View Full Version : Help with detailing bikes.

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09-28-2006, 07:31 PM
As some of you know, I have a side bizs of detailing. A few of my customers ask me about detailing bikes. What's the going rate? Where do I start? What I can't get wet? I'm thinking it's the same process as a vehicle. Anything I need to look for? I told them I've never done a bike before, and let me do some research before I give them a price. So if anyone has done this, or detailing bikes now, I would appreciate it.

09-28-2006, 08:20 PM
I would talk to "3Dog" if I were you. His business is hogtailing. :)

09-29-2006, 04:58 AM
I would talk to "3Dog" if I were you. His business is hogtailing. :)
Hogtailing LOL!! Well it's two hogs and one rice burner.

EDIT I sent 3Dog PM. Thanks FN

09-29-2006, 10:31 AM

I can offer some minimal advice (as I ride and take care of my own ride)...

First, you "can" use water, but do so easily. For example, do not use high pressure towards the carbs, intakes, and electronics. I use to do a standard hoze wash, but for the past three years, I've switched to simply spritzing water from a spray bottle, and gently rubbing with a towel.

Next, be very careful of pinstriping. Some of the pinstripers don't use auto quality paint, so it can be taken off (expecially if you try to use power buffers).

Finally, some wheels (like my Goldwing) are bare aluminum (not the clearcoat stuff like on my BMW 330 convertible), so they potentially can take lots of work. If you use any type of aluminum polish, make sure that you either use something with a protectant in it, or put some type of wax on after you finish.

DO NOT put any tire shine on the tires.

If the bike has a windshield, be gentle. These are made of either plexiglass or Lexan. They scratch very easily. Be sure and use straight strokes and minimal pressure. DO NOT put RainX on them or they turn milky.

I don't do a "professional job" on mine, but at least once a week, I spritz and wipe it down, and hit it with a quick detailer (Meguiar's NXT Speed Detailer). About once a month, I apply wax (Mequiar's NXT Tech Wax). I use Flitz polish on the wheels, but Mother's Billet Polish works great as well.

A word of warning... If you think auto owners are finicky about "their baby", you ain't seen nothin' yet. Screw up a motorcycle and it might just be the last thing that you ever do. ;-)

09-29-2006, 10:52 AM
WOW, talk about info! Thanks TedGamble, man thanks alot.
1 No power wash(wash, rinse hose only).
2 Be careful around the pinstripes
3 No tire shine (I have DP wheel gel, cleans tires to look new so I can use that).
4 Paint (AIO by hand, then wax)
5 Windshield (plexus)
6 Wheels (Mother's Billet Polish powerball)

How that?

09-29-2006, 11:21 AM
1 No power wash(wash, rinse hose only).
Yep - Favor the "spray" and not the "stream"

3 No tire shine (I have DP wheel gel, cleans tires to look new so I can use that).
I'd suggest NO stuff on the wheels except regular wash products. ANYTHING on the sidewalls can seep onto the treads, thereby making the tires slick and loose traction. Traction is a fundamental requirement of motorcycles and you don't want to negatively impact it.

5 Windshield (plexus)
Plexus is a great RainX substitute. I keep a layer on my windshield because I ride over 15k miles a year, and it really helps in the rain.

6 Wheels (Mother's Billet Polish powerball)
A man after my own heart.

09-29-2006, 01:20 PM
Since my process on a new customers bike is about six hours I will try to hit all the points but may miss a few, so dont hesitate to ask questions.
Removeseat, bags, winshield, etc. Cover speakers on touring models.
First thing is to use a citrus foaming cleaner on the bottom of bike....this will be the closest thing to the road (besides tires) and usually the most forgotten. Foam it, clean with soft brush, rinse.
Next is to lift the bike with a bike jack (this is a must have) Learn the right frame positions on bike making sure both wheels are lifting evenly.
Then we use a pre-wash solution, let soak then rinse..on a multi-function spray we use the shower setting for everything.
Next is the foam gun used as another pre-wash..soak..then rinse. We dont not use the foam gun as you normally would on a car...foaming the body and mitt as you wash because the areas are just to small.
Now for the buckets..a double-sided rubbermaid bucket for tires.....dual(2) retangular buckets on a dual dolly for EZ Brushes..3 brushes dedicated to wheels, motor and frame. A dual dolly 2.5 gal buckets for paint and chrome.
All buckets have some form of grit guard. For the dual rubbermaid bucket we use a painters grid to agitate the brushes in the rinse side.
To clean tires we use TOL tire cleaner (cut).....Please note that because of paint, chrome, aluminum and such in close proximity to each other, all cleaners are cut to approximately 50%. We have modified a plastic wheel shield to place against the wheels to keep tire cleaner off of wheels and spokes. After spraying with tire cleaner and agitating with brush we rinse. Note the we treat each side of one tire independantly. After rinsing tire cleaner we spray tire again with Scrubbing Bubbles and agitate with a Mr Clean pad and rinse (this process is for WW) If WW's are neglected we will will use Duragloss WW cleaner. The final step on tires is normal wash solution in the double bucket and using a MF wash the entire tire, treads and all. And of course rinse again. In the whole process of washing we will rinse 25+ times.
I will continue with our process shortly..got to do a little work.

09-29-2006, 03:53 PM
Thank you 3Dog, for the info, I need all I can get. You covered about everything it looks like to me. Thank you guys, for telling me what products to use and what cut I will need. How ever I need to make me a shield so I can keep the tire cleaner off of wheels and spokes.

TedGamble, early I put DP wheel gel, I should have put DP wheel gel cleaner sorry my bad. It's a cleaner, not a tire shine. It deep cleans and the tire looks like new rubber. Awesome stuff, wish I order a gallon now.

09-29-2006, 04:10 PM
Wheels (spokes) Using our two rectangular buckets and EF Power Wash+. We do the washing with a dedicated EZ Brush and and MF. We first spray with Wheel Gel (Menz) then clean with brush and use MF around lip of rim, then rinse "thourghly". Check and re-wash if necessary.We do not move to disc rotor untill the wheel is completed. The tendancy with bikes seeming smaller than cars is to do way to many things at once. Break down in small sections and rinse often.
If dealing with a unfinished rotor we will use a 3M scrub pad. If rotor is chrome we use a MR Clean Pad. The slot in a rotor can be tricky and with chrome you will have to find a system that is workable by you ( we use Pimp Stixxx and MF). With unfinished rotor slots we use brushes and rods from a gun cleaning kit. After cleaning we wash with soap and a animal hair/china paint brush. Normally your lower forks and calipers will be picked up at this time. Since we use a varity of wheels creepers the PS100 polishing soap is always on hand. We use a variety of shapes and sizes of honeycomb pads for the polishing soap. There are different schools of thought on how to use polishing soap. We prefer to use it and then wash areas again with wash soap.
If you are new to EZ Brush you will probably not have any that have be rotated out. We use those to clean the underside of fenders. You could find a suitable replacement for this but make sure it is dedicated to only that use.
Throughout all this process you should have rinse at least every couple of minutes.
The process of cleaning the frame can entail numerous MF towels (small) paint brushes and an EZ Brush...using same buckets and wash solution from wheels.
Next is the engine.

09-29-2006, 04:23 PM
Cleaning the motor will involve using EZ Brush, paint brushes, Pimp Stixx w/MF and polishing soap. Exhaust will be done at this time also. Rinse, Rinse, Rinse.
You should be at around the two hour mark now aready to do the handbars and paint. This is were we use the dual dolly with 2.5 gal buckets. We will use polishing soap first with honeycomb pads and paint brushes. Rinse well and the move to washing with open back sheepskin mitts. The washing is pretty straight forward remebering to rinse often...wash front fender, rinse..wash gas tank, rinse..etc, ect.
We dry with a combination of Black Baron dryer and WW. For controls is works good to hold a MF on the backside while blowing. On wheels you can spend way to long try to get them dry with just a blower. Water tend to want to rotate around the wheel. Much easier to blow out the majorty of water then hit with the MF.
Plexus on the windshield.....then we will hit it again with Blackfire Plastic Cleaner and Polish.

09-29-2006, 04:29 PM
Some of the wash cycle products we use (substitutions can be made):
Some brand of foaming citrus cleaner
DP Foam Gun Soap
EF Power Wash+ with PB Bug Squash added.
Scrubbing Bubbles
Menz Wheel Gel
PS100 Polishing Soap.
Tire Cleaner (cut)
Blackfire Plastic C/P
Clay (was not mentioned in wash process but we do this at the time we wash the paint)
If you want any info on the rest of out procedure (post wash) let me know.
And by the way (per our process) every bike we do leaves our shop with tire dressing. We have never had a problem yet.

09-29-2006, 05:40 PM

I certainly appreciate all that you do in a detail job. I looks like you do everything. I guess all of this is required for show bikes, etc. Hearing all that you do, I understand why folks would pay for your services.

Me - I prefer ride over shine... ;-)

09-29-2006, 07:19 PM
Good lord man! I never knew there was so much to detailing a bike. I'll stick to cars thank you very much.

09-29-2006, 07:34 PM
I don't know if I want to take these bikes on or not! What the heck, I love a good chalenge. Thanks guys for the info!

03-25-2007, 05:54 PM
Sorry to bring up an old post but I figured that would be better than starting a new one looking for the same info. I had a guy ask me to do two of his bikes(pardon my ignorance but I'm not to familiar with bikes) but one is a late 90's harley soft tail and the other is a 1986 harley "liberty edition" with a custom sidecar. I told the guy I would need to do research as I have never done a bike before. I got alot of info from 3dogs post but I was just wondering the best way to price the job and any tips anyone has learned since the last post. Thanks in advance.