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Is it safe to pressure wash my motorcycle?

Sometimes you just need that extra cleaning power.

Is it safe to pressure wash my motorcycle?

Cleaning a motorcycle is a uniquely personal activity, the methods of which differ from person to person. Some riders clean their bike after every ride, while others are more conservative, opting to go for a wash only when the grime becomes noticeable.

There are differences in the materials used as well. Some make do with soap, a bucket, and a sponge. That's fine for most days, but what do you do when you're on the trail, say on an adventure bike like the Royal Enfield Himalayan or Honda CB500X, and you encounter the world's worst mud shower? Could a pressure washer do the trick and restore your bike to its original look? Let's find out. 

What is a pressure washer?

pressure washer

Pressure washers sound like complicated pieces of machinery. In truth, they're relatively simple to understand and use. There are four primary components to a pressure washer: the engine or motor, the water inlet, the pump, and the cleaning attachment.

Typical pressure washer engines use gasoline or diesel for fuel, but electric motors are becoming more and more commonplace. From there, you can probably infer how the machine works. The water flows from an outside water source, enters the washer, and the engine pumps out hot and pressurized water through the cleaning attachment.

With all this technical wizardry, one would think that pressure washers are a terrible waste of water. However, it has been proven that these machines use up to 80 percent less water than the low-pressure hoses you would find in a house garden. That's nifty, but does it make sense for use on a motorcycle?

Is pressure washing a motorcycle safe?

pressure washing a motorcycle

To put things simply, you can safely wash a motorcycle with a pressure washer, but there are some things you have to keep in mind. 

First is the pressure washer itself. You would need to get one that isn't too powerful to blow your rearview mirrors off but not too weak that it can't clean well. Something at or below 1000 PSI could get the job done. Electric models are common at this pressure level, and they also tend to be less expensive.

The second thing you have to keep in mind is not to get too close to the motorcycle while washing it. A safe distance is key with a pressure washer, as you may not be familiar with its power and capabilities. Aim to get at least 12 feet away from your bike while operating the machine.

The third and perhaps most important thing you should note is avoiding crucial components while pressure washing a motorcycle. You're not cleaning a car that has its valuable parts under the hood. As you likely know, motorcycles are much more sensitive and require specialized care. Even if your bike is covered by all the fairings out there, it pays to be safe.

So, avoid these components when pressure washing your motorcycle:

  • Handlebar controls
  • Gauges
  • TFT display
  • Exposed wiring
  • Spark plugs
  • Wheel bearings
  • Voltage regulator
  • Chain

As you can see, all the things that help your bike go should not be pressure washed. You may also want to avoid washing your seat, especially if it's showing signs of damage, as the water pressure may make things worse. That doesn't mean these components can get wet. Most of these parts are water-resistant, but the pressure can be a problem. 

To sum things up, as long as you're smart about it, it's perfectly safe to use a pressure washer on your motorcycle. So, follow these tips and use your best judgment when using pressurized water to clean your beloved bike. The next time you hit the trail or encounter particularly nasty dirt and grime, you can stay calm knowing you have a trick to get them all out.

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