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




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


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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?


Icon claim back the streets in their latest, epic video



Street’s Not Dead.

Regular readers will know that we eagerly await anything released from the US streetwear firm Icon Motorsports. So the moment that a video drops from the Portland firm we’re bound to pay attention.

That’s an interest piqued double when they post it alongside what is essentially a call to arms…

“Street’s not dead. If you think it went away, you’d be wrong. Street’s still here undermining pompous authority, rejecting standards, and bucking the status quo..”

And they’re not kidding either. With the Icon clad rider thrashing their Kawasaki ZX-10R through city streets, car parks and even a public fountain at one point, there’s a lot to take in.

Couple that with their usual loud, Icon style and you’ve certainly got a statement of intent.

(Don’t try this at home kids).



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Ex-Skully Helmet bosses theft claims ‘without merit’; case dropped



Lawsuit against founders of Skully, the failed connected helmet-maker reportedly dropped.

The dream of an augmented reality projecting, heads-up display motorcycle helmet has been offered by a few companies over recent years, but there have been none more famous and fabled than Californian technology Start-up Skully.

Launched via Indiegogo in 2014 the company managed to raise $2,446,824 in crowdsourced funds to help them deliver their AR-1 helmet. However despite securing another whopping $11 million in additional investor funding, after much delay and negative press, the company announced in August of 2016 that they were closing; and that few (if any) of the helmets promised would be delivered.

Of the many reports with regards to the company’s inability to ship a final product, the most voracious and damaging of all where the ones surrounding the alleged misappropriation of funds by the two founding brothers of the company, Mitchell and Marcus Weller.

In a lawsuit filed by ex-employee Isabelle Faithauer who claimed wrongful dismissal, Faithauer filed a complaint claiming that the ‘Wellers used Skully corporate accounts as their personal piggy banks’ and that they had demanded that Faithauer ‘conceal the true nature of the expenses by entering them in Skully’s books to make it appear that the expenses were incurred for legitimate business expenses, which in fact they were clearly not’.

Amongst the list of falsely claimed expenses, the lawsuit detailed such payments being made on a variety of items, from Grocery Bills through to a pair of Dodge Vipers and a $13,000 trip to Las Vegas.

Once news of the lawsuit broke – and the details within it emerged – forums, message-boards and Indiegogo themselves were inundated with hundreds of customers and product investors furious at the alleged misuse of their funds; not to mention the lack of actual helmet that they had paid for.

Whilst it may not have been the absolute reason for Skully’s failure, there is no doubt that the negative press and legal expenses surrounding the case did not come at the best time for the company and had played a significant role in the ultimate closure of the business.

However it’s been brought to Motofire’s attention – via an anonymous message online – that the plaintiff for the case, Isabelle Faithauer herself has now withdrawn her claims that and has in fact admitted that her accusations made in the lawsuit could be construed as being ‘without merit’.

According to the document that we have been sent, Faithauer states that after her dismissal from Skully, Inc in December 2015 she was ‘upset’ and that during the discovery phase of her case by her attorney she soon came to learn that ‘many facts, documents, and information th’ uncovered ‘could lead a reasonable jury to conclude that [her] claims were totally without merit’.

She states that it is for this reason that she dismissed her claims against the Wellers in an agreement to settle for mutual release of claims. The document is signed 28th of December 2017.

Motofire have attempted to contact both Faithauer and her Attorney to confirm the veracity of the statement we have received but at the time of publishing have not received reply.

It’s another intriguing twist in a company tale and story that seems to refuse to lay down and die and whatever the truth, there is no doubt that Skully tapped into the desire for motorcyclists to utilise greater technology within their day-to-day riding, and that the heads-up technology envisioned by the company will eventually be developed successfully.

In fact, since the initial closure of Skully helmets, a new consortium have taken ownership of the brand and have promised to release their version of the AR-1 helmet – now appropriately titled the Fenix – in the summer of 2018.

Neither of the Weller brothers have any involvement in the new setup.

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