Riding a motorcycle is fun. Cleaning a motorcycle is not! In fact, I despise cleaning my bikes. Every now and then, I rub the smashed flies from the headlight but otherwise… . They’re built to be ridden, not to be rinsed, right? That’s why I end up with a dilemma after every season when I have to get off the dirt from thousands of miles before the bikes are prepared for winter. But what’s the best way to clean a bike anyway?
Forget your pressure cleaner. I once saw a guy involuntarily peel off the decals from his sport bike using a pressure cleaner. Turned out to be quite an expensive washing session for that bloke. Forget that method as well if you ride something you built yourself. You know from the beginning which parts and corners will not survive that high pressure water jet, don’t you? And, last but not least, avoid that method if you’re riding anything two-wheeled from Italy. Why? Simple: Italian bikes, more precisely all of their parts being in contact with electric current, don’t cope well with water. I know about nice Italian bikes going up in flames after a simple ride through the rain. This leaves you with a bucket of soapy water and a rag. And we all know that you’ll end up with torn fingers and discovering dirty patches you missed once the bike has dried up. Go on, have fun!
This year, French company Vulcanet came to my rescue by sending me a sample of their wet wipes designed especially to clean bikes, bicycles, cars or boats. (Beware: these are not the kind of wipes you use on the bog the day after you had some hot curry at your favorite Indian restaurant.) Salvation? Let’s see…
The wipes come in a black container the size of a large milk carton. It contains a roll with 85 to 88 pre-perforated wipes. With a retail price of 45€ per container, this means a single wipe costs around 50 cent. You’ll find a microfiber cloth inside the lid which is essential for the cleaning procedure. You can easily tear off a single wipe from the roll but should remember to close the lid afterwards to prevent them from drying up. They smell a bit strong as soon as you open the container but nothing dramatic. No skin irritations neither despite using them without any gloves.
At the time I tested the Vulcanet wipes, I had 4 bikes in different states of filthiness in my garage. One garage built bike that was only slightly dirty since it didn’t run too much over summer (damn carburetor). Then, there was a Ducati Scrambler that has been washed at the dealership three months ago when it was serviced. Then, there was a Sportster Forty-Eight that hasn’t been cleaned at all in 2017 and last but not least, a 1937 Sarolea sporting dust and dirt from 40 years of sleep in a barn. Since I like swift results, I started with the custom bike and I have to admit I was very convinced. Since most of this bike’s parts a painted, I managed to clean the whole bike in less than 15 minutes with one single wipe. I learned to make a plan how to use your wipes most efficiently: start with a fresh, wet towel to clean everything smooth and painted as well as everything made of rubber or plastic. Then, as you wipe becomes drier and dirtier, move forward to the less forgiving areas such as the wheels or the engine. The wet wipes leave a thin layer of moisture that has to be wiped over with the microfiber cloth once it has dried up. The result really is astonishing.
So let’s move on to the next bike, i.e. the Sportster. As it is pretty filthy I decide to rub of the hardened mud and filth on the base of the frame. I know this is a review but I’m still not keen to burn money in terms of 50 cent wipes. Then, I start with the painted parts followed by the rubber and plastic parts and finish with the seat. Just as before, this works pretty fine and took me two wipes. Then, I found out that the Vulcanet wipes are no more a miracle product than any conventional cleaner when it comes to rubbing of the month old, dried flies. Anyway, I managed to get rid of the cemetery with on wipe and some ferocious rubbing.
Now if you own certain H-D models, specifically those that come with the black engine painted in that rough black paint, be aware that the wipes are completely useless here. They are torn apart as soon as you wipe over these black parts. Those somewhat smoother but still kind of rough heat shields on the exhaust pipes are a no-go as well so you need a brush or a standard cloth for the engine. But in the end, the Sportster shines like new with 4 or 5 wipes after half of an hour. So this cost me around two to two and a half euros which seems legit to me.
Cleaning the Scrambler takes more or less the same effort and three to four wipes. No wrinkle-paint here, so it can be cleaned completely with the wipes. And in the end, just out of curiosity, I tried how Vulcanet copes with 40-year-old filth. I have to say it works pretty well, but seeing how fast the wipes are soiled and useless, I’d probably end up using half of the container to clean that old bike.
So what’s the conclusion? I think the Vulcanet wipes work pretty fine and allow cleaning your bike fast and easy. If you wonder why the hell you should pay 45 bucks for wipes that do the same as the old bucket and cloth you used over the last decades, you should consider the advantagesof a clean bike in a jiffy without any water, hoses, wet floors or any other inconvenience. You can even pack a few wipes in an airtight bag if you want to keep your bike clean on your next road trip or bike show (Vulcanet has a travel kit made for this purpose on offer). But in my opinion, the biggest advantage of the Vulcanet cleaning wipes is the fact that you can easily clean your bike in only a couple of minutes. Do this once or twice a month, and you can forget those hours of cleaning and said end-of-season-dilemma. I promised myself to be a good boy next year and use the Vulcanets more often.
You can get your container of Vulcanet wipes at selected retail stores or directly on Vulcanet’s WEBSITE.