Let it shine!
Polishing paintwork - the proper way
Gleaming paintwork is always a feast for the eyes – the sure way to attract admiring looks when you take your bike out on the road! But apart from simply looking great, well maintained paintwork is also a necessity to give the metal underneath lasting protection against the elements, rust and corrosion.
Once your paintwork has gone dull and matt, it is basically no longer offering reliable protection against the elements – it has become porous and is probably covered with barely visible stone chip damage. This is the moment when corrosion begins its insidious assault on your motorbike. To prevent this, you need to seal the paint with a polishing wax after every wash. After numerous quick and less than thorough washes, or after long periods in storage, your paintwork will get dull, neglected looking and slightly rough (a wad of cotton wool wiped over the surface leaves behind fibres). But don't panic – a good paint restorer will return your trusty steed to its former glory. Because paint restorers are slightly abrasive, you should only use them if you've been unable to restore the mirror finish with washing and polishing alone. They smooth out any surface roughness, fine scratches and the effects of weathering. Applied correctly, they not only restore your paintwork to a healthy all-over shine and reduce or even eliminate fine scratches, they also go a long way to maintaining the resale value of your bike and ensuring it is once again optimally protected.
However, polishing your paintwork does requires a methodical approach. Get it wrong and instead of an even mirror finish, you may end up with a surface covered in streaks and fine circular scratches.
Before starting to polish, you must ensure that your bike's paintwork is as clean as you can possibly get it. If there are still traces of dirt, you may well end up with fine scratches all over. So don't start polishing until you have thoroughly cleaned and dried the paintwork. If your bike is really heavily soiled (like the "hibernated" bike shown here), you will need to carefully remove all the dirt first.
Use a liquid cleaner that dissolves dirt. Spray it on from the prescribed distance and leave a few minutes for it to work (check the instructions for use on your chosen cleaner).
Then wash off with water. Any residual dirt must be removed carefully with a clean sponge, or you may need to re-apply the cleaner – the less you have to scrub and rub, the better.
Caution: Choose a paint restorer most suited to the degree of weathering on the surface you are treating – this will ensure that you achieve optimum results without rubbing off too much of the paint. Avoid applying the paint restorer to unpainted plastic and rubber parts, as it tends to leave ugly milky streaks that are really hard to get rid of. Don't apply the restorer in direct sunlight or to areas heated up by the sun.
The washed and dried paintwork will appear slightly rough, matt and blotchy. Now apply the paint restorer with a soft, clean cloth using gentle circular strokes.
Leave the paint restorer a few minutes to work. Then buff up with circular strokes using a clean, dry, soft cloth and applying gentle pressure. If cleaning larger surface areas, treat them in sections of approx. 50 x 50 cm. Don't apply too much pressure when polishing, as this may make the end result look a little "cloudy" or, worst case scenario, can even result in rub marks or "scorched" paintwork.
Once you have finished polishing, the paintwork should feel uniformly smooth to your finger tips and already have quite a good shine – cotton wool no longer leaves behind fibres.
To increase the shine still further and, above all, to maximise protection against harmful environmental influences, you should finish off by applying a polishing wax.
Spray on the gloss wax and leave for a few minutes.
Then polish again with a clean and dry soft cloth using circular strokes and applying slight pressure to "massage" the wax into the paint.
And the reward for all your hard work? A fantastic mirror finish – your machine is gleaming again, and a delight to look at!
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These tips for DIY mechanics contain general recommendations that may not apply to all vehicles or all individual components. As local conditions may vary considerably, we are unable to guarantee the correctness of information in these tips for DIY mechanics.
Thank you for your understanding.
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