freedom of movement offered by both the tailoring and the extremely stretchy 13oz denim was a huge benefit.

Armour is provided by knee inserts from Knox and there are hip inserts available too (although you’ll have to buy those yourself – they’re not provided in the box).

With a myriad fabric choice now being available in the ‘abrasion resistant’ arena, the comfort of knowing that your legs are going to protected by good, reliable DuPont Kevlar can’t be understated and – although thankfully we can’t vouch for their strength within a crash – the furry, yellow fabric is positioned in all of the right places and we’re certain that it’ll keep our skin happier than just wearing denim on its own.

There’s no denying that Kevlar is hot however, so whilst the slim-fit of the denim might be welcome, the lack of airflow and warmth from the kevlar next to your skin will mean that you’ll find yourself with a sweaty set of pins by the time you’ve reached your destination.

But whilst the skinny fit might make you a slave to fashion, the little details of the jean show that Pando Moto have thought things through with more focus than most; the one feature that impressed us more than perhaps it should have with the Pando Moto Boss jeans was the clever little reflective strip on the inside seam of the bottom of the legs… When you turnover the jeans – as our little legs AND fashion dictate is a must – that reflective ribbon provides a fantastic extra nod to safety.

We’ve spent just a few days riding in the Pando Moto jeans now, but we honestly haven’t ridden with a more comfortable, more pleasing pair of motorcycle denim than these.

Thoroughly recommended.

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Dainese’s 3D custom leather configurator is ridiculously brilliant!

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You too can design the best – or most hideous – custom leathers available.

If you were wondering why the quantity of articles on Motofire has recently slowed to a snail’s pace, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s to do with the fact that we’ve put the site up for sale.

BUT if we’re being honest, the last couple of day’s worth of articles didn’t get published because we were too busy messing about with Dainese’s new custom works configurator for their race leathers.

Seriously, go and take a look, it’s brilliant… And you can pretty much alter every component of your race suit.

Accessible via the website, the brand-new 3D configurator allows each motorcyclist to completely personalise their leather suit, jacket or pants in real time, with a simple, set of interactive toggles and widgets.

You can even upload logos and words.

Once it’s all done, you then just need to make an appointment with your local Dainese custom works centre who will then take your measurements and get you on the way to one-off Dainese suit heaven.

OR you could get the design we produced made in honour of Motofire and you’ll be well on your way to the Milan catwalks!

Source: Dainese

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