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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 7...Cleaning K-Whiners & F-650's

Metaphorically speaking, if detailing an Airhead is akin to climbing Mt Everest, and cleaning an Oilhead equates to finishing the Ironman Triathlon, then caring for a K bike or F650 is analogous to just getting out of bed in the morning. They are that easy to keep clean.

For all K/F650 bikes, routine cleaning involves little more than using soap and water to keep them looking new. But like competing in the triathlon, it really depends on how well you want to finish. If you have a fully faired motorcycle and your goal is to simply have it look clean, then by periodically spending 10-15 minutes washing and drying the bodywork you will achieve the desired affect. For cosmetic purposes, this is the most important part anyway and goes a long way in keeping the bike looking new. For unfaired K75s, K100s, and F650s, or for those of you who really want to detail a fully faired K bike, it takes a little more work.

These engines are painted/clear coated and can easily be cleaned using the techniques and tools I discussed in the first post; i.e., warm soap and water, sponge, brush, etc. But the engines do tend to collect road debris, grease, tar and oil. I have found that for really caked on dirt and grease, commercially available cleaners work well; i.e., Simple Green or S-100. But be careful. These products contain strong detergents that can deplete the oils from painted engines, thus turning them from a shiny, to a dull black finish. So pay close attention to the manufacturers suggested directions when using these products…it is vital to use them on cold engines. Avoid over spraying the cleansers onto any exposed bodywork (that's why I encourage cleaning the engine first, and washing the painted bodywork last).

On F650's, it's also best not to soak the chain with water. It's inevitable that the chain will get wet during the course of washing the bike, but water is not the prefered method of lubricating chains. If it does get overly wet, I suggest spraying a light coating of WD-40 on both sides which not only disperses the water, but simultaneously lubricates the O rings and rollers.

WD-40 can also be used on exposed radiator hoses, thereby keeping them pliable, and on painted engines and drivetrains to keep them looking new too. This miracle elixir also works great when restoring the black areas on brake calipers (do NOT spray directly on calipers, use a rag or toothbrush), cleaning the colored turn signal/ horn/cancel switches, removing dirt or wax residue from the gas cap, and on any other black plastic parts.

All that's left is to replace any bodywork that was removed, and slap a coat of wax on the fenders, tank and fairing. Next, how to keep wheels looking clean.


Bill Shaw

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