A rider is exposed to the elements of choice, but each and every one will, at some stage be forced upon the rider, whether they like it or not!
Of course when riding on the black stuff on dry and sunny days, both rider and machine can be kept Harley clean and shiny…and let’s be honest, there are only a select few who really enjoy washing and polishing chrome to within an inch of its life. If and when I own such a bike, I’d probably keep it for the better days and use an old rat for the rides in changeable weather.
I suppose starting off on dirt bikes as a boy taught me to never be too bothered about a bit of dirt or rain…or the mud mix. Get a high pressure hose on it after the ride and it’ll be good to go again…but there were many times I’d even forego the hose in favour of just dumping it in the barn and rushing indoors to watch the Dukes of Hazzard on TV.
So jump forward nearly 40years and I’m still the same. I don’t particularly like having a dirty bike but I still don’t enjoy washing it or getting into all of the nooks and crannies either. Yes, the bike gets a regular hose down and occasional pressure wash with a bit of soap, but rarely gets the spit and polish treatment…and the big reason for this, is that I know the very next day I’ll be getting it dirty again when I get out on the dirt tracks.
This has nothing to do with pride of appearance but more to do with practicality and a pragmatic approach to my riding. I’ve never shied away from taking any bike I’ve ridden, onto the mud whether it was suited to it or not however, I’ve learned to do what was required to keep a bike clean and free of rust.
Although riding in the summer has it’s advantages, there is one thing that does tend to annoy…SUICIDAL BUGS! Getting splatter all over the bike and yourself, helmet or even in your teeth…may keep you in the good graces of a TV survivalist but in the real world it looks like you’ve been ravaged by a plagued of locusts who’ve decided to crap all over your splendour. To add insult to injury, it’ll probably take until winter time until the bike eventually sheds all of the bug remains and looks clean and smooth…even in death they are resilient little buggers!
So unless you’re really obsessive about keeping your bike sparkling clean, then my advice would be just to give it a regular hose down and leave the deep clean for the wedding day ride when it really needs to look its best. There are lots of products on the market that can be used to help protect the paintwork in the periods in-between or there are even treatments that can be applied that will cover the bike in a protective film that’ll keep it armoured for a few years too. This gives you more time to ride and less need to fuss over washing and polishing for ages.
Of course, if you’re never going to ride on dirt tracks or in wet conditions, then the task of keeping the bike Harley clean is a lot easier. But if you’re anything like me, then you’ll want to ride your bike as often as you can in any conditions. If you’re as unlucky as I am, then no matter how well you plan your dry road ride…it’ll turn into a soaking wet, mud fest…so just go with it and if you really must wash the bike if it gets dirty, then do so as soon as you get back to your base…wet dirt is a lot easier to wash off than dry dirt! Although, during the winter months I would say have a hose pipe at the ready after each ride, simply to wash off the road salt and grime that can attack the bike over a period of time.
Right, that’s enough chat about dirt, soap and massacres…time to ride into more badlands and backwaters…or perhaps just to the local shops to get some milk!