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IBMWR Bike Cleaning FAQ

How To Keep You Beemer Clean
a step-by-step guide for the anal retentive
by Bill Shaw (

1. Tools of the Trade
2. Bath Time!
3. Polish & Wax
4. Clear Plastic
5. Airheads
6. Oilheads
7. K Bikes & F-650's

8. Wheels

Cleaning Tips, Part 4...Face Shields and Windshields

Hello all,

Most of us have gotten lazy after a long ride or trip, and neglected to clean our windshields or face-shields right away...sometimes forgetting about them for a couple of days, or for several years. Inevitably, 10 minutes before a scheduled Sunday morning ride with friends, you are frantically trying to clean the effected surface without any success.

What's happened is all those bugs have essentially engraved themselves into the plastic. For safety reasons, virtually all windshields and face-shields are made from polycarbonate, Plexiglas, or another type of plastic. These materials react adversely to bodily fluids from bugs, whose smattered remains act like acid on the windshield. If left unchecked and not removed in a timely fashion - usually within 2-3 days - these bugs will eventually "etch" themselves onto your face-shield or windshield (or paint)...sometimes permanently.

The best way I found to remove hardened bugs is to place a wet towel over the surface and let it remain there for at least 15 minutes. The water will loosen the bug remains, thus making their removal easier. Using either warm soapy water (preferable) or a watered-down/mild solution of an over-the- counter glass cleaner, clean the surface and wipe away the remains with a cloth. DO NOT use paper towels that are made from paper products since these are more likely to scratch plastic surfaces.

If using a glass cleaner doesn't work, the next step is to try a polish made exclusively for plastics. Meguire's makes a number of polishes for clear plastic products which are available at most motorcycle shops or automotive discount stores like Trak Auto. I have used Meguire's number 10 plastic polish for years with very good results. Also, I would suggest applying and removing the polish in the direction your eye sees through the plastic (horizontal for a face-shield, and vertical for a windshield).

A word about bird poop is also in order (the following also pertains to painted surfaces as well). Not only is bird poop highly acidic, but a close inspection of this offering will probably disclose small pebbles which are used by some flying reptiles to assist in the digestion of their food. To spare the water, in this case, is to ruin the finish. So be especially careful when removing bird poop and do it as soon as possible after the deposit...this stuff will scratch your windshield, faceshield, and bodywork quickly and permanently if not removed properly.

Lastly, and after getting the windshield/face-shield as clean as possible, apply a coat of wax. Like painted surfaces, the wax will provide a protective layer against the elements, as well as hide minute imperfections in the plastic.

Other Tips:

  • Avoid using petroleum-based products; i.e., WD-40.
  • Avoid using paint polishes that are considerably harsher than plastic polishes
  • (these will scratch clear plastic surfaces).
  • Don't cover the bike if heavy dew is expected overnight…let Mother Nature work for you.
  • Take a small hand towel with you on trips for use to remove bugs.

Keep those cards and letters poring in.

Bill Shaw

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